We hear often about how we’re living through a “housing crisis”. It has become harder and harder for young people to secure a foothold on the property ladder and in certain areas there often hasn’t been enough affordable housing to go around. The Government have taken some positive actions to address this over recent years but it’s clear to me that a lot more needs to be done.
We know in Ipswich the Borough Council owns a significant amount of council housing. This council housing stock plays a crucial role in providing homes for local people across the Town, many of whom are on low incomes or may be unemployed. It’s vital that there is enough housing of this tenure type to house some of the most vulnerable people in our community. I am fully supportive of the need for there to be more affordable housing for this reason.
However, when it comes to the allocation of council homes in Ipswich, my strong belief is that it should only be local people with a strong connection with the Borough who should be eligible for council housing. In other words, “local homes for local people”. [MG1] A recent Freedom of Information request has shown that this is not currently the case. Ipswich Borough Council do not operate a local residency requirement to join their housing register. Meaning that people with no connection to Ipswich are able to join the Ipswich Borough Council Housing Register to secure council housing. I can’t support this. I’m very glad that Ipswich Conservatives have made clear in their local election manifesto that they would introduce a local residency requirement for council housing and housing association homes.
There are examples across the country of councils that have local residency requirements and it works very well. For example, the London Borough of Havering has a requirement that you have to live in the Borough for over six years before you’re able to qualify to join the local housing register. To me this sounds like a very sensible policy and it’s one that enjoys a significant amount of support locally. Why doesn’t Ipswich Borough Council adopt such a policy? It’s Ipswich council tax payers who pay for the council housing so surely this should be a service which puts them first.
As it stands, if the housing needs of someone with no connection to Ipswich are the same as someone with a local connection, then the person with the local connection will be given priority. This is absolutely right. However, if the housing needs of the person from outside the area and with no connection to Ipswich are higher than someone with a strong local connection, then the person with no local connection will be given priority. In other words, someone without a connection to Ipswich will have higher priority than Ipswich residents if their housing needs are deemed to be greater.
A question has been asked about the proportion of council homes that have been awarded to people with no connection to Ipswich but the Borough Council have not been able to provide this information. The Borough Council state that this information is not collected. I wish it was. It would be very interested to see what percentage of council housing is awarded to people with no connection to Ipswich every year.
So yes, Council housing plays an extremely important role and we clearly need more affordable housing both to rent and to buy. However, when it comes to Ipswich Borough Council-owned housing, let’s make sure it’s “local homes for local people.” The Ipswich Conservatives local election manifesto makes precisely this commitment.
As published in the Ipswich Flyer May Addition.
I was glad to be able to get the responses to my transport survey in front of the Secretary of State for Transport yesterday. In total 83% of Ipswich residents who responded to my survey back a northern bypass. I was keen to make the arguments to the Transport Secretary yesterday.
I was also keen to stress the importance of there being a solution in the short term to prevent frequent closures of the Orwell Bridge. The Secretary of State said he’s instructed Highways England to carry out a study to look at what can be done and he said this should be completed over the next couple of months. I also called for a number of significant key investments to upgrade rail infrastructure across East Anglia. It will only be with these interventions that we can ensure that the new Ipswich in 60 service can become far more frequent and can operate at peak times. The cost of rail fares was also raised.
On Monday the Rail Minister visited Ipswich station and now I’ve been able to get the transport survey returns in front of the Secretary of State for Transport. I’m very glad the Government’s door is so open. I will keep on pushing to ensure that the views of Ipswich residents are heard loud and clear by Government.
Good to meet with the Rail Minister this morning at Ipswich station. There has been some good news over the past year, new trains will soon be introduced and there will be a limited introduction of an Ipswich in 60 service to London (the sooner this is made more frequent and runs at peak times the better but at least its a start). However I did raise concerns with the Minister about the continued disruption to train services at the weekends and the inconvenience this is causing for Ipswich residents (this is something I’ve experienced first hand on a number of occasions this year).
