Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally


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Better late than never

Finally: Council begins paving the Gladstone-Foxhall Road footpath

Breaking News. Hold the front page. Well, it wouldn’t be such a big deal if Ipswich Borough Council hadn’t taken three years and two months to implement a councillor decision.

That’s how long ago it was that my Committee agreed to spend what in the grand scheme of things is a tiny amount of money paving the remainder of the heavily used footpath between Gladstone Road and Foxhall Road alongside the Co-op store.  If planners at the Borough had half a brain between them they would have got the Co-op to pay for the WHOLE path and not just the bit alongside their premises out of their Section 106 money when they built their new shop on Foxhall Road back in the boom year of 2005. But I guess civil servants only pretend to care about the public part of public sector when they are trying to cream even more money off the State into their own pockets.

So after my Community Improvements Committee approved the paving of this urban dirt track back in August 2009, after the Executive Committee approved it, after all 48 councillors at a full meeting of the Council approved it, after two questions at Full Council, after extensive lobbying by Cllr Liz Harsant and newly elected Cllr Pam Stewart, and of course after my persistent blogging, Ipswich Borough Council’s workmen finally turned up this week to start laying the concrete slabs!

Marvellous.


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Sir Humphrey’s contempt for elected representatives: Part VII

On Sunday I blogged that the third consultation period for the path expired on 29th June and, as Holywells Councillor Liz Harsant told me, there were no objections by residents.

Newly elected Holywells Councillor Pam Stewart contacted the officer in charge of the footpath creation scheme for an update.

His reply is re-produced below:

Now that the date of 29/06 has come and gone, I have requested that the final design for the footpath be undertaken as a matter of urgency to enable programming by Highway Services team for construction.

have copied the officer dealing with this scheme into this email so you can contact him directly.  I will also request that he keeps you informed of scheme progress

So we still have no clear date when the works, approved by elected representatives from all political parties at my Committee in August 2009, will take place.

This is becoming a bit of a joke. This dirt track was approved for paving by elected representatives of the appropriate Ipswich Borough Council committee, was approved by all 48 elected representatives of the Full Council, was legally cleared for progression on 18th May this year and has completed three consultation periods and still we have no idea when the first paving slab will be laid.


The contempt for democracy by officers at Ipswich Borough Council is quite disgraceful. I wonder if the 
path was in Gipping Ward or Gainsborugh Ward we would have had such foot-dragging behaviour from the mandarins at Grafton House.


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Sir Humphrey’s contempt for elected representatives: Part VI

As you know from the last time I wrote about this, the issue of the still unpaved pathway between Gladstone Road and Foxhall Road is my pet project on this blog. Unsurprisingly, the dirt track is still not paved.

The weeds and the dirt still remain three years on

The latest and third consultation period, after the footpath creation order was published in May, ended last Friday 29th June. I spoke with my ward councillor, Liz Harsant, yesterday who advised “there were no objections” to the footpath being created. Shock, horror – you mean local residents want a well-used passageway paved rather than have to tackle the dirt and the weeds every time we go and get a pint (sorry litre!) of milk from the Co-op.

According to the email sent to Holywells Conservative Councillor Liz Harsant by the Borough Council’s community improvements officer John Clements back in May, as there have been no objections, the Council should now be getting on with planning the paving work.

I have today written to Cllr Liz Harsant and newly elected Holywells Conservative Councillor Pam Stewart asking for an update on when the paving works will begin. Cllr Stewart is aware of the Council’s intransigence on this issue and she asked Labour’s transport chief a question about it at the Full Council meeting in March. As soon as I hear any more news from my councillors, I shall let you know.

Next month, it will be three years since my Committee approved funding for the footpath. During this time, my wife has completed a degree, we got married and also had our first wedding anniversary. I do hope the path is paved before our second wedding anniversary next year!


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Lose or win, politicians always say Thank You

The default Thank You leaflets, post the local elections in May, have landed on my doorstep in the last few weeks from Labour and the Conservatives. Guess the Liberal Democrats aren’t very thankful.

