Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally


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Ipswich Borough Full Council Meeting: 29th January 2014

Last Wednesday’s Full Council may well be the last I attend for quite sometime as I am moving out of the area so I thought I’d make an effort to witness the political shenanigans one last time.

I won’t give a verbatim report, as now you can watch and listen to the entire meeting of the councillors who bothered to turn up (the Mayor’s apology list was nearly as long as the attendance list!) courtesy of the Ipswich Spy parish (scroll down for video).

Even with the apologies from all parties, Labour still rule the roost in Ipswich with three long rows occupied by the socialists with the Liberal Democrats (all two of them!) and the Conservative Group shuffled off to the far side of the room. It will only get worse come the May local elections when, as I have predicted before, there will be another bloodbath of the blues. Thankfully, it will be the high water mark for Labour but the Tories will be out of power for up to 20 years (and that’s no exaggeration).

Council Questions covered a broad range of subjects and were kicked off by local Tory blogger, Kevin Algar, who asked questions on tourism and facilitating social media reporting. It was somewhat amusing to hear Mr Algar ask what the council were doing to facilitate filming of public meetings, whilst Ipswich Spy‘s Ben Redsell was filming to his right hand side. A case of being a bit late to the party!

Mr Algar also encouraged the ruling Labour group to have Ipswich Borough Council meetings in Suffolk County Council’s head office because it is set up for webcasting. Rightly, Labour leader Cllr Ellesmere slapped him down and pointed out Ipswich Borough should have their meetings in their Council chamber in the magnificent Town Hall not a corporate office block.

The questions on tourism from Kevin Algar were typically not answered by Labour’s Economic Development chief Cllr Carole Jones. She has a perfect ability to just waffle a reply to any question which – if you can hear her rather grating and whining voice at all – are couched in local government speak to the point of incomprehension. 

For some reason only known to Cllr Kym Stroet, he asked a question to Labour’s culture spokesman Cllr Bryony Rudkin which managed to reignite the Broomhill Pool row. “Does the portfolio holder believe that spending £1 million on a lido, likely to be used by very few people, is a wise use of taxpayers money?”, Cllr Stroet posed. This caused an uproar of heckling from the public gallery. Now, I’m not in a favour of any public money being given to starting up an outside pool business, which very few people want to pay to use, but there are a lot of people in North West Ipswich who are exercised by the Broomhill Pool nostalgia – and most of them vote in seats the Tories are trying to win or hold on to! Baffling.

Labour’s housing chief from the 1970s and also in the year 2014, Cllr John Mowles, was asked a question by former Tory group leader Cllr John Carnall about the decision by the Council to knock two homes together to house an unemployed couple and their (now) thirteen children and why he didn’t listen to the 84 petitioners who were against the move at a cost which is now almost three times the original budget. “I have no intention of discussing this and I am surprised this was raised and it disappointments me and demoralises councillors when such a question is asked – it should not be aired in public!”, Cllr Mowles replied. What on earth is he talking about? The council is spending a large chunk of taxpayer’s money commensurate with the Borough Council’s relatively small budget and Cllr Mowles has the audacity to say it is an issue which should not be raised in public. This smacks of Labour not wanting to discuss a subject they are ideologically influenced by and was boosted by Cllr Sandy Martin saying during the Council Rent Increase report later in the meeting he would prefer to see everybody in Ipswich live in a council house! Well, if he is that keen on living in a council-owned property, why doesn’t he move down the road from his privately rented cottage on Milton Street to the Priory Heath estate?

As was decided at last week’s Executive meeting (the real power-base of the Council), Full Council on Wednesday was asked to rubber-stamp a 5.5% increase in council house rent. Several Tory councillors asked how this policy ties in with Labour nationally always bleating on about the “cost of living crisis” – no answer did cometh from Cllr Mowles or Labour leader Cllr Ellesmere except to say they were “only following Government guidelines”. Conservative Cllr Carnall retorted the only reason rents were going up was to fund the new Council home building programme done to bolster Cllr Ellesmere’s Labour parliamentary campaign. There’s more than a grain of truth in that statement!

Later in the same meeting, there was a report discussing business rates and the Government’s plan to let Councils keep most of the money raised (before the Coalition came to power, all of the business rates were sent to Whitehall for re-distribution into Labour heartlands). Supposedly, there has been a few issues with the paperwork and Grafton House mandarins haven’t been able file their documentation to Whitehall yet.

