Saturday 26 April 2014

Migration is not a crime!

Each day we seem to have yet another UKIP candidate show their real colours - today we have an attack on Lenny Henry (born in Dudley) by a UKIP candidate in Enfield - pushing the Tories hard for the title of 'nasty party'.

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Do Ipswich Tories really want new homes built?

Tory bloggers have been very quick today to pick up on the interview our local paper did with departing Tory councillor for Rushmere, Judy Terry.

In her interview she was very critical of our Labour administration and blamed us for the lack of house building over the last few years. What will not surprise many Rushmere and Ipswich residents is that she left our some very important details.

Only one councillor spoke against the housing development planned for the St Clement’s site at the Ipswich Planning committee. That councillor was Alan Murray the Tory County Councillor for Bixley and a SCC Cabinet member.
Only one councillor suggested that IBC purchase the St Clement’s site – but not for much needed housing, but to turn it into a park. That councillor was John Carnell, the Tory Borough councillor for Bixley.

Cllr Terry also failed to mention that the development of the Colchester Rd Fire Station site almost fell through after Tory run SCC dramatically raised their 106 funding requirements from the original amount quoted in the pre-development brief. Some may have found it strange that Cllr Terry was involved in the planning committee for that development when the sale of the site (with the money going to SCC of which she was a Cabinet member) depended on planning permission being gained.

Now we do know that Judy Terry does suffer from memory lapses, she did forget she had written an ‘Ipswich Flyer’ column when she was quoted from it at Full Council and then her most famous memory lapse came when she forgot/denied she had taken her fellow Tory Cabinet member, Colin Noble to see the prefabs in Inverness Rd. Of course that is when she was more interested tearing down people’s homes and replacing with a care home and housing.

So now we have Judy Terry – the Tory who wants more houses built and last year when she was up for election she was Judy Terry – the Tory who wanted to hold a referendum on the Northern Fringe development (paid for by council money).
So where do the Ipswich Tories (and Lib Dems for that matter) stand on the Northern Fringe development – maybe Cllr Cenci – their deputy leader can answer that?

Their Tory MP seems to be concerned that the housing will not be of a high standard of design (not that he seems that concerned about the design of the new Chantry High School)

So if Ipswich Tories are so concerned about the lack of housing being built in the town, come out with a statement supporting the plan to build on the Northern Fringe and help us put pressure on the Tory County Council and National Government to contribute to the development by helping with the building of transport and educational infrastructure that is needed to make the plan a success.

Wednesday 16 April 2014

'Shocking' rise in the use of food banks - enough to make an Ipswich Tory yawn!

Today has seen the release of a report by the charity, the Trussell Trust that showed there had been a ‘shocking’ 51% rise in people using their established food banks. This is a rise from 347,000 people using the service in 12/13 to 913,000 people using it in 13/14.

What makes the figures more worrying is these statistics are just for the food banks that the Trussell Trust runs, with all food banks included the number of people using food banks will be well over a million in the last year.

The Government disputes that the rise in the use of food banks is linked to welfare reform but the Trust has data that shows that 83% of food banks reported that benefit sanctions has resulted in people being referred to them and that 30% of visits to food banks were put down to a delay in welfare payments.

Lib Dems have kept quiet about the report but Tories have been quick to attack the report, after the Daily Mirror used a picture of a child crying ( the picture was from the USA and not of a child at a food bank – imagine the furore if they had used a picture of a child at a food bank!) Tories have just claimed it is left wing papers and left wing commentators using this story to take away the shine from improved employment figures.

The Tories seem keen to ignore the fact that the Trussell Trust is a non-political charity and that the report was coupled with a letter from leading members of the clergy urging to government to do more to eradicate the need for food banks in 21st Century Britain.

Here in Ipswich we had the deputy leader of the Tory Group tweeting a yawn as she seemed bored by the news that more people than ever were using food banks, she then got into a number of twitter conversations/arguments about the use of food banks with her final line of defence being she was not on about the real poor. Cllr Cenci tweeted; “the really poor area tiny minority. Most can afford coke, crisps etc”

She like many Tories seem to forget that many for many food banks you have to be sent to them by an agency, you just can't turn up. Even a government commissioned report stated that many people find it hard to go and use a food bank.

