Archive for the ‘East Anglia’ Category
Ideal Happy Suffolk Library User.
In 2012 Suffolk LIbraries were taken away from public ownership (‘divested’) and direct control by elected councillors under a hard-right leadership of Suffolk County Council. They were given to an Industrial and Provident Society
Or as they put it,
In the first arrangement of its type in the UK, and after extensive consultation with the people of Suffolk, on Wednesday 1 August 2012, all of Suffolk’s 44 libraries and the mobile, school and prison library services were put under the direct control of the Suffolk’s Libraries IPS Ltd, an independent company registered as a charity.
Suffolk’s Libraries has a long-term contract with Suffolk County Council to ensure the service is delivered to an agreed specification and to work with local community groups to develop locally-focused services at each library.
The county council remains the statutory library authority, and monitors the performance of the library service through a framework that forms part of the contract.
As a member of the Ipswich Friends, who are on the list, I would be interested to know how this election took place – certainly it would be hard to recall being consulted, let alone presented with a ballot paper.
It would be possible to go further into this arrangement, whose transparency has been unfavourably compared to the Kremlin’s under Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev.
Our concern is the future of the libraries.
It would seem that a number of problems have come to a head: Ipswich Library is opening late tomorrow, because a special ‘Staff Meeting’ is taking place.
It is known (I have seen a copy of the, non-public, minutes of the meeting) that part of the Library is to be transferred to a business ‘hub’ of some kind (as if Ipswich needs another one….).
Appropriately commerce will replace part of the Arts section.
In the meantime a large number of books from all over the Central Library are ‘disappearing’ and some books on the shelves are ‘not-recognised’ – about to be withdrawn for sale.
One loyal member of staff say that these volumes have gone to a better, happier, place.
Others, less favourable to management, suggest that the “disappeared” will never be seen again.
The computer provision, which last year’s annual public report (a rare glimpse into the Provy’s workings) needs upgrading, is in a mess.
Some new terminals are available (though 2 have already broken down) with super, indeed excellent, service, exist (though their censorship filter blocks some left-wing sites).
Some of the old ones still function.
There is a shortage of free computers and great competition to use them – an essential activity for Jobseekers.
But near to them are the dead carcasses of extinct terminals, a sad reminder of former days.
We suspect a funding crisis is in the offing and “profit centres” are seen as the way out.
Note the word “suspect“, not “certain”.
It is said – from the Management – that “nothing has been decided yet” about the libraries’ future.
We have heard that one before: it is no doubt taught in many ‘dealing with a crisis’ master classes for managers.
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Last Known Sighting of Ben: I Make Fun Stuff !
Popular Ipswich MP, Ben Gummer (Unofficial Minister for Ipswich, Honorary Mayor of Ipswich, Acting Editor, Ipswich Star, Benefactor of the Shrine of Lady Lane), has been less than visible lately.
His last major political achievement was this, “February 2014 BISHOP’S HILL LIGHTS STOPPED.”
Sadly the sprightly Latin scholar, and author of the definitive guide to the Black Death (1), does not appear to have benefited from the recent Cabinet Reshuffle.
His position as Michael Gove’s PPS has, well, lapsed.
For all his prestigious unofficial and honorary posts, Ben did not figure in the roll of honour that was at the command of Leader David Cameron.
Rumours that Ben is seeking a bolt-hole in the West County have flourished in the absence of any more definitive news.
We hope to be informed of developments on this front.
The fate of the Gummer dynasty is in the balance.
(1) Fittingly the last outbreak of bubonic plague in England occurred on the nearby Shotley Peninsula in 1910 (Here).
Grandma Gilles on Ipswich Demo. (Thanks Ellie).
Over 300 people came to the demo in Ipswich called by the Trades Council and local unions, Suffolk Needs a Pay Rise, yesterday.
In Ipswich there were well attended pickets at the Russell Road Borough and County Council offices, at Crown Pools, the Borough Council Waste depot (dust-carts – the majority of which did not go out), and HMRC offices in Lower Brook Street.
59 Suffolk schools were affected by strike action and 17 closed for the day.
At the march and rally there were members of UNISON, GMB, FBU, UNITE, PCS & NUT, NUJ, DPAC, the Peoples Assembly, other unions and campaigns, as well as members of the public.
