Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Archive for the ‘Suffolk’ Category

Suffolk Libraries Under Threat.

leave a comment »

Image result for suffolk libraries

Concern Grows as Suffolk County Council Tories Try to Stop Libraries Connecting with the Public.

More than 50 jobs could go at Suffolk libraries due to budget cuts

EADT. Paul Geater.

More than 50 jobs at Suffolk libraries are under threat as the service is being forced into a major restructure following two years of serious budget cuts.

Bosses have written to 52 staff telling them that their posts are under threat. Many work only a few hours a week and the job losses amount to 15 full-time equivalent posts.

Formal consultation starts on the job losses at the start of next week and the service restructure is due to be in place by April next year – none of the county’s 44 library branches are expected to close and opening hours should not be affected.

The restructure comes after the library service budget was cut by £230,000 by Suffolk County Council in April – and that followed a £300,000 cut last year.

The service has recently been awarded a £700,000 grant by the Arts Council, but that is for a specific project and cannot be used to subsidise basic services.

Suffolk Libraries Chief Executive Alison Wheeler said this would be the first major reorganisation of the service since 1990: “Then the work of the libraries service was very different to what it is today, but we understand this will be a very difficult time for those going through the redundancy process,” she said.

Over the next two weeks there are a series of meetings for library staff across the county to hear more about the plans and those directly involved in the redundancy process will have a 45-day consultation process.

Ms Wheeler added: “We do of course recognise that this is very stressful for people affected, and we are doing what we can to ensure that they are well informed, and have plenty of opportunity to give their views.

“What we all care about is ensuring that Suffolk’s libraries have a sustainable future.”

The library service was set up as an industrial and provident society in 2012 to run Suffolk’s libraries on behalf of the county council – it relies largely on finance from the county but its buildings in towns and villages have become community hubs as well as places to borrow books.

All the branches have remained open and Ms Wheeler said this remained a key aim of the service as it prepares to restructure itself for the future. Ms Wheeler herself is planning to take early retirement from the service early in the new year once a successor has been appointed.

Campaigners opposed the creation of an Industrial and Provident society on the grounds that it would both remove direct democratic accountability for Suffolk Libraries and would not, in the long run, shelter the libraries from the hostile treatment towards all public services by the Conservative ruling group on the County Council.

Suffolk has been spared the wholesale closure of libraries that has wreaked havoc on the services in many parts of the country.

The dedicated staff are to be congratulated on their efforts to open the service to wider communities and to keep the libraries as welcoming public spaces.

But the drip drip of cuts has began to eat into the provision of books, and has led to the almost complete removal of periodicals, from Private Eye to the Times Literary Supplement, from the central library.

Coincidentally or not Suffolk Libraries was a subject of informal discussion very recently (last night) amongst Labour activists, including representatives of the Labour group on the County Council.

Volumes of important texts have been sold off for not more than a few pence.

The number of qualified – and therefore better paid –  librarians working in the service is approaching zero.

Efforts to raise money include this:

Suffolk Libraries launches new supporters’ scheme

People can sign up at three different price levels: £20 for Silver membership, £50 for Gold, or £150 for Platinum. For more information and to apply, visit the Suffolk Libraries Extra page, call 01473 351249 or visit any library. You can also email extra@suffolklibraries.co.uk if you have any questions about the scheme.

All money raised will go into a dedicated Development Fund which will be used to support and improve the services we provide.

Tony Brown, Chair of Suffolk Libraries, said: “Suffolk Libraries is determined to provide the best service we can to the people of Suffolk and to make a positive difference to the lives of as many people that live here, even if we face continuing financial pressures. We want to do our bit and raise additional income which will be used to improve the services we provide to communities across Suffolk.

“All our other customers will continue to get the same free services and benefits, we just want to provide something extra for those who feel able to give us some extra support.”

This is a matter of deep concern.

Advertisements

Written by Andrew Coates

July 26, 2017 at 11:24 am

Why Did Tory Ben Gummer Lose Ipswich to Labour’s Sandy Martin?

leave a comment »

Image result for ben in the pub ipswich

‘Mr Ipswich’ Off to Spend More Time in the Pub.

