Sunday 30 August 2015

My week ahead, 1- 6 September 2015

Tuesday 1 September, 6pm – Audit Committee

Saturday/Sunday – Duke of Edinburgh Award exhibition

We are currently heavily involved in a scheme to improve and modernise Ipswich Museum, a plan that will cost money- Labour run Ipswich Borough Council have promised a large contribution but we also depend on private funders plus a large grants from outside organisations.

The good news is that in Ipswich we seem to have all party support, and we hope that the Tory run County Council also support and contribute- of course the County Council should be the organisation that funds museums in the county, fortunately in Ipswich we still run the Museum service as I can imagine if the Tories run it the building would now be mothballed or the service moved to Newmarket.

But as I mentioned earlier it is great we have all party support for the project in Ipswich so knowing that I was disappointed with a tweet from the Ipswich Tory leaders which implied she would be happy if museums started to charge again, the reason for the tweet is that museums are now struggling to ends meet as Tory cuts begin to take hold. But the plan to charge is so short sighted – Museums have been a success story over the last 20 years and the main reason has been the scrapping of entrance fees, attendance numbers have gone through the roof, museums have become more ‘visitor’ friendly, charging again would just see that trend quickly reversed.

Attendance figures have increased but still more work has to be done to get more children visiting, more visitors from under privileged backgrounds – and schemes to promote museums to these people costs money and money worth spending.

Introducing admission fees will see attendance numbers drop and museums become a place that only the middle classes go to.

Sunday 23 August 2015

My week ahead, 24 - 30 August 2015

Monday 24 August, 6pm – Labour campaigning in Central Ipswich

Wednesday 26 August, 11am – Labour campaigning in Rushmere Ward

Saturday 29 August, 10am - Labour campaigning in South East Ipswich

Last week of August, and the last week with no meetings till Christmas but a good opportunity to get some Summer campaigning in.

Today has been a fantastic day as the Sky ride returned to Ipswich, Brilliant to see the thousands of people from young to old cycling the car free Ipswich streets. And what a show British Cycling put on – a cycle tricks show, a GB BMX star, bikes on show from Wiggo and Victoria Pendleton and all that was at the Alderman Rd rec Hub – there were further activities on show at the Town Hall, with tandems and penny farthings to try and ride.

Even the local paper quoted a couple from Colchester who wished their home town had an event like this.

Sky and British Cycling do not just pick our name out of the hat it happens because we have some great Council Officers in the events team, we have good local partners like Elmy Cycles, Crafted and others but we also have a Labour run council who believe this is the sort of thing we should be doing. Today proves the hard work is all worthwhile.

What we do not get is any praise or even a quiet ‘well done’ from our two Tory MPs but that should not come as surprise to anyone!

Saturday 22 August 2015

Made it!

Saturday 22 August 2015, Crafted Classique Sportive - Cult Bar Ipswich - Suffolk Coast - 100km

Very hot day , but a great event - thanks to Crafted, Ipswich Borough Council, Elmy Cycles, Cult Bar and all the great sponsors and friends

Great (but hot ) ride, bacon sarnie, coffee, beer, massage and hog roast - brilliant event!

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Tour of Britain returns to Suffolk

Tuesday 18 August, Tour of Britain launch - media ride. Thetford

Suffolk is becoming a cycling hot spot and Ipswich is doing its best to not only be involved but also to help. Today saw the Tour of Britian media launch and I got the chance to ride alongside the cycling team that ex England cricketer Matt Prior helps fund - the One Pro team, it may have been a bit soggy but was great to cycle the 15 miles alongside some of Britain's pro cyclists.

So the Tour follows the Women's Tour to Ipswich, but that is not all the cycling we have - on Saturday we have the Crafted Classique Sportive, Sunday the Sky ride hits the streets of Ipswich and later in the year the local theatre, the New Wolsey gets in the act with the cycling based play - Beryl - Ipswich is really at home on two wheels.

Cycling also seems to put a smiles on peoples faces, great for health and if we can reduce the number of cars on the road that is also a bonus. Labour run Ipswich Borough Council should be proud of the part it has played in making Ipswich a real cycling boom town.

