Thursday, 5 December 2013

More on Social services and family courts

Following my last post and a good twitter debate, I was pulled up about some areas of lack of clarity in my argument.. I intend to rectify that here but more importantly I want to highlight why I am making the points in the first place and to give details of the case that I'm involved with regarding a father who has not seen his daughter for 4 years. I'm afraid it has left me disappointed in our system and has cost this man his happiness, savings and the best part of his daughter's childhood. Worse still, it is repeated all over the UK and probably all over the world.

Now for the clarity part - I don't just respect social workers, I absolutely hold them in very high regard. They have the most difficult of jobs and make decisions you and I would shy away from. Some are good, some are not so good but that doesn't take away what a stressful, tiring job this would be for even the most efficient.

My disappointment is in the whole system, the laws, the inconsistencies, the covering of backs and the fact that family courts are the only secret arena in our judicial system - supposedly to protect children, which I'm sure is a well intentioned rule but whether it's the right thing is cause for debate.

I believe that grandparents should have rights and with them a full say in cases like this, where the parents are the subject of any doubt. This right should have far more weight in court, than the say of a child protection officer. This is my opinion only and I am not asking you to agree!

I want to remind you of a well publicised case - Cootes. This one was instigated on my doorstep and perhaps has similarities to that of the Italian lady.

Let me summarise:

SCC deemed Megan Coote unfit to be a mother before the baby was even born because of her learning difficulties.
They said she seemed emotionless and had a low IQ
Megan and her mother flew to Spain and she gave birth
Spent 3 months in Spain and spent £ 12k of their own money before council did a U Turn
Child now thriving and has been allowed to be with mother, completely vindicating the family and their trust in their daughter to look after the child.

See more about this case here or just google the names.

Now, as I pointed out in several tweets today, I am very much in favour of less (nanny state) = more. More empowerment, more self responsibility and more rights for grandparents, parents and the wider family.

I think the criteria for 'assessing (judging) must leave a lot to be desired if you can threaten to take away a child based on low IQ and how someone might show their emotions.

Do we need to change the criteria or is there more to it than that? Do social workers need more help or training since Baby P? Are the directives now based on accountability instead of what's really right for the child and family? 

How many parents have fled to Spain because of this interference? (again, I am challenging our processes not the people).

Now onto the case I am involved with. This is more complicated and will take time to lay out properly. It highlights how badly we treat men in situations like this and how women have the upper hand and can manipulate custody. This is a current complex case involving Spain as well as the UK because in this instance the father had custody rights in Spain, the daughter was abducted and brought to the UK and the two legal jurisdictions has caused a nightmare. It is a mess and the father (who I will call Roy) thinks that the authorities cherry pick the bits they like from each jurisdiction, which in turn hinders every step he takes.

See you in part 2 - I am gathering4 the info.....

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The Shameful Case of the Italian Caesarean

My twitter followers will know that I've been very vocal this week on the case of the Italian lady who found out, in a horrendous way, just how bad we are at looking after those with mental health issues.

I have been abhorred, horrified and totally disappointed in Essex authorities in their handling of the whole case involving an Italian women who came here to study, was pregnant and had a caesarean forced upon her without her consent.

Some replied, not understanding the enormity of what had taken place, happy to see freedom and human rights exchanged for what they consider a thoughtful set of actions by those with the power to snatch your child away.

I know many will not agree with me when I say that I believe we interfere too much in peoples lives but this particular case goes beyond anything that I thought would ever happen in this country.

Brendan Fleming, the woman’s British lawyer, told The Sunday Telegraph: “I have never heard of anything like this in all my 40 years in the job.
“I can understand if someone is very ill that they may not be able to consent to a medical procedure, but a forced caesarean is unprecedented.
“If there were concerns about the care of this child by an Italian mother, then the better plan would have been for the authorities here to have notified social services in Italy and for the child to have been taken back there.”

My mother has Italian satellite and watches the news from Italy rather than from the UK news channels. I was interested to see what the view was from my other country.

As I trust doctors a lot more than I trust social workers, I had made an assumption that it must have been a necessary evil with good reason. I was more upset by the fact that the baby was not then sent back to Italy with her mother for them to decide what was best. I think I may have trusted too much. I have learnt today that the operation happened when this lady was only 34 weeks pregnant. Why?

Her other two children are looked after by their Nonna and the mother spends time with them every day, although does not live with them. She has been trying to rebuild her life and that is one of the reasons she came to Britain. Her sister in law is happy to take on all 3 children in America including the mother.
The family were never consulted properly and although the Nonna has said she has her hands full with the 2 children she already looks after, it seems there are other family members willing to take the new addition.

Italians are in uproar, and rightly so. They are probably not in receipt of all the facts - as we are not - but at the moment they think we are the devil incarnate. Our reputation is in shreds and I can't defend it.

