In his Ipswich Star column today, Labour Parliamentary Candidate David Ellesmere has taken a look back at 2014 columns to review the past year. You can read here about some of the issues that kept cropping up...
Police Control Room - A notable victory for Suffolk residents. Most of us were extremely concerned at the plans to move our Police Emergency Control Room to Norfolk. Working with staff, unions and campaigners, we managed to persuade the Police & Crime Commissioner to think again.
The Bedroom Tax - One of the cruellest and most unfair measures this Government has introduced. There were two votes in Parliament to try and abolish it. Ipswich’s MP Ben Gummer voted to keep it on both occasions.
Labour-run Ipswich Borough Council - I’ve been really proud of what we managed to achieve at Ipswich Borough Council, especially against the background of continuing, and heavy, Government funding cuts.
Our council house building programme continued to expand with the first tenants moving into the 108 home Bader Close scheme.
We gained Living Wage Employer accreditation and increased pay rates for council apprentices. We took on an empty shop in the town centre for the Credit Union so they can compete directly with rip-off pay day lenders.
We continued to run a major events programme and supported the town centre by extending the Quids In cheap parking scheme.
We took action to try and kick-start the regeneration of the Westgate site, Princes Street and the Waterfront at Stoke Bridge. We made the major purchase of the Sugar Beet site at Sproughton which will bring hundreds of new jobs to Ipswich.
Conservative-run Suffolk County Council - The contrast with the County Council could not be more stark.
Travel Ipswich has to date been an expensive waste of money with more negatives than positives.
Children in Ipswich continue to get a poor deal with their education.
The privatisation of care homes started to unravel with cost cutting leading to homes being declared unsafe for new residents.
Sure Start children’s centres continue to be under threat. The Ormiston centre was shut and the County is considering closing two more in Ipswich.
Conservative councillors voted down a proposal to become a Living Wage employer.
The NHS - The large number of mentions the NHS got this year shows how the Government’s mismanagement is starting to be felt.
A&E departments have missed their waiting targets for over a year; waiting lists are at a six year high; people are having to wait longer and longer to get a GP appointment; the number of complaints has shot up.
One minor local victory was getting Ipswich Hospital to back down on its plans to increase parking charges for staff.
Cost of Living Crisis - A constant theme over the course of this Government. This time last year I predicted that it would remain a big issue due to Government inaction. Sadly this proved to be the case.
For most Ipswich people the story continues to be of prices rising more than wages. George Osborne’s plans to cut in-work benefits will actually make things worse.
The Cost of Living Crisis not only hurts individuals but has led to David Cameron borrowing over £200bn more than he planned over this Parliament. Public services continue to be cut as a result.
The Government’s unwillingness to tackle the Cost of Living Crisis and their mismanagement of the NHS will be major factors deciding the result of this year’s General Election.
I hope you had an enjoyable Christmas and that you have a Happy New Year.