Sunday 22 February 2015

My week ahead, 23 February - 1 March 2015

Monday 23 February, 5pm – Suffolk Police briefing on job cuts
6pm – Labour Group meeting

Wednesday 25 February, 10am - Northgate Foundation meeting
6pm – Ipswich Borough Full Council Meeting, Town Hall

Thursday 26 February, 7pm – Charity quiz night hosted by the Mayor of Ipswich

Saturday 28 February, 10am – Labour Campaigning – ‘National Campaigning Day’ – SE Ipswich

Sunday 1 March, 11am – Labour Campaigning – SW Ipswich

Thais week we have Full Council, when we vote on our budget proposals. Not a surprise that the Tories have put in an amendment to our motion. Their ‘mantra’ continues to be ‘0% Council Tax rise – no matter the consequences for local services’.

More interesting will be the behaviour of the remaining three Lib Dem councillors. I would not be surprised if at least two of them support the Tories; at each meeting I attend they become more like ‘yellow’ Tories and further from the Liberal ideals that they are supposed to adhere to!

The Tory amendment does not seem to be the car crash it was last year, which saw their leader lose his job, abstentions and votes against and non-appearance at the meeting of their (at the time) deputy leader of their current leader.

It may not be a car crash but it is obvious to many that their amendment hinges on changes to area committee funding, that (secretively) many of them do not agree with.

So expect another ‘posturing’ performance from Cllr Cenci, as she attempts to base her amendment on changes that many of her group do not agree with. But with each meeting that we attend it seems more about her than the good of Ipswich – bit like having Judy Terry back

Saturday 14 February 2015

My week ahead, 15 - 22 February 2015

Thursday 19 February, 7pm – Ipswich CLP meeting

Saturday 21 February, 10 am – Labour campaigning in East Ipswich

Saturday 22 February, 11 am – Labour campaigning in East Ipswich

Another week of Tory confusion here in Suffolk- the County Scrutiny Committee accepted the arguments of the Labour call in, over the decision to shut Children’s Centres in the county. This will now go back to the Tory Cabinet but then we had the County Budget setting meeting when they pushed through a 0% Council Tax rise even though they may now have to spend money to keep the centres open.

More criminal is the Tory plan to keep reserves high not raise council tax but at the same time preside over one of the worst education authorities in the country. Our children are being failed by a very selfish set of Tory councillors. These children just get one chance at education and are being let down by a council whose only wish is to bribe constituents with a 0% council tax rise.

Here in Ipswich, another Academy is under fire – our Tory MP has crwled out from somewhere and said the school has 7 days to sort the problem out. That is the same school and Academy Chain that he was so quick to praise when they started, and so happy to atke along Michael Gove to be photographed with the new building and meet staff. Not so keen now, hey Mr Gummer.

But it seems that the Academy Chain currently running the school – on Swedish methods has actually almost handed over the running to another chain already in everything but name. The situation at the Ipswich Academy/Holywells is a complete mess that Mr Gummer and Gove through the DfE were heavily involved in causing.

There are many reasons for us needing to get rid of this poor MP, but the state of education in the town (as he works for the Education Secretary) should be the one reason at the top of every voters list.

Mr Gummer also accused me of being a liar – and that some of my tweets were not only lies but aggressive – the term he used is not a common one as he attempted to show off his vocabulary but I asked him for evidence of these lies – he replied that he was busy to look through my time line to find them. I asked him again and this time he said that my blog showed I had little grasp of any real facts.

I asked for an apology for him calling me a liar – he said I would not be getting one. To be honest, I am not that bothered now and hope rather than having pointless arguments on twitter – he seems to have many – he is spending his time attempting to get the schools in Ipswich the help that is so evidently needed, because we know it will not come from the selfish bunch of Tory councillors we have in this county.

Monday 9 February 2015

Young families in Ipswich let down by Tories, Ben Gummer and Nadia Cenci

A number of Tory supporting commentators often mention that the last Tory/Lib Dem administration managed to build more homes than our current Labour run council. But the same commentators fail to mention that it is difficult to build homes when both the Ipswich Tories and Lib Dems are prepared to play the Nimby card and oppose any house building all in the hope of gaining a few cheap votes at the election in May.