The solution was simple.As the baby still had a few weeks to go inside the womb, this lady should have been sent back to Italy - AS SHE HAD REQUESTED - before she had the baby and left to the wider family and the Italian authorities to deal with, as they had done before and quite successfully. Who are we to think we could do a better job? The sheer arrogance of it. If the Italian authorities had wiped their hands clean, as has been suggested, then so be it.

Apparently the lawyers were told that the mother was too late in her quest to get the child back because adoption procedures were already in place - this was not true. Was this a lie? A mistake? Has this happened before? We need to know. 

Now there could be any number of factors that could put a different perspective on the whole tragic tale but one thing I will not change my mind about is this.

Social workers should not have had the power to keep this baby away and make a decision to adopt when there are other family members who are willing to care and look after. If this woman is trying to rebuild her life, she should have been given the support and the chance to prove she is capable, or will be in the future. We are spending money in the wrong places.

Imagine if this had happened to your daughter and your grandchild ended up in another country, with you having no say control whatsoever in it's future, or even being nearby in order to fight it properly.

We need grandparents rights across the whole of the EU, especially if now country boundaries count for nothing when it comes to snatching children off their parents. Does anyone think of their feelings when it comes to family courts? Sadly the answer to that is No, as I have witnessed for myself in a current case I am watching closely. Grandparents, often totally innocent in these affairs, have no say whatsoever in being able to even see their grandchildren for a couple of hours never mind on a regular basis. This needs to change immediately. The state loves the fact we look after them while our children work, help out financially etc etc but when it comes to our needs we are insignificant and ignored. When I met David Cameron, I asked him to make this a priority and he has promised that they are looking into it. I will hold him to that.

This is a shameful moment in the history of social work and reminds me of the film Philomena. I'm sure those nuns who stole from the shamed unmarried mothers at the time, thought they were doing God's work and the right thing for the babies. We are horrified now at this true story, and in the future people will be truly horrified at this one - if they are not already.

Shame on us..

Monday, 2 December 2013

Police Campaign for Christmas Security

The South West Ipswich police team were at the Stoke Park Asda at the weekend to give residents useful packs with advice about security in the home and with their motor vehicles.

Ben Gummer and I went to see them after campaigning in Stoke Park and it was somewhat surprising how many people had left goods and belongings on show in their cars. As we were arriving a police officer was leaving a flyer on the windscreens of cars where the owners had left items on show, including mobiles and gifts, that might tempt an opportunist to break in. I must admit I am guilty of leaving an old coat in my car, on a regular basis, for the times when I might break down and need the extra warmth. I was rightly told this is not a good thing to do and when I returned home I promptly removed all those items that were in my car and could be a curious temptation for any would-be thief! And as one police officer said, it's not just about the items, it's about the inconvenience of having a smashed window etc.

There were some good bits of advice and although some are obvious, it's amazing how many people need reminding! Including:

Sat Navs, CD players and tools are favourites of thieves. Remove all signs of valuable items.
Park in well lit areas
Consider registering all your identifiable valuables -
Put keys out of reach from windows and doors to your house (Also - one I learnt from a friend - while she was still in the house an opportunist thief used a devise to reach down from a small open window and stole her handbag).
Stop, Lock, Chain and Check - to keep bogus callers out. Carefully check identity cards, including checking the number shown on the identity card with the phone book, before calling it, and if in doubt, do not let them in.

Burglaries have dropped over the last few years but they still happen and it's important to secure your home. if you rent from a private landlord then it is their responsibility to ensure that you have security features but up to the tenants to use them. Work with the landlord to improve security if you're not happy with the locks that are currently on your doors and windows.

Some questions for all of us to ask of ourselves and our vulnerable neighbours;
Does your door have a robust deadlock?
Do you lock your doors even if you're leaving the house for just a few minutes?
Are windows and frames in good condition?
Do you keep your windows locked?
Is your garden fence in good condition and high enough to make climbing difficult?
Have you marked your valuables?
Are you a member of Neighbourhood Watch?
Are your garages and sheds secure?
If you have a communal entry point, do you make sure you never buzz strangers in or allow them to follow you in?

For more info
Suffolk police 01473 613500
Crimestoppers 0800 555 111

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Survey prizes up for grabs but you'll have to hurry!

Press release: 

Take part in Ipswich Borough Council’s leisure and tourism survey for the chance to win from £500 worth of fantastic prizes.
The Council wants to find out what visitors and residents enjoy about the leisure and cultural facilities that Ipswich has to offer. Those taking part will have the opportunity to win from prizes generously supplied by local businesses, including;
  • An evening of fine dining at the the Salthouse Harbour Hotel
  • Debenhams shopping vouchers
  • A food hamper supplied by Ipswich ‘Lanes’ independent retailers
  • Cruises with Viking Mariners and the Orwell Lady
  • Three months use of Ipswich Borough Council sports facilities
  • Shows at the Regent Theatre or Corn Exchange 
The survey has been directed to 40,000 people in conjunction with an Ipswich Borough Council newsletter and will be sent out to a further 2,000 people by post. Anyone who has not received one and would like to take part, the survey can be found at; and should be completed by 30th November.
The information gained will be used to identify strengths and weaknesses of the town’s leisure and cultural offering and help inform future developments.
Further information regarding the survey is available from Ipswich Tourist Information Centre, telephone 01473 258070, e-mail

