Delivering Results – by Sam Murray, Priory Heath Candidate

During a run up to an election, you will probably see a number of leaflets hitting your doorstep containing promises of what the candidate WILL do if elected. You will have to go on blind trust some of the time as you may not have even heard of the candidate. This where someone like me is different. Most of the residents will have seen my in touch leaflet introducing me as the Priory Heath Candidate. Details of who I am and what I am about, and most importantly what I have delivered so far before even being a candidate. As the leaflet is only small I cant go into too much detail, so thought I would write this blog as a further breakdown of some of what I have already delivered as a community activist.

The Car Clean Up

Back in early 2018, Ravenswood was gifted another burned out car sitting next to the Primary School. I had reported it to the council and the police and then the council and it remained sitting there where the community play bus parks. I felt it was a safety concern. This was the first time I had properly encountered Cllr Liz Harsant who though this wasn’t her ward arranged for the car to be removed for me. Finally someone listened and helped me! Unfortunately this still left debris laying around which I raised at a few public meetings. Sick and tired of being ignored I roped a friend into helping and we swept up the entire area, bagged up the melted car and debris and I personally delivered it to the Councillors at a south east area committee meeting. Some may say this was an extreme measure but I simply did this in order to make sure children weren’t at risk of being injured. Its amazing what impact a boot full of car pieces could make on a meeting and the following day the area was professionally swept up and my boot was cleared of the debris.

Gainsborough Community Fun Day 2018

Ah the fun day which should have been oh so straight forward. Plans made, suppliers arranged, date agreed by IBC what could possibly go wrong?! Well IBC have a way of not being able to work with communities and decided to cancel the day after the tragic murder that happened. Their reasons being that the clash of dates with a Donald Trump visit to London meant that appropriate safety measures couldn’t be provided. The handling of this decision was poor to put it politely so I personally challenged this, first by using my blog, then by raising it at a public meeting and then speaking on radio Suffolk and to the Ipswich Star. All we wanted was to be able to work with IBC, our fractured community needed some relief from the pain and tragedy. IBC eventually agreed to allow the show to go on, but at a different date and a compromise was agreed.

Heating issues in Social Housing

IBC are constantly pushing for more social housing and would love to have a large cluster of social housing on the UVW site of Ravenswood. However, there has been a failure to keep the already existing tenants at a good standard of living. I was made aware of a row of homes on Fen Bight Circle having heating and hot water problems which were at their worst over the peak of winter in 2017. To try and get a solution and support I contacted our MP Sandy Martin. For almost a year I brought this up continuously with Mr Martin and our local councillors. I worked with the Ravenswood Residents Association who also became involved as concerns raised on the impact of the residents health who lived in this row of homes. A year later, I was so pleased to find out that new heating systems were installed in all of these homes and I was proud that I never gave up until my neighbours had a warm home to live in.

Public Meetings

Because of how engaged I am and my high level of attendance at local meeting such as the South East Area Committee Meeting (which shockingly a paid councillor doesn’t have the same attendance rate) I am now generally recognised by the councillors and certainly by our MP. I read the majority of public papers including the Full council papers that are released. I have raised the issue with the bus services in the area and the disproportionate funding for the South East vs the South West, and though I have not managed to get direct results of this, councillors have become aware that when I do ask a question for the community I have done so after extensive research. Some may at times call me a difficult woman just like our dear PM has been referred to at times, but I will say I am simply driven and determined to make sure this town is the best town it can be, and in particular Priory Heath sees the results it deserves.

When you go out and vote on 2nd May, consider this. Do you want someone who has demonstrated they can deliver results and has the determination to never give up? If so then I am the candidate for you because I have already demonstrated I have what it takes to be a councillor for Priory Heath.

For more details about me visit my site http://www.sammurrayipswich.com

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Holywells Park

People sometimes say “I’ve never been into Holywells Park” and, because I see it every day, I look with utter surprise that they consider to be the most beautiful park in our town – or indeed in the whole of the UK! Although a lot of money has been pumped into our Park, it still remains that beautiful, peaceful, restful place.

Moreover, it is a very busy Park and has a very active Friends’ Group. I am the secretary and have been for a long time. I first joined the group back in 2000 and we have gone from strength to strength. All of us have a deep love of the Park and have become long-lasting friends.