“Just 48 hours ago he was one of the most powerful men in the British government. Now Ben Gummer’s parliamentary career has come to an abrupt end – whether temporarily or permanently. Why did he lose?”

Writes the ‘Big Fella’ Paul Geater in the Ipswich Star.

During the campaign Ben Gummer always seemed supremely confident, talking confidently about Labour voters switching to him because they didn’t like Jeremy Corbyn. If this was all spin then he and his team were acting very well when they spoke to me!

Even after our survey suggested Sandy Martin was in the lead, they insisted all was well – but clearly things were not going as well as he hoped. Why?

Firstly many people voted for the first time. Turnout was significantly up and many of these appeared to be young people.

They were motivated to vote Labour because they liked Jeremy Corbyn’s radical plans, especially abolishing university tuition fees, and were determined to make their voice heard.

The number of people voting Conservative in Ipswich actually went up between 2015 and 2017 by about 1,600 – but Labour’s vote increased by more than 6,000 votes. The UKIP vote fell by 4,000 – but these votes appear to have been split evenly.

Some policies were not popular: workers said the confusion and mixed messages over pension reform and social care payments had worried some voters.

The lack of attention from big-name visitors also gave the impression that Tory High Command took Ipswich for granted. They seemed to think that a Cabinet minister with a 3,733 majority couldn’t need help.

Some voters appeared to feel that Mr Gummer’s focus was no longer on the town with his new ministerial role – and the fact that he did not have a home in Ipswich at the time of the election did not help.

Given his work in the town, this was probably unfair – but it created an impression his opponents could exploit by emphasising that Mr Martin had lived in Ipswich for decades.

And a number of small policy statements caused real problems – one of the most irritating for workers was the suggestion that the government could repeal hunting legislation. One of his team said to me: “Why couldn’t she (Theresa May) just shut up about that. It’s not a big issue but it could cost us a few hundred votes!”

Another series of explanations:

  • The Labour vote, as Geater notes, grew amongst young people. As he says, particularly of first-time voters, “They were motivated to vote Labour because they liked Jeremy Corbyn’s radical plans, especially abolishing university tuition fees, and were determined to make their voice heard.” This is a national trend. Most studies of voting behaviour in the UK underline that most people cast their ballot in line with countrywide trends. This would equally apply to people’s concern with “confusion and mixed messages over pension reform and social care payments”, a worry that  was reflected all over Britain. The Star and EADT’s political columnist could have added that young people’s interest in the issue of tuition fees was not just something ‘out there’. It was very evident on the ground. In my own street when delivering Labour leaflets a young bloke saw the Party sign and raised a clenched fist while saying “Up the Labour! I want Corbyn to sort out my tuition fees”. Others can confirm that this was very far from a one off incident.
  • If the Tory High Command “took Ipswich for granted” this was hardly the case for Ben’s own team. They have worked hard over the years to build up an image of the Conservative MP as Mr Ipswich, even putting on their web site a map of the town which you could click on to find what “Ben had done” to help, street by street.  When this Blog pointed out, in a kindly way,  that this may be seen as arrogant, the chart disappeared. But similar bold claims about the candidate’s actions “for Ipswich” continued.
  • The “focus on the town” is, as a result, a more complex issue than Geater’s comments reveals.  Ben’s constant efforts to portray himself as the Minister for Ipswich, and the Best Friend Ipswich has ever had, were not universally appreciated whatever the merits of the former MP’s efforts.  I could cite the the freebie Waterfront Life, which those of us who leave not far from the old Docks, receive. He gave – in two pieces, The Winerack and Non-Political Question Time  – the impression that it was the Right Hon. Gummer who was Ipswich Borough Council, The Right Hon who was the man pioneering the Town’s future. Those who know that the hard working Labour councillors who run Ipswich Borough were not impressed.  Nor were his ‘matey’ evenings, Ben in the Pub, appealing to everybody. Some would have welcomed his focus elsewhere, especially, as many remarked, as  Gummer does not live in Ipswich.
  • It was not just the Conservative Manifesto’s promises for future policies, such as bringing back hunting, but present ones that were unpopular. Locally voters would see that austerity affects their lives directly. Suffolk County Council is at present Tory run. It has ruthlessly cut services, including social care, and outsourced many of their activities. They are in a sorry state. To take one example, the massive cuts in provision for young people, particularity the disadvantaged, is storing up social problems.  To this one could add long-standing problems about the County Council. Many voters are aware of the mess their contracted out Highway Services  is in: the state of the roads in Suffolk is a standing joke.
  • Ben Gummer made much of his commitment to improved rail services. Those who use the trains to get to London will have noticed that his efforts have not affected the steadily deteriorating rail links, and the sky high ticket prices that privatisation has brought. Many will perhaps considered that Gummer’s claims, made since 2010 with no visible result,  are rubbing salt in open wounds. These are just some hard-to-ignore  examples of how Conservative rule has made people’s lives worse and have surely undermined the former MP’s support.
  • If there was one thing which sums up the results of Conservative government cuts, and mean-spirited welfare system, it is the constant presence of street-begging and rough sleepers in Ipswich. People in the town feel shame that in a wealthy country we have the homeless and destitute left to ask for money in the streets.

