Sunday 30 November 2014

My week ahead, 1 - 7 December 2014

Monday 1 December, 4pm – Culture portfolio meeting
5pm – North East Area Committee agenda setting meeting
6pm – Labour campaigning

Wednesday 3 December, 5pm – Students Question Time, Northgate School

Saturday 6 December, 10am – Labour campaigning in South East Ipswich

This week all eyes will be on Westminster and the chancellor making his Autumn statement and it seems it will be full of election bribes, after 4 years of telling us there is no money in the pot it seems billions have been found. Starting with money for the NHS, which they will hope will get them through the winter with A & E Departments expected to be at crisis level.

Money will also be found for infrastructure projects, with Norfolk expected to get further money for A11 improvements, where here in Suffolk we are unlikely to hear of any funding for a Northern by-pass as Poulter and Gummer would rather have excuses for not building much needed family homes when they should be lobbying for funding for a Northern Link Road.

Disappointingly the Green Party in Suffolk also seem keen to join the NIMBY brigade and see no built in the north of the town. They seem to have no alternative sites in mind.

What I am looking forward to this week is the Student Question Time being held at Northgate School, I do believe all elected representatives have a duty to try and increase the number of people who are both interested in politics and also who will then vote – and there is no better way to start than with our younger residents.

Sunday 23 November 2014

Why do the Tories hate the young so much?

At the Ipswich Full Council meeting last week the Labour run council proposed to raise the pay of council employed apprentices. Recently we had become a living wage employer a fact we were proud of but by raising wages of all our staff so they earn at least the living wage it seemed right to also raise our apprentices pay.

The wage rise had been looked at in depth, supported by a (all party) council working group and the figures had been checked to make sure we could pay the rise from our budget.

Not sure anyone thought this would be contentious and all thought the proposal would fly through with all party support, but before we could vote we were suddenly handed out (a badly worded) Tory amendment.

We aimed to raise our apprentice pay from £2.73 to £3.82 in the first year and then from £5.13 to £7.18 in the second and in Year 3 from £6.50 to £7.85.

The badly Tory written amendment proposed a first year rise from £2.73 to £3.79 but unless you had the pay table in your hands could have been easily misconstrued to think there were no further rises in Yr 2 and 3 and actually a pay cut from existing pay rates.

But once you found table 2.11 you could see there were further wage increases in Year 2 and 3 but far below what Labour were proposing.

So why? Tory leader Cllr Cenci was concerned that the Borough would now have the best pick of all apprentices and that other firms would now be forced to increase their rates of pay, she informed us she understood this as her own partner, a local plumber employs apprentices – but I still could not detect any good reason from her for not paying the rise.

She had young Tory Councillor Eddie Phillips second her amendment and he spoke in support of it, he made a hash of it to say the least and seemed to imply that young Ipswich residents would be happy to get any job and would not be worried about the rate of pay.

Now Cllr Phillips is a Union rep at AXA, and I believe they employ apprentices, not sure those young apprentices will now be totally confident that Eddie Phillips is standing up for them as their union representative rather than supporting the employer!

So why do Ipswich Tories like their leaders in Westminster hate the young so much?? Maybe because unlike our senior residents, they don’t vote?


Cllr Cenci is not happy with this post and has asked me to add her own comments to the post- which I am happy to do:

What I actually was stating is that I didn't understand why we had so many vacancies when I know that employers are inundated with requests for apprenticeships. In other words it's not money that is the reason for our vacancies in my opinion. I asked the question of how are we proactively seeking young people and are we partnering the job centre. No reply.
Just because some, like my husband, can afford to pay above minimum apprenticeship wages, doesn't mean all businesses can and my concern is that if we send out the message that this is the right thing, less apprenticeship positions will be available.

My week ahead, 24 - 30 November 2014

Monday 24 November, 10am – Planning visit to Ravenswood
7pm – Labour curry night

Wednesday – 26 November, 9am –- Ipswich Borough Council – Planning meeting

Thursday 27 November, 10am – Labour campaigning
7pm - ‘Your Army’ presentation at Wattisham Flying Station

Sunday 30 November, 11am - Labour campaigning in North West Ipswich

Still slightly in shock from the actions of the Tory Group at the last council meeting, and slightly puzzled that one local blogger thought the Tories asked good questions!

