Thursday, 27 June 2013

On the Buses - (Yes our own comedy version)

Last night we had our full council meeting at the Town hall in Ipswich where I invited residents to hear questions from me about Ipswich Buses and subsidy for route 16.

Following the petition I instigated in my ward, Ipswich Buses went from taking out the service altogether, to a reduced service starting at the end of July.

Despite the confirmation of Councillor Smart and Ellesmere, at executive Tuesday, that the route would be fully subsidised and that the service would run 'as it does now', this is not true at this moment.

From trying to clarify that the service would have exactly the same timetable as it does now, I have ascertained and they have confirmed that there are options on the table and that Councillor Smart feels there will be a 'positive outcome'.

My husband asked a couple of questions in order to extract an apology from the leader of the council for misleading the residents about the Conservative position. Of course he never expected one because Ellesmere would prefer to joke around and poke fun at people rather than be serious about the fact that the Labour group had put out nasty literature.

What they need to know is that their letter bombed with the residents - they hated the political spite and many of them sent me a copy in the post with their comments of how disgusting it was. But this is their style and they were never going to admit that the petition prompted Ipswich Buses to change their mind or that they have absolutely no idea what we did or didn't know about route 16. Councillor Smart certainly had some 'smart' comments ready (they do receive the questions beforehand) including one about me still being a councillor next year after I asked to be kept fully informed. At least he confirmed something - that the situation with bus 16 will not need looking at again for nearly a year (strange how the solution at executive was for only the next 6 months though).

So we wait to see the final 'option' that is decided and I will be keeping a close eye and ear so that my residents can be informed professionally and in a proper manner.

I think the labour group must take masterclasses on how to behave in council. It probably goes something like this:'Think of a time when you were back at school - see what you saw then, hear what you heard then and think about the times you so enjoyed making a lot of noise, like blowing raspberries or hectoring the teacher. Perhaps you enjoyed walking around in a pack making these noises. Yes that's right, remember how you felt.Now apply all that to the full council meeting.'

As a resident said to my husband about the labour group as she left the full council meeting - it went something like this:-

That's my first and last time I attend one of these, they behave as if they are still in the school playground.

Anyway. the following is from Ipswich Spy who summarised it nicely.

'Cllr Lockington was concerned that the new bus route 39, introduced to replace services 22 and 31, both deregistered by their commercial providers, didn’t give the same coverage for residents of St Margaret’s Ward, and Cllr Smart agreed, explaining that Ipswich Borough Council were hoping that Suffolk County Council would split the 39 service returning both the original routes – which IBC would be prepared to help support. And Cllr Smart also pledged to support service 14/14A at the current level of service.
But the real row broke out over the contentious route 16, where Tory councillor Nadia Cenci has been attacked by Labour councillors over a leaflet she distributed as part of a petition. Her husband used public question time to demand an apology and retraction from Cllr David Ellesmere, Labour leader of the council, over allegations made in a letter from Labour councillors to residents, but none was forthcoming.
As for Cllr Cenci herself, she tried in vain to tie Cllr Smart up in knots. At Tuesday night’s Executive committee meeting, Cllr Smart had told councillors that the “existing situation” on the routes 14/14A, 16 and 19 would be achievable for £30,000 which he obtained approval for. This position was summed up by Cllr David Ellesmere, who said “all the existing routes should be able to be kept.” So far, so good for residents.
Yet one line from Cllr Ellesmere caused confusion and led to last nights requests for clarification, which still didn’t shine a lot of light. Cllr Ellesmere implied that the service 16 would be maintained by a commercial service off peak, hourly, and supplemented by a peak time service supported by Ipswich Borough Council.
This follows what was expected, following a letter from Ipswich Buses managing director Malcolm Robson, sent to right wing blogger James Spencer.
Because of this confusion, Cllr Cenci attempted to get a firm declaration from Cllr Smart in the meeting, yet from the public gallery the situation appeared less clear after the questions than it had before. Cllr Smart told us that he would give as firm an assurance as he could, for legal reasons, that the service 16 would continue as it is now. But when asked to commit to the current half hourly service, he prevaricated.'

Yes indeed. In fact the flavour of the whole meeting was obvious. the portfolio holders barely asked one single question we put to them and the mayor lost control of the meeting at one point.