Then there is his opponent, Sandy Martin who ran an enthusiastic campaign, backed by an energetic team that included many young people.

  • Sandy Martin by  is known across the town as a man whose tireless work, not constantly flagged up as the acts of Mr Ipswich, have made a real difference. From case-work as a Town (until not that long ago) and (now) County Councillor, Sandy has built up a solid reputation as a reliable and likeable local figure. A broad constituency, from ordinary town residents, campaigners on a wider variety of issues,and labour movement activists know that Sandy is somebody who has stood on their side and contributed to their work.
  • Ipswich Labour Party has a well-organised network of supporters, from every walk of life, prepared to talk to and listen to Ipswich people. Sanday’s campaign reflected this. It was very obvious during the campaign that the party is deeply rooted in Ipswich. With a good candidate, the local party backing, the radical and democratic politics in Labour’s Manifesto  found an audience.

Finally,….

Not everybody likes ‘Ben’s Bridge’ either,

General election 2017: New Ipswich MP Sandy Martin to ask for rethink on Orwell Crossing link

New Ipswich MP Sandy Martin is to ask the Department for Transport to look again at the proposals for a large new bridge between Wherstead Road and Cliff Quay.

He is to ask the government to look at diverting the money to help fund the £100m project to a northern by-pass for the town.

It was one of his pledges during the election campaign, and he is planning to take up the issue when he travels to Westminster next week.

He said: “There are three bridges proposed as part of the Upper Orwell Crossing. Two of them – the road bridge to the island site and the footbridge over the lock gates – I wholeheartedly support.

“But the largest bridge does not have public support and I shall be speaking to the department to see if the funds can go to a more important strategic route, the northern by-pass.”

The crossings were strongly backed by former MP Ben Gummer – and are now a formal county council-managed project. The government funding is due to come through when work is about to start.

County council cabinet member for Ipswich Paul West said it would be pressing ahead with the project. He said: “This is a full project, you can’t plan to have one or two of the bridges.

“And it isn’t possible to move the money from one Ipswich project to another in the town – if it is taken away from this then it would go to another part of the country.”

The crossing is also backed by the business community in Ipswich.

Catherine Johnson, chair of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce in Greater Ipswich said: “Firstly, on behalf of the Chamber we’d like to congratulate Sandy on being elected as Ipswich’s MP.

“Secondly, as with the other six Suffolk MPs, we are looking forward to working with him on a range of issues of interest and concern to the business community.

“We note his comments about diverting funds from the Upper Orwell Crossings scheme to that of the northern bypass. We hope to listen in more detail to his thinking on this particular issue.

“We also look forward to a productive dialogue on the overall need for Ipswich to have a modern infrastructure that allows a much freer and more efficient flow of goods and people both within and to and from the town.”

Written by Andrew Coates

June 10, 2017 at 12:27 pm

Leading Ipswich Tory, Kev, Goes Marine le Pen.

with 3 comments

“Fuck the system!” Says Kevin Algar, former Ipswich Tory Council Candidate.