Last week we found out that Eric Pickles has ‘called in’ our decision to build 94 new homes on Ravenswood (after being asked to by Ben Gummer). There is no doubt in my mind that this has been done just to try and gain a few votes from residents that were unhappy that council houses were to be built close to their current homes. Interesting that a further planning application from a private developer to build homes at Ravenswood that came to planning committee a few weeks later flew through planning with no objections from local residents and full support from the same Tory and Lib Dem councillors who were so vocal against the planning application from our own council.

Our Tory MP, Mr Gummer and the Tory leader – Nadia Cenci have badly let down the many young families in Ipswich who are in desperate need of new house in the town. Their behaviour has been disgraceful in my eyes and hypocritical as they seemed to have no issue with private homes on Ravenswood or an even bigger council house building scheme on the ‘other’ side of Nacton Road. Ipswich residents need to be informed that their Tory MP supported by Tory councillors are prepared to dash the hopes of a new home for many young families – just because those house would be council owned! Both Ben Gummer and Nadia Cenci should be ashamed that they were willing to campaign against a much needed development because they were not the sort of house that neighbouring residents wanted’ as one resident commented – having a council estate next to their home would see their house devalued! So the local Tories are willing to support short term greed over the hopes and dreams of many other residents?

I am not sure I have ever been so angry by the behaviour of our Tory MP and Tory councillors – Ipswich residents need to know why they have done this – cheap votes! The Lib Dems support of the Tory opposition also shows that in Ipswich they are just yellow Tories and have given up any real ‘liberal’ thoughts.

Here are some points about the planned Ravenswood development – all that seem to indicate how much this was just a decision based on supporting the few in order to gain their votes.

“Ravenswood UVW” is 94 homes out of a total development of 1,300 homes

When looking at the objections made to the development:

• There was no argument about the principle of building houses
• There was no argument about the number of houses
• There was no argument about the design of the houses
• There was no argument about the number of affordable houses
• The sole difference is whether 20 properties should be rented or shared ownership

The Council’s planning application was for:

• 24 shared ownership
• 68 affordable rent
• 2 social rent

A counter proposal put forward by objectors which Ben Gummer backed suggested:

• 44 shared ownership (+20)
• 48 affordable rent (-20)
• 2 social rent

£1.5m of Homes and Communities Agency funding for the scheme is at risk. HCA is an ”executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the DCLG – the same department calling in the application.
£300,000 in abortive work will have been wasted if we are forced to cancel the scheme.

Jobs in the construction industry will be at risk if the scheme does not go ahead.

The homes were specifically weighted towards smaller one and two bed roomed properties to help people hit by the Bedroom Tax who are unable to move.

Ben Gummer made no objection to the larger scheme at Bader Close of 108 council houses for rent. In fact he took Oliver Letwin there to try to claim credit for it. He has used this photo in recent election leaflets.


The behaviour of Mr Gummer in my opinion has been nothing short of disgraceful and I am sure when (and if ) he knocks on doors in Gainsborough, Chantry and on the Racecourse Estate he will not be mentioning that he has stopped the council building much needed council houses!

Sunday 8 February 2015

My week ahead, 9 - 14 February 2015

Monday 9 February, 4pm – Culture Portfolio meeting
6pm – Labour Group campaigning

Saturday 14 February, 11am – Labour campaigning in East Ipswich
Labour fund raising evening

Not many meetings this week, but plenty of casework to catch up with. I would have hoped to be able to spend more time campaigning as we get closer to May but one consequence of this coalition Government is that more people are approaching me to help sort out issued that are often caused by actions of this callous Government so add that to all the casework generated by a failing Tory County Council and it is less time ‘hard pounding’ and more time on the phone or sending out emails.

Tories closing Ipswich Children’s Centres but still Dan Poulter remains silent and Ben Gummer continues to make excuses whilst living in a land of self-denial. This week we find out that the Tories had not even asked Ipswich Borough Council if the Reg Driver Centre (one of the replacement locations for the Quayside Children’s Centres) was even available for hire and if it was, how much it would cost. Just another example of how badly thought out the plan to close these much used facilities is.