This year we started with a Wassail event. Very low key but it was held on January 6th (the Twelfth Night) and it took place in the Orchard, which was given to the Friends years ago by the Council. We held hands and walked around the apple trees, singing and giving thanks to health of the trees, in the hope that they will provide a bountiful harvest in the autumn.

The Friends have a full schedule for this year, starting with a Spring Event on 23rd March, which will be a great event with nature trails, an egg roll and other interesting activities – all a little secret at the moment. Come along and see what we have to offer and what fun it can be. The Welcome Spring Event is from midday to 3 pm.

Whilst the Friends’ Group are busy with events, so are the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. By the time you read this article, they will have run weekly Wild Tots sessions in the Park, allowing young children to explore. They also run practical conservation activities for young people aged 11 to 14, including surveying skills and citizen science projects.

So back to how these events are run:
The Friends’ Group make a very minimal charge for refreshments and admission and only ask for donations. Everyone gives up their own time to prepare for these events and behind the scenes it really does take a lot of organisation. At the same time, Ipswich Borough Council run events and the Friends will help with these days by providing refreshments – this includes the Well event which is in April and always very popular.

Do look at our website to see what we are offering in the Park and come along.

FRIENDS OF HOLYWELLS PARK EVENTS:
Saturday 23nd March, 12:00-14:00:             WELCOME SPRING
Sunday 7th April, 12:00-15:00:                      HOLI (FESTIVAL OF COLOURS)
Saturday 22nd June, 14:00-16:00:                SCARECROWS AND BLOSSOM

Carol Service

Back in the summer, we thought it would be a good idea to hold a Carol Service at Christmas and so myself, Tom Rout – Vicar of the Waterfront Churches which includes St Luke’s in Cliff Lane – and members from the Margaret Catchpole Bowls Club met to discuss the idea, and subsequently on Christmas Eve, on the front of the Bowls Club, we held the very first Rivers Community Carol Service.
The service was conducted by Paul Rout and we were lucky to have the school choir from
Cliff Lane Primary and the Ipswich Hospital Band join us. There were loads of sausage
rolls, mince pies and homemade Christmas biscuits all helped down with a glass of
mulled wine.
There was an amazing turnout in excess of 400 local residents all singing their hearts
out. So we will definitely be doing it again this year.

Liz on Planning

When you first become a Councillor, apart from the great honour and excitement you, feel it changes your life completely.  Suddenly, residents are asking you for help: some with very private and sad issues, others asking for help on matters that involve, perhaps, a whole area.  When I was first elected, back in 2002, one of the biggest issues that came to light was a planning application for building on the area known as the Woodland off Mitre Way.  This application and subsequent ones failed, which was purely because the residents came together to fight the applicant and even this year we have been successful again.  In Holywells Ward we have had some really testing issues over the years:  traffic lights at the top of Bishops Hill; the proposed large bridge so close to Cliff Lane and still ongoing; a proposal to put a supermarket where Holmes Oak Court is now right next to the Park; not cutting the grass along Nacton Road and Clapgate Lane and many more.  So working together the Power of the People is a very successful tool.

Often services are improved in the area you represent because of your work with the community – pavements, grass cutting, road improvements including calming measures, parking issues, the need for more buses, bus shelters, more police the list is endless.  Councillors just have to be persistent.

In Holywells Ward, Associated British Ports is very important.  Not only does it employ local people it plays a big part in the community.  This is also the case with the University and Suffolk New College and having students living amongst us is a great asset locally and for the rest of the town.  It is also important to involve local businesses, restaurants and to promote local charities in their work in the town and in the Ward you represent.

I have to say over the 16 years I have been a Councillor I have found residents are keen to improve their local areas and to help where they can by taking part in community events.  I have also found that the schools, churches, Friends Groups, charities, Community Interest Companies and businesses all pull together when there is a need and I have been very proud to help and to represent them and the residents in Holywells Ward.

Votes for women

 

When the first British women gained the right to vote in February 1918 celebrations were very muted because the Great War was still raging. Sylvia Pankhurst in her book The Suffragette Movement said: “the sorrows of the world conflict precluded jubilations”

So a century later we should celebrate the triumph as fully as we can. However women were not given the vote on the same terms as men until a decade after the act was passed – on 2nd July 1928 the Second Representation of the People Act was passed into law.  In a cruel twist of fate, Emmeline Pankhurst the leader of the militant WSPU died on the 14th June 1928 just 18 days before equal suffrage rights were granted.