The Labour group naturally blamed central Government and Cllr Ellesmere used the opportunity to let the Council know he was still waiting for Secretary of State for Local Government, Eric Pickles, to tell him the council tax increase percentage threshold at which the Borough must ask permission of residents in a referendum – no doubt so he can lower it by 0.0.1% and then that will be this year’s council tax increase in Ipswich! Just for the record, Government guidelines stipulate council tax should be frozen but it seems the Labour-run council are ignoring the guidelines when it suits them.

There was an interesting report from Labour’s rising-star and Borough communities chief, Cllr Adam Leeder, where he told the meeting Area Committees were receiving new powers, mainly to do with being able to spend their budget as they see fit rather than always deferring back to the Executive. The points of interest weren’t in the detail of the report but in the debate amongst councillors. Cllr Sandy Martin made the most pertinent point when he told the meeting just one Area Committee represents a greater population size than any parish or town council in the rest of Suffolk, but still Conservative-run Suffolk County Council were not engaging with Ipswich’s Area Committees despite actively engaging with a Parish council in Lavenham or Bury St Edmunds Town Council. You just need to look at Suffolk County Council’s ‘Find your County Councillor’ site, where Ipswich is relegated to a ‘Parish’ to see the point!

This is one of the most powerful arguments for Ipswich being a Unitary Authority. Ipswich Borough Council has very little power, apart from planning application matters. All the roads, verges and any changes to traffic flow in the town are in the hands of Suffolk County Council; earlier in the meeting, Liberal Democrat Cllr Inga Lockington raised the condition of grass verges in the estates of Ipswich since the County Council took away the Highway Authority from Ipswich (meaning no decisions on anything to do with transport are now taken by the Borough Council) and low and behold it is nigh on impossible to get a verge repaired in Ipswich because it is like trying to climb Mount Everest to get it in the hands of a bureaucrat at Endeavour House, who has the whole of Suffolk to look after. Additionally, all the local authority schools are run from Endeavour House and as Cllr Martin made patently clear, the corporate structure at the County Council doesn’t even recognise the main conduit of communication between the electorate and their councillors. It is as if Ipswich is East Germany behind a modern day Berlin Wall, out of sight of County leader Mark Bee and his Cabinet in the “West”.

Despite Labour’s Cllr Martin articulating the raw deal Ipswich receives from Suffolk County Council, it was pointed out by Cllr Carnall that Ipswich has 11 Labour county councillors compared to just the one Tory in the Borough and perhaps they should get on with lobbying the County Council on behalf of Ipswich and its residents.

Another notable aspect of the Council meeting on Wednesday were the number of people in attendance to ask and support questions on the proposed Northern Fringe development. Questions on sewerage, traffic congestion and the New Homes Bonus were asked – all with an anti-development slant. Both Labour and the Conservatives (who cares what the Liberals think!) are in favour of building houses on the northern outskirts of Ipswich’s borough boundary; it was the Tories who approved it in the Local Development Framework when they were in power before 2011 and Labour are naturally in favour of upping the number of social houses built. So it really has become now a Town versus Country issue. As soon as the Council Questions were over, there was a mass exodus of rich baby boomers and their flat caps as they traipsed back to the 4X4s and their pretty villages. God forbid Ipswich will have more houses for their children to live in!

And this was the main thrust of the meeting, all two hours of it filmed below for your infotainment. Next time, Ipswich Spy won’t have to beg the Grafton House mandarins for permission, as the right for public meetings to be filmed by bloggers and the mainstream media is now enshrined in law, courtesy of Eric Pickles’ Local Audit and Accountability Bill which obtained Royal Assent the next day.


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New Ipswich Cornhill design announced

New Cornhill: A revised Concept C 'won' the competition

New Cornhill: A revised Concept C ‘won’ the competition

Today, Ipswich Borough Council along with Ipswich Central have announced the ‘winner’ of the new design for the Cornhill – Ipswich’s equivalent of the town square.

Unfortunately, the choice was not actually in the competition announced to the public in September last year, which begs the question why did the Borough Council bother to ask Ipswich residents which scheme they preferred? Isn’t a local authority meant to practice the virtues of democracy or at least be seen to?

