Normally August would be a quiet time, a month in which to catch one's breath and to reflect.
However, we Ipswich conservative activists have been working several times a week to talk to residents, listen to their problems and views but most of all have been busy holding the labour administration to account.
There are so many decisions they are taking that appear to be riding roughshod over the thinking and wishes of anybody else. I can forgive them for not wanting to indulge their opposition but this is not what I am alluding to here.
Let's take the Ravenswood proposal. Nearly 100 council homes that the local residents are up in arms about - see my last post and yet the language and stance shows they have already made up their minds about this.
The issue for me is one of common sense - In a few years time those new homes may very well have been bought by the tenants under the right to buy which will mean we will lose an asset, and the tenant will have bought at a huge discount, whereas putting funds into shared ownership or the Help to Buy supports people in owning their own home from the beginning. But then that would be more inspiring and empowering, wouldn't it?!
Developers have been put off in the past by the Labour administration's insistence on things like 35% social housing to be included, which means that Labour now use under-building as an excuse to grow their share of the vote with large council developments. The public meeting showed that others disagree with them and would prefer to see help in other ways, alongside building a few council houses but peppered around the town. This way integration doesn't have to wait for tenants to buy their house.
Before that we had the call in on Argyle street concerning the Bangladeshi Support Centre. This has caused many problems within the community because it seems that Cllr Ellesmere was dealing with only one part of the group whereas another part of the group was also hoping to benefit from the site - I won't go into too much detail here - and had no knowledge of what the Labour administration were doing.
This means that Cllr Ellesmere is having to rethink the whole idea - something that wouldn't have been necessary if he had opened up the lease to all, using a competitive process. The whole point of my call in was because of my concern about fairness and openness but I didn't expect my case to be proved immediately afterwards. It was because of the publicity brought by the call in that other parts of the Bangladeshi community were made aware.
This has caused hurt to a wonderful group of people and that is why I have left them to it. It is far better for there to be a win/win situation rather than have even more newspaper articles. I will not be giving out any press releases on this subject and just hope that Cllr Ellesmere does the right thing.
Overview and Scrutiny (who agreed to look at this as part of my request at the call in) can ensure that this never happens again.
On a lighter note, we had a stall at the Ipswich maritime festival for all 3 days of the event and covered by conservative councillors and activists. We gave out Ben's newsletters, surveys and balloons. My own grandson proudly took one of the balloons but burst it within an hour, which brought a few tears so I made sure it was replaced the next day. I went again but this time with my whole family on the Sunday, which gave me much joy as I watched my grandchildren having a great time at the children's fun fair and making clay pots to take home to paint. It was a great event - and I never went near the beer tent!
Last but not least, I have instigated a new regular community activity for Stoke park in the Cambridge drive area. A resident brought up something that had been bothering me for quite a while, pertaining to that one part of my ward, which was a lack of a community centre. I asked an IBC community development officer to look at providing some activities at the Chantry Gym Centre on Birkfield drive and to cut a long story short, I will be seeking funds at the next Area Committee meeting, which I know will be supported by my fellow stoke park councillors. This will pay for the hire of the room, for a year, and we hope to bring in a variety of leisure activities for those that live nearby - crafts, pilates, tea dances, film evenings and perhaps a lunch. Look out for the flyers and posters which will be advertising it soon.
The northern fringe was an important paper at the last executive and you can see the film of the meeting courtesy of Ipswich Spy. However I will blog in more detail about this when it is brought to the next full council meeting 17th September. Ben Gummer spoke at the executive as we are concerned about the masterplan and infrastructure - so watch this space.