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Pannington Farm Wind Turbine Latest

Please find below the November project update for the Pannington Farm Wind Turbine proposal.  
The planning application to Babergh District Council is on target for later this month.  
PfR are offering groups and individuals the opportunity to view the planning application in detail and ask any questions of the project development team by holding two community surgeries, details of which are as follows:

·         Wednesday 4th December 2-7pm Belstead Village Hall, Grove Hill, Belstead, Ipswich, IP8 3LP
        Friday 6th December 2-7pm Pinewood Community Hall, Laburnum Close, Pinewood, Ipswich, IP8 3SL

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

More Good News for Stoke Park

Another great month for JSA Claimant figures. Those claiming JSA in Stoke Park is DOWN by 0.2% from 241 to 228, that’s 13 fewer people claiming than last month, and DOWN 1.6% in a year, from 312 to 228, meaning 84 fewer claimants in October 2013 than in October 2012.
Those claiming JSA in my ward are DOWN 38 since the General Election and is at the lowest it has been since November 2008 when it was 223. It is substantially lower than the peak of unemployment in June 2012, when 339 people were claiming, and getting ever closer to the record low, 169 in December 2007.
18-24yr olds claiming JSA is also STABLE at 60, which it has remained at for four months (Jul, Aug, Sept, Oct) and is the lowest since July 2008.
For the Ipswich Constituency, the JSA Claimant count is DOWN by 146, from 2860 to 2714. This is the lowest since December 2008, when it was 2472. The claimant count peaked at 3911 in February 2012, so there has been a reduction of 1197 since then. That’s a 30% reduction in claimants over the last 20 months! It is also a reduction of 416 since the General Election, when the claimant count was 3130. That is a reduction in claimants of 13.3% since the General Election.
For IBC, the JSA claimant count is DOWN by 174, from 3363 to 3189. This is the lowest since December 2008, when it was 2895. The claimant count peaked at 4551 in February 2012, so there has been a reduction of 1362 since then. That is a 29.9% reduction...

This on top of increases in employment is good news for the whole country and I'm sure the above is being replicated elsewhere.

As I was saying in my last blog post- only my party can be trusted with the economy....

Immigration IS the hot topic

I've been speaking to many residents over the last few weeks on what they are most concerned about locally and nationally.

Locally - it's an obvious one - the state of the traffic in Ipswich. No-one can deny how dreadful it's been over the last couple of years with all the road works, which hopefully are coming to an end soon. It's hell for residents going to and from their place of work.

But the top conversation nationally is Immigration - and who can blame us?

I'm sorry but I will never be convinced that this huge influx of people whether from Europe or outside of it has a net benefit effect on our country. It's a myth perpetrated by the Left with statistics to confuse and bamboozle, to cover up for the fact they failed big time in keeping immigration to a sensible level. We know that they purposely set out to increase the votes for them, by allowing this awful reckless open door policy.

I don't believe that our young don't want jobs in hotels, bars etc - of course they do and I know many of them are trying to do just that.

I don't believe that we wouldn't have had enough nurses in our NHS - of course we would have had! If we were ever in a position where we needed more nurses then we would have instigated a drive to recruit and give incentives, just like we have done in the past with public sector jobs.

It's ludicrous to suggest that we needed all these people when we haven't got enough houses, school places, or jobs. Our housing needs are virtually impossible to solve in the near future. Yes, there are benefits and yes I love the diversity but there is no doubt about it. Labour's open door policy has wrecked our country and I fear it is irreversible. Nearly every person I spoke to, whether a Labour voter or a Tory brought up concerns about immigration as one of their top 3 priorities. As their representative, I have to be their voice. But what power do I have? - None really except to join them in repeating that I feel the same.

And now what next - Romanians and Bulgarians that can claim as soon as they get here? Where Kent council is already planning 2 centres because they believe many Roma children will be dumped on the boats on the way here so that we have to look after them, at our expense, while they settle in and make their child benefit claims? They can only be planning this based on good intelligence - or will the Left say they are making it up?

Are we mad?!! This is why when we are so good and kind and thoughtful and generous and spend our money to help others, it is taken for granted and used against us for selfish ends by those who think we are mugs. They are not OUR children - what about OUR children? Let's spend the money on them.

This is why people are fed up with immigration - British people love to give but do not like to be taken advantage of. It hurts our sense of decency, fairness and good old British justice. And it will cause resentment, whether we think that's right or not. And if there is any sort of emotional unhappiness then that is a sign that things are not right. So obvious, but instead of listening to their side of things, the left bully and mock those who fear for their country.

Unless David Cameron can renegotiate in Europe, eliminating our need to take in anyone in the EU, irrespective of OUR needs, then I will be fighting for us to leave the EU as loud as I can.

