Monday, 26 January 2015

Snippets from the week of a Stoke Park councillor

The last week has just flown by:

Starting with last weekend where I entertained the troops who were out in force for Ben Gummer.
We are now in the long election campaign and some serious hard work has gone up another level.

It's just so much more fun when all Tory councillors and activists from all over Suffolk, create synergy by coming together to focus on just Ipswich.
We covered a lot of ground delivering our latest leaflet - The most important election of our lifetime?

Last Friday Ben Gummer, myself and Mark Bee - the leader of Suffolk county council met with Paul Geater to discuss the state of our car parks. You can read all about it in the Ipswich Star but basically we think cheaper car parks, better use of technology and better quality of car park services will help to attract retailers and footfall. If IBC can show the way, starting with the bomb site that is Crown Street car park, then other companies will also be forced to compete on price.

This weekend (saturday) we started the day early with Ben G cooking breakfast for us all before spending another full action day in 2 wards. We were a bit side tracked by the beautiful face and sounds of Ben's baby boy. He is just so gorgeous and a real little thinker - starting politics early by joining us in our pre-meet!

Last week I attended the SW area committee - and on the agenda was the parking issue at Pinewood where residents are suffering from student parking to attend Suffolk one. This is not in our borough but we invited the SCC transport portfolio holder - Graham Newman to discuss solutions.

It turned into quite an ugly affair which was stirred up by the UKIP candidate, who seems pleased he has a campaign to shout about. Ben Gummer has been involved for a few months now and is in agreement with residents that a NO Access road should be considered which would help alleviate the problem greatly.

I understand people's frustrations but heckling a councillor by not letting him answer the questions is not something I'm prepared to stand by and watch in silence.
Councillors are there to serve but we are not a dart board to be used to vent frustrations. Politeness and respect costs nothing. I had to intervene and in very strong terms told them that it was not acceptable behaviour and that I would intervene again, if it continued. The chair tried his best to calm them down too and we eventually got some decorum.

Some action points have been taken away by Graham and I know that Ben Gummer has sent a letter to him also outlining his preferred options.

I was very sad this week that one of my favourite tweep who followed on twitter since I opened my account several years ago, died at the age of 23 in Thailand whilst on holiday, of natural causes. She was a beautiful and clever girl, very popular in the political world as a great libertarian. It brings home that most of us deal with trivia all day long and should be grateful for what we have in this country. She will be missed by many.

Rest in peace Christina Annersley

(If you tweet - please follow me on @stokeparkcllr and i will follow back)

Coming up this week - full council meeting on Wednesday where we will be discussing council rent increases above inflation for the 3rd year in a row.

Also coming up is Chinese New year and Ive booked my tickets at the Wolsey for 7th February because I enjoyed it so much last year. I'm taking my mum this time as it falls on her birthday.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Reducing the Strength campaign shortlisted for top award

An Ipswich campaign to reduce crime and support street drinkers has been shortlisted for a national award.

Reducing the Strength was launched in 2012 by Ipswich Borough Council, the Police, Suffolk County Council and the NHS. The East of England Co-operative Society joined the partnership soon afterwards and cleared super-strength alcoholic drinks from its own shelves.

The campaign's simple theme of encouraging retailers not to stock very strong lagers, beers and ciders has been so successful in cutting anti-social behaviour associated with street drinking that 80 other schemes across the county have followed Ipswich's lead.

Now, the Borough Council's pioneering role has been recognised by the LGC and its work has been shortlisted in the 2015 Awards Innovation category, with the overall winner to be announced in March.

This is good news indeed and a campaign that I totally supported because it was a voluntary based concept and I think people respond more positively to something that is not forced upon them. Instead with education and encouragement, retailers have found that this is not detrimental to their business and helps their town to be safer,

Ipswich has been at the forefront of many creative and successful ideas, including our campaign to help street workers find a new way of living more safely and our Best Bar None award instigated in 2010.


Thursday, 8 January 2015

Labour are in Chaos - Part 2 - Broken Promises

Promises now in chaos

48 hour GP care – Labour’s NHS pledges unravel

·         Labour promise.
o   ‘An appointment within 48 hours for all who want one – and an appointment on the same day for all who need one’ (Labour Press, 12 May 2014, link). They claimed this would cost £100 million a year: ‘a Labour government will help all surgeries achieve these standards by investing an extra £100 million a year in family doctor practices’ (ibid.)

·         Promise in chaos.
o   This promise actually costs £1.361 billion in 2015/16 – over ten times more than Labour claim (HM Treasury, Opposition costing – guarantee on GP appointments, 5 January 2015, link).

o   Ed Balls now claims this promise would be paid for out of a £2.5 billion ‘time to care fund’: ‘As you know, we've established a Time to Care fund, £2.5bn a year which will be financed by the mansion tax on homes over £2m’ (BBC Radio 4, World at One, 5 January 2015).

o   However, the proposed tax rises for this will raise no money in 2015/16. In October 2014 Ed Balls’ office confirmed to the Guardian that any money from new taxes would not be available until halfway through the next parliament (Guardian, 5 October 2014, link).

o   And Labour’s press release explaining the ‘Time to Care Fund’ makes no mention of guaranteeing a GP appointment. Neither Ed Miliband nor Andy Burnham mentioned the GP access guarantee in their 2014 conference speeches.

