Friday, 31 January 2014

Tory run Suffolk County Council and the 'sham' consultation

On Wednesday afternoon I joined a number of Labour councillors at the 'Travel Ipswich' exhibition. I say exhibition, as the Tories were calling it a consultation - but how can it be a consultation when there was no one there to consult with?

I do not expect Officers, staff from 'Travel Ipswich' or County Councillors to be in attendance all day but there should be a set period when they are there.

So is the whole consultation process just a sham? It seems the Ipswich Tories think so as they seem to believe that wishes of Holywells residents will be ignored and the lights on Bishops Hill will be installed. Of course they are not complaining too much as it would not look good, Tory attacking Tory but they just shuffle their feet and moan about rural Tories.

I also believe the whole consultation process is a sham, but it still important that we do not (like the Ipswich Tories) just give up. We must keep the pressure on this badly run Tory County Council.

Sandra Gage, our County Councillor for Rushmere Ward is collating all the opinions on 'Travel Ipswich' that are passed onto us and we will submit them to the County and we keep the pressure on them. I do hope you will still visit the exhibition even if there is no one to consult with and the exhibition looks more like a (poor) effort by some un-interested teenagers! Please fill in the comment card and send it back to the County telling them what you think.

You have to post the card back (freepost) as the County have not even bothered placing a box at the exhibition for you to place your cards in. So as well as the exhibition failing to be a proper consultation it will also cost the County for every card returned.

And someone today told me the County Council were up for an award! Certainly not for 'Consultation' of the Year!

'The Tories call this a consultation!'

Keeping fit with Activ-Lives and then we end up with an extra organ!

On Thursday, I visited Dundee House in Rushmere Ward, Ipswich. It is probably my favourite place to visit in the ward as the residents soon put me in my place. They are not slow in coming forward to tell you what they think! They also talk a lot of sense!

Through the North East Area Committee we had commissioned Activ-Lives to provide fitness and social session for some of our senior residents and we decided to use Dundee House as the ‘hub’ for the fitness activities.

Arthur Jolly, 103 years young and making it look easy!

I managed to get out of most of the fitness session but Sandra Gage was more enthusiastic and joined in, but we were all left in awe of 103 years young, Arthur Jolly who was natural at all the exercises. Not a surprise as Arthur had only just started using a stick at the age of 102!

Whilst at Dundee House, the residents asked if I could find them electric organ to replace theirs, a quick call to Mark Murphy at BBC Radio Suffolk and we were suddenly swamped with 7 organs!

The new organ will arrive on Monday! Dundee House, where the residents are active and musical.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Inverness Road - Prefab residents happy that their homes will be refurbished

Yesterday I joined Cllrs Sandra Gage and John Mowles in Inverness Road, Ipswich. It gave us a great opportunity to meet residents of the prefabs. These great homes were built just after the war and their initial lifespan was believed to be between 10 and 20 years but they have lasted much longer mainly due to the loving care they have been shown by the residents.

Whenever one becomes vacant it is not long till a new residents moves in, we call them prefabs but to residents of Inverness Rd, Humber Doucy Lane and Sidegate Lane these are just homes – much loved homes.

Residents love their homes because they are bungalows, they have great garden and they are so close to the countryside. It is obvious to any visitor that the prefabs are much valued by the residents and it is also obvious that the Tory Councillor for the ward, Cllr Judy Terry has not spoken to residents very often in her two terms as a councillor, if she had she may not have come up with the idea of knocking them down and replacing with a large amount of houses and a care home.

Her announcement last year that she had taken senior County Tory Colin Noble around the area and discussed with developers a proposal to build a care home had caused a great deal of alarm and anxiety amongst residents many of them our more senior members of the ward.

So it was not a surprise to find residents in such a good mood this week after they had heard the news that Ipswich Borough Council are just about to spend a considerable sum on re-furbishing these much loved homes.

A surveyor will visit the prefabs and homes will then be assessed with many receiving new kitchens, walk-in showers and new roofs.

Cllr Sandra Gage is also urging the Tory run County Council to do some much needed remedial work on the grass verges in the area.

The mention of the name Judy Terry did lead to one suggestion on how to fill in the deep ruts in the grass verges but not sure that would be legal!

