Sunday, 17 June 2012

Balls To Fathers Day? The Race For Life

The Race for Life event at Chantry Park today was a real success with hundreds of women jogging or walking 5km to raise awareness of breast cancer.

I went along to cheer on a family member with my husband, son and grandchildren but I have to admit that I felt a little annoyed, at the choice of day.

Men are being marginalised in so many areas of family life. They are second best when it comes to family law, are ridiculed in adverts, and have a bad press when it comes to split families. Women have come a long way in striving for equality but the process has seen a reversal in how the sexes are treated, in my opinion.

Fathers Day is the one day of the year that we can all come together and say thankyou to all the men who support, protect and give love to their families. It should hold equal importance to Mothers Day. so why on earth was it sabotaged like this when there are so many Sundays, or even a Saturday from which to choose an event like Race For Life? Men hardly get the recognition they deserve. Why begrudge the one day where they do?

I even suspected at one point that it was done on purpose, but dismissed this as being too spiteful to contemplate. I even tried to come up with some reasons why this day was picked. After all a father is lost if something happens to the mother of their children through something as awful as cancer. But as hard as I tried, I could think of no good reason why Fathers Day was not considered a celebration in its own right and kept sacrosanct.

Many men not only have their own children to enjoy the day with, but also have to find time to visit their own fathers. With many split units this can involve step fathers too, needing the whole day to juggle around priorities so that there are no upsets.The Race for Life was a huge event which took up several hours leaving a minimal part of the day in which to fit the logistics that reflect family life today.

No, I'm sorry, I found it unforgiveable and it marred the whole occasion for me. I would love someone to give me an explanation for which I would gladly apologise that I got this wrong. Anyone out there know?

And if so how about a Men's only racing event to promote awareness about testicular cancer, next Mothers Day.

We could call it Balls to Mothers Day!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Rebuilding Chantry School - How it happened

News about Stoke Park Ward

The following is written by Ben Gummer and is printed in full from his newsletter.

Last week I wrote about the fantastic news that Chantry High School is going to be rebuilt. This week, I thought that I would tell you how it all happened.

This news was long overdue. To those who know Chantry - especially its students and teachers - it is no secret that the school's buildings badly need attention. Proposals for rebuilds have come and gone since the 1980s. The last government promised a new school but failed to build it for thirteen years. The reason, simply put, was that it was too expensive - twice what a school should cost. So the coalition government cancelled the Building Schools for the Future programme in order to build schools more affordably. Whilst I understood the rationale, I was still furious for the teachers and students of Chantry who'd been let down yet again. It didn't matter to me who was in power - I just wanted to see Chantry rebuilt.

So, the morning after the general election, after I'd grabbed a few hours' sleep, I sat down and launched my campaign. On a piece of plain A4 paper (I did not yet have access to House of Commons stationery) I wrote straight to Michael Gove, soon to become Secretary of State for Education, setting out how important it was that the government invested in Chantry. It was the first letter I wrote as your Member of Parliament.

This was the first that Michael Gove heard of Chantry. It was a name with which he was to become increasingly familiar! Two months later, I stood up in the House of Commons and used my first ever parliamentary question to outline my demands. From the Dispatch Box, Michael Gove gave the reply. Ever since, I have hassled him and his officials on a weekly basis. This is the key to a parliamentary campaign - keeping up the pressure on people constantly, even if it starts to annoy them!

In 2011, after the early good news that Ipswich Academy was to be rebuilt, I got straight back to work on Chantry. The next step was to get the Treasury on side. So I grabbed the Chancellor, George Osborne, and urged him to give Michael Gove's Priority School Building Programme all the money it needed, boosting Chantry's chances.

Then, just before Christmas last year, the Cabinet met in Ipswich. Seizing the opportunity, I got the education secretary to visit Chantry in person to see for himself what needed to be done. I then struck again while the iron was hot. In the New Year, I wrote to Lord Hill, another education minister, about Chantry. At the same time, I approached officials in the Department for Education to go through the technicalities with them. I wanted to make sure that everyone in the Department knew about Chantry and that nothing would get in the way of the rebuild.

In April, with the final decision now fast approaching, I went to the Prime Minister and put the case to him. I had to make sure that he was supportive. With the PM on side, I lobbied Michael Gove and his ministers one last time. Needless to say, he was by now pretty familiar with the name of Chantry High School...

So there we are. A few days later, as you know, the good news was announced. It had been the toughest battle I have fought so far, but the work paid off. As I said last week, there are many things I can do for our town in Ipswich itself. But this is why you send me to London - to fight on your behalf in parliament.