One victory led to another. The bar to women running for parliament was quickly removed, and the first female MP was elected that year (though, as an Irish republican, Constance Countess Markievicz chose not to join the Commons). The next year, Nancy Lady Astor was the first woman to take her seat in parliament.

Yet progress for women has often felt painfully slow. In 1982 when Harriet Harman was elected there were still only 19 female MPs. The 2017 election was the first time more than 200 women were elected, 208 out of 650 seats. If you speak to female MPs many worry about the murder of Jo Cox, the climate of vitriol on social media, sexual harassment and it is still so hard to balance child caring responsibilities with a political career hence women who have no children are often over-represented at the top.

Here in Ipswich Women’s Votes, Women’s Voices are a group of women’s organisations who have come together to plan a Festival on the 6th October at Suffolk University and are organising  EqualiTeas as part of the events leading up to the festival.  The festival will highlight and provide women with an opportunity to have access to local politics and democracy and to encourage women to get involved and most importantly to register to vote.

So true to the spirit of the suffragettes – who came from all kinds of political traditions – let us celebrate 100 years of the suffragette movement and all that achieved.

 

 

 

 

 

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’.

Networking

Before I started this month’s article I decided to look up the definition of Networking which states: It is the process of trying to meet new people who might be useful to you in your job, often through social activities. [business] If executives fail to exploit the opportunities of networking they risk being left behind. Rather insensitive!

So no mention of permanent friendship and what that can do to change your life just something you do to promote your business and goodness if you are an executive not much hope at all.

I have been a local Councillor for 16 years and often attend networking events and when I was Leader of the Council it was expected of me.  I admit that I made many contacts during that period and before when I worked in the Law.  However I would like to think that I have never exploited those contacts and in fact many have become true friends.  But I have to be realistic – for some people networking is extremely important and leads to all sorts of business leads, new business and even new employees – so an essential part of business life.

I have been involved in several local charities for a long time and have never thought of these as networking opportunities and in fact I would say I have through some of these charities found lifelong friends.  Networking in communities is extremely important and very rewarding.  The third sector is packed with volunteers all with different reasons for being there and we should embrace and encourage this.

So the question posed to me by Waterfront Life is the art of networking.  I thought long and hard about this and decided that it is just your desire to meet new people, finding the same interests, listening to what others have to say rather than hogging the conversation, trying your best to make people feel wanted.  And never forget that it is not always easy to walk into a room where it appears everyone knows each other.  It is even harder if you are a female – believe me I experience this a lot!!!

Being a leading lady

(By Liz Harsant, as published in Waterfront Life)

When I was younger I took a great interest in two incredible ladies: Jennie Churchill (the mother of Winston), who was the cornerstone of high society, and behind the scenes a political dynamo when women were afforded few freedoms; the other was Nancy Astor – the first woman to sit in Parliament. Her campaigning spirit and enthusiasm for politics was
formidable and she championed many causes on behalf of underprivileged women and children. Strangely, they were both American, but I felt their lives were something I would love to emulate.

I became leader of Ipswich Borough Council in 2004 – the first female ever to hold that position, and at the moment; the last! It was a great privilege albeit rather daunting, and a realisation that I was often the only female in the room. To fight my corner and that of Ipswich I had to toughen up. However, the friendships and interests I formed during those 6 ½ years will always remain with me. I couldn’t write this article without mentioning Margaret Thatcher, who I was privileged to meet, and when you read her biography you realise what a hard time she had to achieve what she did. Every obstacle was put in her way but her determination shone through. Mrs May, our present Prime Minister, has more
than a hard job on her plate. I sometimes wonder how differently her negotiations would be if she was a man!

People ask ‘what are the advantages of being in local politics and what do you actually get out of it?’ Well, it goes back to my two heroines’ love of politics and the desire to help wherever I can and the great satisfaction that brings. What I have discovered over my years in politics is, although times are changing, we need more women to take part in local
politics and aspire to go further. I also realise that it is never easy to enter this world when you have young children, but local government recognises this now and tries very hard to accommodate young mothers. If you love politics then don’t leave it too long: us girls are breaking through the glass ceiling, so just go for it. I would be very happy to help.