And it will be as a Tory - we have achieved so much in such a short space of time and we are the only party that can be trusted to take immigration seriously alongside the economy.

Labour had their chance at both, and they failed us all

including their own children....

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Summing up Why I'm a Tory

I love this quote - It's why I'm a Tory. Vote for Ed and his brand of socialism at our peril. 

'Making the rich poorer does not make the poor richer, but it does make the state stronger—and it does increase the power of officials and politicians, power more menacing, more permanent and less useful than market power within the rule of law. 

Inequality of income can only be eliminated at the cost of freedom. The pursuit of income equality will turn this country into a totalitarian slum.'

Keith Joseph, Stranded on the Middle Ground? Reflections on Circumstances and Policies (Centre for Policy Studies, 1976).

And I'll ask;-

What value do you hold higher, Freedom or Equality (of outcome)? 

 We can still have Equality of Opportunity AND Freedom - 
and that's not Labour values - That is Conservative values that I share.

That's why I have always been a Tory, always will be a Tory 
and I will do my best to make others understand the difference.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Try to give up smoking and get your litter fine back!

Smokers who throw their butts down on the ground or from their cars can face an on-the-spot fine … but a new programme in Ipswich could see them getting their money back if they go on a “pack in the fags” course.

The initiative comes into force tomorrow (Friday 1st November) and is the brainchild of Livewell Suffolk and Ipswich Borough Council’s Environmental Health Team.

Borough Council Health and Wellbeing portfolio-holder Neil MacDonald said: “We hope this will help more people to give up smoking. It’s a bit like motorists who can save points from going on their licence by attending a safe driving course. Here, people who have been handed a fixed penalty notice for littering with butts can get a refund if they attend a course that will help them give up.”

Last year, 66 people in Ipswich were given penalties for dropping cigarette butts and a further 38 have been caught so far this year.

Live Well Suffolk is the new healthy lifestyles service commissioned by NHS Suffolk. It offers free help to those who are trying to get fitter and recently locally promoted the Stoptober campaign to encourage people to give up smoking.

Last year Livewell Suffolk helped 50% of smokers who came to them quit. Staff hope the new “money back” policy will enjoy similar success.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Latest from Ben - Democratic Change in Ipswich

Herewith a message from Ben in it's entirety and my comments in response at the bottom!

Earlier this week I had a great meeting with an architect with red trousers who is now one of the most famous men in Bristol.  George Ferguson, a man few people in that great city would have heard of a few years ago, is now the directly elected mayor of Bristol - the first of a kind outside London.  He's quickly made a name for himself, crafting a bold vision for Bristol, exuding a passion and a belief in what the city can do to prosper in the future, and for being instantly recognizable for always wearing red trousers.  He has won plaudits from people of every political colour and none.

I admitted to him I am jealous of what he's able to do.  He provides what local government so singly fails to do in so many of our towns and cities: passion, breadth of vision and intelligence of leadership.  In part it is the man, of course, but it is also the position: putting power in the hands of one directly elected person, identifiable and accountable to the people.

Now, let me ask you three questions.  Do you know your councillor?  Do you know what they can and cannot do?  And when did you last vote in a local election?  Readers of the Ipswich Star will score well, I am sure, but if you asked that question across the population you would get some very low numbers, I am sure.  On the last point, elections, we know the figures: fewer than 1 in 4 people thought worth their while to vote in this year's elections.

Ask anyone in London who the mayor is and almost all will know: for that matter, ask most people in Britain - and, it seems, in China - and they know too.  Granted, London and Boris are special cases, but George Ferguson is getting to be very well known in Bristol - not just for those trousers but because of what is doing and plans to do.

Imagine the same in Ipswich, and what a directly elected mayor could do.  Not only would the position have power, they would be recognized by the people and more directly accountable for what they do or don't do.

Two problems get in the way.  First, we need to combine the councils that run Ipswich, and draw the boundaries of the town to reflect its actual area rather than the one that described how it was in Victorian times.

Secondly, it would require councillors to vote to give up power - and, as we know, turkeys seldom vote for Christmas.

That is why I am very pleased to see the Borough make a first step in the right direction.  One of its suggested savings is to reduce the number of ward councillors from three to two and stop the silliness of having elections every year and have them every four years instead.  People get fed up of constantly campaigning rather than doing - as do councillors, who should be working for the community rather than delivering leaflets.

I wholeheartedly support both these proposals.  And why not go a bit further and have just one councillor per ward - giving them greater profile and power amongst their constituents?  By giving them a bit more administrative support, I am sure they could deal with the extra work and costs would come down nonetheless.

And if we go that far, then it is a bit closer to having a directly elected mayor.