It seems residents have not forgotten the scaremongering antics of Tory Judy Terry and I am sure many of them will make sure they use their vote in May and it will not be for Cllr Terry!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

My week ahead, 27 January - 2 February 2014

Monday – 27 January, 3pm – Ipswich WW1 Centenary steering group
4pm – Culture portfolio meeting
6pm Labour Group meeting

Tuesday - 28 January, 5PM – Sidegate Primary School, Finance committee

Wednesday - 29 January, 6pm – Ipswich Borough Council meeting

Thursday – 30 January, 10am – Visit to Dundee House

Saturday 2 February, 10am – Labour campaigning – Central and North West Ipswich

A busy week ahead but the good thing is as well as a number of meetings there is also the opportunity to meet a number of Rushmere residents with visits to Dundee House in Renfrew Rd and Inverness Rd planned for this week.

It will also give me further opportunities to inform residents of the planned Suffolk County Council consultation on the next 3 proposed projects to be undertaken under the ‘Travel Ipswich’ banner.

The project with the most interest for Rushmere residents I believe will be the Argyle Street/ Woodbridge Rd junction but many residents will also be glad to hear that the proposed removal of the mini roundabouts on Norwich Rd seems to have been shelved.

Some would say the exhibition on the road schemes (the exhibition will be located in the Tower Ramparts shopping centre from the end of the week) is more about information than consultation. We already have one senior Ipswich Tory seeming to claim that the decisions have already been made by the Tory run County Council and that the consultation may be a waste of time.

At first it was quite amusing to see Tory blaming Tory but all it does show is taht Tory run Suffolk has little concern or interest in what happens in Ipswich.

At the Area Committee this week in North East Ipswich we had a Tory County Councillor come along to talk about their budget proposals, there was much talk again about consultation but when the use of an opinion poll was mentioned residents asked who had been surveyed. It seemed very few people had been asked and the County Tory could not say how many in Ipswich had been asked about what they wished money to be spent on.

The Senior Officer and the Tory Councillor answered a number of questions, but it did not seem that residents were very enthusiastic about the Tory budget plans, some of the questioning was quite critical including questions from at least one Ipswich Tory councillor.

I had the alst questions and asked about how much money the County had in Reserve- no exact figure given but over £150 Million and I also asked about the two biggest concerns I believe that effect North East Ipswich residents, highways and Education. The Tory councillor said he would pass on my concern about the state of road repairs and commented that it seemed to be the main concern of most communities in Suffolk. His answer about the failure of the County to support Education? None given!

Wonder what the four Year 12 Northgate students thought his failure to answer the question on education?

Monday, 20 January 2014

So I am a champagne socialist

Over the last few years I have got used to nasty attacks from various local Tory supporting blogs and even today a couple of Ipswich Tory activists have been amusing themselves by calling opponents names (all very grown up!)

But what I didn't expect was such a nasty attack from the official Ipswich Conservative website, now maybe I should not complain as I had been critical of their website as it had not been updated for 12 weeks. But they have used their third post of 2014 to accuse the Labour Party of being hypocritical, I do not agree with them but they are entitled to their own view but what I can't understand is when they make an attack on a councillor that brings his employer into the equation!

Whoever wrote the post indicates Mr Cameron was not allowed to used the word 'hypocrisy' as it was ‘unparliamentary’, but then goes onto say as they are not governed by the same structures, they can say that it is hypocritical of Ed Miliband to criticise those who are wealthy.

Fact is they can say what they want as they are not honest or brave enough to put their name to the post on the website, not that it is hard to work out who was behind the article.

The post then makes what seems an attack on me:

The anonymous Tory states: "Unfortunately, in Ipswich, the ‘middle classes’ also include hypocritical champagne socialists. These councillors live in nice houses, take home large salaries (some teaching at the best private school in the town – how’s that for hypocrisy!) whilst cutting living standards for the lowest paid people working for the council."

Well I do work at Ipswich School, but I am not a teacher and certainly do not take home a large salary. Also, I am not sure that my employer will be happy that their name has been dragged into a political argument in an attempt to score a cheap political point.

Now I will admit, I do like a glass of bubbly and must have had at least 4 glasses in the last 10 years! I did once share a bottle but that was sat in the former secret police headquarters in Pristina, as I celebrated the first hours of the 21st Century with fellow Rifleman in Kosovo.