The most noticeable thing from the Labour Thank You is Labour Ipswich parliamentary candidate David Ellesmere has muscled in on the local Holywells leaflet. A bit strange since his party’s candidate lost in Holywells. I guess the old adage that “all publicity is good publicity” has been taken on-board at Silent Street.

The leaflet also plugs serial public money spender Jane Basham, who will be Labour’s candidate for the new Police and Crime Commissioner post in the November elections.

Labour are also eyeing up the County Elections next year. With the way the votes fell in the Borough elections, they do have a good chance of mopping up a number of Tory-held seats in Ipswich. With the rise of UKIP in the shires, it could turn out to be a very interesting election in May.

The Conservative Thank You actually focuses on the candidate who won, Pam Stewart. I like that the Tories are focusing on my pet issue, that of the unpaved dirt track between Gladstone Road and Foxhall Road which my Committee approved for paving nearly three years ago. I hope new Cllr Pam Stewart will keep the pressure on officers from within Grafton House. This blog certainly will be from outside once the new consultation deadline expires on 29th June.

There is a strange piece on the back-page which highlights the low turnout in Holywells Ward. It comes across as if the Conservatives are telling the electorate off for not voting! As in “tut, tut, why didn’t you vote?”  I’m not sure that is the best way of enticing people to the polling station. Also, if a party is to encourage postal voting, the best thing is to ask them to contact the party for a form not ask them to visit a website with no address!

There is no promotion for the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner post as the Tories are yet to select their Suffolk candidate.

Both Labour and the Conservatives make good use of their leaflets to drum up membership and activist support. The Conservatives seem to have multiple addresses with 24 Salisbury Road being used as a postbox for Holywells mail, the imprint (i.e. legal address) being in Valley Road and the MP’s address being in Fore Street. I understand the reasoning when you rely on volunteers and don’t have a full-time agent, but it’s still a bit confusing to a lay-man. Meanwhile, Labour have one address: their Silent Street office in town.

For my fellow political geeks, I’ve uploaded both leaflets to ElectionLeaflets.org here and here.


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Sir Humphrey’s contempt for elected representatives: Part V

The saga continues. As I reported back in March, Ipswich Borough Council finally got round to publishing the Order to create a paved footpath for the entire alleyway between Gladstone Road and Foxhall Road. The deadline for objections was 19th April. Or so we thought.

Dirt track between Gladstone Road and Foxhall Road is still not paved

It seems the Sir Humphreys down at Grafton House have found another way of extending the “consultation” period even further. The following email was sent to Holywells Conservative Councillor Liz Harsant yesterday from a mandarin down at the Council:

“The legal process required to enable work to be undertaken to surface the alley way in question is underway.

The legal advertisement of the desire of the Council to create a footpath was undertaken in April.  The consultation period for this has now closed.

The order of confirmation now needs to be circulated to residents who have access rights over the land and copies placed on-site.

There is a further 6 week period where anyone can question the validity of the order and for residents to claim compensation for depreciation or damage for disturbance associated with making the footpath a public right of way.

Once all the above has been completed, without objection, then the Council will be in a place to programme the surfacing of the alley way.” [my emphasis]

Oh terrific. So after three years since I approved the footpath scheme at my Committee, after the scheme was approved at the Executive committee and after all 48 councillors on Ipswich Borough Council approved the scheme, Sir Humphrey is still stopping the first slab from being laid. The only reason the Order was even advertised in March is because a) Cllr Harsant and myself put pressure on the civil servants at the Borough in writing and in person at a public meeting, and b) because newly elected Councillor Pam Stewart (when she was the Conservative candidate for Holywells ward) also asked Labour’s transport chief Phil Smart what the hold-up was at the Full Council meeting in March.

When Douglas Carswell complains the bureaucrats are really running the Coalition Government, they are obviously learning the dark arts of obfuscation and intransigence from the civil servants in Ipswich.

I am trying to find out the exact date when the next round of consultation finishes to help us best guess when the paving work might actually begin…

UPDATE – 25th May: The next round of consultation should end on 29th June according to the new public notice at either end of the dirt track: