Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Snippets of Good News from Ben Gummer's column

Our Friends in Financial Services

On Monday morning I co-hosted a breakfast at the university for people working in financial services.  Stay with me!  These guys are important: 6,400 people are employed in financial and related services sectors in Ipswich, generating £941m of income for the town, or £147,000 for every one of my constituents.  The figure for Suffolk is over £1billion.  Just suck that up for a moment: £1 billion for our county alone.

Not unsurprisingly, the people at the breakfast get pretty irritated at all the banker bashing that still goes on.  They'd be the first to admit that there were some terrible bankers but most people in financial services are doing an honest job very well indeed.  And without them we would all be the poorer.

I was sad the other day to hear of a bank clerk working at a branch in the town centre who was berated in the pub for causing the recession.  That's wrong: it's time we celebrated financial services again, not least because the life of our own town depends on it.

Commercial Property

When a business outgrows the spare room, it needs somewhere to operate. Which tells you why the commercial property market - offices and shops in plain English - is such an important barometer of the economy. If business is going well, commercial property is in demand; if not, then the 'To Let' signs start springing up as square footage falls vacant.

It is good news, then, to see that Savills, a big commercial property agent, have let four offices in the last few months. Springvale Court in the Hadleigh Road has been rented out to CfBT Education Trust, a large education charity; Energetix Group - an energy company - has taken space in Felaw Maltings; Sir Thomas Slade Court in Star Lane has been let to CJD Leisure Limited; and Sharedband - a broadband company - has taken on 40 Princes Street.

That's 20,427 sq ft let in one go, at a total annual rent of £190,760. Those are good numbers, as are the names, which show the breadth of private sector business coming to the town as the economy rebalances away from the government and debt towards business and sustainable jobs.

More Good News - Parking This Time 

The problems of parking at the hospital have been persistent and unsolvable since I became your MP. The cost is high and it is difficult to get a place, causing some people to park in nearby streets making life miserable for the residents.

I am very glad that the new estates director, Jeff Calver, has decided to get a grip of the situation.

The big news was that parking prices have dropped for visitors: that's great. There were always good deals for people who came regularly and they remain.

What has been less publicised has been the increase in parking spaces that Jeff's brought about. Currently there are 1,600 spaces at the hospital. Another 100 will be added soon on the main site and a further 30 in Pearson Road. That's an increase of over 8% in one go, which is a very good start.

The fly in the ointment is the rise in parking charges for hospital staff. I've continued to make my point that well-paid consultants should be asked to contribute more than porters and cleaners on the minimum wage.

Let's hope Jeff can sort that one too. If he manages to sort out parking at the hospital, he will be the most popular man in the town.

Contact Information

phone: 0845 634 9197

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Ipswich Labour Administration do not do Business

By Ben Gummer

This is an article written by Ben Gummer MP in its entirety for the local paper

'It is a privilege to have this space to write in every week, one that I try not to debase by filling column inches with regular political rants. But a meeting on Tuesday made me so angry that I am going to suspend my self-imposed armistice this week.

The road outside my office in Fore Street has been a building site since March. For many weeks no motor traffic has been able to pass and the pavements have been hemmed in with ugly steel railings. It is either noisy with pneumatic drills and diggers to the point where a telephone conversation becomes impossible, even with the doors and windows shut, or almost silent for want of passers-by, buses and cars. Fore Street stinks of bitumen freshly poured and rubbish uncollected.

The result has been a devastating fall-off in trade for local businesses. Although parliament is sitting, I left London at six on Tuesday morning to meet my neighbours at a quarter past eight: what they had to say left me stunned. All have seen a massive collapse in sales, some as bad as 90%.

Who has done this? Well, National Grid is responsible for all the works. They are replacing ancient gas mains and no one blames them for doing that. But to take six months - SIX MONTHS - and to be nowhere near finishing: that is a disgrace.

But Ipswich Borough Council is also to blame, big time. It is they that licence the possession of the road by National Grid, they that influence the signs the company must use.

Now, the signs tell you all you need to know about the Borough's approach to local businesses. The ones placed at the junction of Fore Street and Star Lane suggest that the whole road is closed, which it is not, and point to a diversion that does not exist. Having prevented what little traffic from reaching Fore Street shops, they are now taking the owners to court to recover business rates that they can no longer afford.

One shop owner who is charged £7,500 a year in rates took only £300 in total last week. You can do the maths; clearly Ipswich Borough Council cannot. Another shop owner asked why the council, which was supposed to serve the town, was helping to drive their businesses into the ground. Quite.

I'll tell you one reason why. It is not that the council hates business: it is because they do not understand it. Put a balance sheet or profit and loss statement in front of most of the governing party and they would struggle to hold it the right way up. It's not surprising really: few Labour councillors have worked in small business; almost none have run their own company or shop. They think business is all big city banks and multinationals; they do not understand that most businesses are very small, nor that for the majority of small business owners the biggest worry is not about bonuses but whether they can pay their employees' salaries at the end of the month; and they forget that most small business employees earn not very much. These people need support: they are the ones that provide jobs and growth.

So what should have the council have done? At the very least they could have arranged a rates payment holiday, rather than issuing a summons to court.

Perhaps most useful of all would be some work experience for some councillors in these Fore Street shops. They would then know how hard it was running a small business. As it stands, I'd not trust them with a whelk stall, let alone the government and growth of our town.'
Contact Information

phone: 0845 634 9197

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Are you a Tory? - Use my comparison chart

Tory Values                                                                     Labour values

  • Equal Opportunities                                                Equal outcomes (unless it’s themselves)
  • Hard Love                                                              Wrap in cotton wool
  • Live within means                                                   Splutter, cough, Que?
  • Choices                                                                  Let's make things easy for you                                                  
  • Empower                                                               Patronise
  • Survivor mindset                                                     Victim mindset
  • Low taxes                                                              Envy politics
  • Self responsibility                                                    Nanny will look after you
  • Responsibilities                                                       Rights  
  • Own your own home                                              Why?
  • Reward hard work                                                 See point 1
  • Encourage business                                                Pretend to encourage business
  • Eloquent, cool and posh                                          John Prescott, Gordon Brown, 
  • Unite - Pride in UK                                                Unite - (that union, isn't it?)
  • Entrepreneurs                                                         Unions, envy, sabotage
  • Good of the Whole policies                                     No policies
  • Policies                                                                   Bandwagons and soundbites
  • Punish and rehabilitate                                            See point 2
  • Fun with a serious intent (Boris)                              Comedians                                                                        
And one for the Liberals:
Genuinely Green!

I remember once when I started a new job as a credit control manager and had been given a 3 year target, which I smashed in the first year. One of the directors congratulated me but warned that I was 'working my way out of a job'.

This is how I feel about Labour. Their votes rely on them not doing their job properly, keeping people where they are now.