My response: I will leave the question of directly elected mayor because I haven't made my mind up about that!
On the question of reducing councillors. I have often said cutting from 3 to 2 is the way to go and would vote for this in a heartbeat, even if it meant I was the turkey at christmas! However going from 3 to 1 is just not viable.
I don't think many understand how much work is involved in being a councillor. It's obvious that Tory voters call up a Tory councillor and Labour start with a Labour councillor when they need help. If one person were to do all the case work, then they could kiss goodbye to any day job they have! In fact I might choose not to stand again if I were to have all the responsibility, even if I had an assistant. There is only so much an officer can do - it is the councillor who visits residents in the first instance, who knocks on door, who attends events, who reads all the reports for council meetings and I make no bones that it costs me financially because my business suffers. 
But not only that, if I felt I couldn't do council case work properly and thoroughly, then I'd rather not do it all and concentrate on other things.
What do you think?

Monday, 21 October 2013

Launch of Poppy Appeal in Ipswich

I keep my poppy and cross all year round on my mantelpiece. Not that I need reminding of all the brave soldiers we have abroad at the moment for they are always in my thoughts. 

Below are details of this years launch by our mayor and a fellow Tory councillor Robin Vickery, as per IBC press release.

Ipswich’s Poppy Appeal will be launched at the Town Hall by the Mayor this Saturday (26th October) at 11.45am.
Hamil Clarke MBE will be joined by Robin Vickery, Chairman of the local branch of the Royal British Legion. They will accompany veterans to the Poppy Appeal Shop in Tower Ramparts Shopping Centre while a pipe and drum band play. The Mayor will cut a ribbon at the shop to mark the launch of the appeal.
Eddie King, of the Ipswich Lions, will present a cheque to the Royal British Legion at the Town Hall.

The Mayor said: “The Poppy Appeal is a key date in the Ipswich calendar as it starts the remembrance commemorations. We must never forget the valour shown by our Armed Forces, many of whom paid the supreme sacrifice for their families and their country.”

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Employment news in Stoke Park and Why I am thrilled on Ben Gummers new position.

With my working day job hat on, one of the things I do as a trainer and performance coach is work with potential NEETs in Suffolk schools. I show them how to do a great CV and how to look for jobs in the hidden market (most jobs are not advertised).

Well before this stage I also do motivational talks and help young people with revision techniques, goal setting and aspirational thinking. Parents hire me to do one to ones, and schools with appropriate funding also use my services. It is one of the reasons I love my job so much.

So employment figures really interest me and educating children on how to present themselves to potential employers is also a top priority. The amount of help needed hits both ends of the scale and there will be some young people that are just not employable at this moment in time and need more help. There are also some that lack confidence or have limiting beliefs and I suspect this is the bigger proportion

But there is some good news for Ipswich.

1) Ben Gummer has been appointed as PPS to Michael Gove MP

2) Unemployment is DOWN in my ward Stoke Park, since last month, from 246 to 241. Percentage of unemployed 16-64 in my ward is 5.2% down from 5.3% last month.
Unemployment is DOWN in the Ipswich Parliamentary Constituency since last month, from 2,975 to 2,860. Percentage of unemployed 16-64 in Ipswich Parliamentary Constituency is 4.1% down from 4.3% last month.

This really is a step in the right direction.

For the 241 in my ward - you are not forgotten by me, I promise you that, and I will be having a word in Ben's earlike at my earliest opportunity.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Message from Tim Passmore, Suffolk PCC - Ipswich Public Meeting

From tim

'I am staging a series of public meetings across the county in the autumn which I would like to make you aware of, if not already.
There will be a meeting in each of the seven district or borough areas. Each meeting will involve a quick overview from me and Douglas Paxton, the Chief Constable. The public will have an opportunity to ask questions directly to either, or both of us and we will have a senior police officer, responsible for policing in the local area, to support us for operational context. We’ll also be asking the audience to have their say with the help of an interactive voting system.
I do hope you will be able to attend and would be grateful if you could extend this invite to anyone that you feel may be interested. There is no need to book – everyone is welcome.
Thank you for your support.'

