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  • Oliver Holmes in town centre
    Article: Jun 14, 2020
    By Oliver Holmes

    Most shops selling non-essential items in Ipswich plan to re-open tomorrow and retailers have spent many days preparing new layouts to comply with social distancing regulations. Ipswich Borough Council, together with Ipswich Central and Ipswich Vision, have also worked hard to make sure shoppers can access shops while still staying safe. Streets have been closed to traffic and pavements marked. IBC toilet blocks are being opened but many shop cloakrooms will remain shut. Parking will be free at the Crown Car Park.

  • Cllr Inga Lockington
    Article: Jun 7, 2020
    By Oliver Holmes

    Cllr. Inga Lockington Leader of the Lib Dem Group at the Borough Council attended the Black Lives Matter event in Christchurch Park yesterday together with Cllr.Tim Lockington. Cllr. Lockington said: "We felt it was important to be there to show our strong support for fellow citizens and to hear first-hand accounts from those whose experience has been that some lives have appeared to matter more than others in this country. It is unacceptable that skin colour should limit life opportunities and civil experience, including in such matters as health, educational and career opportunities, and through the disproportionate use of stop and search powers."

  • Oliver Holmes home working
    Article: Jun 6, 2020
    By Oliver Holmes

    During the Covid 19 lockdown, many Ipswich Lib Dem members, like a lot of town residents, have been working at home for the first time. Obviously, many jobs simply cannot be done over the internet, but for those that can, will work practices be permanently changed and what will this mean for offices in the town centre?

    BT, based in Martlesham, estimate that nearly a tenth of their employees worldwide are home based, including many in Ipswich. But they also recognise that physical team meetings can enhance collaboration.This is a message shared by Work Wise UK, the non-profit campaigning for change to outdated working practices. Work Wise declared 15 May 2020 as National Work From Home Day. Flexibility seems to be the key.

    For some years, Ipswich Borough Council has been equipping staff with laptops and tablets for homeworking allowing the Council to vacate a whole floor of Grafton House. Council meetings are now being conducted on Zoom and Teams systems with simultaneous YouTube broadcasts allowing residents to participate.

    It is also reported that call centres, many of which are based in Ipswich, have been surprised at how effective homeworking has been during the lockdown.

    But many individual employees have significant questions on what they can and cannot be asked to do. Some miss office relationships while others relish avoiding commuting and office formalities. Who pays for broadband and heating at home and will IBC want to charge business rates? There is clearly a need for more government guidance with changes needed to employment laws and the other sectors that will be impacted. It will also mean more cooperation from trade unions not always known for embracing change.

    Adam, from Ipswich, sums up the issues involved: "Working from home has been challenging with my wife working full time and a school age child to home school. Once schools reopen fully and safely, it will be much easier without the distractions and increased demands this places on people. Fortunately, feedback from my clients on service quality has been positive."

    The knock-on effect homeworking will have on demand for office space in Ipswich is not yet apparent. Offices have been vital for economic development and a major reduction in demand for office space would threaten IBC plans for the town's future. Savills, with offices in Ipswich, together with other property analysts in London suggest demand will remain but it will be for more flexible spaces. IBC are now setting up panels to review economic development post-Covid and they will have to move fast to respond to emerging trends.

    What are your experiences of working from home? It would be good to get more feedback from readers on how Covid has changed their working environment.


  • Oliver Holmes
    Article: May 22, 2020
    By Oliver Holmes

    Ipswich Borough Council has just announced that it has purchased a business park in Peterborough for £22.5 million. This has been acquired through their property company, Ipswich Borough Assets (IBA), and is financed by a loan from the Public Works Loan Board.

    IBC do these deals to obtain a profit which can then be used to replace funds lost by major reductions in funding from the central government. But borrowing money to invest and get a profit would be unlawful for IBC and doing it through a separate property company, such as IBA, has been discouraged since the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government tightened guidelines two years ago. Essex County Council "paused" all their purchases after this change, for example.

  • Tim Lockington
    Article: May 5, 2020

    Councillor Tom Lockington said-

    "Charities which have major fund income from shops and sponsored events and especially those whose service demands are increased by the social and health effects of coronavirus and lockdown are particularly vulnerable. Hospice and Hospice Care has a very ambiguous position within healthcare as it provides a great deal of service and support to the NHS (and its clinical professionals have similar conditions of service including wage structures), but like arms length County Council Council commissioned services, eg. citizens advice, its income from the public purse is not secure.

  • Orthopaedic Centre
    Article: Feb 23, 2020
    By Oliver Holmes

    East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Trust have just launched a public consultation on their proposal to build a new £44million Orthopaedic Centre at Colchester Hospital. The Centre will take all elective surgery for hip and knee replacements which are currently carried out at Ipswich. Today, Dr. Shane Gordon, Head of Strategy, gave details of the proposed development to County and Borough councillors and stressed that the crowded Ipswich hospital site meant a centre here would cost tens of millions of pounds more to build. Additionally, a Colchester Centre would free-up buldings that could be converted into a new day surgery suite. He also explained that the Trust continued to regard both sites as vital to the provision of health services in Suffolk and North East Essex for the future.

