Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Happy Christmas

From my former Regiment- The Royal Green Jackets - thought it would be poignant as this year we remember the centenary of the start of the First World War

Happy Christmas to Rushmere residents and all readers of this blog!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Plenty of hot wind - where is that turbine when you need it?

This week our neighbouring council, Babergh turned down a planning application for a wind turbine. The application was originally meant for two turbines one of which would have been on IBC owned land. That plan was dropped so the application was just for one turbine on farmland owned by a well known Suffolk family (who included amongst their clan, a Suffolk Tory MP)

The Tory leader in Ipswich, Cllr Cenci was quick to take to social media to tell everyone that the application had been turned down and was also quick to mention that no South West Ipswich Labour councillors had attended.

Cllr Cenci has campaigned for more than a year to see the turbines not built but she was never that keen to mention that she was part of the executive that had signed the deal with the turbine company originally. She was keen for the council to renege on the contract even if it meant that the council would be then liable for costs and a possible compensation claim.

With family living in an area that would have been able to see the turbine from their houses I know that some residents were actually keen to see the turbine but the Tory leader was keen to see the turbine rejected. Where this desire sits with Mr Cameron and his ‘Green’ credentials, I am not sure.

But even forgetting that Cllr Cenci had been a member of the executive that had signed the contract with the turbine company what annoyed me was her tweeting about the non attendance of Labour councillors at the Babergh planning meeting. What she seemed to forget was that on the same day was the Ipswich Planning meeting where 4 South West Labour councillors were attending, but she seemed to think they could miss the meeting (the one they are elected to serve on) as it was just ‘a run of the mill’ planning meeting. Not sure the residents of Brunswick Road would agree as the committee examined an application to build a house in what many would call a ‘back yard’ development.

Now I myself have tweeted about the absence of opposition councillors at meetings – but these were at our own councils meetings – the meetings that we are elected to serve on not those in another District. I mentioned this to Cllr Cenci as she had failed to attend a housing panel the week before, she had a valid excuse as she was working – but maybe the other Labour councillors who were not at our own planning committee were also working. But if Cllr Cenci is now going to be checking the attendance at meetings I hope we may see a Tory at the next East Housing panel, as not one of the 6 Tories in East Ipswich could attend, we did receive belated apologies from one but you would have thought one of the other 5 could have substituted. So maybe Cllr Cenci needs to make sure her own group turn up for meetings before she highlights the lack of Labour councillors at a meeting that they did not even have to attend!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

My week ahead, 15 - 20 December 2014

Monday 15 December, 4pm – Culture and Leisure portfolio meeting
7pm – Labour Group

Wednesday 1t December, 20m – Visit to Military Charity at Imperial War Museum

Thursday 18 December, 6pm – Borough Scrutiny meeting

Saturday 20 December, 10am – Labour campaigning in East Ipswich

Last week I mentioned that the meetings I was planning to attend during the week have been poorly supported by the Lib Dems and the Tories in the past. Well, the pattern of non-attendance continued.

The first meeting on Monday was the Culture and Leisure working group – an important meeting as we were discussing the budget but the Lib Dem member failed to turn up or send their apologies but I am sure that will not stop the Lib Dems commenting on the budget in the New Year. At least the Tories did turn up if at times it was embarrassing for them when discussing having to cut spending on items that should in truth be funded by the Tory run County Council.

By Thursday the non - attendance bug had spread as we had our final Housing Panel meetings of the year, the East Panel saw both the Tories and the Lib Dems fail to turn up or tend their apologies and the South West Panel was also devoid of opposition councillors. At least the Tories from the North West did turn up for the panel meeting but it was disappointing that not one opposition councillor was in attendance later in the evening for the 2014 Tenant Awards.

The panel meetings were also the first opportunity for both councillors and tenants to discuss the planned council rents for next year, even know there was a lack of Tory councillors at the panel meetings I am sure it will not stop them criticising us when the subject of council rents comes to full council.

Interesting to see if the Lib Dems turn up for Scrutiny this week!

On a more positive note, it was good to join 6th Formers from Northgate School on Saturday as they planted fruit trees on a piece of land near Sidegate Lane. The pupils with help and funding from the Borough Council and the Area Committee have turned a piece of waste land into a small community garden.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

My week ahead, 8 - 14 December 2014

Monday 8 December, 7pm – Culture and Leisure Working Group

Wednesday 10 December, 6pm – East Ipswich Housing group

Thursday 11 December, 6pm – Area Committee Chair meeting

Saturday 13 December, 11am – Tree planting at community allotment, Inverness Rd with Northgate pupils

Christmas is getting closer but the fast pace of life continues and it is still meeting after meeting as this is the time of year when we become focused on setting next year’s budget.

I hope the opposition groups decided to become involved in the budget setting procedure; we have offered them the opportunity to contribute over the last three years with differing results. Some working groups have seen the two opposition groups fully contribute but other budget setting meetings have seen little contribution.

We were never offered the opportunity to contribute when the Tories/Lib Dems were in power but we felt from the start that it was important to involve all councillors.

Which make the comments from the Tories about secret deals and behind closed door meetings so unbelievable. From talking to a number of Tories, when they were in power their own group were not even informed of what was going on, all the power sat in the laps of a only three councillors.

We also have an East Housing Panel meeting this week and it has been noticeable that in the last 18 months the opposition groups have started to attend. Maybe they were given a hint that attending maybe a good idea after their former Housing spokesman made a comment at Full Council that indicated he did not even know that certain Tory councillors were members of the Housing panels.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Suffolk SAY

Tonight I joined colleague Sandy Martin in attending and youth community event at Northgate School - was brilliant to hear what our young residents think and was so impressed in their view that mental health should be an issue given much more consideration by both schools and councils.

I look forward to further meetings and also for those young people to get more involved in the North East Area Committee.

We are lucky to have such passionate young residents in this town - thanks to @SuffolkSAY for their involvement.

Rhetoric - something Cameron is good at

Failed promises from 2010, the deficit target, immigration target but it is OK as the Ipswich Tory leader tells me she thinks it is OK to make these promises and not keep them as they are just 'aspirational' aims.

That is OK then, just promise what you want in your manifesto as it does not matter if you can't deliver it!