It is not often that we publish news on Ipswich Tory Party.

MP Ben Gummer spends his time these days in a happy daze:

This is Ipswich’s Moment!

It is an exciting time to be in our town, and a privilege for me to serve this glorious constituency as it grasps a better future with both hands.

But all is not well in the Ipswich Conservative Association..

Leading activist, former Tory council candidate, and Brexit supporter, Kevin Algar, the Terror of Saint Jude’s, is now backing Marine Le Pen for French President.

He comments on Facebook today, “She will win, the EU will collapse and the people of Europe shall be free.”

According to well-established rumour Kev, as his friends don’t call him, plans to hold a Suffolk victory party for the Front National.

Image result for kevin algar ipswich

This was his last celebration, (via East Anglia’s Premier Political Blog)  ” Congratulations to US President elect Donald Trump.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 25, 2016 at 12:56 pm

Mr Passmore, ‘ Police Chief’ ‘not xenophobic or anti-European” of Suffolk Rants against Europeans criminals

with one comment

Police Chief with Hard Line Views on ‘European’ Criminals Faces Resign Call.

Brexit campaign chiefs Boris Johnson and Michael Gove will roll into the region today to join Suffolk’s crime commissioner in making a call for Britain to leave the European Union.

Ipswich Star.

Mr Passmore, who said he did not want to fall out with anybody over his position and that his decision was a personal view, said his position was not xenophobic or anti-European.

Mr Passmore said high profile Suffolk cases, including the murder of Bury St Edmunds jeweller Peter Avis by a polish robber on the run and the rape of an 81-year-old by a Romanian who had been twice jailed in his home country, had been a “tipping point” and had convinced him to Vote Leave to regain control of Britain’s borders.

“We have examples here in Suffolk over the last few years where people with criminal records have been able to move in and out of the UK. Of course, if there is a search warrant out for them, then of course we all cooperate and we have to be realistic. But we have had examples in Suffolk over the last years since I have been elected where this has gone wrong.

As leading Ipswich Tory Brexit campaigner, Kevin Algar, says, more bluntly, “How many rapists are you going to let loose?”

I would not risk my chances of getting justice were I a European migrant worker with the Suffolk police chief. on charge of my case.

After the expression of these controversial views, and according to established rumours,  far more outrageous and bigoted opinions, there are calls for thing that calls itself;f a Police Commissioner, to resign from this sensitive  position.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 7, 2016 at 4:20 pm

Giles’s Grandmother Goes Jeremy Corbyn in Ipswich.

with 7 comments

Latest Recruit to Corbyn Campaign: Giles’s Grandmother.

As Trotskyist infiltrators swarm to tonight’s Jeremy Corbyn meeting in Norwich Ipswich saw a new supporter of the Labour leadership candidate: The Grandma statue, based on the character in Carl Giles’s cartoons.

https://no81bob.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/giles-grandma.jpg?w=700

 

She is a merry soul these days.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 6, 2015 at 11:26 am

End Austerity Now Demonstration: a Personal Report from Ipswich.

with 14 comments

Protesters flood Parliament Square (Photo: John Stillwell/PA Wire)

Protesters flood Parliament Square (Photo: John Stillwell/PA Wire)

End Austerity Now Demonstration: a Personal Report.

Around 80,000 people (the Tendance’s estimate) marched in London on Saturday. They protested against the newly elected Conservative government’s plans to continue, and deepen, austerity.

It’s unnecessary to list the faults of these policies. It’s enough to see the people begging in the streets, a few hundred metres from the office of Ipswich Tory M.P. Benedict Gummer. Without the response of the People’s Assembly, the unions, the diverse groups and parties on the demonstration, and the wider public, Cameron and Osborne will have free rein to create a mean-spirited free-market Britain.

From Ipswich and Stowmarket 42 people piled in our coach – there were more travelling to London by train. Up to 70% were under the age of 40, with a large percentage in their teens and twenties. This was reflected amongst the marchers, with a strong presence of young people.