Ben Gummer made a big deal of the fact that many of the parents lived closer to Reg Driver than Quayside, so what is he going to say now that we find the Reg Driver Centre may not be available?

Sunday 1 February 2015

'Hard pounding' - how Labour will win in Ipswich

‘Hard pounding’ is how my Commanding Officer in Afghanistan described our tour in 2009. A tour that was dangerous but it did not stop us ‘pounding’ the streets of Sangin. We may have had air power, drones, latest technology but he knew the only way to achieve victory was to ‘pound’ the streets, in doing so meeting and talking to the local Pashtu.

Some may not like to compare electioneering with war, but both campaigns are similar. We know the Tories will win the air war, they have the money, the ‘war chest’ and more friends in the media but what we have is dedicated members and friends who know that this country should not be made to face a further 5 years of Tory/Lib Dem rule.

It is common knowledge that the Tories have already purchased numerous billboard sites as they prepare to try and make the election campaign one about personalities rather than policy. So today I welcome the announcement that Labour will not be producing negative posters with Cameron on. It is not to say that we will not point out the Tory failings – both in leaflets and via social media.

Here in Ipswich, I am sure we will see the Gummer/Sure Start picture hundreds of times as we highlight his failed promises about keeping Children’s Centres open. Even if by reading his latest paper column he seems to be living in some fantasy world of self-denial as he seems to still imply that none have shut!

But nationally Labour are right not to feature Cameron in their campaign posters, the Tory poster last week of Ed and the SNP seemed to back fire on the Tories, but rather than withdraw the poster they just added Gerry Adams to it!

The Tories were attempting to promote the idea that Sinn Fein and Labour are ready to work together in a coalition. But what I would say is that I wish Sinn Fein did take their seats in London as I believe it would help cement the peace process in the long term.

So how Labour will win not only in Ipswich but in the country is by talking to more voters than all the other political groups, Ed has asked us to have 4 million conversations in the next 4 months and we will only do that by ‘hard pounding’ – so what a great day we had yesterday, making hundreds of contacts as we had over 40 of us out in East Ipswich knocking on doors, having those conversations and at the same time we had a street stall on the Corn Hill and our regular councillor surgery in South West Ipswich. So the Tories may win the ‘air war’, may have more negative posters, more money but it will be Labour who win the ‘ground war’.

So I hope many more residents join us for some ‘hard pounding’ as we aim to get David Ellesmere elected as Labour MP for Ipswich

My week ahead, 2 - 8 February 2015

Monday 2 February, 4pm – NE Area Committee agenda setting meeting
6pm – Labour Group campaigning

Thursday 5 February, 6pm –Area Committee Chairs meeting

Sunday 8 February, 11am – Labour campaigning in South East Ipswich

This week we had to vote on a rent rise for our council tenants, we followed Government guidelines but we still came under attack from the Tories for raising rent – but they had no alternative plan, they had failed to attend two of the housing panels where the rise was discussed with tenants and they could not explain how they could be critical of us but ignore the fact that our neighbouring Tory run councils put their council rents up by a higher percentage.

It was just a case of poor opposition politics, being critical but with no alternative to put forward themselves and after the fiasco with their alternative budget last year, you would have thought they would have learnt by now. But it is obvious that this is a Tory Group that discuss very little between themselves, do very little preparation and that are split ideologically with very little in common between any of them.

There is little if any group discipline and that was obvious not only at full council but at other Borough meetings during the week.

Not a great week for the Tories, the poor performance of their leader at Full Council, their campaign for improved car parks (when it was already in our budget) the closing of Ipswich Children’s Centres by Suffolk Tories (with no opposition from them) and then at an Area Committee one of their councillors seemed to be against a 20mph speed limit on a housing estate because if a child gets run over it is either their own fault or due the failure of education.

It was not only the Tories who had a nightmare at Full Council, the Lib Dems were an embarrassment – first of all only two of their 3 members turned up and then we had a mumbled apology for the absence of their third councillor about being held up by traffic whilst at the same time a member of the Press seemed to be indicating that the missing Lib Dem was never aiming to attend!

But more embarrassing in my mind was the way they voted with the Tories against the rent rise, they seem to have no political thoughts of their own and just have become the St Margaret’s branch of the local Tory Party - #YellowTories