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In his first Ipswich Star column, reproduced here, Ipswich Council leader, David Ellesmere reflects on Thursday's local elections in Ipswich.

This is my first column for a month due to Archant’s impartiality guidelines during the Ipswich Borough Council elections.

It doesn’t feel like I’ve had much of a rest though!  Like thousands of members of all political parties I have spent the last month tramping the streets, delivering leaflets and listening to what people have to say on the doorstep.

All that hard work paid off with Labour wining twelve of the sixteen seats up in Ipswich this year.

Of those, eleven were seats we already held and one was a gain from the Conservatives in Holywells.

This leaves the balance on the council as Labour 34, Conservative 12 and Liberal Democrats 2.

This gives us a solid base to continue our key programmes of protecting and improving services, building new council houses and improving the town centre.

Coverage of the Ipswich results suggested that not much had changed.

However, the Holywells result was highly significant. Until 2016 this was always regarded as a rock-solid safe Tory seat. Now Labour holds two of the three seats.

There are many reasons for this but the Upper Orwell Crossings project – and especially the “big bridge” – came up regularly on the doorstep this year.

The County Council needs to start taking seriously the concerns of residents of roads like Cliff Lane who could see thousands of extra vehicle movements on their streets if the original traffic projections for the bridge are correct.

Two issues which featured more widely across the town were brown bin charges and the state of the roads.

I spoke to many people who have friends and relations outside Ipswich who now have to pay for brown bins after their Conservative council introduced charges.

As long as Labour is running Ipswich Borough Council we will aim to keep brown bins free of charge.

Ipswich’s roads are in a terrible state and we constantly had to keep reminding people that this is the responsibility of Conservative-run Suffolk County Council.

The County has promised more money for roads. We need reassurances that Ipswich will get its fair share of this funding and that the quality of repairs will improve.

Reflections on the local election campaign

In his first Ipswich Star column, reproduced here, Ipswich Council leader, David Ellesmere reflects on Thursday's local elections in Ipswich. This is my first column for a month due to...

Only one seat changed hands in Ipswich in Thursday's Borough Council elections - a Labour gain to add to the eleven seats the Party was defending.  Labour's share of the vote increased across the town.

Jan Parry has been elected as the new Labour Councillor for Holywells ward after winning the seat by just 45 votes. Jan (right) is pictured leaving the Count with County Councillor Mandy Gaylard and fellow Holywells Councillor Barry Studd. The result was announced at Ipswich Corn Exchange following a tense recount that went on into the early hours this morning.

Full results in Ipswich on Thursday 3rd May

Alexandra: John Cook (Lab) 1,245, Katherine West (C) 499, Tom Wilmot (G) 190, Richard Thompson (LD) 147 – Labour hold

Bixley: Edward Phillips (C) 1,264, Paul Anderson (Lab) 690, Trevor Powell (LD) 183 – Conservative hold

Bridge: Colette Allen (Lab) 994, Murray Brunning (C) 483, Charlotte Armstrong (G) 124, Immo Weichert (LD) 66 – Labour hold

Castle Hill: Robin Vickery (C) 1,026, Darren Heaps (Lab) 694, Tim Lockington (LD) 216 – Conservative hold

Gainsborough: Sheila Handley (Lab) 987, Samantha Murray (C) 557, Shayne Pooley (UKIP) 148, Ben Magrath (G) 66, Robin Whitmore (LD) 32 – Labour hold

Gipping: Elizabeth Hughes (Lab) 962, Mark Phillips (C) 504, Robert Chambers (LD) 133 – Labour hold

Holywells: Janice Parry (Lab) 1,048, Heather Mills (C) 1,003, Jenny Rivett (G) 137, Paul Daley (LD) 78 – Labour gain from Conservatives

Priory Heath: Daniel Maguire (Lab) 1,013, Andy Shannon (C) 661, Andy Patmore (G) 99, Nicholas Jacob (LD) 96 – Labour hold

Rushmere: Sandra Gage (Lab) 1,283, Paul Cawthorn (C) 809, Julie Fletcher (LD) 157 – Labour hold

Sprites: Helen Armitage (Lab) 895, Mike Scanes (C) 601, Alan Cotterell (UKIP) 109, Conrad Packwood (LD) 39 – Labour hold

St John’s: Elango Elavalakan (Lab) 1,159, James Harding (C) 690, Edward Packard (LD) 148, Ned Harrison (G) 108 – Labour hold

St Margaret’s: Inga Lockington (LD) 1,493, Simon Fisher (C) 734, Jeremy Brown (Lab) 615, Kirsty Wilmot (G) 104, David Tabane (Ind) 19 – Lib Dem hold

