Northgate Sports Centre
Great meeting today with members of Ipswich Jaffa, Orwell Panthers, Ipswich Harriers, and Ipswich athletics club at Northgate Sports Centre, following the news that Suffolk County Council has secured an operator to keep it open for at least the next few years. The next step is to make sure its future is secured long-term, and I’ll be working hard to help make sure that happens.
I wrote to the County Council last week urging them to find a way to keep it open after many of my constituents contacted me worried about the uncertainty around its future. Northgate is used massive numbers of people, including local sports clubs like the Ipswich Harriers, Orwell Panthers, and Ipswich Jaffa running club, as well as judo, bowls clubs, and many others.
It’s owned by the County Council, but Ipswich Borough Council has run the centre for the last 25 years. They decided not to renew their agreement this year, and poor communication from the Council created a lot of uncertainty about its future. Fortunately, I was pleased to see the County Council step in alongside Vivify, which has extensive experience operating over 500 sports facilities across the country, to operate the centre from April for at least the next two years.
There’s still uncertainty about what comes after that, though, and I’ll be working closely with the Council and local clubs to try to find a more long-term solution and to find funding for necessary upgrades, especially for the running track. I’m really keen to make sure Northgate remains open for my constituents for many years to come.
Cladding Interview on BBC Radio Suffolk
Further to my previous post on cladding, I was on BBC Radio Suffolk to discuss the cladding issues we have in Ipswich. Give it a listen.
St Francis Tower
Have had to bring this issue directly to the attention of the relevant Minister.
Not only do many of the residents of St Francis Tower find it very difficult to communicate with Block Management, but now they’ve stopped responding to my emails.
It’s hard to believe that the shrink wrap is still on St Francis Tower. I’ve said time and time again that I frankly find it astonishing that the current situation is even legal. We need new regulations urgently to stipulate more explicitly what’s acceptable and what’s not when it comes to remediation works.
Many of these companies think they can act with impunity. In many senses, they’re right to think so. This needs to change urgently.
Meeting with Social Mobility Minister
Great meeting today with the Social Mobility Minister, Mims Davies, to discuss supporting veterans transition into employment after leaving service.
There’s great work being done in Ipswich by Nigel Seaman and his charity Combat2Coffee, who help veterans who are struggling to transition to civilian life get the skills and opportunities they need. This meeting followed me raising his work in Parliament. He’s been a real champion on this issue, and has been crucial in identifying some of the issues facing veterans transitioning to employment. I’m excited that the Minister said she wants to visit Ipswich and see the amazing work they’re doing.
There are job transition services available to veterans, but uptake of these services is lower than ideal. Many veterans don’t know what support is available, and there can also be some amount of stigma attached. Overall, the transition process isn’t explained well and isn’t properly advertised.
We should be making sure that veteran work coaches are more closely involved in the resettlement process. Their services should be advertised more widely to veterans, and they should be made more accessible with walk-in in-office surgeries for veterans and their families. This could help reduce some of the stigma and anxiety around seeking help, as currently, they can only be seen by appointment. Many veterans also need more time to figure out what job they want to do in civilian life. The Career Transition Partnership for veterans should give them more time.
Food Boxes for FIND
Very pleased to have witnessed the delivery of 500 food boxes at FIND this morning. This represents a £15,000 donation from the charity Rapid Relief Team. It’s an international charity but has many Ipswich based volunteers. I’m pleased that my letter to the charity HQ seems to have made a different in securing this local donation.
Maureen at FIND. What a hero she is. Worked with her closely at numerous points over the past few years. She works tirelessly to support many of the most vulnerable in our community.
Cost of living is such a huge challenge. Even with the support announced by the Government this week such as increasing Universal Credit in line with inflation it will still be difficult for thousands of my constituents and I’m conscious of this. With energy bills soaring and inflation over 10% and the global headwinds showing little sign of abating the challenges will remain.
Huge credit to FIND and the Rapid Relief Team.
St Elizabeth Hospice
New Surgical Hub in Ipswich
Pleased to hear this announcement following a letter I sent lobbying Ministers in the Treasury, calling for a new surgical hub in Ipswich hospital.
During a visit to the Emergency Department which is expected to open in 2023, I spoke to Nick Hulme – Chief Executive of East Suffolk and North Essex Hospitals Trust – about the possibility of additional funding for a new surgical hub. I am pleased to hear that our lobbying and insistence has paid off, and the Government are investing in a new surgical hub here in Ipswich hospital.
The new surgical hub will be in the Emergency Department, increasing capacity and therefore making it easier for Ipswich Hospital to cut waiting lists. Progress is being made on cutting waiting lists, and I hope this new surgical hub will help further this too.
Very pleased with this announcement, thank you to Nick Hulme and the team at Ipswich hospital, and the Department for Health and Social Care for pushing this forward.
Healthcare in Ipswich
Getting Ipswich Active
Queens Speech Reaction
A few thoughts on the Queen’s speech. Will be making a speech about it on Thursday. It was an amazing experience being in the Royal gallery but sorry not to see the Queen who I know we’re all thinking about at the moment.