PUBLIC ORDER BILL
It’s right that we distinguish between peaceful protesters and individuals such as Roger Hallam (founder of Extinction Rebellion) who openly admits he would be prepared block ambulances and allow people to die to make a political point. The Bill I spoke in favour of and voted for last night just does that.
We cannot allow any repeat of the chaos ensued as a consequence of the Just Stop Oil protests the other month and the Insulate Britain protests that blocked off key strategic roads. All of this caused major disruption to the lives of the law-abiding majority, economic damage and also diverted police resources.
The reality is that many of the individuals carrying out criminal damage, risking peoples lives and causing huge disruption for the law abiding majority are not “protestors”, they’re “criminals” and we shouldn’t be afraid to say so.
Sadly but perhaps unsurprisingly the Labour Party voted against the Bill.
Opportunities in Further Education for students with SEND
Today in the Chamber I asked the Minister for Skills about what the Department for Education is doing to improve opportunities in Further Education for students with SEND.
Thank you to Minister Burghart, Minister for Skills, for visiting Suffolk New College with me. When I revisited on Friday, I spoke to Trudi the inclusive learning lead about the importance of support for SEND students in post-16 education.
Our Further Education colleges prepare students for the work-place and for life.
At Suffolk New College on Friday I also met Sam, who initially struggled with self-confidence but is now leading a whole team at the college’s Chef’s White’s restaurant. This is a tribute to the fantastic work Suffolk New College is doing in their inclusion team, building confidence, independence, and practical skills in their students.
Supporting SEND students at Further Education level has a huge knock-on impact on confidence, life-skills and employability. That’s why I called the Minister to look at funding, Ofsted inspections, and the requirement for an inclusion team at every Further Education college.
TOWN CENTRE ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR
Written about the Town centre this week. Some good recent developments and inspiring business owners but many challenges.
More action does need to be taken to address the concerns many residents have about crime and anti social behaviour. At the end of the day it’s our shared public space. If anyone is behaving in a way that isn’t respectful to the majority of residents and is making a significant number feel uncomfortable then there should be interventions by the police in my view. It seems the threshold for them getting involved seems too high at the moment. We also need more of a police presence across the Town centre throughout the day.
Groups of young men drinking alcohol, littering, often making inappropriate comments towards women and making them feel uncomfortable should not be tolerated. We shouldn’t stand by and allow a small group of individuals blight the experience of others.
I make these comments because they’ve been communicated to me time and time again by constituents.
We need to talk up the Town whenever we can but also be clear eyed about the challenges and the things we’re not getting right. Doesn’t help anyone to skirt around the issues.
I’ve got a number of meetings lined up over the next few weeks to try and make some progress
Meeting with Suffolk Chamber of Commerce
This morning I met the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce to discuss my priorities for Ipswich.
This includes supporting businesses and tackling crime, building a thriving and safer Town centre.
In our meeting I mentioned the work I have been doing on the Education Select Committee with prison education, and how to get disadvantaged young people as well as ex-offenders into work.
We also discussed inflation, and the need to support businesses in Ipswich through challenging economic times. With the cost of living rising, households are struggling to make ends meet as bills creep up. This is a serious concern for many constituents and a big priority for me as the MP, and for the Government.
Devolution was a topic of conversation today too. Devolution can bring benefits like greater control on spending, and usually comes with a greater slice of funding too. This is something we are continuing to consider alongside Suffolk County Council in terms of how to get the best deal for Ipswich.
Apprenticeships were also raised. I am personally very supportive of the hands-on skills that apprenticeships offer. Getting experience in the work-place is valuable and we should be encouraging students to follow the best route for them. Something I would like to see improve is the link between schools and post-16 skills opportunities, giving pupils an introduction to the opportunities available at a younger age.
Working closely with the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce is an important component of being an MP, so debriefs like this are very valuable to make sure we are keeping Ipswich moving in the right direction.
Meeting Regional Schools Commissioner for the East of England
A meeting today with Johnathan Duff, the Regional Schools Commissioner for the East of England.
Johnathan has been newly appointed as part of the Government’s regional approach to education. He will be focusing on raising expectations, putting the best school leaders where they are most needed, and building schools into multi-academy trust frameworks.
Ipswich has been designated as a priority education investment area, and Johnathan anticipates Ipswich will benefit from targeted support where required. The teacher premium, to pay teachers more in the priority areas, is also something Ipswich will benefit from.
Since the pandemic disrupted Ofsted inspections, a huge programme of school inspections is underway to catch up on lost time. Hopefully we will see the new Ofsted framework making the much-needed move from focus on outcomes to an emphasis on positive difference made.
I was also pleased to hear that Johnathan will be getting an advisor on the board with special education experience. We share a vision of an education system which means no child is left behind. Johnathan and I will be working together to make sure Ipswich education keeps moving in the right direction.