Anyway, a variant of Concept C (unfortunately no longer online) was chosen by the powers-that-be in Ipswich. The judging panel was made up of Labour council leader David Ellesmere, Conservative Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, the town centre management company Ipswich Central, Suffolk County Council leader Mark Bee, a representative from University College Suffolk and Jay Merrick, the architecture writer on The Independent newspaper.

Concept C was the one with the 2001: A Space Odyssey style tower in the centre of the Cornhill albeit without gorillas clawing at its base. However, we are told by the judging panel the tower will be ‘remodelled’ by ‘winning’ architects Hall Mcknight.

“You’ll see through it, so it doesn’t stand in the way of seeing the buildings behind it,” partner Mr Hall said.

The architects also propose to level the Cornhill from the bottom of Lloyds Avenue to the front of the Town Hall. There will still be unlevelled space going down past Mannings and the Golden Lion public houses so a ‘cafe-style’ environment with tables can be set-up outside these premises.  With no disrespect to the proprietors of these premises, they are hardly glass of chianti and cheese establishments – more Carling and vodka shots.

Although I am very much in favour of improving this public space as a magnet to attract more people to spend money in the town centre and help Ipswich grow, there is an elephant on the Cornhill which just won’t go away. What am I talking about? The market.

Former M&S boss Sir Stuart Rose – who gave Ipswich Borough Council the idea to re-design the Cornhill back in September 2012 – called for the market to be moved. Labour’s Cllr David Ellesmere at the time lept out of his seat at the Ipswich Beacon Conference Sir Stuart was speaking at to say he thought moving the market was a great idea. At the time, I questioned his sincerity and sadly my suspicions have been proven right. You see the traders are Labour’s chums and even though the market is a tatty, somewhat aggressive, dirty affair on four days a week, the Labour-run council aren’t going to bite the hand that feeds them and push the market down Princes Street where it belongs.

Conveniently for Labour, Sir Stuart Rose was not at or wasn’t invited to today’s press conference to announce the ‘winning’ design. There’s no doubt Sir Stuart gave the Borough Council a good kick up the backside when he rattled off several ways to improve Ipswich’s offering (only one of which was the Cornhill improvement) but he put a figure of £200,000 on the re-design. Once the Grafton House mandarins got their fingers on it, the cost has rocketed to £3.5 Million, which is another half a million on top of the £3 Million announced at the start of the public ‘consultation’ in September last year.  At this rate, the budget could be heading north of £4 million by the time it is finished.  No wonder Sir Stuart stayed away: he’s got a business reputation to protect.

The decision by the judges to opt for the revised Concept C was unanimous. It is understood the amended design was chosen as it would allow the Cornhill space to remain flexible. The total funds for the project have still to be found: a fundraising campaign will now begin with town centre businesses being asked to contribute. Ipswich Borough Council has already allocated £800,000 of taxpayer’s money to the project.

The next question is one of timescales. When can we expect to see the implementation complete subject to the cash being stumped up?


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UKIP win by a landslide in Suffolk by-election

UKIP logo

As reported in today’s national press, UKIP continued their march to the European elections later this year by winning a landslide victory in two by-elections in Haverhill, west Suffolk on Thursday.

Nigel Farage’s party managed to get more votes than all the other parties combined. The election was held to fill vacant seats on  St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Haverhill Town Council after former town mayor Les Ager died last year.

Landslide: New UKIP councillor Tony Brown who won Haverhill East ward on St Edmundsbury Borough Council with double the vote of his nearest challenger

Landslide: New UKIP councillor Tony Brown who won Haverhill East ward on St Edmundsbury Borough Council with double the vote of his nearest challenger

Tony Brown – who is also a Suffolk County Councillor for Haverhill – won Haverhill East ward on the Borough Council for UKIP with a majority of 54 per cent, more than double that of his Labour opponent Pat Hanlon with 24.5 per cent. And the Haverhill East town council seat was won by UKIP candidate Paul Firman with 64 per cent of the vote, triple that of the Labour candidate Liz Smith.

This victory follows on the back of the Suffolk County Council elections last year when UKIP gained eight seats – they now hold nine seats at Endeavour House – and pushed the Tories into third place in four out of the thirteen divisions in Ipswich.