The Suffolk People’s Assembly (Facebook) report notes,
Many speakers at the rally expressed their anger at the wage freeze public sector workers have faced over the past 4 years. This has led to a 20% decline in real wages at the same time as increased workload. One PCS member said that he was now doing 2 peoples’ jobs and facing constant performance reviews, which was destroying his job satisfaction.
A parent talked of her support for the teachers’ strike, to defend her and other people’s education. The Ipswich NUT Secretary, Margaret Bulaitis, spoke about how the the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, denigrated the work of her profession, and was more interested in promoting academies and privatisation than the needs of school students.
Martin, from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), gave an impassioned speech on the effects cuts and changes to the benefit system were having on those with disabilities.
Support came from the National Union of Journalists (NUJ). Their representative suggested that Grandma Gilles (above) would not have put up with the attacks on public services by the Liberal-Conservative Coalition.
Ipswich Tory Attacks Strikes.
Ipswich Tory MP, Ben Gummer, disagrees.
He said (Ipswich Star) that, “public sector workers had fared better than the private sector during the recession.”
He said striking teachers were damaging the education of the children in their classes.
And he said the government was taking action to clamp down on tax avoidance by the rich and to help the low paid.
“This government has lifted two million people out of paying income tax altogether and the gap between rich and poor is getting smaller for the first time in 20 years.”
Gummer’s figures are certainly creative.
Sky news states (May 2014),
“The gap between rich and poor in Britain has become wider, with 10% of the population now owning almost half of the nation’s household wealth.
Those same one in ten households own assets worth over £1m – that’s almost 1.4 million homes.
Teachers’ Unions argue that it is Michael Gove’s ‘reforms’ are undermining education.
Their dispute about pay, pensions and working conditions, is linked to the government’s efforts to devalue teaching, and open the way to private companies profiting from the schooling system.
Gove’s changes have created excessive workloads, and let free schools operate without democratic control and public accountability.
On public sector workers’ pay the TUC says,
Public sector workers are £2,245 worse off as a result of the coalition’s austerity policies, according to the Trades Union Congress.
NHS staff, teachers, firefighters and local government workers are among those that have lost out following pay freezes and limited pay rises since the government took office, the TUC said.
The figures, which show the average fall in real terms pay suffered by workers since May 2010, were published a day before a wave of strikes among UK public sector workers over pay, pensions and working conditions. Government policies on public sector pay have had a big impact on the spending power of almost six million UK households, according to the TUC.
The Liberal-Conservative Coalition has one overarching policy for the public sector: turning it into a source of profit for private companies.
As Thomas Picketty has noted,
“Instead of holding public debt via their financial investments, the wealthiest European households would becomes the direct owners of schools, hospitals, police stations, and so on. Everyone else would then have to pay rent to use these assets and continue to produce the associated public services.”(Page 541. Capital in the Twenty-first Century. Thomas Piketty. Harvard University Press. 2014.)
The trade unions, backed by the People’s Assembly, are fighting back!
Update: this how private companies making money out of public services in Suffolk fail to deliver:
Bosses at the private firm providing community healthcare in Suffolk have defended themselves following concerns over equipment provision.
Jane Basham, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for South Suffolk, criticised the Serco-run Suffolk Community Healthcare after patients spoke of equipment delays.
Ms Basham heard how one elderly woman was told she would have to wait three weeks for a walking aid, while she also heard of delays for equipment for paediatric services as they were no longer stored in Suffolk.
It comes after concerns were raised in January about the performance of the Community Equipment Service (CES), part of Serco-run Suffolk Community Healthcare.
In October 2012, Serco took on the role of providing community health services to 600,000 patients in Suffolk.
The CES is an integrated service providing equipment for people with health and social care needs.
However, delays of up to five months in providing equipment, such as specialist beds, slings and hoists, and poor communication were among the concerns raised at a Suffolk health scrutiny committee meeting.
Hats off to Ipswich Labour Party!
Ipswich: Labour wins two Tory seats after the town goes to the polls for borough council election
Labour won two seats from the Conservatives during the election for 17 councillors, one in each of the town’s 16 wards and a by-election in Alexandra.
Whitton and Rushmere were the two wards switching from blue to red.
