Sunday 29 March 2015

My week (s) ahead - now till 7 May 2015

Monday 30 March – 7 May – Campaigning (hard pounding)

From now till Election day, I will be spending any free time campaigning for a Labour gain in Ipswich.

Much has been made of the debate/ well it wasn’t a debate because Cameron refused but at the end of the leaders question time it seems that Ed and Labour have had the boost and even took a healthy lead in the latest YouGov poll. But i will not be taking any notice of that, it is talking to residents, delivering leaflets and then talking again to more residents that will win this seat.

As Tony McNulty stated today: Best thing @UKLabour can do with that poll - forget about it. Fight for every vote, every street, every seat. It ain't over till it's over.

But it seems the Tories have got themselves into a panic over the debate and the latest poll, local Ipswich Tories have blamed the BBC!!! (the debate was on Channel 4/Sky)

Now to blame the BBC is just stupid but it is the national Tory Party that has shown its true colours – the #nasty party

Certain Tory MPs, Ministers and Grant Shapps have quickly started attacking Ed Miliband (other Tory Mps in marginal seats have also been quick to attack Cameron!)

One scare tactic the Tories use is to suggest that the SNP will be calling the shots in Westminster if Labour win, they are less vocal about a possible coalition between the Tories and the two Unionist groups from Northern Ireland.

You get used to political opponents attacking each other but I was surprised to see our Prime Minister resorting to attacking Ed with a quite nasty attack – why? Running scared?

“A man fixated on hurling abuse at his opponent or a man focused on bettering the lives of the many? #MilibandMustWin”

Wednesday 25 March 2015

To help us all remember Aaron McClure

This week on the Whitehouse Estate in North West Ipswich, the Borough Council asked Lorraine McClure the mother of Aaron to join the Ipswich Mayor in breaking the first ground in McClure Way.

This is a small development that will see much needed council houses built in the west of the town. The Ipswich Labour party promised residents that we would build new council homes and we have kept that promise.

But what is so special about McClure Way is that it is named after a local Whitehouse boy, Aaron McClure who lost his life in Afghanistan whilst serving with our local regiment the Royal Anglians.

I was honoured to be able to help the council and the family join together to get a road named after 'our' own brave soldier from Ipswich.

This will now be a permanent memorial to Aaron, one close to where he lived, it will help his family, his friends, his regiment and the people of Ipswich to remember this brave young man.

Sunday 22 March 2015

My week ahead, 23 - 29 March 2015

Monday 23 March, 4pm – Culture Portfolio meeting
6pm – Labour Group campaigning

Tuesday 24 March, 10am – Ulster Avenue, start of building council houses,

Wednesday 25 March, 6pm - Labour Group campaigning

Friday 27 March, 7pm – ‘Flying Start’ – launch of ‘short’ campaign to elect a Labour MP for Ipswich

Saturday 28 March, 10am – Labour Campaigning – SE Ipswich

Sunday 29 March, 11am – Labour Campaigning – SW Ipswich

More ‘Hard Pounding’ last week and more next week but council work still continues, and had a great visit last week to Holywells Park (a ‘must visit’ for all Ipswich residents this Summer) and this week i have a visit Tuesday that I have been looking forward to for a long time.

Labour run Ipswich Borough will start building council houses next to Ulster Avenue, that is a moment worth celebrating on its own but this Tuesday it will be even more memorable as the new street of houses is to be named after Aaron McClure - Aaron lived round the corner but lost his life in Afghanistan in 2007 whilst serving with our local regiment, the Royal Anglians.

I am proud to have been involved in having this street names after Aaron and it will be an honour to be there on Tuesday when Lorraine McClure ‘breaks the first ground’ to commence the building of much needed council houses in this part of the town.

Wednesday 18 March 2015

If you visit one place in Ipswich this Summer make it Holywells Park

Today I was fortunate enough to visit Holywells park in South East Ipswich. Work is now almost complete after Ipswich Borough Council received a grant of £2.8 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Big Lottery Fund (BIG) for the Holywells "Parks For People" restoration project.

It really is a fantastic place to visit and so much more is now planned to make the park a great place to visit, and by Easter the new cafe in the stable block should be open. Other work that has been completed includes:

1. Park staff and volunteer facilities now provided in the leaf yard;
2. Entrances have been improved and made more welcoming; new and refurbished footpaths around the park now allow greater accessibility;
3. New CCTV will provide greater security;
4. New benches and seating;
5. Interpretation panels of the parks heritage and environmental features;
6. A new well-being trail with appropriate equipment and a new piece of electronic play equipment aimed at the teenagers who use the park.

For me the standout attractions will be the Stable Block visitor centre, the Orangery and the outdoor performance area.

So if you visit one place in Ipswich this Summer make it Holywells Park.

