Yesterday I teamed up with Jonathan Gullis, the MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, to press the Government for more funding for potholes. Ipswich and Stoke-on-Trent are similar in that they’re both urban areas but we don’t get the proportionate levels of funding for road repairs compared to larger metropolitan centres. We also lose out compared to rural areas where the current funding formula puts more emphasis on road length than it does on things like heavy traffic wearing away at our roads in urban areas.
In the debate I specifically mentioned the need for more funding to fix up our roads in parts of town like Chantry, Gainsborough and Rushmere (but I appreciate there are big issues with pavement and road quality across town). And how this isn’t just an important issue for road safety but it’s also about how we should have roads which reflect the pride people have in their local communities and our commitment as elected representatives to leave no street or neighbourhood feeling left behind.
Since I was elected I’ve been out and about across the town flagging potholes and road and pavement surfaces in need of repair with Suffolk County Council. And I’ve also been able to identify a number of road surfaces simply not up to standard through my surveys in Chantry and Ravenswood. Since the summer I’ve been meeting on a monthly basis with the County Council to get detailed updates on road repair schemes in Ipswich and lobby for further ones too. This intensified focus on road repairs in Ipswich is starting to produce results, particularly with the resurfacing of Sheldrake Drive in September. It’s also good to see resurfacing work completed on Avondale Road and Neath Drive and that resurfacing of Stone Lodge Lane West has been locked in for next year.
Clearly there is much more to do across town and that’s why my monthly meetings with the County Council’s Highways Department are crucial. And if there are any road or pavement issues in town you think need raising please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll flag them in my next meeting.
I’ll keep fighting both locally and nationally for better roads and pavements for Ipswich which improve pedestrians and road users’ experience and also give local people confidence that their elected officials care as much about their areas as they do.
Used Justice Questions today to again raise my campaign to end social media use in prison and call on the Justice Secretary to ensure prisoners found to have used social media in prison are punished robustly. As I’ve made clear at length in the House of Commons before on multiple occasions, the punishments available for this serious crime must include reviewing the sentences of those found guilty and adding years to their sentence for their harmful actions.
These posts are immensely distressing for victims and each time they appear they send out a poor message about our criminal justice system to prisoners and those who may be thinking about committing a crime. It’s clear that not enough of the prisoners responsible are brought to book, and when they are, the slap-on-the-wrist punishments handed out through prisons’ internal discipline processes aren’t a sufficient deterrent to stop it happening again. I understand that all those convicted for killing Tavis Spencer-Aitkens in Ipswich have now posted on social media. Clearly there is a sense this is something prisoners can get away with.
I remain in close contact with Tavis’s family to ensure this is put to an end in their case in particular. And I’ll keep raising this issue until victims don’t have to be anxious every time they check their phone and there are punishments with teeth in place including extended sentences. We must be unapologetic about putting our justice system on the side of victims and in saying that our prison system exists first and foremost to punish criminals.
Yesterday I spoke in a debate before Wednesday’s vote on the second national lockdown. I’m spending a lot of time studying all the data and reading the emails sent in by constituents before deciding how to vote. I want to hear your views as well so please let me know on email@example.com and later today I’ll be sharing a poll on Facebook where your can tell me what your views are.
In my speech yesterday, I mentioned some of the issues which are very much on my mind with this national lockdown. Clearly this is a difficult national decision which the Prime Minister has agonised over, and agree or disagree, I believe it’s a decision he’s taken with the need to protect lives, livelihoods and liberties in mind. I know this will be a difficult decision for some in Ipswich to understand while we still have relatively low rates of Covid-19 despite recent rises. And while I understand there are no patients with Covid in our local hospital’s ICU, being mindful all the time that this is likely to change. I also raised the 18-year-old I met in Chantry a few months back who was working every hour God sends in a bar to provide for his three-month-old daughter and was terrified what a second lockdown would mean for his livelihood. I’m reflecting on all of this before making my decision but one thing we must be clear about now is that this national lockdown must be the last and it must end on 2 December. I’m glad the PM has made this promise.