Not one of IBC's finest full council meetings.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Petition Success - But more to do!

Walking round my ward yesterday delivering my latest leaflet (below), I chatted to various residents who wanted to talk about the latest situation regarding bus route 16.

It was evident that they had a real community spirit about them, had rallied together to sign the petition resulting in 400 signatures as we speak, and are as determined as I am to do their bit.

Now for the latest news:

Ipswich Buses has changed it's mind and will now provide a reduced service from end of July, which consists of starting at 9.30am and finishing at 3pm.

There is an executive meeting next Tuesday by the Labour administration to decide options for funding the rest of the day, but also on only an hourly timetable.

I am still fighting for the residents to have, as a minimum, the service they have now, which is every half hour and is very busy. In fact many have said how much busier this route is, than others in the town that have no threat to the service.

I will be asking questions at the full council meeting next Wednesday for their decision to be made public.

So there is still more to do but thanks to the support of the residents and the resounding reply to the petition, we have made good progress. It has focused the mind of the decision makers and has also given me a greater insight into how much my older residents totally rely on a regular service to have any quality of life. I will continue this campaign.

The council meeting is at the Town Hall 26th June at 6pm, if you want to come along and listen to the answers to my questions.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Latest on the No 16 Bus route petition

What a week!

Firstly, I would like to re-iterate that at no time did I instigate the information regarding the cessation of route 16 by Ipswich Buses.
I was contacted by a lady on the Royals which was quickly followed by several others. I decided to contact Ipswich Buses as did a colleague of mine - same answer, 'Yes we are stopping the service but we may be able to find funds for a reduced service' was generally the idea. Not good enough, I thought.

I literally jumped into action, dropped everything I was doing including work I had planned for the business that I run, to immediately start the petition. Some residents didn't know about the cessation but many had heard it from the staff of IB eg bus drivers. Communication of this was terrible including not warning me beforehand.

Now Labour councillors are trying to discredit me, despite the fact I have been a councillor for 7 years and have never blamed Labour for anything in previous leaflets, preferring to just state what I have been doing.

I started a windfarm survey last year with Ben Gummer MP without mentioning anything about the labour position, preferring to concentrate on what's important, even though I know many of them are FOR the development, because they have stated so publicly, and I was the only councillor in SW Ipswich that has publicly come out against the development. Residents make their own mind up when they read either parties literature. I work hard in my ward and people know that.

So what's happened since? Well, I am hearing conflicting views and still nowhere nearing knowing the solution, with some labour councillors saying it will carry on with Ipswich Buses and a subsidy and some saying it will be a private company. Neither option tells me if it is a reduced or status quo service.
Should I just say 'Oh ok then, let's forget the petition? (I've got 140 signatures so far just from Fountains Road and The Royals - they are dropping on my doormat every day). No of course not. They have a voice and I am giving them a vehicle.

The next thing I'd like to clarify is that Labour keep saying I voted against having funds for a bus subsidy. I DID NOT. They are talking about an amount of £ 140k that was included as part of the yearly budget. We had put in an alternative budget and so it would've been really stupid of me to vote for their budget and then for our alternative budget! There has never been any stand alone vote for bus subsidy and even when we tried to clarify what the £ 140k was for, we got a vague answer that was politic-speak. Take a look for yourself below. Cllr Carnall tried to get a categoric reply, in his supplementary, which Cllr Smart still did not answer but it would've been so easy just to say - 'No I can confirm none of it is to plug any holes in IB pensions'..

Even if I felt reassured, there were several things we did not agree in their budget so we would still have voted against theirs and for our alternative one. The £ 140k is a moot point and is being used by some labour councillor to discredit me, one in a telephone conversation with the leader of the council. Take a look at comments in my last post. Believe me, I will never become as political and as devious as that!

Also notice the other bits I've highlighted below, which shows that Labour consider themselves responsible for Ipswich Buses. Is it not a bit rich now to claim that I am blaming the wrong people?!

The truth is they do not like me holding them to account - It is my job and I will do so for as long as I am a councillor and, actually, even if I am not!  If they want to tell me now that running the buses is nothing to do with them, then the next time they use it to electioneer, I will again hold them to account.