Is this a sign of things to come when voters go to the polls in the European and local government elections on 22nd May? In Ipswich, UKIP currently have no council seats at Grafton House and this may well still be the case after the count but based on the County Council results last year they are likely to cause more upset for the Conservative Party in seats like Stoke Park and Holywells, where – if they stand – they could end up splitting the Tory vote and allowing Labour to win. But even without UKIP contention, seats like Holywells are looking very precarious. Back in 2012, popular former Borough Council leader Liz Harsant just about scraped home with a majority of 49 over her Labour challenger. Do we really think Cllr George Debman will hold on to Holywells this time round? If UKIP stand in Holywells he will lose by several hundred votes.

In the European poll, I’d put money on UKIP winning the elections.


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Does Ipswich do Change?

Bishops Hill Traffic Lights_Travel Ipswich

I’ve lived in Ipswich for 12 years now and there are many things I enjoy about the town: it’s low crime rate, it’s real ale pubs, the community feel which is unusual in the South, and the surrounding beautiful countryside.

But Ipswich (or more to the point indigenous Ipswich people) really finds it difficult to embrace progress and change.

A recent case in point is the new transport scheme being rolled out across the town. All you hear is moan, moan, moan. The Government has whacked £21 Million into a provincial and quite remote town, which most Whitehall mandarins have never heard of never mind be able to place on a map, and local people almost tell the Government to stuff it.

The town is very old, arguably the oldest recorded town in England, and has a road layout to match. The dock was the central part of the town up until the middle of the last century because trade was focused around water: now rail and road are our main means of trade communications.

Ipswich was one of the last places with a port in the country not to have it regenerated. If you look at Liverpool, Bristol, and of course, East London, the people there embraced change decades ago. Ipswich only got round to privatizing the port in the late 1990s!

But the town is being gradually brought kicking and screaming into the 21st century and sorting out the archaic road network is a key aspect of that Conservative County Hall-led change. Ipswich must adapt to survive. Ipswich Fit for the 21st Century Project, now known as Travel Ipswich, is the scheme for the improvements we are seeing at the Civic Drive junction, the renewal of two bus stations and excellent proposals to get rid of what has to be the most bizarre roundabout system in the country on Norwich Road. There have been teething problems – there always are in projects of this size – but once all the works are complete, the benefits to residents, visitors and businesses alike will be enormous.

The £21 Million will also pay for traffic lights at the top of Bishop’s Hill, which sees traffic backed all the way up Nacton Road and beyond. There is quite clearly a problem here – caused by the vast increase in cars on the roads in Ipswich during the last ten years and the opening of the new University on the Waterfront – and it needs to be fixed. There is no point sticking your head in the ground hoping the problem will go away.

I was speaking with a senior Tory activist on Saturday and he made the point that roundabouts and other uncontrolled junctions only work when there are few cars otherwise you can never get out of the junction. He is entirely right, hence the technology called traffic lights was invented. And in the 21st century, traffic lights have got even better at their job with another technology called UTMC (Urban Traffic Management Control). UTMC synchronises any number of traffic lights so if there are, say, three sets of traffic lights over a half a mile stretch, they will all turn green at the same time, thereby reducing the stop and start action of traffic which creates jams. Again, the £21 Million from central Government is paying for UTMC to be introduced into Ipswich: most provincial towns do not have such advanced traffic management systems in place. We should be rejoicing, not moaning. The reason for the teething problems on Civic Drive is because UTMC hasn’t been switched on yet but it will be and queuing in this area will vastly reduce.

Suffolk Transport chief Cllr Graham Newman

Suffolk Transport chief Cllr Graham Newman

New transport chief Cllr Graham Newman and his team at Suffolk County Council are proposing traffic lights at the top of Bishop’s Hill. The engineers at County Hall didn’t just wake up one morning and said, hey, let’s put some new traffic lights in East Ipswich for the fun of it. They have seen the problem of queuing traffic and using computer models which simulate traffic patterns,  motorist behaviours and the introduction of UTMC they have seen results that will reduce the queue lengths.

So there is a problem: long queues into town from Felixstowe Road down the hill to the Waterfront. What shall we do about it? Moan about it and then moan about it some more when it gets worse (which it will as young people buy cars and older drivers live longer)? Or shall we implement a proposed and evidence-based solution to fix it? Errr, let me think…

The moaning and reluctance to engage change is not just an irritant: it is the reason why Ipswich takes so long to develop and progress. But it doesn’t have to be this way: think outwards and embrace solutions not problems and, you know what, the people of Ipswich are the ones who will reap the rewards. Isn’t that what we want?


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Ipswich Borough Council refuse to litter pick public footpath

Who do you think is responsible for picking up litter on a public footpath?

