Educating Ipswich

When I first became Leader of the Council, the late and irreplaceable James Hehir – CEO of Ipswich Borough Council – said to me: “You have to become a governor of Suffolk New College”; and so my journey
of being involved in education in Ipswich began.
I’ve never made a secret of the fact that my education was cut short, when my father was moved from Warwickshire to become manager of the Claydon Cement Works. I was 14 going on 15, and instead of continuing my education I was sent to Miss Holmes Secretarial College and then straight out to work. So to then become a Corporate Member of the College, where I studied in the evenings, was more than a great honour.
Having been involved with the College for many years, I have seen many changes from top to bottom: from the old building, to the wonderful new premises we now inhabit. I have chaired the Audit and Risk Committee for several years and although my time at the College is coming to an end, I have enjoyed and learnt so much and feel very proud of its achievements.
I am also a governor at Parkside, which is a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) dealing with children who are unable to cope with mainstream education. They come to Parkside for the wonderful education, counsel, help, care and love they are given. My involvement over the years has seen us become a Multi Academy Trust – known as the Raedwald Trust – which takes in all the PRUs in Ipswich and, although in its infancy, is very exciting. I was asked to join the Foundation Trust at Ipswich School, to help raise funds enabling bursaries for less privileged children to be educated at this wonderful school and all the opportunities it offers. It isn’t easy for a student to do this or for the parents to agree, but we have seen
some remarkable success stories.
Finally, I am very proud to have been asked to become Patron of Student Life and to help this new and important publication to grow amongst the education world, which has enabled students to discuss openly their many issues. Although I very much want to see
education improve in this town, we must always remember that ‘educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all’.

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Shopping and car parking-what is happening ?

2018-08-15 12.55.17.jpgWhen talking to residents, two of the most common problems many talk about is shops in Ipswich, and the price of car parking.

SHOPPING.

We have all seen the failures and near failures of well-known names such as Maplins, Poundworld, Homebase, Toys R Us and House of Fraser. Here in Ipswich, we have been affected by some of these in the town centre and out of town retail parks. The economy overall is doing well; households have the greatest level of confidence in their finances in over three years, according to IHS Markit. So what is happening with our high streets?

I would suggest that the large online retailers such as Amazon are making trading conditions excessively competitive for some high street shops. The likes of Amazon are perceived to not be paying much tax. We saw that they only paid £1.7m so far for 2017, when its profits are £72.3m, and turnover of £1.98b. I read in the press that the SNP government in Scotland and the UK government are considering whether their business rates on their enormous warehouses is actually fair, when bricks and mortar shops are having to pay onerous business rates.

As a Conservative, I believe in low taxation for businesses and workers. But it does not feel right if high street shops are struggling due to their high operating costs where they cannot compete with Amazon. Yes  – rents are a factor, and that is something that some of the retail chains are negotiating.

But business rates are in the control of government, and this could be one area where the government could re-balance the scales in favour of physical shops, since our town centres are the life-blood of our community. Some people complain about the lack of shops, might browse in physical shops but then go online to order their goods.

If you want to save your high street, you need to support it. In Ipswich, we see more diversity with the Buttermarket Shopping Centre being transformed into a popular eating, leisure and cinema venue. The redevelopment of the Cornhill, over which some residents have reservations, will transform our town centre and attract new investment and choice.

CAR PARKING.

Here in Ipswich, the Borough Council is planning on increasing its car park fees again. The council selectively compares IBC-owned car parks to the private operators locally such as NCP, and further afield in other towns such as Norwich, Colchester and Bury, and attempts to highlight that its car park charges are cheaper in some cases. The problem is that the data only compare a select set of fees, and ignores other nearby towns. And by putting up IBC fees, the private operators may gleefully increase theirs in due course to maintain the differential.

The Conservatives’ approach is to offer Ipswich residents a discount on car parking charges and bus fares. For the town centre, we want to see a radical transformation of the town by offering more cultural and family entertainment & we are proposing a new Waterfront Heritage Centre and a multiuse Arena. Let’s show the region and the country what a top-class place Ipswich can be.

 

Recycling Centre

Ipswich could soon have a new Recycling Centre. The County Council recently set aside £1m to fund the purchase of a replacement site for the one in Portmans Walk. The current site is very busy, has no room to expand and has to close for up to one fifth of its opening time whilst containers are removed and compacted. A new site has not yet been identified but the council is looking on the west side of Ipswich for any opportunities.

Come rain or shine, we will carry on

Sam Murray Blog

Ah the Gainsborough Community Fun Day, an event which was supposed to be plain sailing and fun for all. We had a budget, a date, willing volunteers and summer sun like I have never seen in my lifetime. What could possibly go wrong?

My task was to arrange a Tea Dance. Though I have never arranged a tea dance before, I was full of ideas and enthusiasm so I was confident it would all be fine. I have fantastic friends who loaned or donated china to go with some items I had purchased myself. I even roped in a friend to spend her evening making centerpieces with me so the dance can be truly special. Ipswich School of Dancing agreed to help out and offered great advice along the way.  The small planning team kept in touch on a regular basis and at the center of it was one superwoman I…

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