Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year

Normal service will be resumed in Jan 2013 with my regular blog postings but in the meantime I would just like to wish all residents of Ipswich, my readers and followers a Very Happy New Year.

Please follow me on twitter @stokeparkcllr or send me an e-mail
if you wish me to look into anything. To have any influence on what goes on in your community starting with your local councillor is a good first contact point.



Monday, 17 December 2012

Results of the Windfarm Survey by Ben Gummer MP and Councillor Cenci

Following consultation and a written survey for affected residents of Stoke Park and Sprites Wards in Ipswich, I can confirm that the following information shows results from those returned (11%). The full results will be printed and made public shortly.

In the meantime here is a summary and feel free to add your own thoughts and comments in the space provided at the end of this post. It’s not too late to have your say on the same questions we asked our residents as I will continue to collate this information to pass onto Ben Gummer MP.

Support the building of wind turbines between Belstead and Pinewood. 

92 % are opposed.  8% are for it 

Visibility from their house. 

81% are concerned. 

Greater use of non-renewable energy. 
 70 per cent of people were in favour of greater use.
The expansion of onshore wind farms in general. 

Overall, 90 per cent of respondents were against

Noise levels
86 %  were worried by potential noise levels. 
85 % are concerned by the effect of flicker. 

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Time to Protect the Officials not just Highly Paid Footballers

This morning I heard one of the most devastating, sad, completely unfathomable news regarding the beating to death of a linesman in Holland by players of a team he was helping to officiate.

I felt physically sick to hear that this official had offered to run the line for his son's team, which, by logical conclusion, meant that this sickening scene must have been witnessed by at least one member of his family. I am angry, I am gutted and I just cannot stop thinking about all the people involved in something that should have been about fun and entertainment. Something to help young boys aspire, compete and succeed.

Doesn't this put some of the things that pampered footballers have been moaning about into perspective? Not only have the lives of his family been completely shattered by this brutal act but the parents of the 15-16 year olds who must now live with the fact that their sons will probably be going to prison for life, must also be in tatters. Ruined lives over what - a game? A chance of scoring? One decision that saw adrenalin soar to pack level. It's heartbreaking.

This incident was in a European country that I regard as one of the most well balanced, intelligent, charming of all countries. Dutch people are my favourites when it comes to showing calm, articulation and a level head. How could this happen? What does this mean? I hope this is a one off incident and until we know more it's difficult to know what it says about the game of football, a sport that I love with a passion. But what I do know, with my own eyes, is that a lack of respect for the referees and assistants has reached an unacceptable level.

The recent Chelsea incident regarding Mark Clattenburg shows that we are in danger of taking a huge step backwards (as John Barnes also stated) if we don't get back the whole issue of respect for officials as a priority. Clattenburg was an innocent man who, not only was wrongly accused of making a racist comment but was also on the receiving end of some verbal abuse during that same game. I know this because I can lip read, as can many other people and I honestly don't think I've watched one game yet, this season, where I haven't seen the F word or worse being thrown at one of the officials.

This has to stop. A passing curse under the breath through frustration is not the problem. The problem is when some footballers think they can go into the face of the linesmen and the referee, invade their space and aggressively shout abuse. There is no doubt in my mind that this behaviour not only winds up other players in the team but also the fans who are watching. I believe a red card should be shown as an example to everyone playing or watching that this is just not acceptable. The referee needs to set his boundaries at the beginning of the game - his word is final and a grown up needs to accept that.

When footballers are being paid telephone numbers and a referee is being paid a pittance in comparison, we need to all stand up and be counted on this.

And that means the fans too. A little bit of banter is fine but shouting abuse at the referee and linesmen when they are trying their best to do a job is not something I like to hear or see, ever.

And footballers - Just remember that the signs around the stadium and the bands on your arms that spell RESPECT are not just meant for you.

I'm not sure I can bear to read about this tragedy but my thoughts and prayers are with the family and the football club, through this most  traumatic time.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Ben gummer - On Leveson

Leveson Larks by Ben Gummer MP

I am writing this in the library of the House of Commons - a beautiful, book-lined and panelled room with mahogany tables and green leather chairs. Behind me are a sextet of low-slung armchairs which are impossible to sit in without falling asleep - which is precisely what you'll find some older members doing after dinner. It's all rather disconnected, other-worldly - as is the character, at times, of this place.

Last night I took a tour of constituents from Rushmere around the Palace of Westminster. Explaining the history of the place and what goes on here refreshes my feeling of great privilege at being able to work in such beautiful buildings where so much of importance and interest has taken place. And I explained how the hubbub can be captivating - the gossip, the intrigue, the high politics and low scandal of the place.

It is a privilege but it is also a danger. People get sucked in here and do not emerge. They see the world increasingly as they imagine it, or imagine it should be, or would like to imagine it, rather than actually how it is. And that comes to shape their priorities, which become as is inevitable to be more self-centred and self-obsessed.

And with that, I will go into the chamber to hear the prime minister give his statement on Lord Justice Leveson's Inquiry. When I get back, this rather odd preamble will be explained...

... it's an hour and a half later and I'm back at my Gothic desk. The House is contorting itself over the rights and wrongs of governing the lords of print.

I am bemused by much of this. Other than the powerful testimony of the Dowlers and other victims of press intrusion, the evidence session of Lord Leveson's was a farrago of moaning celebrities, point-scoring politicians and self-righteous hacks. Very quickly, the rest of the country turned away. They had other things - more important things - to think about. Not that that was reflected in the press, who continued to obsess over who said what, which allegation had been made by whom, and what all of this meant for freedom of thought and speech.

It exposed what is most ridiculous about modern Westminster. It is not the old rituals, the history, the invention of tradition, the flummery, the green leather and the mahogany desks. Done properly, these add dignity to your democracy, for which people have fought and died.

It is not these things that make politicians and pressmen distant - it is the entirely human and understandable tendency of some in any community to get so involved in their own affairs that they forget the context in which they work - the reason why we are sent here, what we are supposed to do, and the degree of proportion we are charged to exercise.

The circus that surrounded Lord Leveson's report - it's production and its publication - exposed this fault fully. Of course there are serious points at issue here: but look at his conclusions. Aside from his central recommendations on press regulation, his findings on the some of the other big arguments that have consumed months of airtime and miles of newsprint is that there was essentially not much of a story to report. In short, a whole load of people in Westminster - press and politicians - worked themselves into a tizz and then expended many months and much energy arguing about it.

Meanwhile, most people continued to think about their child's school, their career, if and when they could next go on holiday, the size of the gas bill, the failure of their football team, falling in love, dealing with grief.

No wonder newspaper sales are falling and fewer and fewer people turn out to vote.