Who do you think is responsible for picking up litter on a public footpath?

Ipswich Borough Council have not only shown themselves to be corrupt in recent days they are now finding every trick in the book to not maintain and clean a public footpath which connects Gladstone Road to the shopping parade on Foxhall Road.

Regular readers will recall this is the infamous passageway which took the mandarins at Grafton House three years to pave and required Committee, Executive and Full Council approval before civil servants would consider doing a bit of “community improvement” in a Conservative ward.

Through constant chasing from Holywells ward councillor Liz Harsant and pressure from this blog the passageway was finally paved in October last year after first being approved by the cross-party Community Improvements Committee in 2009!

The path – as was said when the proposal was first presented to Committee – has (in local government jargon) “heavy footfall” throughout the day. Unfortunately, many of the pedestrians decide to discard their litter as they pop to the Co-op or the kebab shop. The shallow trenches (drainage channels would be too strong a description) along each side of the path are now strewn with cans, bottles, and food packaging.

I reported the littering to Cllr Harsant and she diligently took it up with civil servants at the Council offices. What followed was like a sketch from political satire The Thick of It.

Firstly, officers denied the passageway was a public path. How do they account for the Council laying concrete slabs along it last October then? Are the Council in the business of doing private building works now on behalf of the hard-up taxpayer? Perhaps I should get them into my house to do a bit of plastering or maybe get them to sand down and paint the lintel over my front door?

When pressed further, civil servants blamed poor record keeping – showing the footpath is indeed publicly owned – during the “transition of the Highways Agency from Ipswich Borough Council to Suffolk County Council” at the end of March and that it was up to Suffolk County Council to maintain and clean the footpath.

However, IBC changed its mind and said they were still the “principal litter authority” and it was their responsibility to clean up the passageway. Phew, I thought – the council tax I pay might actually benefit me for once! But no such luck. Ipswich Borough Council decided to send someone up to the footpath, not to pick up the litter, but to look at the litter. They then reported back to Cllr Harsant that as they didn’t know who had dropped the litter they are unable to remove it.

The Council laid the slabs but deny the footpath is their responsibility

The Council laid the slabs but deny the footpath is their responsibility

Apart from having my wheelie bin emptied once a fortnight, what do I pay over one hundred pounds a month to the Council for? Ensuring your local streets and footpaths were kept clean used to be a basic “service” from the council. Now it would seem all the money is spent translating documents into forty languages or dishing out grants to made-up charities and not on picking up litter in your local neighbourhood.

No wonder people are fed up with the political establishment in this country.


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County Local Elections: Predictions

SCC

Vote 2013: Suffolk County Elections

Firstly, let’s deal with Ipswich: in short, the Conservatives will lose every seat they currently hold apart from Bixley. In terms of predictions for who gains those seats and the places each party standing takes, I’ll defer to the excellent Ipswich Spy.

My main interest is in how UKIP will fare. Nigel Farage’s party are standing in 8 out of 10 divisions in Ipswich, comprising 13 seats* as three divisions have two councillors representing the electorate. UKIP are not standing in Bixley or St John’s. However, they will not win a single seat in Ipswich. Even if they had stood in ‘True Blue’ Bixley, it is unlikely they would have captured enough disaffected Tories as the Conservatives (albeit under popular councillor Russell Harsant) claimed over 50% of the vote in 2009 with Labour and the Liberal Democrats miles behind.

Polling High: UKIP Leader Nigel Farage

Polling High: UKIP Leader Nigel Farage

Although UKIP won’t win a seat in Ipswich, this does not mean they won’t exceed expectations nationally. This is why the money is on UKIP to win over 50 seats nationally in tomorrow’s County Elections in England (with one Council up for election in Wales). The bookmakers Paddy Power are offering odds of 1/8 for UKIP to win over 50 seats.

Of course, it is not just disaffected Tories who are defecting to UKIP. Formerly Labour and Yellow Peril voters are also lending their vote to Nigel Farage, which was plain to see in the recent Eastleigh by-election, where UKIP pushed the Conservatives into third place. As a result, both the main parties, Labour and Conservatives, have been rattled by the UKIP surge the country has seen over the last few years, especially since the Cameron Coalition was formed in 2010, which has seen a Conservative leader more interested in talking about gay marriage and wind farms than enterprise and lower taxes. It’s not just the hot topics of Europe and immigration which are driving the UKIP vote up but a general dissatisfaction with the mainstream political elite in Westminster who only care about the 4% of the electorate in marginal seats that decides who governs Britain. If the 4% don’t care about uncontrolled immigration, then Cameron won’t talk about it. If that segment of the electorate love the NHS then Cameron will fall prostrate at the High Altar of the NHS every day of the week.

