Thursday 27 July 2017

Letting down our soldiers?

Last night at the Ipswich Borough Council meeting, our Labour Group put forward a motion asking for the Government to consider scrapping the 1% pay cap on Public Service workers, Cllr Bryony Rudkin proposed the motion and it was seconded by Sandra Gage, both commented on how hard some public workers were finding it hard to get by with some nurses now having to rely on food banks.

Even members of the Tory Cabinet are now considering supporting the removal of the pay cap but currently the Chancellor is holding firm on his strict stance. The election result in June plus what their own residents are telling them has caused a number of Tory MPs to consider their own position on the wage cap. Philip Hammond, the Chancellor may not be happy with some of his MPs wavering but he would have been much more comfortable with the response of the Ipswich Tory Group.

Cllr Harsant stated she did understand the hardship that public service workers were bearing but she would still vote against the motion because she felt it was better for the country, I do not agree with her but she at least made a decent attempt at explaining her position, the same could not be said of the other Tories who spoke.

Many said that the current economic situation (all down to Gordon Brown, according to them) meant we could not afford a rise above 1% for anyone - none could explain how it was OK for some of them to vote for a much larger rise for the Tory leaders on the County council last week! Some of the other comments were far more outrageous - Cllr Carnall decided to focus on tuition fees and Corbyn (not sure what that had to do with the wage cap) but when he did speak on the motion he described the contributions by Cllrs Gage and Rudkin as 'sob stories'.

Many of their front bench seemed to enjoy informing us all that public service workers would not get a pay cut, Nadia Cenci stated she would like to give all soldier pay of £100,000 but still would not vote for the lifting of a 1% pay cap on our armed forces.

Cllr Phillips indicated that independent pay review boards settled public service pay - he was almost right, in the case of the Armed Services the Government just ignores the findings and pay review boards for other public service workers are often told that they can't recommend pay rises of over 1% before they start. So much for any form of independence.

As Bryony Rudkin later commented, the mask had slipped and the 'nasty party' was back with a bang. By this time, I had decided to speak not only because of the anger I now felt after listening to the Tories speak but also by the hypocrisy of some who stayed silent.

Robin Vickery is both a Borough and a County Councilor and has often spoken up for the Armed Services, no real surprise as he is a dedicated member of the British Legion and holds a senior post within the Suffolk British Legion. Earlier in the meeting he had asked a question about Suffolk Day where he had lamented the lack of floral displays at the recent event, his last comment had been that he had hoped their would be a better show when we remembered the battle of Passchendaele on Monday., not a surprising comment due to his role in the British Legion, but when it came to voting for a motion to ask the Tory Government to lift the 1% wage cap on our current soldiers, sailors and airmen he refused but only a week earlier he had voted for a 15% pay rise for Tory County leader, Colin Noble.

As a senior member of the British Legion I would have expected him not only to vote for but speak up for any motion that supported our current armed forces. I had earlier spoken to say that a 1% pay rise would not have stopped me from wanted to be a member of the army but this Tory Government is not just asking soldiers to take home just a 1% rise it is actually reducing their weekly pay packet as they look to introduce the 'Armed Forces Future Accommmodation Model' - a plan that is so flawed that serving senior officers are even going public in their criticism of the proposed scheme. This would mean that some young soldiers could actually see an 8-9% pay cut. But this did not seem to sway Cllr Vickery who still voted against the motion. Maybe now is the time that Cllr Vickery looked at his position within the Suffolk British Legion.

On this day - in 1945

Saturday 1 July 2017

Prefab Post

A few years ago the Ipswich Tories listened to the local Tory Councillor for Rushmere (Judy Terry) and decided it was time to knock down the Prefab bungalows in the North East of the town.

The Tarran Prefabs were built just after the war, with over 19,000 built in the UK, all erected under the Temporary Housing Act. Life expectancy of the Prefabs was meant to be 15 years but in Ipswich they are still going strong!

Partly due to the location, the fantastic gardens and also partly down to the community spirit the residents living in these houses seemed to have.

So when Tory, Judy Terry came up with her plan to knock them down she faced stiff opposition from the residents and I was happy as a local councilor to support them.

Fast forward to 2017, and the Labour run council has put on new roofs, installed new kitchens and our Labour County Councillor, Sandra Gage has manged to get the verges repaired and drop down kerbs put in place for the residents who required them.

It was during the campaign to save them from Tory bulldozers that we became aware that their is a 'Prefab Museum' a group supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The group came to Ipswich to speak to some of the residents and in this months issue of the 'Prefab Post' you can read about how one of our residents June Kapitan first moved into their Prefab in 1955, leaving in 1964 but returning again to live in Inverness Road again in 2010.

If you wasnt to know more about Prefabs look here