Ipswich meeting is at University Campus 6.30pm on Tuesday 22nd October 2013

Friday, 11 October 2013

The Truth about New Council Housing in Ipswich

From Ipswich Spy with no edits
but deserves to be shown on every Ipswich blog

'A political row has broken out after Labour’s housing spokesman attempted to claim responsibility for changes to regulations that allow Ipswich Borough Council to build new council houses.
When Tory Minister Oliver Letwin visited Ipswich to see the Bader Close site for himself, he praised the Labour housing portfolio holder for taking advantage of changes to the rules around housing and building new council houses.
Yet Cllr John Mowles couldn’t avoid making a partisan attack on the Tories, insisting that it was down to the last Labour Government that they could build new council houses. He was quoted in the Ipswich Star as saying “This is not a Tory government scheme, it is a Labour borough scheme.”
“We are able to do this thanks to a change in the regulations that was originally introduced by the previous Labour government.”
Unfortunately for Cllr Mowles that simply isn’t true.
Former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Labour’s John Denham MP, did tell the Labour Conference that he was planning to change the regulations. But like so many conference speeches, no changes were actually made to the law to give effect to his speech. Mrs Thatcher used to say that making a speech wasn’t the same as taking action.
The changes to the law that allow the local councils to keep the revenues from rent and use them to build new council houses were introduced in the Localism Act 2011. They came into effect in April 2012. They were introduced by the current Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Tory Eric Pickles MP.
Ipswich’s Tory MP Ben Gummer was distinctly unimpressed by Cllr Mowles statements, telling Ipswich Spy that it simply wasn’t true.
“I am unimpressed with these constant attempts to claim credit where it simply isn’t due. When we came into Government we changed the Housing Revenue Account so they could spend the money, which actually gave them the means to build affordable homes.
“John Denham said he planned to lift the technical restriction but the evidence shows it was simply a conference rabble-rouser, since he didn’t take action. Ipswich Borough Council would not be able to afford to build these homes without the HRA changes that we brought in. The idea that Gordon Brown’s Labour Government would have given up control of housing is comical.”
John Mowles was unavailable for comment.

to see their article and comments go here

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Spaces available for a fantastic parenting programme in Stoke Park Ipswich

I can't recommend this course highly enough. It is neither patronising nor basic, instead giving REAL tools to enable children and families to cope with the everyday challenges of family life as well as appreciate the great stuff.

This one, in my ward has some spaces. Grab them!

Strengthening Families Parenting Programme

Starts 2nd October, 4pm – 6.30pm

At Suffolk New Academy, Mallard Way

Ipswich, IP2 9LR

Refreshments provided

Strengthening Families is a seven week programme for parents and young people aged between 10 and 14 years. 

It is a DVD and activity based programme, which supports families to have a positive outlook as young people approach their teenage years.

Parents aim to improve their nurturing and support skills while considering effective discipline and guidance strategies. Young people build skills for resisting peer pressure and dealing with stress. During the sessions the families work together to reflect on the strengths of their family.

Please call Carole Williams for more information: 07921941620

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Don’t lose your vote!

Ipswich residents are being urged not to lose their right to vote in the 2014 European Parliamentary and local council elections by completing their annual registration without delay.

From today the Electoral Registration Officer (the Borough Council’s Chief Executive) and his team will be delivering annual canvass forms to every residential property in Ipswich. The form should be completed with the names of every person in the household who is eligible to vote and returned to the Electoral Registration team as soon as possible. 

If there are no changes to the people currently registered at the property, you can confirm your details using our simple, free and secure internet and telephone registration service. Just visit or telephone 0800 197 9873 and use the two-part security code printed on the top of your form.

Completing the annual canvass form ensures that you are included on the electoral register for forthcoming elections. If you are not on the register you will not be able to vote!

If you have any queries about registering to vote or if you haven’t received a canvass from please visit our website at or telephone the helpline on 01473 432533.

Issued by the IBC press office, tel: 01473 432031

Friday, 27 September 2013

Stoke park Residents celebrate Wind turbine decision!

Success on Wind turbine campaign

I am thrilled to announce that PfR have dropped their plans for the windfarm that was proposed on IBC land at Thorington, following an effective local campaign.

This is a summary of what they said

'Both the technical assessment PfR has undertaken and the local feedback has been invaluable in helping us hone our proposal and we are confident that this single turbine project is now the optimal design for the locality.
The project will no longer include the previously proposed turbine on Ipswich Borough Council (IBC) owned land east of Belstead and south of Pinewood. There are no plans to re-consider this in the future and the agreement with IBC will fall away at the end of the year.'

Well done to Jenny from Stop Ipswich Turbines who I have given my full support to from day one of the campaign. 
I was the only S.W. Ipswich councillor to publicly state that I was totally against the proposal being so close to homes. 
Well done to the residents who filled in and returned the survey from myself and Ben Gummer MP, proving the strength of feeling of the local people. Our first survey showed nearly a 100% of residents were against with a handful for. 
This is what a councillor should do - represent their community irrespective of their own feelings. My own is that they look beautiful and graceful in the sea or at least a few miles from people's homes and so I was more than happy to work on Stoke Park's behalf.
And well done to PfR in coming to the right decision. I have found them to be most helpful in answering my questions and it's been tough for some of their representatives when dealing with us at public meetings.

Of course there is still one turbine left which will be much further away from my ward and Babergh district but that is for other residents to deal with. I can only look after the residents who voted for me. 

However if those residents are not happy, I urge them to attend the meeting with Mr Yeo that was set up by SIT and to feel motivated by the success of the campaign so far.

I celebrated last night and hope that my residents will do the same tonight. They deserve it!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Why I Walked Out of Full Council last night

The residents of Stoke park have a right to know why I walked out of full council, following the Q&A questions from our Group to the Labour administration, and I have every intention of giving a full explanation right here on this blog.

I have been a councillor for over 7 years now and never have I walked out of any council meeting, although recently it has been a close call. So let me start there.