Some were also critical that Labour backbenchers did not contribute to the item about the local plan, but we need to remember this meeting was just approving the sending of the plan to consultation. When the plan comes back to council to be adopted that will be the time for councillors to discuss the issue.

But not surprised that some local commentators were confused as the Lib Dems also did not seem to understand the process as they voted against sending the plan to local consultation. The Tories were also concerned about the consultation process asking for it to be longer but it is already twice the length of time recommended by the Government – so why are they against it? A combination of Nimbyisim and the desperate attempt to seek votes. The Tory and Lib Dem Government rightfully tells us there is a shortage of housing in this country but both the Ipswich Tories and the local Lib Dems seems to be hell bent on stopping or delaying any plan to build new homes in the Borough. Add this to same neighbouring Tory Districts reluctance to build (unless they can stick the houses right on the edge of the town) houses it just makes the housing situation more difficult for Ipswich residents in particular the younger members of our community but as I will mention later the local Tories seems as keen as the Tory Government to inflict pain on our younger residents.

We then had a question on Sunday car parking, slightly strange when again as a Labour Group we have done more to improve car parking the town that the Tories ever did – ‘Quids in’ promotion and the new Regent Car Park as two examples. Plus as Cllr Smart informed the Tory questioner, on a Sunday on street parking is available.

Then we had the latest Tory ‘youngster bashing’ as the Tories put forward an amendment to our proposed pay rise for council employed apprentices, for some very strange reasoning the local Tories were not happy for our young constituents to get a much deserved pay rise!

Sunday 16 November 2014

Ransomes the truth not Tory lies!

For some reason the Tories continue to peddle lies about the future of Ransomes Sports Ground – you would think by now they would admit that they were barking up the wrong tree and support the council in the future plans for the site. But instead we continue to get lies and deliberate misinformation promoted via leaflets, blog posts and comments from prominent Ipswich Tories about the future of Ransomes.

The latest tirade of untruths come (no surprise) from the former Tory councillor for the ward, Judy Terry. Now I am sure that a number of Ipswich Tories know that Mrs Terry is being very economical with the truth but their leader informs me that she can’t stop former Cllr Terry from giving her ‘opinion’ but you would think she would possibly ask her candidates for the council next year not to repeat the accusations as she is well aware that a new pavilion is being built on the site and that we have (and never did) have any intention of building a council estate on Ransomes Sports field.. But she seems to think it is OK for Tory activists to give Mrs Terry a platform to continue her campaign of misinformation as by posting her version of events it does not mean they agree with her!

Last month, Mrs Terry used her ‘Flyer’ column to be very critical of politicians – so you may understand my anger when she continues to be very economical herself with the truth in her latest rant about Ransomes.

Let us look at some of her comments;

First of you may wonder how much Mrs Terry knows about Ransomes as she sates it is in Sidegate lane – in fact it is in Sidegate Avenue.

She then states IBC had a fierce legal battle with the clubs management – fact is we had a legal dispute with one person – the site manager.

She is right in stating the clubhouse has been condemned and is now being demolished but forgets to mention that the various sports clubs are very happy with the new changing rooms – temporary but far better that what they had before.

She also mentions we will not talk to local football club Ipswich Valley Rangers, who were interested in the site – wrong again, we have and still are talking to Ipswich Valley Rangers, and helped facilitate their move back to the town from their former ground in Melton and they now play on IBC owned pitch at Gainsborough. As Ransomes FC play in the same league not as easy as Mrs Terry would think – moving one club in and asking another club to leave.

She also states there has been no consultation with residents – the residents of the three closest roads have had regular newsletter delivered to them to keep them informed of what is actually happening rather than them having to listen to Tory canvassers inform them we were planning to build a council estate on the site!

