Monday, 23 July 2012

Area Committee Meetings - Labour opportunity for self promotion.

Well, that's done it now for me.

I like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and I like to play fair in politics. Those who know me well, know that I care about the community and put them first above any political fights with the opposition.
I work collaboratively and play nicely with Labour councillors especially those that I think have the same mindset as me, but it is becoming more and more difficult to stay out of any virtual spats when I see literature from Ipswich Labour taking the praise for things we Ipswich Tories either did or instigated when we were in administration.

I like to show fellow councillors of all persuasions that they can trust me to work collaboratively with them and some have returned that respect to me and still do.

And so we come to the Area Committees which took over from Area Forums. Area forums were non political and were meetings where the community could come together to talk to their councillors, police and other public servants. We sat with them, not opposite them and joined in without making any political statements.Now however, we are lined up like some sort of political wall with issues that are important but delivered in a stuffy, informal gathering which has seen numbers drop at most areas of the town.

At the last meeting (which is chaired by a labour councillor for Suffolk County Council and Gipping Ward) we discussed the bridge that runs over Stoke Park Road near the entrance of Bourne Park and needs demolishing. We agreed that we would consult all the residents and ask them if they preferred this to doing a repair job on a regular basis.  I agreed that this was a must.

I would like to say here that the chair, Cllr Peter Gardiner, is an excellent chairman and very fair in all the proceedings including allowing me plenty or opportunity to speak and have my say. I have absolutely no issue with this part of the process.

But hey, lo and behold a leaflet goes out with it's usual grainy appearance (in order for them to look as if funds are low in their campaign pot) along the lines of 'Labour want to know what you think'.

So, now I know. Any consultations are not going to go out under the name of Ipswich Borough Council, nor is it going to go out under SW Area Committee.

No, they are going to use the committee meetings to ensure their propaganda is stepped up over the coming months in time for County elections and Cllr Ellesmere's political dreams of becoming Ipswich's MP. (He has  loooooong way to go to match up to the fantastic Ben Gummer who does put Ipswich first and has achieved great things already).

I did guess they would use these meetings in such a way, as did all my colleagues, but I wanted to see it for myself before I decided that this was the case.

So there you have it. The Area Committees took over area forums, not because it would be a better platform for residents to voice their concerns or spend some money locally, but to bump up the chances of winning more votes in the area.

They are trying to ignore me as their Tory colleague but anyone who knows me will also confirm that I never allow myself to be ignored, ever.

My hopes for the success of the Area committees has now changed for ever.


  1. I hadn't see this post until now Nadia. I'm glad you are coming round to what most Conservatives have been saying since these Area Committees were introduced. It's a classic 'command and control' structure which Socialists love. They couldn't care less about residents who they only see as vote fodder at the next elections. Socialists like Ipswich Labour truly believe the residents should just keep in their box. It was the same mentality in the former USSR.

    But I have to point out your slight naivety. Being a councillor is political, political, political. Labour get that and that is why over the last fifty years they have won many more elections than us in Ipswich. It's time all Tories got more political not less. I always hated the idea of councillors sitting alongside the police and officers - councillors are above them in the pecking order. That is what democracy is about! Councillors are the decision-makers. Everyone else not elected in the public sector is there to do as they are told (with consultation of course) by those elected: councillors through the Council and MPs through Parliament. That approach gets things done and prevents anarchy - it works.

    The trick missed here: we should have put a leaflet out taking the credit too and hopefully before Labour got one out. Politics!

  2. Hi Gavin
    Thanks for your comments and reading my blog.
    There's just a couple of points I would make. The only reason it is so political is down to Labour in Ilswich. And the only way it will become what I would like it to become is if we show the way and show disgust at the manipulation of residents.
    Of course it's political in the way you described regarding making decisions but this has to be done authentically and honestly. It is what residents want and expect.
    We have to be a bit swifter in our communications.
    I have to say a few Labour councillors have contacted me about this and have genuinely shown concern. As individuals I have respect but as a group, that is something else!