I hope the Government will also look closely at issues like communal religious services which currently won’t be able to go ahead from 5 November. A large number of constituents have contacted me about this and I know how significant they are to many people of faith in Ipswich. This should be an area where we look at what can be done in the guidance going forwards.
I also mentioned Ipswich Town FC and the meetings I’ve had with the club and the EFL about getting a support package in place to protect our clubs future. The club is woven into the DNA of our town, it’s at the heart of our economy, culture and community and we must support it while fans can’t return.
I’ll be weighing up all the factors before the vote tomorrow and once again please do get in touch with your views at firstname.lastname@example.org I’ll be making this decision based on what I think is right for Ipswich.
This morning I met with Rick Parry, the Chairman of the EFL, alongside other MPs to discuss the challenges EFL clubs are facing. In particular I raised Ipswich Town struggles through the pandemic after I met with the club’s Managing Director earlier this month to discuss them in detail.
Ultimately, getting fans safely back in stadiums and buying tickets has to be the priority for tackling the financial pressures clubs are under. Germany had allowed some fans to return and this seem to work quite well until new national Covid-19 restrictions meant attendance had to be put on hold again. And I’ve also made it clear before in the House of Commons that it was disappointing the Government postponed test case matches at the last minute when Ipswich Town had been ready to welcome back 1,000 fans safely to Portman Road. I appreciate that since then Covid-19 cases have risen in Ipswich and we need to be mindful of this as well.
But as long as fans are absent, there must be a comprehensive support package in place to support EFL clubs, and in the meeting I stressed how we should be looking at things like a PAYE holiday for football league clubs and whether solidarity payments from the Premier League can be increased. I appreciate this isn’t an easy time for many Premier League clubs either but Football League clubs are much more reliant on ticket sales than their Premier League counterparts who receive much more revenue from TV rights. And if EFL teams suffer the whole of English football will lose out.
When it comes to securing the future of Ipswich Town and other EFL clubs we mustn’t get complacent and take our clubs for granted. The idea that Ipswich Town’s future might be called into question if things get worse doesn’t bear thinking about. In the meeting with Rick Parry I mentioned the work the role the club plays in our town’s economy, supporting jobs, and the work it does in the community supporting grassroots football and projects like the new Sir Bobby Robson School. These can easily be lost but take a long time to build back up and it’s vital we put the investment in now to ensure we’re not facing much greater losses further down the line. I’ll remain in close contact with Ipswich Town and I’ll keep looking to raise this issue in the House of Commons wherever possible to fight for our local club.
The club have also told me how they’re ready to be one of the first clubs to take part in test case games where some fans eventually return.. And I’ll use my dialogue with the EFL to support this if it’s safe to do so when the time comes.
Over the past few days I have been in close discussions with the leader of Suffolk County Council about how we can best support those who need it most in Ipswich, especially over the half term break.
The Suffolk Hardship Fund of over £1.5 million has been made possible from additional funds that have been provided by the Government to support the most vulnerable families during the Covid pandemic. This flexible, localised approach means that local councils can decide how funding is best utilised for each area.
During my discussions it was made clear that those who are eligible for free school meals who are concerned about this half term can claim support. Not just for food but other targeted support as well.
The Suffolk Hardship Fund means that the most vulnerable can access financial help with anything from food and fuel vouchers to school uniform and essential furniture. There is also now a phone line which can help with debt advice, rent, mortgage and credit card advice.
If anybody has any questions or needs further support on this please do not hesitate to email me on email@example.com or call my office on 0207 219 3000.
This localised approach is an effective way of providing support for vulnerable people in Ipswich and isn’t confined to just food vouchers. This allows Suffolk County Council to provide a much wider blanket of support for those in need.
And following the Prime Minister’s comments yesterday, where he outlined the Government’s commitment to ensuring that no child goes hungry, I am confident that further support for vulnerable children will be forthcoming.