Saturday 14 March 2015

My week ahead, 16 - 22 March 2015

Monday 16 March, 6pm – Labour Group campaigning

Wednesday 18 March, 2pm - Visit to Holywells Park

Thursday 19 March, 7pm – New Wolsey – to see ‘United We Stand’

Saturday 21 March, 10am – Labour Campaigning – SW Ipswich

Sunday 22 March, 11am – Labour Campaigning – NE Ipswich

Another good days campaigning just finished with support coming from London as part of their #Lab3seats challenge. Good response on the doorstep but there is also certainly a Green and UKIP vote out there but not many seem keen to support the Tories and Ben Gummer. But you do find the odd Tory but almost impossible to find a Lib Dem anywhere in the town beyond St Margaret’s/ But as we had another meeting this week where the Lib Dems failed to turn up, you do wonder why they bother to stand all all.

Thursday will give us a break from campaigning as we go to the New Wolsey to see a play about industrial action from the early 70’s – it does remind us how anti union and anti the working class the Tories can get when they have got their feet under the table – even more reason to get rid of Cameron (and Gummer) in May!

We have had the final council meeting of the year cancelled, so we may now never get the apology that is due from Tory Cllr Stroet for the false statements he made at the last Full Council meeting. Then again the Tory leader showed how hypocritical the Tories are when she accused us of bad behavior and asked residents to look at a video on 'You tube' the same video that showed her applauding Cllr Stroet when he decided to make his false statements and partake in childish name calling!

Sunday 8 March 2015

My week ahead, 9 - 15 March 2015

Monday 9 March, 4pm Culture portfolio meeting, Crown Pools
6pm – Labour Group campaigning

Wednesday 11 March, Visit to local military unit

Thursday 12 March, 6pm – Culture Working Group

Friday 13 March, 7pm – St Helen’s School PTA Quiz

Saturday 14 March, 10am – Labour Campaigning – NE Ipswich

Sunday 15 March, 11am – Labour Campaigning – NW Ipswich

Two weeks ago we were informed by the Tory Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk that over 60 front line police posts are to go in the county and this week at the North East Area Committee we found out how it would impact on our own Safer Neighbourhood team and it is not good news.

We are losing one front line policeman and that is on top of the local inspector holding two jobs, the continuing use of secondments from the SNT to other posts. The Tory Crime Commissioner promised to keep SNT’s in the town and some could say he has fulfilled that promise but we also found out on Thursday that on paper it may seem we keeping our North East SNT but in reality operationally they have been merged with the South East SNT.

Our SNT do a great job, in particular combating anti social behaviour in the area and more importantly participating in project that want to help keep our young residents away from crime. This job has now been made much harder by Tory cuts.

So much for them being the so called Party of ‘Law and order’ – no wonder the local Tory councillors kept their eyes focused on their committee papers when the police spoke about the cuts. Embarrassed?

Last week was a great one for campaigning, but the Tories were also out in large numbers - Reputedly they spent most of their time looking for missing Ipswich Tory councillors!

Monday 2 March 2015

Was the playwright Allan Bennett talking about the Ipswich Tories?

The playwright Alan Bennett has been asked to name what the English excel at and he's gone for ‘Hypocrisy’.

Did he decide that after witnessing the Ipswich Tories in action at the last Full Council meeting?

Last Wednesday we had the Full Council budget debate, from the start the Tory Group were on the defensive as their amendment was not an alternative to our medium term plan as other than a few specific proposals for this year there was nothing set in concrete for further budgets – so more (very) short term rather than medium term.

Labour have also attempted to include all councillors in planning the budget, with councillors able to suggest further spending plus possible cuts at working groups and at a final scrutiny meeting. But surprisingly none of the suggested savings in the Tory amendment had been mentioned before, in fact the opposite as at the budget scrutiny meeting, Tory Cllr George Debman was very vocal in his opinion that no money should be cut from the area committee budgets – surprise, surprise – cuts to area committee budgets were the mainstay of the Tory amendment!

But when it came to hypocrisy the Tories really came into their own when it came to their attitude to ‘name calling’ banter’ ‘insults’ .

Now I am not making excuses for some of the childish (at times) behaviour in the council chamber and I have been no saint myself but it can only be described a sheer hypocrisy when the Tory leader moans about a comment about her when only minutes earlier she had applauded a Tory councillor for calling me the ‘mouth of the north’.

A number of commentators have compared Full Council with the behaviour at PMQ’s – stating the standard of debate puts people off politics, but is that true? Do more people watch PMQ’s to see the passion shown by politicians? Mr Cameron did promise (another broken one) that he would stop the ‘punch and Judy’ style of PMQs but has done the opposite and has even allowed his whips to organise planned heckling of Ed Balls during the last few budget debates.

Cllr Cenci seems to have got very angry over some of the comments made last week but then describes the actions of Tory Cllr Stroet as just ‘banter’. Of course you often wonder if Cllr Cenci is actually angry or just ‘posturing’ – her own description of the way she has acted at certain meetings.

But let me tell Cllr Cenci and Cllr Stroet you can call me as many names as you like, one of your activists (and a candidate) has spent the last few years calling myself and fellow councillors names on his blog – all it proves is that you have lost the argument.

