Letter to Suffolk Chief Constable Rachel Kearton about concerning scooters and bikes on the Waterfront
I know this has become a real source of frustration and concern for many of my constituents. I’ve seen it myself time and time again. I’m surprised there hasn’t been more serious accidents. People whizzing up and down the waterfront at high speeds on bikes and scooters (often electric).
The waterfront is somewhere we often go to relax and unwind. Don’t expect to have to deal with this issue. Put a lot of people on edge. The police need to take it seriously and crack down on it.
Went to Number 10 to talk to the Prime Minister’s officials about Ipswich Town centre.
There is so much I can say but these are some of the points I made.
The police need to be given a clear steer that they should adopt a zero tolerance approach to anti social behaviour in the Town. Men hanging around in large groups and behaving in an anti social way should be engaged with and moved on. This hasn’t been happening enough.
Other local authorities in the eastern region should be blocked from sending their homeless people to Ipswich Town centre. They have an obligation to tackle their own homelessness issues, not send people to us. This is placing an additional burden on our Town centre.
The Government plan to introduce new laws to increase the punishment for shop lifting.
These need to be accelerated. Shop lifted has become debilitating for many Town centre businesses. There needs to be far more of a deterrent.
Meaningful business rate reform.
With regard to Ipswich Town Deal. Labour led Ipswich Borough Council have been one of the worst performing councils in the region. Government needs to keep pressure on them along with myself to ensure timescales are more ambitious for delivering each of the 11 projects.
I welcome the Government money from the shared prosperity fund and safer streets fund which is increasing the number of police officers in the Town centre. We need further support though. The central policing grants needs to be changed to ensure Suffolk police get fair funding. This would see an even greater police presence in the Town centre.
Raised the promotion of Ipswich Town and Ipswich Wanderers today at Prime Ministers Questions. Also raised the need for the Metropolitan Police to move on immediately the eco protesters who block our key roads and cause huge disruption to the law abiding majority going about their business. We’ve passed the laws to give the Police the powers, they now need to use them!
I’ll take that as a yes re the PM coming to Portman Road for the Ipswich vs Southampton game.
Yesterday Parliament came back from recess. I was pleased to get straight off the blocks, posing a question to the Home Office at the very first opportunity. It was great to be called as the 2nd question of this new Parliamentary term.
As many of you will know, over the summer there have been a number of knife attacks in Ipswich. Inter-gang violence, targeting rival members, often erupts in a public space and can have a chilling effect on the wider community. Tackling knife crime, keeping Ipswich safe, and making sure we all feel secure walking about our Town is one of my priorities.
I am pleased that we secured the Safer Streets Fund, which is funding night-time police presence in the Town. However, I think we can do more. Yesterday, I asked the Minister to look favourably on our UK shared prosperity bid, which would help tackle knife crime by increasing day-time police presence in the Town.
In addition to this, I asked the Minister to look at reviewing the National Funding Formula, to make sure Ipswich and Suffolk policing get a fairer deal.
The in-tray for the new Prime Minister when they enter Downing Street next week is incredibly daunting – with the cost of living, the war in Ukraine, and supporting the NHS, the list goes on and on.
One issue that is definitely right up there in terms of importance, and one I continue to hear from constituents about, is the small boat crossings. The status quo – where we continue to see thousands upon thousands turning up illegally on our shores – is rightly something the majority of people across the country find intolerable and even infuriating. I know I definitely do.
My record on this issue is what it is. Formally, when you look at the Parliamentary records you’ll have a job finding an MP who has raised the issue as many times as I’ve done. Informally, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve impressed upon the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and whoever else will listen in Government how urgent the need is to get a firm grip on this issue.
However despite the introduction of the Nationality and Borders Bill and the Rwanda scheme we’re still seeing the problem go from bad to worse.
When weighing up who to back as the new leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister of this country, this is an issue I put to all of them. It’s one of the reasons why I backed Liz Truss over Rishi Sunak in the final two. Ultimately, bearing in mind the conversations I had with her, I felt she was more likely to grip the issue and do what was necessary.
She was absolutely clear when I spoke to her that leaving the European Convention of Human Rights should be on the table if it’s the only way of solving the issue. I agree with her that this will, more than likely not, be necessary – and it certainly shouldn’t be something we reach for immediately, but it really does need to be an option if we can’t resolve the issue imminently through introducing a new British Bill of Rights. And I mean imminently.
I also agree with her stance that the Rwanda scheme should be extended and deals should be struck with other countries on a similar basis.
I do however agree with Rishi Sunak that there is a case for a narrower definition of who qualifies for asylum in this country than the one offered by the European Convention of Human Rights. I imagine that this is something being seriously considered by Liz Truss also.
Ultimately though, a comprehensive solution can’t wait and time is of the essence.
I continue to be of the view that the majority of those who illegally enter our country via the channel crossing route are economic migrants, not refugees. This was given further credence only weeks ago, with the revelation that almost half of all those arriving on our shores by this route actually come from a single country: Albania.
Now, Albania clearly isn’t as economically advanced as the UK, but fundamentally present-day Albania is a safe European country. It’s even in line for EU membership. And how many other safe European countries have these overwhelmingly young, male migrants journeyed through before they get to our shores?
I completely understand why these individuals may want to move to the UK but ultimately if they wish to come here they should look to do so legally through our visas and immigration system – not arriving here illegally and launching bogus asylum claims.
That we have thus far been unable to decisively bring an end to this farce is incredibly dispiriting and depressing, and I fully share the anger felt by a great many of my constituents.
The cost of accommodation alone, for the thousands of people who are arriving here illegally, is now in the billions. Unless we nip it in the bud now, it will increasingly place pressure on our public services and undermine our ability to accommodate genuine refugees. Enough is enough. The next Prime Minister and Government must put tackling this issue urgently on their priority list.
It goes without saying that unless the Conservative Government makes significant progress on this issue before the next General Election, it will pay a significant price.
It simply isn’t enough for us to go into an election saying it would be even worse with Labour and their likely left-wing coalition partners who tend to be sympathetic to an open borders attitude.
I do note however that my Labour Party opponent at the next General Election seems to take a very different view on this issue than myself. In fact, it appears that in the past he’s made visits to the camps in France where many of the individuals in question are based before seeking illegal entry into our country. Who knows what he was looking to achieve through such a visit.