While assembling by the Bank of England we were addressed by various speakers. Those advertised included Kate Hudson (Chair, Left Unity, CND) and Diane Abbott (Labour MP and candidate to represent the party for the London Mayoral contest). They and others made good, rousing, contributions on the need to fight austerity.

Weyman Bennett (SWP/Unite Against Fascism) linked people being rude to women wearing the Islamic veil to the massacre at Charleston and the heart-rending plight of migrants drowned in the Mediterranean. Lee Jasper (Respect Party), the ‘controversial’ former Director for Policing and Equalities under Ken Livingstone’s Greater London Authority Assembly continued in this vein.

Someone (one can imagine who) compared his peroration  unfavourably to Ali G.(1)  One Suffolk comrade remarked that on what she called the “shouting”.

It was to be regretted that there was nobody from the National Shop Stewards Network – a group which, whatever one’s political differences, represents a lot more than the former two users of the demo microphone – was not invited to speak.

The route of the protest, which began next to the City, took us from Ludgate Circus, down the Strand, past Trafalgar Square. This was the venue of a – poorly attended- commercial beano, a pop radio concert. It symbolised the use of public space for corporate gain.

Local People’s assembly groups (like Suffolk People’s Assembly) unions, Left Unity, anti-cuts organisations, disabeld rights groups,the SWP, the Socialist Party, and other (even) smaller left parties, the Labour Assembly Against Austerity , the Green Party …to Class War, were present.

In Parliament Square there were more speeches. Again there were solid well-argued arguments against the Cabinet’s plans, from Steve Turner (UNITE and the People’s Assembly) onwards. John Rees included a reference to the rights of atheists in a call for to defend the freedoms of different beliefs. His claim that the demonstrators were from all ethnic backgrounds was perhaps not fully substantiated by a glance at the overwhelmingly  white crowd.

Charlotte Church made an exceptional contribution.

The Mirror called it an “incredible speech“.

The Conservatives’ intention was to create a society around their principles, of private profit and public loss.

Describing the idea that Britain needs austerity as “the big lie”, Charlotte said: “They will sell off our schools and our hospitals. When it’s done, it will he hard to reverse.

“One aspect of this that really gets under my skin is that it’s all wrapped up in a proud-to-be-British package.

“I’m proud to be British because of the NHS and David Bowie, not because of the Union Jack.

“Be proud for the right reasons. We need to win back these young minds and save ourselves from years of yuppie rule.

“If you are ashamed that you have to use a food bank, because this Government would rather see you starve than put a note in your pocket, walk tall. You have the moral high ground.

“We are not afraid of national debt and we will not let our public services be attacked.”

She added: “What this country needs is economic stimulation – most economists around the world would say the same. We need to get the blood pumping.”

Earlier, she said: “I’m here today in a show of solidarity with everyone here – it is a massive turnout – everybody who thinks that austerity isn’t the only way and thinks it is essentially unethical, unfair and unnecessary.”

It was hard not to be moved by Charlotte’s clear and heart-felt words.

Her call for positive alternatives and hope will resonate across the country.

For many present, Jeremy Corbyn, standing for the Labour Party leadership, made a decisive call to make sure there is a strong left, anti-austerity,  vote in this election.

End Austerity Now was a success.

Where we go from now is the subject of serious discussion.

One way forward can be seen in the multitude of protests against welfare reform: from the continued campaign against the Bedroom Tax, Benefit cuts, Workfare, to the – still not fully implemented – psychological treatment of some claimants.

It is to be regretted that some parties see groups like the People’s Assembly as a recruiting ground.

In Suffolk the Green Party does not appear to publicise this:

Suffolk’s best-known Green Party politician has pulled out of the battle to become Ipswich MP in next May’s general election – because he hasn’t “got the heart” to take on Tory Ben Gummer.

Mark Ereira-Guyer, leader of the Green and independent group on Suffolk County Council and an experienced election campaigner, was chosen earlier this year to fight for the Ipswich seat, but has now dropped out.

“Although I find Conservative policies odious and overly focused on free market fundamentalism, crass cost-cutting measures and ecological destitution, I am of the view that the current MP Ben Gummer is dedicated and hardworking.