London Challenge – Balls rushes out new Labour education cuts

·         Labour promise. ‘As Secretary of State for Education, I will roll out the London Challenge scheme across the country: tackling poor results and raising standards in our coastal towns, counties, and regional cities’ (Tristram Hunt, Speech to Labour Party conference 2014, 21 September 2014).

·         Promise in chaos. ‘That will happen entirely within the education budget that Tristram Hunt inherits. And he will seek to find savings elsewhere, and no new money’ (Ed Balls, WATO, 5 January 2015).

Promises dumped by Labour

Cancelling Arts Council spending reduction in 2015/16 – Balls dumps Harman’s opposition to cuts

·         Labour promise. ‘The successes we now celebrate in the arts are the result of many years of public support, through funding and public policy. But this Government is threatening the future of our arts and creative industries through slashing the Arts Council, crushing the ability of local government to support culture locally and side-lining creative education’ (Harriet Harman, Labour Party press release, 14 June 2013).

·         Promise dumped.
o   ‘p.44 of Tory dossier says Labour will cancel cuts to the arts budget. We won’t’ (Labour Press Team Twitter Account, 5 January 2015).

o   ‘I am afraid there will be no new money in 2015/16 for the Arts Council and for the culture budget over the plans we inherit’ (Ed Balls, WATO, 5 January 2015).

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Labour in chaos - Part 1 - Labours Top 5 Rebuttal errors

Labour’s rebuttal – top 5 errors

·         Labour hope to run the country, but they don’t even know who their own shadow minsters are!
      Labour’s rebuttal says: ‘The Tories have used a quote from a backbench peer…The Tories quote Lord Rosser, a backbench Labour Peer’. But Lord Rosser has been on the Labour frontbench since 2010 (Labour Party, The Tories’ Smear Analysis of Labour Party Policy, 5 January 2015, p.25; Parliament website, accessed 5 January 2015, link).

·         Labour’s own rebuttal confuses a million with a billion – three times. 

    ‘The Tories say that a commitment to support UnionLearn for the Duration of the Parliament means that we will increase its funding from £15.3 billion [sic] to £21.5 billion [sic]’; ‘According to the Tories, this policy would cost nothing in 2015/16 but new election costs would be £85.7 billion [sic]’ (Labour Party, The Tories’ Smear Analysis of Labour Party Policy, 5 January 2015, p.14).

·         Labour accept HM Treasury’s costings when it suits them, but refuse when the costings reveal they have got their numbers wrong. 

     ‘This costing [restricting pension tax relief for higher earners] raises more than we had expected and we will ensure that the revenue comes in as soon as possible’; ‘Treasury costings have been done on the basis of Tory advisers’ assumptions’ (Labour Party, The Tories’ Smear Analysis of Labour Party Policy, 5 January 2015, p.34 and p.3).

·         Labour say they want the OBR to cost their manifesto, but they won’t accept their costings when it doesn’t suit them. 

     Labour claim:According to the Tories, Labour's policy of restoring the 50p rate of income tax will not raise any revenue because it would be offset by reductions in VAT’; but it is the OBR and HMRC’s analysis that shows this policy wouldn’t raise money (Labour Party, The Tories’ Smear Analysis of Labour Party Policy, 5 January 2015, p.34 and p.34; HMRC, The Exchequer effect of the 50 per cent additional rate of income tax, March 2012; HM Treasury, Budget 2013, Table 2.2, March 2013).

·         Labour want to have it both ways when it comes to whether their published reports constitute a commitment. 

    When Lord Adonis – a senior Shadow Minister – recommends something in a report it’s not their policy: ‘this [University Technical Colleges] is a recommendation from Andrew Adonis’ Growth Review and is not Labour Party policy and will not be in our manifesto’. But when they want to prove something about their policy, Labour are happy to reference a report by a former Minister who hasn’t been on their frontbench for nearly ten years: ‘We have been clear that our policy would be funded from within existing resources…David Blunkett report for Labour’s Policy Review’ (Labour Party, The Tories’ Smear Analysis of Labour Party Policy, 5 January 2015, p.4 and p. 17).

Friday, 2 January 2015

Message from David Cameron

Just five years ago, we were on the brink of bankruptcy. Investors wondered whether Britain was a safe bet any more. Businesses panicked about shrinking order books. And parents wondered what sort of future their children would inherit.
So when we came to office, we set in place a long-term economic plan - and asked for the patience and hard work of the British people to see it through.
Together we have been turning our country around.
In 2014 ours was the fastest-growing economy of all the major advanced nations. We have reduced our deficit by half. And every day we have been in Government, an average of 1000 new jobs have been created.
But our plan is not just fixing the economy - we are making Britain a country where effort is rewarded: where those who put in, get out; where if you put the hours in, you keep more of your own money; where if you're willing to save, you can buy a home of your own; where those retiring can have dignity and security in old age.
All this is at stake in the General Election in May. It is a critical moment for Britain's future - and the choice is clear: between the competence of sticking with our long-term plan, or the chaos of giving it up and going backwards.
With a second term in Government, we can carry on creating more jobs, giving more young people the opportunity to get on in life, and giving more families peace of mind about the future.
So our national New Year's resolution for 2015 must be to stick to the plan and stay on course to prosperity.
Volunteer for Team2015 today, and let's keep securing a better future for our children and grandchildren:
Yes, I'd like to join Team2015 Not today, but I will donate
Thank you,
David Cameron
PS If you're already a volunteer, please encourage your friends to get involved too by forwarding them this link - - or sharing it on Facebook and Twitter.