Sunday 16 August 2015

My week ahead, 17 - 22 August 2015

Monday 17 August, 3pm – NE Agenda setting meting
4pm – Culture portfolio meeting
6pm – Labour campaigning in South West Ipswich

Tuesday 18 August, Tour of Britain, Media launch, and cycle ride – Thetford

Thursday 20 August, Campaigning all day in Rushmere ward, Ipswich

Saturday 22 August, 8am – Crafted Classique Cycle ride – Waterfront

Ipswich – the ‘new’ home of sport

This week I am at the media launch of the Tour of Britain which returns to Ipswich next month, good timing because this Saturday I am (stupidly??) entered into the Crafted Classique 100km cycle ride. The Sportive is yet another example of how Ipswich is defining itself as a sports capital.

Of course we have a head start on becoming the ‘home’ of sport as we are home to the famous Ipswich Town FC! But that is just a start and it is not just the elite sport we attract alongside the Tour of Britain we have the sportive and the Sky ride. On Friday we had our first twilight running race through the town and last week we welcomed the Rugby World Cup to Ipswich.

Much of this is due to the brilliant work of our council officers, who have forged great working partnerships with British Cycling, the FA, SCC and many others. The Labour run council has also given its full support to the drive to make this a real ‘home’ of sport and the building of a new pavilion at Ransomes is another example of the work we are involved in.

We are also lucky to have an internationally acclaimed gymnastics centre plus basketball and handball clubs which are both thriving.

Not that we get any recognition of this work from our local Tories or in particular our Tory MP, Ben Gummer – but then again the Olympic legacy that was promised is only been delivered by local authorities like Ipswich and voluntary bodies, the Tory Government have are removing much of the PE provision in schools and even the Olympic Stadium seems to have been handed over to West Ham at a very low price.

Sunday 9 August 2015

My week ahead, 10 - 16 August 2015

Monday 10 August, 4pm – Meeting with Suffolk FA at Ransomes

Tuesday 11 August, 11am – Welcoming the World Rugby Cup to Ipswich, Cromwell Square 5pm – meeting with Deputy Leader candidate, Ben Bradshaw, Station Hotel

Thursday 13 August, 6pm – Area Committee Chairs meeting, Grafton House

Saturday 15 August, 10am – Labour Campaigning, North East Ipswich

A good week ahead for me a mix of politics and sport – with two big cycling events coming up over the next few weeks this week it is football and rugby taking centre stage.

On Monday I am attending a meeting with the Suffolk FA looking at our plans for Ransomes, work on the pavilion should start next month.

Some might have expected an apology from certain Ipswich Tories as they were always quick to go to print and tell anyone who would listen that we planned to build council houses on the site, but I never expected the ;likes of Judy Terry, Kevin Algar or Eddie Phillips to apologise.

We also have the Rugby World Cup coming to Ipswich on Tuesday, slightly more low profile than the Olympic Torch relay and the Commonwealth Baton event but I am sure Ipswich residents will make Tuesday a great day for all.

Also on Tuesday, we have another Deputy Labour Leader candidate coming to Ipswich to speak to members and supporters, it will give at least one Ipswich Tory activist another opportunity to put numerous lies in his blog. Last week for the visit of Angela Eagle he informed his readers how many Labour councillors attended the event and even used a photograph as evidence, trouble was there were more councillors in the photo that he counted!

Ipswich Tories were out in Rushmere Ward on Saturday, not that I or my neighbours received a leaflet but rumour has it Mr Gummer was asking for residents views on the town centre, thought it may be a bit late to ask as he has nailed his support to the Ipswich Central Plan – and rubbished the plans of the Borough Council - what now if residents do not agree with that Ipswich Central Plan?

Sunday 2 August 2015

My week ahead, 2 - 8 August 2015

Sunday 2 August, 5pm – Meeting with Stella Creasy

Tuesday 4 August, 6pm – meeting with Angela Eagle

Wednesday 5 August, 7pm – Charity Indian meal, the Alishan Pavilion, Kesgrave

I see it is a compliment that in less than one week, three of the candidates for Deputy Labour leader are coming to speak to Labour members in Ipswich. It shows that in Ipswich we have a strong local party with a reputation for hard campaigning plus we still seek to help our colleagues in the rest of Suffolk and North Essex.