“I respect his honest endeavours for the town. And, therefore, I can’t drum up sufficient energies to really take him on. I like my politics to work on a human level, and not in a tribalist way.

Ipswich Star.

The day was an achievement for the organisers.

It was, as they say, only a beginning.

(1) This is what Jasper said (Charlie Hebdo and Europe’s rampant racism. 17th of January) about the massacre at Charlie Hebdo  (he doesn’t even mention the anti-Semitic murder at the Hyper-Casher):

“JeSuisCharlie in this context is nothing more than appeal from right wings white’s to be allowed to be racist without opposition in the name of free speech.  It’s a sort of ‪#WhiteLivesMatter statement particularly when viewed in the context of the tragic violence and world silence about the Nigerian massacre by Boko Haram.

This privilege allows them to disregard the social environment and political context of such satire and its consequences.  Writing in this flawed tradition is the perogative  of white, middle class Libertarian anarchists. Charlie Hebdo is for me,  a silly magazine and quintessentially an exercise in white privilege and arrogance.

Vote David Ellesmere, Vote Labour!

with 5 comments

Ed Miliband came to Ipswich yesterday.

He was interviewed on Look East.

Ed showed a sure grasp of the key issues facing people in the Town*

These included a low wage economy, a town centre in need of regeneration, and people working on zero hour contracts, as well as the health service and education.

The Labour leader has visibly grown in stature over the last few weeks.

He responded with clarity and modest determination.

It was impressive.

Miliband spoke to local paper, the Star,

..he said the key message he had heard from local people was that the economy had not got better for ordinary workers.

He said: “It may be better if you work in the City of London or you’re one of the highest-paid people in the country, but this idea that the wealth will trickle down is nonsense.

“The people working hard to try to improve their lives are not seeing any improvements, and it is time we changed things to ensure that any recovery is shared by everyone – not just the richest.”

David Ellesmere was present to welcome Labour’s Battle Bus.

David has also risen in – political – stature during the election campaign.

As leader of the Labour Group in Ipswich Borough Council he had headed a team dedicated to making things better for ordinary people.

Labour councillors have  has introduced the Living Wage for all its employees – and contractors.

They have banned the use of ‘workfare’ by the Council.

The Borough has engaged in a programme of building council houses (although one project has been held up by Eric Pickles).

It has invested in land, in supporting schemes to help ordinary people (such as the Credit Union), and a range of community bodies.

More broadly Ipswich Council has backed progressive policies, such as an anti-racist march.

David appeared at the first public meeting of the Suffolk People’s Assembly (SPA), along with Owen Jones, and the Secretary of the Trades Council, Teresa MacKay and other trade unionists.

Campaigning locally for the Living Wage, Ipswich Labour, local community groups, and the SPA, have tried to extend this principle.

On Suffolk County Council, the Labour leader, Sandy Martin – who also works with the SPA – has attempted to get this administration to adopt the Living Wage. The Conservatories have blocked it.

Recently David came along to a SPA/UNITE protest against the sanctions regime for benefit claimants -a  major cause of the rise of Food Banks.

Ipswich Labour, and David Ellesmere, have done a through, careful, job of making things better for ordinary people – just as Ed Miliband intends to do.

They have earned a lot of trust in the constituency.

By contrast Tory candidate Ben Gummer is looking increasingly rattled.

His efforts to claim credit for every thing positive that has happened to the town, up to and including the recent sunny weather (I made that one up – just…), are, people admit, at least pleasanter than his colleagues’ attempts to spread  fear of a Labour doomsday.

Ben Gummer tries to show his liberal side, but has come down hard in favour of the sanctions regime, and other regressive Tory policies.

Many people are tried of free-market politicians who lay ownership of economic upturns (never downturns), while disclaiming government responsibility for the precarious existence a large number of working people, not to mention benefit claimants, have to live.

I have no insight into the voting intentions of the public.

But if Ipswich is anything to go by, the hard-graft of politicians like David and his colleagues, is beginning to pay off.

 * population 133,400 – up to 200, 000 if you include the coterminous villages and small towns.