I've learnt never to assume anything and to speak and write in a very clear direct fashion using 'clean' language so that everyone knows where they stand. I don't think this falls into that category so now to the question at council and more importantly the supplementary - you make up your own mind -

Madam Mayor: Question 4 Councillor Carnall to Councillor Smart

Councillor Carnall: Thank you Madam Mayor. The Administration's budget
for 2012/13 contains provision for £140,000 to be spent on supporting public
transport in the town. How does the Portfolio Holder intend to spend this

Madam Mayor: Councillor Smart to reply.
Councillor Smart: Yes thank you Madam Mayor. There have been a
number of options that we’ve been considering in discussion with the major
local bus operators about this, looking at a variety of possibilities on
infrastructure improvements and some revenue support type of measures {what does this mean?}.
Unfortunately, as I am sure Councillor Carnall is aware, we’ve got thanks to
the goodness of the 1985 Transport Act which unfortunately encourages this
sort of thing we’ve got a bus war on at the moment in the town and it’s rather
a sensitive area because it’s absolutely essential that whatever we do is not
perceived to provide an advantage for one company over another. I certainly
look forward this activity settling down into some kind of steady state going
forward so that we can plan public transport properly in this town.

Madam Mayor: Do you have a supplementary Councillor Carnall?4

Councillor Carnall: Just to clarify for me perhaps Councillor Smart will
confirm that the money will be available to support the services operated by
any bus company serving Ipswich and will not just be an excuse to subsidise
the pension deficit of Ipswich Buses Ltd?

Councillor Smart: Madam Mayor that did sound like a supplementary
question had been written before I gave the answer to the original question. I
thought I had made it absolutely clear that discussions had taken place with
both the major operators about possible moves that we could make which are
seen to be fair to all operators. {my comment to this is Does this sound like clarity on the £140k or just a general action point?}

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Saving Our Bus Route no 16 by Ipswich Buses - Petition

Residents started to call me at the beginning of the week to enquire about the stopping of bus 16, a route that picks up many of our most vulnerable and aged.

I knew nothing about this and didn't believe it at first so I called Ipswich Buses myself where it was confirmed that it would indeed be ceased sometime in July, as an estimate.

I was incensed to learn it was for financially reasons as I know other routes are less popular but it is because most of the users are old aged pensioners and so the income on this service is challenging.

The first question I have to ask is why Councillor Smart, Transport portfolio holder, or his colleagues, some of whom are on the board at Ipswich Buses, did not think to send out a letter to residents, or to me for that matter to keep me advised?

I have started up a petition to ensure that no private company takes over this route - as we know what will happen to the service if they do - and to ask Ipswich Buses to change their mind & work with Ipswich Borough Council to find the funds.

Labour councillors are now upset that I have sent out a leaflet to the residents on the relevant route in Stoke Park, because they say they are sorting it out. however I would like to point some things out to them.

1) the petition is for IB to keep the route, no other solution will do
2) to ensure that IBC consider funding the route for IB, NOT a private company
3) It is my duty, especially as I am the only Tory councillor in the SW Ipswich, to hold the Labour group/the administration to account and that is what I am doing.

The residents are queueing up at my door, telephone and my e-mail. Most of them have checked for themselves with IB and have been advised that the cessation is going ahead.


Some of the residents have not been into town for ages because the route has been suspended due to roadworks. Some can just about make it to the bus-stop but will not be able to walk the distance to an alternative stop in Fountains road, although this will be an option for younger people.

Our old should be the most valued in our society and whether it's from face to face chatter or my leaflet, it has upset a few of them - but they deserve to know what's going on and if Labour had cared about it enough  in the first place, they would have already done that job for me.

If you use this bus to come to Stoke Park and have not had the petition leaflet through your door then please feel free to contact me below with your comments.

My Interview on Radio on new Windfarm rules

Transcript from thursdays interview with Mark Murphy following the announcement of new rules where new planning rules which will give communities the power to block wind farms. Residents will have to be consulted over new wind farms with applications barred if there is significant opposition. Under the plans, energy companies will be able to offer incentives - such as discounts on bills - to persuade communities to agree to new wind farms. Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, commented: "We want to give local communities a greater say on planning, to give greater weight to the protection of landscape, heritage and local amenity." 