I can only describe the Labour administration and some of their backbenchers as a Muster of Peacocks looking so pleased with themselves and enjoying the mocking, jeering, juvenile laughter that tends to come our way.

Now I don't mind a bit of banter - it's good for all of us - but it has to be appropriate and not be detrimental to the professionalism of the environment.

Let me take you back, just a little, to the questions I put to Councillor Smart when I was campaigning for the saving of the no 16 bus route to Stoke Park. Councillor Smart assured us that all would be well with ALL bus routes but in doing so decided to take a swipe at me, alluding (or even inferring) that I wouldn't be around next year anyway, so any long term guarantees to me were not really relevant. As I am up for election next year, this was obviously a 'funny' meaning I would lose my seat. In the public gallery was a resident of mine who came to hear the answers to the bus question. So disgusted was she by the behaviour of labour councillors that she said she would never come again. I was furious to say the least and apologised on their behalf. But that's not the point. Our public gallery appears to be shrinking - I wonder why.

As an aside - I am the only Tory out of 12 councillors who represent the SW of Ipswich - read on if you think they should be left without being held to account by a member of the opposition. See if you think your concerns will be heard, especially if you're a Tory voter.

Now call me old-fashioned, but when a man is not as gentlemanly as he should be to a woman, I rather wonder how they were brought up, in their socialist household - or is the education just limited to 'Let's hate the Tories and I'm a socialist so you will be too son. Don't you let me down now boy, we have to stick together at all times and fight these nasty people. You know so that we can all have choices in life, our own voices and all be winners by ensuring the State looks after us from Cradle to Grave. So don't you dare not be a member of the labour party or the union, boy!'

Some of you may not know but the questions are submitted beforehand and so it gives plenty of time for the portfolio holder to put together an answer. I often think that some of them get together to think up the wittiest, most derogatory, patronising replies and that making people laugh is far more important than actually answering the question.

Kevin Algar a well known Tory activist asked a couple of questions to the Leader of the council, David Ellesmere. Every time Kevin asks a questions, Ellesmere always starts by saying 'you are a Tory member' as if that somehow negates the substance or validity of the question!  SO, all you Tory members out there, best not ask the Leader a question, he doesn't take you very seriously at all.
Now Kevin is a unique and quirky individual who is as bright as a button when it comes to political stuff but he was told quite calmly, by Councillor Ellesmere, that the question Kevin had received from a resident (hence asking on her behalf at council) was 'as bizarre as you'.  Calling a resident (that resides in your own ward!) as bizarre is totally unacceptable and he didn't even answer the question. As Kevin stated at the end 'Thankyou for so eloquently not answering my questions today'.

And this is a man who wants to be your MP! - Can you imagine Ben Gummer ever saying that to ANY resident, never mind infer that a second absent resident was also bizarre. Where is the grace, the professionalism, the courtesy that our people expect from us? 

I was angry but at this point had not yet decided to leave. Worse was to come.

Last night Councillor Pope asked 2 questions. the first one to councillor Smart was about bus 31 and reminding him of his promise and using the word 'infer'. Smart commenced by telling us that the word 'infer' caused some discussion with his colleagues and proceeded to tell Richard - a teacher - what it means, all in an endeavour to undermine him and get a cheap laugh. Again, forgiveable but by now I was starting to feel ashamed of the proceedings. More was to follow.

His second question to Councillor Jones was answered by starting with the words 'you've spelt embarrassed' incorrectly. Councillor Pope responded immediately by saying he was dyslexic and would she apologise to which she adamantly replied No!

Now firstly, if you want to humiliate a teacher then there's an easy way to do that - pick up on mistakes. The spelling had nothing to do with the question, was irrelevant, could've been the officer who typed up the question but again, let's knock a Tory when we can and have a bit of fun. If councillor Jones had apologised immediately, I would not have walked out but this was a pantomine scene too much.

Councillor Pope, Harsant and SCC councillor Murray walked out with me along with Kevin Algar. I was disgusted and still am. a night's sleep has not curbed my determination to put a stop to the frivolous.

The labour group are behaving worse each month and I have told my leader that if he doesn't put a complaint in, I will. Let's have some fun and banter (I have actually laughed out loud at some of the Leaders comments - I am not without a great sense of humour) but let's draw a line on patronising humiliation to get a laugh at someone else's expense when what they should be doing is answering the bloody questions.

So people of Ipswich, don't be put off by coming along - I promise you that I will personally be working towards helping the administration and back benchers to give the taxpayers what they deserve, but if they don't co-operate on this, I do not rule out walking out again.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Ben in the Pub

From Ben;-
Campaign 2013-2014
Thank you to Bixley councillors and all those who helped deliver in Bixley last week.

The Bixley Ben in Parliament tour has had a huge success rate and we have already had to organise a second tour!

On Wednesday Ben will be at The Royal George on Colchester Road between 7pm and 9pm for our next Ben in the Pub event. 

