Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Snippets from the Ipswich Conservatives

It's been a busy time since I took over as leader of the Ipswich Conservative group and we have worked hard both in the community in all the wards, as well as holding the Labour administration to account.

Not that some members of the labour group seem to understand that part of my job is to hold them to account including calling in some of their decisions for overview and scrutiny to look at in more detail. I have also asked some pertinent questions at executive and for the most part have been happy to agree. When I do not, it is from a totally authentic and genuine place and it will remain that way.

The latest call in regarding the buying of the old arts building in Argyle street and leasing it to the Bangladeshi support centre, proves this point.

This had nothing to do with the group, who I happen to think do a sterling job - as I said at the O and S call in, this could've been the Salvation Army, WI, of any other group and I still would've called it in. I held the communities portfolio for many years and always believed we should treat all groups fairly and prioritise grants based on the value and benefit to Ipswich residents. A competitive process should have taken place and I still believe this on this particular opportunity.

You can see the whole meeting, if you so wish here from Ipswich Spy site.

The outcome was always going to be rejection as, apart from the chair (who didn't vote), there is only one conservative councillor on the whole committee. We knew that this would not be heard in full council but I did hope that the whole process would be scrutinised in the future and even some of the labour councillors welcomed that and agreed that it should be. Job done.

On another note, the SW area committee had it's regular meeting last night where Councillor Gardiner stepped down as chair. I asked for my thanks to be recorded, as he has been an excellent chair, always fair to me, the only conservative from 12 in the whole of SW and worked hard behind the scenes. Councillor Chisholm has a hard act to follow but he will get my full support.

There were a couple of awkward moments in his chairmanship last night but as a newby, he did alright and will soon get to grips with help from Councillor Gardiner. We agreed some monies for local charities and residents, which will make a difference. And that's what its all about. However I will have a moan about how Suffolk issues keep being brought to the meeting in a political ad hoc way, but I do not think the residents are fooled by it being anything else. I will let SCC stick up for itself with regard to any of the consultations they are carrying out. I have plenty to do!

The Tory group remain united, focused and hard working on the doorstep. Ben Gummer has been out most weekends with us and we are delivering, chatting, surveying and generally listening to residents.
Ben continues to host house meetings, public meetings and Ben in the Pub nights. He is a fantastic MP and I am only too happy to be by his side and walking down the street. In fact Pride is the word that comes to mind.

There are a few contentious issues coming up including the planning of building nearly a hundred council houses on the Ravenswood estate. Ben is holding a meeting about this, at the weekend where residents will be able to ask some questions. This is not my ward but I am keeping a close eye. Soon the Northern Fringe will come to planning and our group is united on this front - the masterplan is incomplete and below standard. Much more needs to be done.

There's also much to look forward to - Parade of the reservists on Sunday, and procession at the Cornhill Monday evening, Maritime weekend and the start of the new football season (hooray!).
My new season ticket has arrived safely into my hands and I am looking forward to a winning year. I will remain an optimist as I know Premiership is not going to be too many years away, hopefully 2015 along with a resounding win at the General Election.

I like numbers ending in 5........

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

How to Politicise Anything by Ipswich Labour

Let me tell you a little story. One which once again highlights how Ipswich labour operate and how they can litter their PR with untruths at the drop of the hat.

But not only this, this little example shows you how much they don't care about the residents unless it's going to get them votes.

I received a call from a resident in Bridge Ward Ipswich - not my ward but as leader of the Conservative group he decided to start with me.

He told me that roadworks in Maidenhall Area along the approach into Prince of Wales Drive meant that there appeared to be no buses. Nor had any of the residents received notification to say one way or another so he took it upon himself to call Suffolk County Council, who told him that they had been given assurances that Ipswich Buses would be going through.

He then called Ipswich Buses who told him that this was incorrect and no buses would be going through these roads between 9am and 4pm but that this was SCC responsibility to tell residents.

No says SCC - it's Ipswich Buses route and they should - which is actually the obvious correct answer as they made the decision not to let the buses drive through between those hours.

