4 College Street – Asset or Liability?

The pictures above show No 4 College Street, taken in 1890 & 2014. This building dates back to 1590 making it one of the oldest surviving buildings in our town.

For much of its’ history the building was occupied by generations of the Aldred family, merchants who made their fortune transporting goods from Ipswich docks.

The building has sadly been empty since the early 1980’s and was severely damaged by fire leaving it one of only 5 buildings in Ipswich on the Councils ‘at risk register’.

Since 2016 it has been owned by IBC as it was purchased as part of the larger site fronting onto St. Peter’s Wharf on the waterfront.

With its location at the entrance to the waterfront there is unlimited potential for this historic building and Conservative Councillors are trying to make this happen. The whole site at St. Peters Wharf is now owned by the Council; a masterplan is being worked on for the site to transform the area from its current run-down state.

In October the Labour group announced plans to spend a staggering £423,000 of tax-payers money on renovating the building into office space, something we are not short of in Ipswich. In their plans they revealed that it was highly unlikely the project would ever pay for itself. The Conservative group questioned this and asked the following;

Would it not be sensible to wait for the masterplan of the whole site to be completed before committing to spending such a large amount of tax-payers money?

Why are tax-payers funding development of office space with no hope of a financial return?

If we are to spend tax-payers money shouldn’t we offer the people of Ipswich something in return?

Not surprisingly these questions were overlooked and the decision was voted through by Labour Councillors so the decision was taken to use our rightful power to ‘call-in‘ the decision.

This has now been put on hold and will be further discussed at a meeting of the Councils Overview & Scrutiny Committee – giving us one last chance to secure a more positive future for a jewel in Ipswich’s crown.

We think it would make an excellent Visitor Centre, highlighting the history of the waterfront through the ages and there are many other ideas – what do you think?

Cllr Ian Fisher

Leader Conservative Group @ IBC

Why the Conservative Party Won the Election.

Polling and election gurus have spent the last few weeks anyalysing the results of the general election, pouring out endless amounts of demographic data as to which groups (age, social class, gender, ethnicity etc) voted for which parties. It’s all interesting information but people are individuals and make a decision not based on their demographic characteristics but what they know to be the right decision.

In June 2017, to her credit, Theresa May started to knock down the now infamous “northern Red Wall”. In 2019, Boris Johnson demolished it further.

Whilst Labour politicians consider how they might win back their former supporters, a simple fact remains.  They have lost 4 successive elections since 2010, and at each one, the Conservative Party has sept up these voters in ever greater numbers. In 2017, we took lots of Northern seats and many in Scotland, which enabled Mrs May to hang on to power with the help of the DUP.

The Corbyn one only did better than expected in 2017, which was an anomaly, but only because of his give-away promises to the easily-swayed voters (predominantly students) who often only get their sources of news on social media, which is often fake. The write-off of student tuition fees was one such example of a promise which would be broken.

Another fake facebook post doing the rounds was the “You will need NHS Health Insurance by January 2018” as the Conservative government has secretly privatised the NHS.” As if! Did anyone really believe that this had got through the House of Commons and Lords without the Opposition noticing!

Back to my main point – in 2019, Boris Johnson not only kept hold of Mrs May’s gains, but acquired many more voters and most importantly seats. Many of these ex-mining communities would have never dreamed of voting Conservative 20 years ago. (Just watch the stage show version of Billy Elliott and you will know what people thought of Mrs Thatcher in 1984/5).

Why? Well everyone is talking about Corbyn’s useless leadership skills and his completely bonkers Brexit policy, alongside his Child Catcher persona from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (as in Everything is Free Today children because the Rich Billionaires will pay for everything you need, and we will nationalise everything). But in my view, this is only part of it.

David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson have recognised the public mood over the last 12 years, that the Labour party ceased to be a party looking after the so-called “working classes” after Gordon Brown finally destroyed the economy in 2007/08. (I don’t like the “working class” phrase, as whether you work as a business chief executive, lorry driver, or as a vending machine maintenance guy or whatever, you “work”!).