Then we have yet further proof to show that she has little knowledge of what actually happens at Ransomes or the local sports scene ( disappointing as that used to be her portfolio!)

Judy Terry comments (Ransomes) has thrived, with hundreds of youngsters, as well as adults, coaching and playing sport every evening and at weekends – and all day in the school holidays. Now, this level of activity is just a distant memory; a great loss to the community

Distant memory? I called in today, a packed car park and youth and adult football matches being played side by side. School holidays – football courses were run by ex ITFC player Jason Dozzell before we took the club back over and guess what? Every holiday since Jason has continued to run his football courses at Ransomes .

Ransomes this morning - still thriving

I attended Ransomes on a Sunday at the end of last season, and there were hundreds of children playing football with their parents and families watching – As Ransomes successfully hosted the end of season local youth football league finals.

She mentions a Labour leaflet where we accuse the Tories of wanting to build houses on the sports ground – as I have delivered 90% of the leaflets in that area, I can’t remember one! Best bit is she then states she did want to build houses on the site! (The Tory candidate who blogged this misinformation is not sure if that is still Tory policy)

What Tory Judy Terry forgets to tell readers is as telling as the information she does give out.

One sports club has left the site, the Bowls Club, who were forced out by the old club management, they were soon followed by the sequence dancing club – even though they had raised much of the money needed to keep the hall up to standard. IBC has since found a new home for the dancing club at Gainsborough.

The cricket ground had already stopped being used by the County after the old groundsman was forced out by the club management.

She gives IBC no credit for planning to build a new pavilion or restoring the memorial gates. She talks about making the club a community social enterprise – does she not read local papers? St Clement’s, John Player (Bourne Vale) all local sports clubs having problems. Multi sports clubs are hard to run, football and cricket seasons now overlap, very few players play both sports their is always friction between sections and that friction is where probably Ransomes went wrong with the bowls club being the first victims of that inability to work together.

As both a local councillor and a sports fans I will continue to campaign hard for the future of Ransomes, I look forward to the new pavilion opening, the newly restored Memorial Gates being placed back on Sidegate Avenue and the continued success of Ransomes Football Club, Ransomes Youth FC, St Margaret’s Cricket Club.

But none of that will be made easier by the local Tories continuing to spread rumours and scare residents with talk of housing estates being built on the site.

Cllr Cenci the Tory leader seems happy for one of candidates to continue to help spread lies about the future of Ransomes - he seems to do it every year. A post he did last year upset a member of the cricket club so much that he wrote to Mr Algar who maybe not surprisingly did not post this sportsman's view of what is really happening at Ransomes, and the writer is not only a member of Ransomes but also lives in a house that backs onto the site!

Worth posting his reply to Mr Algar again , maybe Cllr Cenci and Mrs Terry should read it!

Dear Mr Alger

I have recently read your blog dated 25th April 2014, concerning Ransomes Social Club and the apparent labour agenda under the leadership of David Ellesmere as the parliamentary candidates to eventual use the land as a building site.

I feel compelled to email you to express at first hand the inaccuracies of your article and politely request you retract elements of your blog. As a member of St Margaret's Cricket club for over 10 years we had witnessed at first hand the unfortunate decline of standards and facilities over recent years. In the 2013 season, we did not have hot water at times, electrics were in a dangerous state of repair and asbestos was rife throughout the building (to name but a few). Financially, one could argue, the club was being mismanaged and no longer financially viable.

When the Ipswich Borough Council took over the grounds with a labour run local government we (along with the other sports teams) had some real reservations about political interference initially. As a resident, with my property backing onto the land, I was concerned. However, we had consultation meetings, our committee members met with the council and labour representatives regularly and we have continued with these dialogues. Slowly my worries have somewhat eased.

Let's examine how things look in late April 2014. The Ipswich Borough Council under the labour leadership of David Ellesmere with councillor Mr Ross, Ms Rudkin &Mr Grant have done the following within the past few months.