My source was making these conversations within earshot of a Bridge ward labour councillor in a community shop and asked the councillor, who will remain nameless but it wasn't Smart, Rudkin, or Gardiner, and all he could do was shrug his shoulders and confirmed there wasn't a lot he would do.

My source then got onto Bryony Rudkin because old people would be waiting at bus stops for a bus that wouldn't be coming and she duly replied that the matter had been passed to someone else.

You're about to see a notice, put together in haste, according to my source, by councillor John Cook, who will never miss an opportunity to let the truth get in the way of a good political story that might get some votes.

This was their action, with intention to put them up at the bus stops only to find that Ipswich Buses got there first with a more professional notification.

The next thing my resident knows is that this is showing in the shop window of the community shop, which is supposed to remain totally neutral and of course, has since taken it down.

The message is actually totally inaccurate on more than one count and the following is quoted from a final e-mail sent by my source to the labour group, in reply to theirs, which, unsurprisingly has not received a reply:

1) One of your councillors was indeed aware early yesterday afternoon that this was an issue but when I asked for his help he declined. He could have raised this at a much earlier stage.
2) Indeed it would've been necessary to identify who had placed the notices - however the tone of the notice was blatantly partisan and sought to blame Suffolk county Council because they are Conservative run, even though the fault appeared to lie with Ipswich Buses
3) I am surprised that you are glad that the MRA displayed this sign since I would've thought that you would be aware that local community groups have to be apolitical as per their constitutions
4) If you believe the notice will not make any difference to voting intentions why was it worded in such a blatantly partisan way
5) it seems to me that more care should be taken in future when wording notices intended for public display for the benefit of the community.

so that's how you do it - blame Suffolk county council for everything you possibly can and don#t worry about how accurate, ethical or frustrating it is for our residents.

I'd rather lose an election than behave in this way - but I'll leave it up to you to decide what you think.
As the resident said - he did all the hard work on behalf of his neighbourhood and was left furious.

Press release: Summer fun days in the park


Not my ward but worth knowing for Ipswich families in Stoke Park
A feast of family fun is in store at Ipswich’s Holywells Park during the summer holidays.
Each Wednesday afternoon will have a different theme – on 30th July it’s the park’s wildlife under the spotlight and in addition to guided walks and pond-dipping you can also hold a snake!
Punch & Judy and donkey rides are on offer along with a merry-go-round on 6th August, while Nordic Walking, orienteering and dancing take place on 13th August.
The following Wednesday sees a petting zoo and more donkey rides, and the fun day programme finishes on 27th August with an outdoor cinema with "Bee Movie".
The car park at Holywells Park is closed because of the construction works. Free car parking is available at Cliff Lane Primary School and Rivers Social Club, Cliff Lane, which is a five-minute walk away. Other car parking is at Orwell Quay car park on Duke Street (eight minutes walk away). Information about bus timetables is available on the following websites:
For more details, or contact Richard Sharp on 01473 433541.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Weather warning and advice

To report any power cuts and damaged lines on free helplines, please refer to the following numbers: In the South East call 0800 783 8866, in the East of England call 0800 783 8838 and in London call 0800 028 0247. 
You can also see and follow the company on twitter for updates @ukpowernetworks .
Preparing for a power cut
Below is some advice on how our customers can prepare for a power cut:
·        Keep our freephone number handy
·        See the website for some useful videos offering you advice during a power cut.
·        Keep spare batteries for radios and torches – local radio stations often broadcast helpful information
·        Keep an old-fashioned corded phone which you can plug in, as cordless phones won’t work in the event of a power cut
·        Take care if using candles, tea-lights and other naked flames
·        Keep fridges and freezers closed, with a blanket over as they will stay cold for many hours
·        Switch off all your electrical equipment, except one light which will let you know when the power comes back on
·         Remember the street lights may also be off so take care if you go out
·         Exercise caution in localised flooded areas -specific advice is available on the Environment Agency website.
·        Look out for elderly neighbours and other vulnerable people

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Diary and Snippets from the Ipswich Conservatives

We've been busy - hence a bit behind with the blog posts - so I thought I would do some snippets from the last week.