As a result of this, the Labour party are no longer relevant to British society today. The Conservative Party under Boris Johnson’s leadership has inherited the mantle of Margaret Thatcher, and truly stands up for ALL people of these islands. Unlike the Labour party’s core supporters of Jon Lansman’s cotton wool Momentum and the North London elite who think they know better.

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2019 in review

Twenty nineteen was a satisfying year. It ended with the election of Tom Hunt as MP for Ipswich and a Conservative majority government committed to getting Brexit done. Tom has hit the ground running with many visits over the holiday period including one, on Christmas day, to St Elizabeth Hospice.

His campaign priorities of tacking drug and gang crime, levelling up funding for schools and better facilities at our hospital are very much in tune with the hopes and aspirations of the people of Ipswich. Tom has already had many meetings on these issues and one of his greatest strengths is that he is able to talk to people regardless of their background to standing. He will be a fine MP.

It’s usually good manners at this stage to say a good word or two about the former MP, Sandy Martin. But on this occasion we are going to follow in his footsteps and not do so. It is always said that people show their true colours in adversity and those who witnessed Mr Martin’s ungracious speech, just like their 1992 group leader who lost four seats and called it a “sad day for democracy”, can be left in no doubt as to his sour character – a far cry from the days of Labour MPs such as Ken Weetch. He wasn’t much better in victory when he boomed “Get out of my way” to several Conservative activists who were accidentally blocking a doorway.

Anyway, Happy New Year to everyone. We look forward to following Tom’s progress over the next year.

I want to see an end to Orwell Bridge closures in 2020

First things first, Happy New Year to everyone in Ipswich! I am hopeful that 2020 can be a year where significant progress is made in tackling issues across the town, making Ipswich an even better place to live.

Fingers crossed that 2020 also involves the reinstatement of 
the East Anglian derby next season, something that would 
be triggered by Ipswich’s promotion back up to the second tier and the relegation of Norwich from the Premier League. It certainly looks like Norwich will fulfil their part of the bargain, but let’s just hope that the Blue Army can get back to winning ways soon; a second season in the third tier would be a bitter pill to swallow.

I have some home games in the diary over the next month but am also keen to travel to some away fixtures to show my support. I am currently eyeing up the away fixture against Sunderland in February with interest. As a Toon Army fan myself, it would give me great pleasure to see ITFC turn them over and get back to winning ways.

There is a lot in my in tray when it comes to issues to sort in 2020.

I appreciate that many of the key issues in the town will take many years to resolve. However, with hard work over an extended period of time and close partnership working with others I am optimistic that changes can be made. However, I am very much of the view that 2020 needs to be the year where we see the back of closures to the Orwell Bridge. It needs to be the year where proper measures are introduced by Highways England to ensure that during periods of high wind the bridge doesn’t need to close to all vehicles. There is no reason why this can’t be the case and its absolutely what I will be pushing for.

Well over a year ago, Highways England commissioned a report looking into the issue and what might be done. They said it would take eight months to complete, yet we still wait for the report to be made public. I have been promised that we will finally see it later this month. I will be meeting with officials from Highways England this month to go through the report’s findings.

I am not an aerodynamics expert, but I do know that there must be a commonsense solution to ensure that the bridge doesn’t need to close to all vehicles at times of high wind. It falls to Highways England to pull their finger out, get a grip of the situation, and come up with a solution that prevents our town from grinding to a halt on multiple occasions throughout the year.

There is not one silver bullet to tackling congestion in the town but resolving this issue is an achievable short-term objective.

However, it’s also clear that solving this one issue is only the start and that other steps will need to be taken in both the medium and long term. It will take work to unite everyone in the county around the potential options, but with hard work, I believe that anything is possible. All I can promise is that whatever the issue, my first concern will be to ensure that what happens works for the town and my constituents.

From pushing for a different, fairer funding formula for Suffolk Police to enable us to get more police on the streets to keep us safe, pushing for additional funds to promote our town centre, to supporting our hospital and schools, there is a packed agenda in 2020 and a huge amount to get stuck into.