Trouble is this unwarranted attack just makes me more determined to not only work hard to increase our Labour majority on Ipswich Borough Council in May but to spend as much free time as possible to ensure that we return a Labour MP to Westminster in 2015.

Do I expect an apology? – No. Do I expect someone to admit they wrote that post? – No.

A picture paints a thousand words – I will let you decide who spends the most time drinking champagne!

Champagne socialist

Hard working Conservatives

Sunday, 19 January 2014

My week ahead, 20 - 26 January 2014

Monday – 20 January, 4pm – Travel Ipswich - Update
6pm – Labour campaigning

Thursday – 23 January, 6pm – North East Partnership group
7pm – North East Area Committee – St John’s Church, Cauldwell Hall Road

Saturday 25 January, 10am – Labour campaigning – North East Ipswich

This week I have been able to combine my two loves- politics and football when I attended an event at the 4TO Bar in Ipswich. Lenny Paul who owns the bar is like me, Ipswich born and bred and also an ex soldier but unlike me he is a four times Olympian! Bobsleigh.

He has just been inducted into the Arthur Wharton Foundation, Arthur was the first black professional footballer playing for a number of North East teams in the 19th Century plus also playing cricket and holding the 100 yards World Record. He was a tough man with Ghanaian and Scottish roots.

It was great to see the event supported by IBC, Johnny Wark, Fabian Wilnis and Ruel Fox. Pity no one was there from the Football club.

Ipswich Spy had a bit of a go at me for a tweet about the Tory Culture Secretary, Maria Miller. A press release was issued in her name about the release of Unit War Diaries from the First World war, the press release seemed to indicate that these were soldiers own diaries. I do realise that the press release would have been prepared for her but was surprised that with the important events coming up over the next 4 years that Ms Miller did not have a clue on what was being released in her name or that she had not asked for a full briefing on the release of these diaries.

One good thing I can say for Maria Miller is – at least she is not Owen Paterson!

Bank on us!

New Monopoly rules!

With thanks to David Schneider and Hennell

Sunday, 12 January 2014

My week ahead, 13 - 19 January 2014

Monday – 13 January, 4pm – Culture Portfolio meting
6pm – Labour Group meeting

Tuesday – 14 January, 5pm – Sidegate Primary School, Steering committee

Wednesday – 15 January, 9am – Ipswich Borough Council Planning Committee

Thursday – 16 January, 6pm – Scrutiny Committee

Friday – 17 January, 7pm – IFT screening of Mandela film – ‘Long Walk to Freedom’

Saturday 11 January, 10am – Labour campaigning – South West Ipswich

Christmas holidays seems ages ago now as I have a meeting or campaigning every day this week, but with the long aim of returning a Labour Government in 2015 as the ultimate prize the hard work, I am not complaining about the busy agenda.

This week we have seen the local politics blog, Ipswich Spy shed itself of its last coat of neutrality with an attack on a respected Labour Councillor.

To be fair it has been hard for ‘Spy’ to remain neutral as it has almost become a ‘one man ‘show and as that lone writer is a former Conservative councillor it has always been obvious where his loyalties would lie.

But as we get closer to 2015 he may see that he has to lead for the Tories on the social media front with Ben Gummer having one of the most outdated websites of any MP in the country but even his site his more up to date than the local Tory site which seems to have given up the ghost of providing any information to Ipswich residents.

On twitter the writer is now using his own account as well as the ‘Spy’ one, he might as well change the handle to ‘Ben4Ben’ .

Recent examples of the Pro Tory stance has been his post about travel Ipswich, Spy mentions that we did not mention any meetings with Graham Newman, forgetting he attended an area committee where Newman had been invited the Labour Chair and that also the now monthly meeting that Graham Newman is holding where all IBC councillors are invited was because of the pressure put on Mr Newman and SCC by Labour transport spokesperson, Sandra Gage.