Friday, 13 September 2013

Children's Early years and Why we must get it right

News from Ben and Ipswich ConservativesSeptember 2013

Month Year
This is one of the most important subjects, in my opinion, and interests me not just as a politician but also in my work, and I'm so pleased to see the cross party working it has finally encouraged. Even before the years where they start school, we have a more crucial period in which politicians national and local, can make a huge difference. 

Here's Ben Gummers post

Why children's early years are so important
Below this column you will see the most important photo in British politics today.

It shows scans of two three-year-old brains.  The larger, fully developed brain is that of a child who has enjoyed a healthy upbringing.  The smaller, less developed brain is that of a child that has suffered extreme neglect.  What I want to talk about today is the recent explosion of interest in the early years of a child's life, the advances in what brain science tells us about their importance and the excitement that this is generating in Westminster.

Yesterday morning, I was involved in the launch a decisive new cross-party manifesto, 'The 1001 Critical Days: The Importance of the Conception to Age Two Period'.  This is the brainchild of my colleague Andrea Leadsom MP, the Conservative Member of Parliament for South Northamptonshire.  Andrea and her team have been doing great work compiling this manifesto, which highlights the crucial importance of the early years to the rest of a child's life.

By the 1001st day, the brain has reached 80 per cent of its adult weight, making this period vital for healthy development and for ensuring that babies achieve the best start in life.

From birth to age eighteen months, connections in the brain are created at a rate of one million per second.  It is during this period that a baby's social and emotional development in later life is shaped by the quality of their attachment to their parents and carers.  

This much is clear.  But as is so often the case, policymakers have lagged behind, slow to change their policies to account for new scientific insights.  Despite spending hundreds of billions of pounds in the last fifteen years in the battle against poverty, we have done tragically little to secure every child the healthy start in life that they deserve.  One in every four babies born in the UK has a parent affected by domestic violence, mental health or drug and alcohol problems.  

So what's different about this manifesto?  As well as Andrea Leadsom, it has also been written by Labour MP Frank Field, by Liberal Democrat former Health Minister Paul Burstow MP and by the Green Party MP Caroline Lucas.  What this shows is of enormous importance: for the first time, political parties are coming together to form a consensus on how governments must transform their approach to early years policy.  Representatives of all parties are now united in calling for essential services and assistance to be provided to all at-risk families and those experiencing difficulties.  

We are beginning to respond to what is now beyond doubt: that fighting long term poverty requires more than just transferring money from one group to another through tax and benefits.  We also need much better services, targeted at those who actually need them.  We need this debate to rise above party politics, so that the best policies are implemented by whichever party is in power.  To those of us who are committed to promoting the importance of early years policy, it is encouraging that we are making real progress.  

Ben in the Pub

On Wednesday 18th I will be holding one of my regular Ben in the Pub evenings.  Join me for a drink at the Royal George on Colchester Road between 7 and 9 pm if you have any questions or concerns you would like to put to me.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Stoke park News - Newnham Court

Plan to transform site into new homes

Following a tweet I received from a resident, I asked a question at council to the housing portfolio holder, about the empty buildings off Cambridge Drive, in my ward.

This appears to have prompted some action to follow that of councillor Richard Pope a conservative councillor and previous portfolio holder who instigated a solution to the semi derelict accomodation.

Here is the latest from IBC about this:

 The Council’s contractors will completely refurbish and convert the main block and annex at Newnham Court, off Cambridge Drive, into 19 flats. Two of the flats will be fully wheelchair-accessible. Five adjacent bungalows will also be refurbished.
 The complex, once home to bedsit accommodation, has been empty for many years. The Council wants to create new flats, particularly two-bed homes, to meet growing demand.
 Executive meets on 17th September to consider the appointment of a contractor to refurbish the site, which is owned by the Council and had been on a long lease to a housing association.
If my residents want to know more then please comment in the box below this article. 

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Car Park Deal in Ipswich Extended

The Quids In “welcome to Ipswich” travel campaign starts on Monday and has now been extended to include more than 1,000 new car parking spaces just outside the town centre.

The £1 after 3pm applies to car parks belonging to Ipswich Borough Council and two run by NCP, Suffolk County Council’s park and ride service and Ipswich Buses' inward town services. It comes in for a 10-week Mondays to Fridays trial from 2nd September.

Ipswich Central, which represents town centre businesses, is co-ordinating the campaign, which is being backed by major retailers, including Marks & Spencer andDebenhams.

Today, the Borough Council said it was extending the scheme to its long-stay car parks in Portman Road and West End Road. This is in addition to its Crown, William Street, Regent, Upper Barclay and Bond Street car parks. NCP has joined in,with the new tariff applying to its Cox Lane and Tacket Street car parks.

That means a total of 2,094 car parking spaces are included in the Quids In campaign.

More details:

Further comment:
Cllr David Ellesmere, tel: 07712 886629
Cllr Chris Stewart, opposition Conservative Group leader, tel: 07740 053903
Cllr Andrew Cann, opposition Liberal Democrat Group Leader, tel: 07545 289190