  • Oliver Holmes
    Article: Feb 20, 2020
    By Oliver Holmes

    Newly elected Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has once again caused controversy in remarks he made in a BrexitBros podcast on 12 February 2020 concerning the social injustice caused to white working class boys. BrexitBros is a right wing (or politically incorrect in their opinion) podcast run by two former Brexit Party MEPs, Michael Heaver and Martin Daubney. Heaver has close associations with the notorious conspiracy and fake news website, InfoWars. Daubney is a former editor of lads mag Loaded, who some years ago organised a straight pride march, as he felt heterosexuality was being undermined. He also supports the men's rights movement. They both consider that identity politics and deference to diversity now threaten free speech and ordinary white people. To them, supporting Brexit was logical.

    Low educational achievement for white boys from disadvantaged communities is a well-known, long-term issue. Prime Minister Boris Johnson considers this is due to their low IQ. As he said to the Centre for Policy Studies in 2013: "…it is surely relevant to a conversation about inequality that as many as 16 per cent of our species have an IQ below 85, while about 2 per cent have an IQ above 130…". Famously, he also wrote in a Daily Telegraph article in 2005 that "the poorest 20% of British society is made-up of chavs, losers, burglars, drug addicts, and criminals."

    Entirely more reasonably, the Chair of the Education Select Committee, Tory MP Robert Halfon, recently wrote an article in ConservativeHome, listing a number of measures he considered would help raise attainment. However, Halfon is careful not to suggest that a reverse form of discrimination against white boys is involved, and it is on this point that he and Hunt diverge.

    White victimhood is a message that many on the far right of politics like to promote. It is used both to trigger "liberals" into making a response, which can then be mocked or attacked, and also to attract recruits to far right causes. Posters such as "It's OK to be white", which appeared throughout Ipswich town centre recently, are used by the KKK and other white supremacist groups and websites, such as 4Chan. Hunt's references to "…social justice for white working class boys…"would seem to play directly into this narrative.
    Tom Hunt already has form for statements that cause offence. His Ipswich Star article on 10th Jan 2020, attributing crime in Ipswich to "certain communities" was widely condemned, not least by the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore, who said his comments were "…very unhelpful…". Typically, in the manner of Donald Trump, Hunt has doubled down on the statements he made and has refused to retract them.

    For Liberal Democrats, these views are reprehensible, as they would be to all those supporters who attended the ISCRE solidarity event last Saturday to denounce the white supremacist posters that appeared in Ipswich. We must now call upon Tom Hunt to represent all the communities in Ipswich without fear or favour.

  • Article: Feb 7, 2020

    Latest from Ipswich Borough Council "You now have until 11.45pm on Monday 2nd March 2020 to submit your representations about the soundness and legal compliance of the Ipswich Local Plan Review Final Draft"

    This determines the amount of future development needed in the Borough for land uses such as housing, offices, industry and retail......The Local Plan Review will look ahead to 2036."

    There are "drop-in exhibitions planned at:-

    Castle Hill Community Centre, Highfield Road, IP1 6DG Monday 3rd February 2020 5pm-7pm
    Ipswich Town Hall, Pickwick Room Cornhill, Ipswich, Friday 7th February 2020 1pm - 7pm and again on Saturday 8th February 2020 10am - 5pm

    The planning documents can be viewed on line www.ipswich.gov.uk/currentconsultations

    Hard copies of the Ipswich Local Plan Review Final Draft consultation documents are available to view from 9am on Wednesday 15th January 2020 to 11.45pm on Monday 2nd March 2020 at the following locations:

    • Customer Services Centre, Town Hall, Cornhill, Ipswich (weekdays 8.30am to 5.00pm);
    • Ipswich County Library, Northgate Street, Ipswich (Mon, Weds, Thurs 9.00am to 6.00pm; Tues, Fri 9.00am to 7.00pm; Sat 8.30am to 5.00pm and Sun 10.00am to 4.00pm); and
    • Grafton House Reception, 15-17 Russell Road, Ipswich (Mon-Fri 8.30am to 5.00pm.
  • Ipswich Northern Route
    Article: Jan 30, 2020
    By Oliver Holmes

    Suffolk County Council have just published the result of the Northern Route Consultation. The Inner Route is the clear favourite but the Strategic Outline Business Case identifies serious concerns over political and public support, together with an acknowledgement that any new road would not get central government funding and would have to be paid for by building at least 15,000 new homes. Today, Mid-Suffolk and East Suffolk District Councils removed their support from the project.

  • Trevor Powell
    Article: Dec 18, 2019

    A personal view by Trevor Powell

    With our first past the post voting system there were calls by some for Liberal Democrats to vote Labour in Ipswich to keep the Conservatives out. Clearly this came nowhere near to succeeding with the Conservatives getting a majority of over 5,000 even with many Liberal Democrat supporters voting Labour. The main consequence was that we lost our deposit by just 40 votes. The loss of £500 is not insignificant for a local party of our size.That sum would be enough for us to run a campaign in an extra ward in the Borough Council elections in May.