The attack by ‘Spy’ was on one of the most respected councillors in Ipswich, John Mowles. When I was seeking to be elected, John was the person who helped me the most and since I have been a councillor he has continued to mentor me. If I could just be as half as good as John at sorting issues for residents, I would be one of the top four councillors in Ipswich if not the whole county. So why suddenly the attack on John? Why has ‘Spy’ just become another means for Cllr Terry to continue her attacks on anything Labour attempts to do – joining the ‘Flyer’ in printing anything she wants without checking the facts – prefabs and Ransomes just been two examples where we only get the ‘Terry’ version of events?
The answer is on ‘Spy’ itself. When the ‘Spy’ one man show attended the opening of new Council Houses, it seems he was not invited into the Council House this lead to Mr Redsell writing this comment: “If he thought he got a tough time before, he ain’t seen nothing yet!”

Nothing more dangerous than an angry partner or an ignored journalist!

Good news is at least we now have an Ipswich Conservative website that is updated! Conservative Spy!

Wonder if Tim Yeo sent ‘Tory Spy’ a Christmas Card?


Just to make this clear, it is just my opinion that Ipswich Spy has become less neutral over the last few months, only having one real contrubuter being the main reason for this. That is my opinion and by looking at the posts on 'Spy' you can formulate your own opinion.

The world is about opinions, the Mail today (again) accused the BBC of being left wing after the last episode of Sherlock! Again just an opinion.

Ipswich Spy refutes my claims, and I for one hope he adds to his contributers as the blog certainly needs a voice from the left within its team.

Saturday, 11 January 2014


Ipswich Labour activists were out all over South East Ipswich this morning and for once the sun shone and as usual in Ipswich we got a great response from residents and today we were joined by Labour activists all over the country as we attempt to get the message over about the #CostofCameron. Most of the residents we spoke to had examples of how they are being hit by living under the Tories.


It just gives us more incentive to fight hard right through to May 2015 and beyond.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

My week (and the year) ahead 6 - 12 January 2014

Monday – 6 January, 5pm – North East Area Committee Agenda setting meeting
6pm – Area Committee Chairs, meeting – Grafton House
7pm – Labour campaigning

Saturday 11 January, 10am – Labour campaigning – South East Ipswich

A start of a New Year and which will include important local elections for Ipswich Borough, European Elections, plus a referendum in Scotland but with all political groups now focusing on the result of the General Election in 2015.

As a slight political anorak, I of course have an interest in all 4 elections and we in Ipswich are determined to do our bit in increasing our number of seats on the Ipswich Borough Council – including winning the last seat back in Rushmere. Plus we will be helping get the best possible result for Labour in the Euro Elections. These elections often give a slightly distorted view of politics in this country as UKIP have in the past done well in these elections but it is where those voters then vote for in 2015 that is more important.

At least this year at the European Elections we have an Ipswich based candidate in our own North East Ipswich Cllr – Sandy Martin. Is a great campaigner and also well know to residents in East Ipswich so it will be a real boost to the local campaigners in that e will be working for a local resident.

It is harder to work out what our opponents are doing, the Lib Dems have retreated into their ST Margaret’s enclave and even in that ward seem to be doing very little, not even being able to host an Ipswich Lib Dems website is an indication of how far they have fallen down the political ladder.

The Tories do little better on the social media front and seem more interested in internal fighting – mainly over their one safe seat of Bixley, a poor performance at the polls for them in late May will not be good news for a certain Mr Gummer. It is quite noticeable that one a local Tory loses their seat they often disappear totally from the local political scene.

UKIP, I am sure will do in May but they seem to have done little work in the town since winning a seat at the County Council elections last year. But with a free mail drop at the Euro Elections, they will cause problems for both us and the Tories in certain seats.

But all in all, I can see this being a good year for Ipswich Labour, increasing our seats on the local council, more people joining the party and helping us ensure we return a Labour MP to Westminster in 2015.

This year I will be more involved in the Labour Defence team at Westminster, working with the Shadow Defence team in helping set priorities for when a Labour Government returns to power next year. For anyone interested in matters concerning veterans, I ask you to read this article by Dan Jarvis MP, a former soldier and working with the Shadow Justice team – it concerns the number of veterans who ended up on the wrong side of the law. I would ask you to contact your local MP and ask for their support when Dan tables two amendments to the Offenders Rehabilitation Bill about to go through Parliament, there should be no reason that these two amendments do not get full cross party support- read more about the need for these amendments here: Dan Jarvis article in The Telegraph