I have certainly been called far worse in the army – and often by close friends and colleagues but when former opponents in the army have spent most of their time either attempting to shoot me or blow myself and my fellow soldiers up, I am not going to get too upset when Cllr Stroet calls me the ‘mouth of the north’.

What I will not accept is when false accusations are made at Full Council and that is what also happened at Full Council and since then further inaccurate statements have been made by certain Ipswich Tories.

Cllr Stroet indicated that when a former Tory Cllr, Richard Pope was chair of the North East Area Committee he did not take his allowance but when I became chair, I rushed to get my allowance.
Now a simple fact check – Cllr Pope was never chair of the area committee and never entitled to or even offered an allowance.
Back in 2013, a Labour councillor was stuck on a train and the Tories decided to play silly games and not support my nomination to be chair, this left a stalemate and would have left an officer in the chair, and a public meeting would have ended without anything being discussed. Now I was disappointed that the Tories decided to try and score cheap points over the election of the Chair but I then decided to quickly second Cllr Pope rather than have another 4-4 vote and leave the meeting to be chaired by an Officer. The reason I did this was that I was sure the many residents who had turned up for the meeting were there to hear about matters concerning our local area rather than witness petty party squabbling and this seemed to easiest way to get the meeting to go ahead as planned.

So Cllr Pope was chair for that meeting – not the committee, we also agreed that myself and Cllr Pope would attend the agenda setting meeting with officers later in the month to make sure the work on our action plan for the North East continued.

So Cllr Pope did not refuse his allowance and was never chair. Now since then we have heard that he would have donated his allowance to charity- not I can’t remember ever hearing that claim before- and it is not as simple as it sounds as much of the allowance goes in tax- so would he had given the full allowance to charity or taken off the tax part first?
Then we have the point of me rushing to get an allowance- Almost correct, I did rush – but to stop my allowance after the Tories played their stupid games over the election of a chair. I asked officers on the night to ensure my allowance stopped and backed that up with an email in the morning. When I was elected chair 2 months later the officers informed that they would start my allowance again.

Now I have mentioned this to the Tory leader, who can’t remember hearing Cllr Stroet accuse me of rushing to claim my allowance but she did give me an apology for her own behaviour when she clapped (not that I asked for one) Cllr Stroet but as I have already indicated she can call me as many names as she likes or applaud when someone else does but I will complain if false statements are made at full council.

Now I would have thought the former Cllr Pope would not have been too happy that his name has been dragged into the argument but then again he may not want to say too much as it is believed he may be competing with another former Tory councillor (Mrs Terry) to replace Cllr Stroet in Bixley.

The final display of Tory hypocrisy has been by a Tory activist who claimed that full council “There was also a personal attack on former Tory councillor, Richard Pope.” – Now I know that this activist and Cllr Stroet may not see eye to eye but I have to point out to Mr Algar, the only person who mentioned Mr Pope at Full Council was Cllr Stroet! He did this of course when he painted us all a picture of Cllr Pope as a hard working councillor who gave away his allowances to charity, funny that as I believe Mr Pope claimed his full councilor allowance in his last 9 months as a councillor but in the same period only attended one meeting.

So Alan Bennett may be partially right as certain people in Britain do excel at hypocrisy!

Sunday 1 March 2015

My week ahead, 2- 8 March 2015

Monday 2 March, 5pm – Labour Group campaigning

Tuesday 3 March, 6pm – Museum presentation

Wednesday 4 March, 6pm – East Ipswich Housing Panel

Thursday 5 March, 6pm – NE Ipswich Partnership meeting
7pm – North East Ipswich Area Committee – St John’s Church

Saturday 7 March, 10am – Labour Campaigning – SW Ipswich

Sunday 8 March, 11am – Labour Campaigning – NW Ipswich

Another busy week for me with meetings as well as campaigning on the agenda. On Wednesday, we have the East Housing Panel, 5 members are councillors and the rest of the panel are residents. We have 3 Labour councillors plus one Tory and one Lib Dem but to make it easier for us to be able to hold a full meeting, any other councillor from each group can act as a substitute. I mention that as at our last meeting neither the Lib Dems or the Tories were represented and as discussion of the council rent rise was on that agenda it seems to have been a slightly embarrassing error by the two opposition groups. Not that it stopped the Tories from ‘posturing’ at Full Council when the rent rise was discussed.

It will be interesting to see if the two opposition members turn up on Wednesday (or one of the 5 other Tories or 2 Lib Dems who can act as a substitute)

On Thursday we have our next Area Committee, again you wonder why the Tories turn up as they seem so against the idea! Maybe they will explain to residents when asking for £4,000 towards improvements to part of Bixley that if they had been in power that sort of money would not have been available. It is funny that I sure I can remember them falling over themselves to be photographed at Cherry Lane Rec when area committee money was used to make the park (in Tory held Bixley) such a great local amenity!