I also raised concerns about the cost of train travel (the vast majority of people who’ve filled out my transport survey have said it costs too much and I agree). In addition to this I requested that the Government consider extending the planned East West rail to Ipswich and an hourly service between Ipswich and Peterborough. Overall I think it was a positive meeting and that the Rail Minister left with a greater understanding of rail issues in Ipswich. I appreciate that I won’t have covered everything in what was a brief meeting.
This Wednesday evening Ipswich Labour MP, Sandy Martin, didn’t just vote for a second referendum on Brexit, he was also one of only a few MPs who voted to revoke article 50. Not even figures such as Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, Dianne Abbot or Keir Starmer went as far as voting to revoke article 50 and block Brexit without even holding a second referendum.
Ipswich voted to leave the EU. Overall 58% of people in the Town voted out. However it currently has a Labour MP who is doing everything he can to block the Brexit vote.
When asked about the issue on BBC Radio Suffolk this January Sandy Martin MP was reported as having said he knows better than his constituents.
Last December Ipswich Labour MP Sandy Martin said, “In any case, given the referendum result in 2016 it would be undemocratic to cancel Brexit without another referendum”. However this Wednesday he voted to revoke article 50 and block Brexit without there needing to be a second referendum.
It’s time Ipswich had an MP who would fight to ensure that the local Brexit vote is respected and the referendum result honored.
Clearly the situation in Parliament at the moment is incredibly frustrating. There was a clear vote to leave the EU in the referendum and a clear deadline to leave the EU by the end of this month. The prospect of the Brexit deadline being extended fills me with dread.
Like 58% of people in Ipswich who voted in the referendum I voted to leave the EU. However, for me this is about our democracy. It concerns me greatly that so many MPs seem prepared to turn their backs on the referendum result. It also concerns me that there are so many examples of MPs who are meant to be in Parliament to represent the views of their constituents not representing their views when it comes to Brexit.
I absolutely would have voted to keep no deal on the table. Both because I think its important to have it on the table from a negotiating point of view but also because I think that despite some disruption in the short term, our country would make a success of no deal Brexit. We’re a great country and I believe that we’d rise to the challenge.
Yesterday the Labour MP for Ipswich made clear his view on the issue. He said that there should be a second referendum where there should be two options: 1. Remain 2. Brexit which includes full membership of the Single Market and Customs Union. So the choice would be between Remain and a form of Brexit that is so soft its effectively Remain. Being a full member of both the Single Market and Customs Union would mean that we would be unable to control immigration from EU countries and that we would be unable to have our own trade policy and strike free trade agreements with some of the fastest growing countries in the world.
Essentially the Labour MP for Ipswich doesn’t even think the people of Ipswich should get the opportunity to vote for Brexit again in a meaningful sense.
My strong view is that Ipswich needs an MP who will respect the democratic vote that took place to leave the EU both in Ipswich and nationally. This is not currently the case.
By backing a second referendum on our membership of the EU, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has made it crystal clear that the Labour Party do not respect the vote that has already taken place. Today, Jeremy Corbyn has turned his back on Labour voters who voted leave!
Last week I visited several areas of Ipswich that have witnessed significant levels of crime related activity over the past few years. I wanted to learn more, talk to residents and gain a greater understanding as to what needs to be done to turn the situation around and ensure that crime rates are falling, not increasing.
Fascinating tour of ABP Port of Ipswich this afternoon with Paul Ager and Andy Constable. Easy to forget its huge importance with the Port of Felixstowe on its door step but it employs over 1,000 people and is the number one grain exporter in the country. Long discussion about the future of the island site and the huge potential it holds for Ipswich.
I visited Suffolk New College this morning to meet the leadership team. Couldn’t be more supportive of what they’re doing. Got a very ambitious agenda to expand the number of apprentices and are there is also a clear focus on the skills needs of the Greater Ipswich area.