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........