Many on twitter seem stunned by her comments, her next line of defence was to tell everyone that she was a single parent for 10 years with no benefits; she seemed to forget that she did receive child benefit throughout that time.

Her rhetoric did not surprise me; it seemed to be repeated by many on the right, an attempt to demonise those who needed to use food banks, not willing to listen to those who have had to use them. Even on ‘Loose Women’ – not my usual TV viewing, they had a lady on who had to live off food banks, she eloquently described why and how she used them. Again not sure you could describe ‘Loose Women’ as part of the left wing press group!

It is a worry when it seems politicians, especially local are quick to make assumptions on people without trying to find out the true facts. It seems local Tories are in a race to the bottom with UKIP to demonise as many people as possible.

I was very proud at Christmas, when my oldest daughter helped organise a food collection at her work, so they could make a large donation to a food bank, it was not till she did that did I really understand how much food banks are needed, even in Ipswich.

Whilst on the other hand we have a local Tory MP, Tim Yeo unaware there was even a food bank in his constituency and here in Ipswich we have the Deputy leader of the Tory group bored by the whole discussion on the need for food banks and attempting to demonise those who use them by indicating that many can afford coke and crisps!

Tory Cllr Cenci can often seem to hold quite radical views on twitter but I am not surprised by the negative comments she has received after her ‘yawn’ tweet – she seems to have joined Tory MP Ester McVey in ‘the unpopular Tory on twitter’ group.

Her ill thought comments even managed to get the attention of a well know radio broadcaster – radio DJ, Nick Ferrari from LBC, he repeated Cllr Cenci’s tweet about food banks and yawn – adding after the tweet ‘Nasty Party’ – again not sure many would describe Nick Ferrari ‘of the left!’

We can all make mistakes on twitter, and if you do – apologise (and unlike Ester McVey mean it) but Cllr Cenci seems not able to admit she had got it wrong about food banks – in her mind she is right and all the left and the Mirror are wrong! Not sure the Trussell Trust, the clergy (including the Archbishop of Wales), Loose Women and Nick Ferrari will be happy to described as ‘left wing’. Fact is over a million people each year are using food banks, that should not be acceptable in the sixth richest economy in the world.

Did Ben Gummer, Tory MP secure new doctor's premises?

Quite surprised this week to receive a Tory leaflet, even with a Tory MP in Ipswich that is the first leaflet I had received for almost a year.

It was called, ‘Ben’s Bulletin’ and the whole content is about Ipswich Hospital and health issues- nothing on education, jobs or the economy and definitely nothing about Sure Start Children’s centres!

There is no doubt that Mr Gummer has campaigned for improvements to the hospital but at least one his claims of success on the health front seems to be over exaggerated to say the least.

He claims to have secured a new doctor’s premises for North East Ipswich; this will see a merger between the Woodbridge Road practice and the Lattice Barn practice. Both will move to a new site on land owned by Ipswich Borough Council – the West Villa- currently where homeless families are sheltered.

Discussions have been going on for some considerable time between our Labour administration, the surgeries and also a Housing Association. We (IBC) have been keen to help the local surgeries move to new premises but we also had to find new homes for those who both currently use the facilities at West Villa or those who may need to use the service in the future. Once that new accommodation was secured we could then agree a plan with the two surgeries.

So where does Mr Gummer come into all this? Good question, I have been informed he did write to the council in support of the proposals to merge the two surgeries but I believe that is all he has done (he did more than this - see update below), I can’t see how writing a couple of letters suddenly becomes in his leaflet: “Ben was pleased to recently secure new doctor’s premises in NE Ipswich”

Distorting the true facts?

Must be an election soon!


