I was very disturbed by what I witnessed during my visit to St Francis Tower yesterday to meet residents. A massive shrink wrap now covers the Tower. My constituents are literally living in the dark, virtually no natural sun light. No consultation and they’ve been told it could all last 18 months.
Bizarrely construction work on the building hasn’t even started. I fear that this will be debilitating to the mental health of my constituents.
The building manager has shown a total lack of respect and regard to St Francis Road residents and it cannot continue.
I have already written one letter to the building manager but will be sending a second very strongly worded letter following my visit. I will also be alerting the Housing Minister and raising in Parliament as many times as I need to until this is sorted.
As a word “angry” doesn’t do justice to the emotions I felt when I left the Tower.
From talking to my constituents, I have been made aware of a number of flooding issues on roads across our town, including on Clapgate Lane.
As many of you will know, I had previously been pushing to get the Maryon Road flooding issue solved and have was given a timeline some time ago for when this work will be sorted.
After also pushing for the flooding issues on Clapgate Lane to be sorted, I have just received assurances from the County Council that there is now a plan to address the problem there as well.
After hearing the concerns of my constituents, I wrote to the Council explaining the serious concerns many had over the flooding on Clapgate Lane just opposite Landseer Park which is affecting traffic.
Paul West, the Suffolk County Council Cabinet Member for Ipswich, Highways Operations and Flooding, has told me that they are now making available an additional £10m over the next four years to tackle drainage and flooding issues on the Highway.
Suffolk Highways have also procured a new specialist tanker vehicle that can be deployed to locations across town such as Clapgate Lane where there may be root ingress, blocked pipes and other minor works. Clapgate Lane and has already been put forward to be visited by the vehicle. I am very glad to hear it, as this has been a persistent issue affecting my constituents.
Unfortunately, Suffolk Highways don’t yet have confirmed dates for the drain cleaning and jetting work. Given the nature of the road and the size of the tanker and equipment they will have to close the road. They have applied for a temporary road closure and are just waiting for it to get approved.
Hopefully this will be done sooner rather than later, and I will be monitoring the situation to make sure that progress is made. I’m glad that this issue should be finally sorted out.
I have written to Matthew Hicks, the head of the County Council, about getting some action on removing the chicane on Maryon Road.
As you may know Cllr Harsant and I have been consulting the community around Maryon Rd about the chicane after it was raised with me on the doorstep a number of times while out talking to local residents.
We are now in a position where we can say with confidence that the overwhelming majority of residents want to see it removed because it has such a negative impact on traffic levels and because there are other traffic calming measures in place which work much better.
I have asked Matthew Hicks if he could provide the funds from the council to sort this issue out. In hindsight, the introduction of the chicane was a mistake which we now need to rectify. It will be quite expensive to remove (more than a single councillor’s locality budget for the year) so we will need the County Council to step up and explore other avenues of funding.
I was interested to see that the Borough Council are intending to launch a bid to gain City status for Ipswich.
This will be a highly competitive national process with only one place being granted new City status to coincide with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year.
I can definitely see that there could be some practical benefits associated with Ipswich becoming a City. However, I do also believe that bound up within this matter are complicated issues to do with local identity that many of my constituents feel differently about.
Ultimately for the bid to be successful I think it’s an absolute must that there is clear public support from the people of Ipswich for the bid. The reality is that we’re going to be up against many different areas where there is clear and enthusiastic public support.
Last week I carried out my own poll which I promoted on social media and which 1000s took part in. I note also that the Ipswich Star carried out its own poll which likely had a higher participation rate that my own one. In my poll 66% rejected the City status bid and 70% rejected it in the Ipswich Star poll.
I take the point that these are hardly scientific polls but ultimately, they’re all we’ve got to go on as it stands. And when I add to it the fact that it’s rarely ever been brought up on the doorstep with me nor in correspondence, I simply don’t think that I’m in a position to say with any degree of confidence that City status is what my constituents want.
I say all this knowing that Ipswich Central strongly back City status. I do sympathise with many of the reasons why local businesses see City status and bringing economic benefits to the Town.
However, bearing in mind this is a significant change from the status quo I think the burden is on those who want to change the status quo to provide evidence of significant support from across the community at every level.
I appreciate that the Borough council have said the bid wouldn’t cost much money or be a distraction from key priorities, but if it were to be done properly it almost certainly would be. And if we weren’t to do it properly what would be the point of doing it?
I don’t think it’s fair to brand those people who are happy for Ipswich to remain a Town as not being ambitious for the place where they live. I can see both sides of the argument and could well see a time in the future where we could really unite together as a community to push for City status. I just don’t see now as being that time.
Ipswich is a great place to live and I’m incredibly proud to represent one of this country’s oldest Towns in Parliament. We don’t need to be a City to achieve what we want to achieve and just because we’re not a City it doesn’t mean we’re a lesser place to, say, Norwich or Chelmsford. Of course, I’d argue we’re a far better place.
My number one focus is and will continue to be addressing all the major issues there are across Town and working with the Borough Council, Ipswich Central and other key partners to deliver the £25 million Town Deal projects whilst keeping an eye open for new opportunities for investment.” — Tom Hunt MP
What next? 150 Oxford academics refusing to teach because the Rhodes statue wasn’t taken down, Churchill College, Cambridge is considering changing the name of the College to make it more “inclusive”, and students at Magdalen College Oxford have taken down a portrait of the Queen due to her links with colonialism.
Brilliant response from the Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg. Very reassuring. This sort of nonsense needs to be nipped in the bud.