1. Rightly condemned the building due to safety reasons to protect the public
2. Hired the correct equipment for maintaining the ground
3. Improved facilities by adding quality temporary facilities with showers and toilets
4. Improved the electricity and water supplies
5. Improved our meeting room with new kitchen equipment
6. Cutting the ground regularly
7. Ensured that cleaning is done regularly of the changing rooms and to a high standard

I could not be happier with the progress and could not have asked for more from the council. I have had letters reassuring me the council have no plans to build on this land. The money being spent on this and the time and effort seems to overwhelmingly support these statements. The futures, is looking brighter with the community rightly taking a more active role within collaborative with all parities.

Your comments in my opinion are unsubstantiated with a lack of primary evidence and personal experience. I urge you to readdress the blog at your earliest opportunity. In my opinion, Ransomes Sports & Social Club as a community sports area should not be used as a political football, particularly as in my opinion on this occasion Mr Alger you have scored an own goal!

Yours sincerely

Carl Fitch

If the Tory leader is happy for lies to be spread about Ransomes by one of her council candiadtescan we trust what her councilors and candidates say about the Northern Fringe of any other issue that involves the residents of Ipswich?

Then again Tory candidate Mr Algar also once posted about his own Tory Group " Then you have the Tory ‘opposition’ - utterly shambolic and pathetically weak. One of the reasons Ipswich Conservatives abstain in votes so often is the fact that they have no policies and don’t believe there is a need for any" - so maybe he gets his facts right some time!

My week ahead, 17 - 22 November 2014

Wednesday – 19 November, 2pm – Labour campaigning in East Ipswich
6pm - Ipswich Borough Council – Full Council meeting

Thursday 20 November, 10am – Suffolk Labour media training

Saturday 22 November, 10am - Labour campaigning in South East Ipswich

On Friday I attended the first Military Veterans event organised by the councils involved with the Suffolk Military Community Covenant, and the event seemed to me to be a great success with a good turnout of veterans, regular and reserve troops and various charities and agencies that work with or on behalf of veterans and the military community.

Much of the success was down to the work of Jim Brown, a County Officer (and a veteran in his own right) who had not only got the right people on board but also made sure veterans knew about the event.

Veterans do not want something for nothing just what they deserve with the recognition that many of their needs are different to the rest of the population, but we are not just after a hand out. Many of those representing charities and agencies were veterans themselves or family members. As I arrived as Trinity Park I was met on reception by a former member of my regiment who had taken a day’s holiday from his job to help man the reception. Ex soldiers will always be the first to help former soldiers.

We will hope to repeat the event in 2015, next time in the west of the county. I felt privileged to attend and to have been able to secure some funding from the Mayor of Ipswich towards hosting the day.

Sunday 9 November 2014

My week ahead, 10 - 16 November 2014

Monday – 10 November, 6pm – Labour campaigning

Wednesday – 12 November, 6pm – North East Area Partnership Group meeting
7pm – North East Area Committee, St John’s URC Church, Cowper Street

Thursday 13 November, 7pm – Lecture on poetry of the First World War

Friday 14 November, 10am Armed Forces Veterans Event, Trinity Park

Today has always been important to my family, as a small child we always joined my dad at Christchurch Park for the Remembrance Day service, later we would watch with pride as he carried the Korean Veterans standard to the cenotaph.

Since I left the army it has also become important to me to attend and remember those from my own regiment who have lost their lives on active service and in particular some very close friends.

This morning as the last post was played I thought of Paul Harding who lost his life in Basra, Iraq – not only a friend but also a role model and one of the most professional soldiers I have served with. Taff Addison was also in my thoughts, an ex soldier who was murdered by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Paul Harding - Green Jacket legend

But for many, it is not only today that they remember those who died or were wounded; they have to live every day with reminders of conflicts. So I am pleased that as a council we will be supporting the county council as they hold their first veterans event at Trinity Park on Friday. I am looking forward to joining the Mayor as we share a cup of tea and chat about military life. But this is not just a social event as we will be joined by agencies and charities as we join together to offer veterans advice and help.

Kohima Epitaph

"When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today"