However, the Conservative Party know UKIP have the potential to “steal” plenty of Tory votes and so a smear campaign operation was launched last week by Grant Shapp’s party high command at Conservative central office (or CCHQ as it is now known), helped along by the BBC, and culminating in plenty of stories in the Sunday papers about the dubious views of some UKIP candidates on their social media sites. And for good measure, veteran Conservative minister Ken Clarke told the 24 hour news channels he thought UKIP voters themselves were “racist”. Well, if liberal Wet Ken Clarke says this about a right-wing political party, then it must be true. Hmmm….

My view is the Conservative Party cannot get its head out of the Westminster Village sand and realise the vast majority of their supporters are real Tories with strong beliefs including on Europe (as in let’s get Out), on lower taxes, unconditional benefit reform (as in far bigger cuts than IDS is proposing), immigration (reduce or at least control), grammar schools (more). Real Tories are not part of the metropolitan liberal elite who love “diversity” as long as they can get away from it at the end of the day by retreating to their Chelsea townhouse or country estate or as Ed West put it in his Telegraph blog post yesterday: “Those who proclaim the benefits of diversity often live in parts of town where high housing costs shield them from huge demographic change; those neighbourhoods are “diverse”, but in the same way that airport business class lounges are. And so attitudes to immigration have become class signifiers.”

It is for this reason I believe the smear campaign against UKIP will back-fire – it may just save UKIP a ton of manhours in Get Out The Vote activity. We’ll have to wait until early afternoon on Friday to see as civil servant counting staff don’t have a sense of duty anymore and will refuse to count the votes straight after the polls close, preferring instead to start after 9am the next day – and the ruling political parties let them! Just another reason why many voters are turning away from the mainstream political elite.

*All the candidates in the Suffolk County Council Elections for the Ipswich Divisions can be found here.


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Tory-run Suffolk County Council freezes council tax – for next four years!

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Frugal: Conservative-run Suffolk County Council

Thanks to Cllr Alasdair Ross I learnt Suffolk County Council proposed in their budget-setting meeting yesterday that their part* of our council tax bill due in April will be frozen. Tory council leader Cllr Mark Bee went even further and announced it would be frozen for the next four years!

Now that’s the difference between what you get from a Labour-run council like Ipswich Borough Council and a Conservative-run authority like Suffolk County Council. Tories instinctively know civil servants are profligate with your money and there are ALWAYS savings which can be found whereas Labour see a problem and their immediate reaction is to chuck money at it. The Labour Party did this on a national scale with the NHS when they were in power at Westminster but it did nothing to stop thousands of people being killed – some through starvation and botched operations – at the hands of “our wonderful” nurses and doctors.

This is why the Conservatives at Suffolk County Council can project council tax will be frozen for the next four years. They could project it to be frozen for the next ten years if they weren’t constrained by electoral cycles. You see, there is always money to be saved in the public sector who spend money like it is going out of fashion with, in many cases, very little to show for it.

On a sidebar, yet again I find my local news from the blogosphere. I may disagree with Cllr Ross but I always find his posts informative, entertaining and written to a high standard. This is also very much the case with Ipswich Spy, who this week scooped the Morning Ipswich Star to announce Labour had increased council tax at Ipswich Borough Council by 1.98%. It is only a matter of time before the Ipswich Star has to become a freesheet or goes out of business all together. Considering the free Metro newspaper has triple if not quadruple the number of stories than the Ipswich Star, all of a high quality, why would anyone fork out 60p for a paper with more adverts than stories, which the Ipswich Star has become.

*Many people don’t know that council tax is made up of three parts in Ipswich: 1) the district council’s precept (i.e. Ipswich Borough Council); 2) the County Council’s precept (i.e. Suffolk County Council); 3) The Police (i.e. Suffolk Police and Crime Commission). Ipswich Borough Council send out the bills but they make up less than one third of the total cost to you as the council taxpayer. I have never understand why Ipswich Borough Council are forced to have their name splashed all over the hated bill when that authority takes less than 20% of the money from us hard-working people.