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