Anyone would think …

… that a person expensively educated in Winchester would have learned some manners. This happened at the last Suffolk County Council count in front of eight witnesses, including  at least three Councillors. Given his record for misrepresenting Conservative policies, he might deny it. Still, anyone who thinks he knows better than his constituents, whilst being unable to count, must learn some humility the hard way.

So where would you like to go?

This quote is an extract from page 27 of the 2019 Conservative manifesto:
“Connectivity is not just about the UK’s great cities. To help communities across the country, we will restore many of the Beeching lines, reconnecting smaller towns such as Fleetwood and Willenhall that have suffered permanent disadvantage since they were removed from the rail network in the 1960s.”

In the east, the principal line already being re-opened is Oxford (and beyond) to Cambridge, where the western third is already running. Disembarking from an Ipswich train at Cambridge and boarding an Oxford service from a nearby platform, instead of via London, will be a reality within six years but which other services would you like to restore or open closer to home?

Calling out Labour’s campaign lies (3)

Labour, locally and nationally, may tell you that the rights of British workers would disappear as soon as the UK leaves the EU but the truth is very different, as shown above. All of the stronger “UK standards” above were decided in Westminster, as were the changes that doubled the income tax basic allowance across a decade thus taking a lot of people out altogether, keeping inflation low, reducing the annual deficit by eighty per cent, creating 3.8 million new jobs (of which 80% are full time), significantly increasing the NLW and restoring persistent growth.

Most of these were achieved by allowing British businesses to pursue their long-term aims and thus collecting more tax in total, even as the rates of corporation tax have fallen. These achievements can be built upon further, more so in a free nation rejoining the outside world.

 

Why Would the NHS be for Sale?

Now I realise that not all of you are as politically motivated as I am but most of us have heard, a number of times, during this election campaign that the Conservatives are planning on ‘selling’ the NHS.

This accusation, made by the Labour party, could, very easily, sway the views of wavering voters.

Is this the truth?

Could this really happen?

The NHS is as much a philosophy than a physical being, a truly encompassing health service free at the point of use for everyone. It is this that the country holds so dear to it’s heart, not the identity of who is providing the service.

Since the beginning of the service there has been private interventions, often specialist services that are easier to procure from outside the confines of government control. Dentistry, pharmacy, GP’s & optical care have been provided by the private sector for decades, which causes little controversy. It is so common that it is almost forgotten or ignored.

With added pressure on NHS trusts most have decided it is in their interest to concentrate on medical services – what they are there to provide – and many have outsourced services such as catering, cleaning & maintenance.

The previous Labour government, with its tough waiting time demands began to use the private sector to deliver clinical procedures. The extra capacity this offered allowed waiting times to reduce. More recently some Trusts have outsourced other services such as ‘end of life care’ or services for the elderly.

My point here is that all these, under strict EU rules, have to be tendered using OJEU contracting which allows any company within the member states to submit a bid. Foreign businesses have access, and have done for many years so why has there been so little interest from abroad? With a free at the point of use service there is little scope for the private sector to make large profits, unless they have additional local income. The set rates for services offered by the NHS are not as lucrative as the private sector so most businesses choose not to get involved.

Why would it be such a scary thought that private businesses outside the EU were able to bid on tenders when those inside the EU club have been able to do so for years?

Despite the private sector being present in the NHS since its inception it has remained a free at the point of use service, which is what the NHS actually is.

Although many contracts are being operated privately there is no evidence of an increase in the share of spending in the private sector since the Conservatives came to power.

The facts are that in any trade deal with a foreign nation it has to be decided what goods & services are to be included. The free-trade deal we have in the EU, the single market, already allows 27 other nations access. It is disingenuous for Labour to suggest the NHS is at threat just because the identity of the nations allowed to bid for tenders is different in the future.

The Labour party is playing a dirty political game, deliberately scaring people, with no facts to back up their accusations. Allowing US companies to bid on already available tenders (something the Conservatives have not agreed to) does not mean that those services would not be free at the point of service.

After all, being free at the point of service is what the NHS actually is, you cannot privatise an idea so NO, the NHS can never be for sale!!!

Cllr Ian Fisher