And despite big UKIP votes in some wards, including Bridge, Castle Hill and Gainsborough, they were unable to secure a council seat.
Labour worked extremely hard in these elections.
The won on the basis of the good record as a Borough Council – ranging from their widely acknowledged competence, standing for the majority of the people in the town.
There have been no devastating cuts.
They have begun to build new Council Housing.
Their backing for the Living Wage, their anti-racism (march against the EDL), to policies, such as their opposition to Workfare, have solidified good links with the labour movement, unions, and to the broad progressive constituency.
Just to give an example of things have changed politically in the UK.
This is where Tendance Coatesy lives by the centre of town (we call it a town, but in most English speaking countries it would be called a City).
Alexandra (first two elected): John Cook (Labour) 935, Jane Riley (Labour ) 917, Jose Esteves (UKIP) 444, Mark Felix-Thomas (Conservatives) 400, James White (Green) 390, Alex Hopkins (Conservatives) 331, Robert Chambers (Liberal Demcrats) 215, Andrew Houseley (Liberal Democrats) 180. Maj: 18. Turnout: 33.58%. No change.
UKIP beat the Tories.
The Green beat one of the Tories and both of the Liberal Democrats.
This pattern was repeated with the exception of St Margaret’s where the Liberal Democrats (aka the St Margaret’s Residents’ Association) clung on.
There were no candidates standing from TUSC and other left parties, or from the Galloway communalists.
This is because most (not all) of the left in Ipswich works well with Ipswich Labour – which naturally represents a far larger constituency.
We might have our differences on this or that, but we consider in unity there is strength.
Ex-Tories Fall for UKIP Politics.
Controversial former Tory council leader Dale Jackson is attempting to make a comeback in this year’s borough elections in his old ward – for UKIP.
Mr Jackson, who left the council after falling out with his Conservative colleagues, has been selected as UKIP candidate for Castle Hill ward.
It is a seat that his new party is targeting – the party’s James Crossley won the Whitton and Whitehouse county council division last year and that includes part of Castle Hill.
Mr Jackson will be up against former Conservative leader Chris Stewart who stood down earlier this year after a split in his group during the borough’s budget debate.
The Castle Hill ward will now be a key battleground – with Mr Jackson well known in the area.
He was Conservative leader in 2004 when the party took control of the borough in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, but stepped down as council leader after he became subject of a Standards’ Board investigation into claims that he had sent an inappropriate letter to the teenage daughter of a fellow Conservative councillor.
He was cleared of wrong-doing, but the group did not allow him to return as leader. After that he fell out with other Conservatives, and ended up sitting as an independent councillor.
Dale, from the lunatic fringe of the Conservative Party, has plenty of other skeletons in his cupboard.
This may well be worth looking into (from UKIP Ipswich’s Twitter account),
Then there is this, from the Best Blog based in an outhouse in Ipswich :
Three weeks ago Jose Esteves was canvassing with the Ipswich Tories. Yet now he is a UKIP candidate for Alexandra Ward. I have ascertained that the Tories knew nothing of his defection, though intelligence suggests that another local blogger may have been aware of it.
There is a theory held by some Ipswich Tories that Jose was in fact a UKIP spy. But I don’t think Ipswich UKIP are organised enough to indulge in such espionage. I think that the more likely thing that has happened is that Mr Esteves worked out he was working hard for the Ipswich Tories, not being appreciated for his hard work and being taken for granted like a lot of their foot soldiers are. Then UKIP offered him a candidacy and he took it.
There are 14 UKIP Ipswich candidates standing, that is out of 16 Borough wards.
So, it’s no longer just Algar and his mate in Bridge who’ve gone UKIP.
No doubt many of the others are complete nutters as well.
Paul Anderson is a University Campus Suffolk lecturer and writer who lives in Woodbridge Road. He grew up in Dorchester Road in Bixley in the 1960s and 1970s and went to Britannia primary – and his mum lives in the ward. He’s Bixley to his bones: he used to buy sweets from ITFC legend John Elsworthy’s shop at the roundabout and took the number 4 bus into town.
He knows what Bixley residents need from the council – decent bus services, reliable rubbish collection, better social services support for old people, protection of the heaths from housing development – and will campaign for all that and more on the borough council.