First of all I attended the annual Local Government Association in Bournemouth, last week.

There were 2 subjects up for debate that I was the most interested in - How we can make our High Streets work again and Universal Credit. I will be doing separate blog posts on both of these items.
The time I spent there for networking, checking out the exhibitors and catching up with colleagues made it worthwhile, but it did take a lot out of my week and then only having the weekend to read the executive papers caused more build up of incoming work.

Talking about the executive - Spy was not there to film this time - but I can report that I voted against the Labour portfolio holders on only 1 paper - the buying of Arts building in Argyle street for a community group that wishes to move out of Tower street.

This was because I didn't think it fair that other groups were not given the chance to participate in a competitive process and because I feel that taxpayers money is at risk if the rent is not able to be paid. I also fear that the group - the Bangladeshi centre - who do some great work in the community - will struggle to repair the building if they do not get the lottery money the labour group seem so confident will be given - nothing is certain.

I had several questions surrounding this and I'm not satisfied that all of them were answered fully.

I would be interested to know what you think.

The conservative group had a visit to Iceni last week, to find out more about the great work they do with addiction and I have written a piece about this for the next Angle.

A group meeting this week showed that we continue to be united and focused on what needs to be done to give the electorate an alternative at local level. We have these once a month now so that we can be out in the community more, on the other 3 Mondays.

We canvassed in St John, Gipping and Rushmere in the past week discussing national as well as local issues and some of us joined Ben Gummer at his regular Ben in The Pub evenings, talking to the local community.

Today sees a press release about the Waterfront - Ben Gummer was asking for possible compulsory purchase orders 2 years ago -  and now Cllr Ellesmere seems to think the time is right after being 3 years as leader of the council, so I will be onto them if they allude negatively to the previous administration  - as suggested by a local paper. It logically follows that it most certainly wasn't right 4 years ago - and as this is an important development - everyone needs a say in this.

Case work is massive for me at the moment - as the only conservative from 12 in the SW area, Tory voters always come to me of course and I love it. Case work is the most important part of my work and it will never be sacrificed for the ivory tower type work at Grafton house.

Many of you know I run my own business and look after my grandchildren on a Wednesday - it is a full and rewarding life that takes me up to 8pm most evenings.

However I always find time for some things and my cookery lesson on Sunday, near Chelmsford, with Ann Hood, a previous masterchef quarter finalist, was an absolute joy as usual. And I will always find time for good dramas. If you haven't caught up the The Honourable Woman, then do so - its brilliantly directed, written and acted.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Ipswich Labour has No Vision

Those are my words but they have also been repeated by many others, including Bretts Furniture store.

The town centre could ill afford the closure of Bretts, announced today, who are keeping their other store in Bramford road, and will see some of the town centre staff transferred there.

Anthony Brett cited business rates as well as ease of parking for viability differences and on Radio Suffolk this morning, there was a truthful swipe at the council for not having any vision for the town.

This is going to be a shameful time in this administration's history, if they don't start understanding business and get to grips with what needs to be done.

Voters of Ipswich, I repeat. If you always do what you've always done, you will always get what you've always got.

Voting Labour in Ipswich is voting for the same old thing. Their policies are designed around getting more votes, not what's good for the town. They have no vision, they do not encourage the officers to have any and their strategic direction consists of building more council houses (which they can do because of this government's policy of allowing receipts to be kept). They do not want to see nice big shiny houses being built in this town because they fear it would squeeze their vote out but that is what we need if we are to attract business and professional people.

I love my town and it has so much to offer but doing a beautifully filmed video that doesn't show half of what this town has to offer plus harping on about a handful of council houses that have been built, is not my idea of the secrets of attraction.

Labour do not have direction because self preservation is their main focus. Well you do have an alternative and I aim to show you what it is, over the coming months. Because I have vision and Ben Gummer has vision and together with partners and the people, we can make this town as attractive as any in the East of England.