The race for Deputy leader will be very close and i have been impressed by all of the candidates so far.

But it is the Labour leadership election that is making most of the headlines, I tweeted last week that many local Tories seem only want to talk about it. This was further highlighted this week when our Tory MP decided to use his alst column before his (long) holiday to give us his view on the race to be Labour leader.

He seems to have decided the result and was very critical of Corbyn (a paragraph after being complimentary about him!) – Gummer description of Corbyn – “who is republican and a sympathizer of Communist and extremist organizations elsewhere in the world”

Thank you for that Mr Gummer, but not sure I need your help in deciding who I will vote for – But if you wish I will repay you the compliment in 2019 and tell you who to choose to take over from Cameron.

But as you seem to be critical of him because of his supposed support for extremist organisations, then would like to know what he thought of Mrs Thatcher and her support and friendship of a certain General Pinochet?

But what Mr Gummer does not mention in his last column is anything about the crisis in Calais, he mentions he is going on holiday, guess it is not by ferry or eurotunnel? But this is an important issue to many of us in Ipswich, those whose businesses are being damaged by the events in France, those who are going on holiday via Kent and also the many who are concerned about the plight of those migrants trying to enter the UK, but the thousands who are risking their lives to cross from Africa into Europe.

Cameron and the Tories have failed miserably to help anyone – his use of the word ‘swarm’ did not help the situation and his comments just seemed an attempt to appease the right wing of his own party. The mess we left Libya in is one of the contributing factors to the mess in Calais and Southern Europe. But the biggest failure of Cameron and the Tories has been the failure to help remedy the Syrian refugee situation.

18 Months ago, wanted to go to war with Syria, Parliament stopped him but since then we have had (UN figures) over 3 million refugees leave Syria, mainly to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan – we (Cameron) promised to help – so far the UK has taken 185 refugees – and we wonder why there is a problem in both the Mediterranean and Calais. Cameron should hold his head in shame. Maybe after your holiday Mr Gummer you may wish to use your column to tell us why you seem happy we have taken so few refugees and give us your opinion on the Calais crisis rather than advising Labour members who they should choose to be our next leader.

Saturday 1 August 2015

Tory run Suffolk still seem incapable of looking after education

Education is one topic where we should have campaigned harder on during the General Election, the reason may have been that we did not have a stronger message nationally but I do believe education is one issue where the message is different in each region.

Tory run Suffolk has – and still is letting our children down, poor Ofsted reports from all over the county and their only solution was ‘Raising the Bar’ which seemed more about glitzy awards evenings and consultations with London organisations that actually getting into schools and helping. At the same time as they were running ‘Raising the Bar’ they were cutting the funding to school improvement service!

But I do have a small crumb of sympathy for Tory run Suffolk, the Ofsted inspections were held in such a way that many schools could not gain a good report- the reason? To make it easier for the Tory Government (Gove and bag carrier Gummer) to push through forced academisation. Not that the County Council fought their corner there seemed to an unwritten policy to get rid of many schools as possible from their control.

The Government said you had to accept the Ofsted report and if that means you had to become an academy, that so what? It had to happen, no matter what staff (or parents of they were asked) thought.

But when Ofsted failed the County Council School Improvement service it then seemed OK to ignore their findings – no threat of the County Council being taken over!

As we approached May, even the local Tory MPs broke their silence and criticised the Tory Council over their slow progress in improving educational standards but since May silence again other than try and take some sort of credit when a good Ofsted report arrives.

So have Suffolk got their act together now? It seems not. This week i received an email from the Suffolk Governor Services, now informing me that I can book Governor Courses online and they have set me an account up. Trouble is I stopped being a Governor when Sidegate Primary was forced into being an academy; in fact they stopped having a Governing Body (no they seemed to have changed their mind since).

So we have Suffolk Education services sending me a letter thinking I am a governor at a school that they no longer run! A further letter will arrive soon giving me a password so I can book courses! Of course it is us the council tax player who has paid for this letter and the next one – and there is not even an email address or phone number I can phone up to tell them off their mistake!

If they can’t get a simple matter like this right how can Tory run Suffolk be trusted to look after our children’s education?