I then tweeted Mark who immediately asked me to speak on his morning show:

Nadia Cenci (NC)- It has got a little bit quiet as far as I am concerned, because obviously now we’re waiting for the planning application to go in to Babergh.
And I can’t really do a lot about that. I am campaigning on behalf of Ipswich residents along with Stop Ipswich Turbines. As you know I did a survey and when it came back I had quite a high response and 80% of the local residents were against.

Mark Murphy (MM)  – Yet despite that we’ve had Renewables UK today saying there is overwhelming support for these things everywhere.

NC – There might be everywhere on a general (basis), they’re being very generic, but they’ve had it loud and clear from me, Stop Ipswich Turbines, the residents at public meetings - we do not want this on our doorsteps.

MM – Why?

NC – Not because we’re against wind turbines, we’re not. But this is 130 metres (high) and the closest house will be 400mtrs. 
Can you imagine having that towering over your house? Can you imagine? 
So we’re banding together, this is not what we want. They look beautiful in the sea, and they look beautiful far away from someone's home, but you cannot have these things towering over your house - and that’s the objection, not, you know, in principle.

MM – So what do you make of these proposals coming from the coalition today? Councils will be told to put local concerns first. So you hope that, in this case Babergh who will be looking at this one, it’s a border case as you say, you hope that they will be taking that local feeling into case here?

NC – They HAVE to take that local feeling into account, I mean I can't deal with Babergh residents (out of my jurisdiction) but from Stop Ipswich Turbines (survey) they are just as against it so they’ve got to take local feeling into account. And I am really really keen to see how this pans out. If that’s what we’re being told, then the proof will be in the pudding, Mark, because you can’t get more resounding than 80%.

MM – What about some money from the developers. They’ll also have to pay some more to residents who allow turbines in their area, so if there was more of a financial incentive for those people perhaps they’d be more keen?

NC – Actually I just caught the tail end of your last speaker, and I don’t agree (that it will cause conflict where some residents would agree to take the incentive) . I really think you could offer a lot of money to some of those residents in Belstead village and they would not be interested. But of course you’re going to get the occasional person (who will), and perhaps, you know, there will be a little bit of conflict, but overall most of them will say No – if you go to Kessingland and listen to their misery story, there is no price on that, (to compensate).

Now let's see the new legislation working for the residents in Babergh and Ipswich when it comes to the planning application because the way i read it - they have to refuse it.........

Monday, 3 June 2013

Strengthening Families Parenting Programme Ipswich

This is a high recommend from me - please pass on

Strengthening Families
Parenting Programme

Starts 5th June, 3.30pm – 6pm

At Pipers Vale Community Primary School Raeburn Rd, Ipswich, IP3 0EW

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

Back on Track

It's been a while since my last blog post.

The gap is due to a well earned holiday in Cyprus plus I have spent the last week since my return, catching up on all the news from family, friends and colleagues.

Cyprus took us by surprise. We go to the same small place (Kapparis) every year and were expecting to see many closed restaurants, cessation of house building and some miserable faces.

Instead we were in for a lovely surprise. Our favourite restaurants were buzzing, our local pub The Kennedy now requires a reservation of tables because nearly every night there is some form of entertainment with good value for money food, and houses are continuing to be built on a large scale. In fact it was far busier, with British people, including young families as well as older retired people, than any previous year in May and for me this says something about our mindset and the economic confidence of the future of UK, (Cyprus is not cheap).

It set the scene for some reflection, beach rest, food and wine. We even managed a good win on the Bingo, which was very welcomed!

In conversations with the locals, we found them up-beat and happy. Although the sun shines constantly on this wonderful island, there is still much for them to worry about. The country is in a very vulnerable position despite the taking (stealing) of millions from people's bank accounts. Opinions in Cyprus vary widely on this, with some not having any sympathy at all, which I found rather concerning but put it down to young naivety, and others very angry - but I declined from getting into any heavy political debates. I was on holiday after all.

Since I've been back, I have been inundated with case work, which has taken precedence over much else, but with the tan fading, clothes washed and put away, I am back on track.

Don't forget to follow me on twitter @stokeparkcllr to see what I'm up to and to contact me about anything in Stoke Park