Stoke Park: Nadia Cenci (C) 991, Kelvin Cracknell (Lab) 726, Barry Broom (G) 86, Maureen Haaker (LD) 49 – Conservative hold

Westgate: Colin Kreidewolf (Lab) 999, Sam Downer (C) 472, Martin Hore (LD) 152, John Mann (G) 122 – Labour hold

Whitehouse: Colin Wright (Lab) 838, Stephen Lark (C) 414, Tony Gould (UKIP) 144, Malcolm Mitchell (LD) 69 – Labour hold

Whitton: Christine Shaw (Lab) 996, John Downie (C) 806, Daniel Smith (LD) 92 – Labour hold

Labour won 12 of the 16 wards being contested on Thursday, the Conservatives three and the Lib Dems one. The overall position on Ipswich Borough Council following this election is: Labour 34 (+1), Conservative 12 (-1), LibDem 2.

Labour increases majority on Ipswich Council

Only one seat changed hands in Ipswich in Thursday's Borough Council elections - a Labour gain to add to the eleven seats the Party was defending.  Labour's share of the vote...

Last week, at my regular meeting with Ipswich’s Police Superintendent, we discussed knife crime, writes Sandy Martin MP.

Knife crime in Ipswich is still far higher than any of us would wish, although not as high as has been reported in some cases.  We agreed that education was key to preventing young people from getting involved in gangs that use knives, and getting through to them that carrying a knife made them - and everyone around them – less safe, not more. 

The Police bring the issue to schools at Year 6, through Crucial Crew, and also at Year 9 with a new drama-discussion, so that they can help the children work out for themselves that knives are a really bad idea.

I also met the new head of the Norfolk & Suffolk Foundation Trust for mental health last week.  Many long-term mental health problems start at an early age. The right help at the right time can prevent some people’s entire lives from being undermined.  And the level of suicide amongst young people is also a terrible tragedy which we must do more to prevent.

This week, Parliament has been debating the misuse of social media.  Again, education is the key to helping young people recognise the difference between having a friendly chat with others, or getting involved in inappropriate sexual images and vicious bullying.

This week I have also discussed how to encourage more young people to go into nursing – we are desperately short of nurses of all sorts. The moral rewards are wonderful even if the financial rewards are not as great as they should be.  Choosing the right career is one of the most important decisions any person ever makes, and I am not convinced that all our schools have enough time or expertise to give children the best possible help to make those choices.

Young people’s time at school is precious.  At their age they are able and, for the most part, willing to learn.  They are in a place where society can provide information and support to them.  Every issue we want citizens to understand, to equip them for a better life, is most effectively taught in school.  Of course the most important role of school is to enable young people to learn, but we must also enable them to live.

None of this is possible if schools do not have the resources they need. Investment in education is key to overcoming our problems and building a better Britain.  Which is why the current real terms per-pupil cut is not just unfair, it is a waste.  It is a waste of the efforts of our hard-pressed heads and teachers trying to improve education in Suffolk.  It is a waste of the goodwill and enthusiasm of the young people in our schools.  And it is a waste of all our country’s potential achievements.

It is no surprise that this government is making the biggest cuts at schools where the children have the greatest need of help.  The worst affected, Chantry Academy and Ipswich Academy, with 40% and 46% of free school meals respectively, face cuts of over £300,000 per year each. Third highest is Ormiston Denes in Lowestoft.  Eight out of the top ten affected primary schools are also in Ipswich, from Piper’s Vale, losing over £146,000, to Ravenswood, losing almost £169,000.

There is no plan to ensure all children get the education they need. Last week, the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star reported the chronic lack of places in Pupil Referral Units, with children as young as four on the waiting list.  There is an argument for educating more children with special needs in mainstream schools, but to do that we need specially trained staff and appropriate units within the schools. The County Council is not doing that, and the government has not given them the powers or the finances to enable them to do it.  And those children who really cannot attend a mainstream school need more specialist provision in Suffolk to avoid sending any of them away to other counties.

Along with all of Suffolk’s MPs, I have received a letter from Suffolk Labour County Councillors urging me to write to the Secretary of State about our schools’ funding cuts.  I will certainly do so. It would be wonderful if Mr Hinds replied that he will revise the funding formula, so that no schools in Ipswich or the rest of Suffolk get a real-terms per-pupil funding cut. I will let readers know what response I actually get.

 

Sandy demands a fair deal for young people

Last week, at my regular meeting with Ipswich’s Police Superintendent, we discussed knife crime, writes Sandy Martin MP. Knife crime in Ipswich is still far higher than any of us...

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