I have been contacted by Mr Gummer who has explained that he helped secure the new practice location due to his extensive lobbying of NHS England to secure much needed funding, I am happy to add that and also I am happy to thank our local MP for helping secure the new location but maybe he should have put in his 'Ben's Bulletin' that he had helped secure the new doctor's premises working alongside Labour run IBC and two existing doctor's practices?

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Over 100 years of fighting to represent the people of Ipswich

The European and local Ipswich elections are being held on May 22nd this year, a day later and one hundred years earlier the first socialist candidate stood in Ipswich in an election to represent the town at Westminster,

John Scurr only received 395 votes, as the Tory candidate John Ganzoni won. The Liberals came second with their candidate being Charles Masterman, the brains behind the National Insurance Act who had a place on the Cabinet waiting for him if he had won, he never and lost a number of elections afterwards gaining the tag of 'unluckiest man in British politics'. He was so highly regarded by the Liberals that Lloyd George himself came to campaign and speak in Ipswich the day before the election.

We certainly have come a long way since 1914, by 1918 the official candidate, Peter Jackson had pushed the Liberals into third and in 1923 he won the seat for Labour for the first time.

Peter had also been one of our first councillors in the town and when we won 5 seats just after the First World War the Tories and Liberals panicked and started to stand joint candidates (sounds like the last Tory/Lib Dem administration in the town) but the Tories still only managed to maintain control by the use of the Alderman system.

One hundred years on and times have changed as we have had a number of Labour MP's and we have bean the largest political group in Ipswich for a number of years and we even more recently has a period running Suffolk!

But we still keep fighting, campaigning hard and if we work hard, 101 years after John Scurr stood in Ipswich we will be sending David Ellesmere to Westminster to represent the people of Ipswich.

But as in 1919, the Tories will turn to anyone to stop Labour winning, in 1919 they jumped into bed with the Liberals but today in 2014 we have two Ipswich Tory activists and former Conservative candidates urging voters to vote for UKIP just to stop Labour winning in certain wards. This practice was supposedly against Tory rules as laid down by David Cameron but do not expect any sort of action to be taken by a very weak Ipswich Tory leadership

Tuesday 8 April 2014

You can't trust a word the Lib Dems say

Then to top it all we now have Yellow Tory, David Laws defending Maria Miller!

Sunday 6 April 2014

My week ahead, 7 - 13 April (and beyond) 2014

Monday – 7 April, Culture Portfolio meeting
4pm - 6pm Labour campaigning

Wednesday – 9 April, 2pm, Attending and participating in a meeting with the Shadow Defence team at the Houses of Parliament

Thursday – 10 April, 9am , Depart for a Duke of Edinburgh Expedition in Mid Wales

Tuesday 15 April – Thursday 22 May Campaigning for both the Borough and European elections

My last regular ‘week ahead’ column till the end of May

Well the ‘short’ campaign has started for the May elections – I am sure with the election so late in May it seems like a ‘long- short’ campaign!

With the serious campaigning starting it will now see a reduction in the number of meetings that a councillor can attend. But we still have some important meetings including the Planning Committee.

I also have an important date at the end of the month when I will be attending a special Centenary ‘Birthday Party’ at my former Primary School St Helen's on Woodbridge Road. It will be a privilege to attend this important occasion at the school which gave me such a good start in life.

This Wednesday I have been invited to Westminster to speak with the Shadow Defence Team as they work their policies they hope to implement in 2015 if we win the General Election. The good news for everyone is that the Labour Defence team are speaking to veterans, military experts and families when they look at their plans for the military. The Armed Forces have seen its morale depressed by the savage cuts imposed by the Tory Government. Improving morale and creating an Armed Forces that can still play an important part in world defence.

As i mentioned at the start of this post, this will be my last ‘week ahead’ post till the end of May, this is because any spare minute I get will spent campaigning for Labour in Ipswich. It is important that you do not ‘burn out’ over the next 6 weeks so there will be occasional breaks from delivering and talking to resident, most of these will be watching football but I also have a few days in Mid Wales leading a Duke of Edinburgh expedition.

Walking up mountains in Wales will be good training for the many miles I will be walking as we deliver the Labour message to the residents of Ipswich.