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.


  1. Indeed - see todays Star article