Tom on the Northern Route

The overwhelming transport infrastructure priority for Ipswich is a northern relief road. Over the past month it’s been made clear to me whoever I’ve spoken to just how important this is for the Town. The reality is that this infrastructure should have been delivered 20/30 years ago but it hasn’t and the people of Ipswich have paid the price for this through increasing levels of traffic.

As long as I’ve been alive the whole of East Anglia hasn’t received the level of investment it needs to upgrade its transport infrastructure. This is definitely the case in Ipswich. Whatever the colour of the Government of the day, the adequate level of investment in transport infrastructure hasn’t been forthcoming. Challenging this is a key priority for me.

I have already met with the Leader of Suffolk County Council, Councillor Matthew Hicks to impress upon him the importance of the road for Ipswich and have a number of further meetings arranged over the next few weeks with other key stakeholders. Securing the investment for this road won’t be easy but my view is that we need to be ambitious in demanding Ipswich’s fair share when it comes to infrastructure investment.

I welcome the fact that in this year’s budget statement the Government have made £30 billion available for road upgrades across the country. East Anglia must get its fair share of this investment and a northern relief road for Ipswich must be near the top of the list of regional priorities.

I pledge to the people of Ipswich that over the coming years, as the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary candidate I will fight tooth and nail to get action on this issue! I strongly believe that I have the skills, drive and knowledge to make an impact.

Over the coming months I will provide regular updates regarding where I’m at regarding the campaign following the meetings I currently have in my diary.northern-route

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The proposed Anglesea Road 20mph zone

After the long awaited 20mph zone was given approval on 11 June, Cllr Lee Reynolds and I have been told that the final designs are currently being worked on before being implemented. We expect to see the scheme in operation early next year, after all the bureaucracy has been negotiated.

It’s a bit frustrating that the process has to be gone through, but at least we know it has been signed off and is going to happen – albeit after a few years of waiting!
Since the scheme was given the go ahead in June, Lee and I have received many calls from residents expressing approval at the news.

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.

 

Taxis, Give the Power to the Drivers

At the Ipswich Borough Council Executive meeting of 10th July the ruling Labour Group set the fares for all Hackney Carriage drivers licensed in Ipswich. This is a process that has taken place for years.

The annual farce of the Ipswich Taxi Association asking for a fare they would like to charge then political leaders (are they really in-touch) deciding whether it is reasonable, both for the Drivers and the public, is a long, drawn-out and totally unnecessary burden on all involved.

Do the Labour group suitably qualified to know the market as well as the people that actually perform the job on a daily basis? Who has more at stake here, the Drivers or IBC? Of course the answer is the Drivers.

We have to move with the times and realise that IBC have no business in setting the fares of Taxi Drivers, or any other business. The Taxi market in Ipswich is competitive with a high number of Private Hire firms ensuring that the prices are determined by the market. If you are too expensive you wont get repeat business, that’s how it works.

The law gives Councils the right to set the fares but doesn’t make it mandatory. In these times of severe financial pressures it is senseless to take up valuable Council Officer time on anything that could and should be done by others.

Yes, IBC license Hackney Carriage drivers but it also licences shops selling alcohol, there is no need to extend the long arm of politics into business – I thought this became obvious in

the 1970’s!

Car Parking, how much?

bird s eye view of parked cars

 

Labour controlled Ipswich Borough Council have just announced an 8.3% increase in short-stay car parking charges across the town. This is in addition to the massive rise last year. Since 2017 Labour have increased the charges by a mouth-watering 30%, over 7 times the rate of inflation.

The Town Centre is already suffering and Labour’s policy will do nothing to help.

Conservative Councillors want to see two-tier parking charges split between residents & non-residents. The cost would be neutral as one would pay for the other. We are also considering a scheme to encourage shoppers to use one of Ipswich’s many superb independent shops by offering a refund of parking charges when making a purchase.

Ipswich Conservatives believe that a new approach is needed. The tired old-fashioned policies of the Labour group are driving Ipswich to a standstill.

The hard pressed tax-payers of Ipswich deserve a better deal.