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Latest News

  • Town Hall at Christmas
    Article: Jul 30, 2020

    Ipswich Lib Dem councillors last night voted against a Labour emergency budget which has closed the Tourist Information Centre in Arras Square and the Waterfront Gym together with reducing services at parks, customer reception and Crown Car Park hours. Labour Ipswich is the only authority in East Anglia to change its budget in this way. Although the Government has confirmed it will compensate councils for increased Covid expenditure and lost income from car parks and similar sources, the Labour leadership were not prepared to wait until full details became known. Cllr. Oliver Holmes says: "It is tragic that people will be losing their jobs and services will be cut before we know the full position on Government compensation. No other council in this area has done this and Ipswich is not in a uniquely bad financial position. Councillors know there are difficult decisions to be made due to the Pandemic but now is not the time to make them."

  • Article: Jul 18, 2020

    Back on 25th April we used facebook to ask our members and followers to do what they could to support local ccharites

    https://www.facebook.com/Ipswichlibdems/posts/1103922976635077

    On 5th May Councillor Tim Lockington wrote on this site about his concerns for local charities and what he personally was doing about it

  • Article: Jul 10, 2020
    By Tim Lockington

    St Margarets and Westgate Councillor Inga Lockington and her fellow LibDem and Green county councillors spoke up at the County Council Meeting (8th June) and voted to halt Sizewell C construction, and its long-term toxic, unnecessary, and destructive impact on the Suffolk Coast.

    County Councillor, Caroline Page notes, "This motion was voted down 50 to 12, with 4 abstentions. What a shame that both Suffolk Conservatives and Suffolk Labour found spurious reasons to join together and vote this motion down. 'Mitigation' is not a concept you can realistically propose when looking at the deliberate destruction of our age-old countryside and all the businesses it supports."

  • Greater Anglia train
    Article: Jun 25, 2020
    By Oliver Holmes

    Grant Shapps, the Transport Minister, yesterday told a select committee that the incredibly complex and costly rail franchise system, set up by the Tories nearly 30 years ago, will be a casualty of Covid. The Greater Anglia franchise (made up of Dutch company Abellio and Japanese firm Mitsui), which provides all rail services in Suffolk, is unlikely to survive in its present format. Lib Dems have always opposed the franchise system, which has not only failed to provide promised market efficiencies, but has left East Anglian passengers with under-capitalised lines providing unreliable services at high ticket prices.

  • 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.

    Sources:
    https://business.bt.com/successful-home-working/
    https://www.workwiseuk.org/
    https://www.gov.uk/introduction-to-business…/working-at-home
    https://www.savills.co.uk/research_articles/229130/300175-0
    https://www.standard.co.uk/business/as-working-from-home-is-embraced-will-there-still-be-demand-for-london-office-space-a4459006.html

  • 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.