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.
Written a letter today to the Transport Secretary about Highways England and their performance over the past 2 years or so regarding the Orwell Bridge. In October 2018 they launched a report into what do about bridge closures that was delayed by 6 months and now the timeline for implementing the recommendations of that report has also been significantly delayed. I was promised that a new 40mph speed limit would be introduced ahead of the 2020/2021 winter season but now they are suggesting a completion date of end of March 2021.
I have previously raised before in the House of Commons and am currently applying to hold a special debate in Parliament on the matter. As I mention in the letter I also plan to meet the Transport Secretary.
Ultimately its all of us who have to pay the price for the price for all these broken promises. Not Highways England.
Spoke today in support of the Animal Welfare Bill which will increase the maximum prison sentences for animal cruelty from just 6 months to a far more appropriate 5 years. This is a private members Bill which is being brought forward by my colleague Chris Loder MP. A large part of the debate was spent discussing his own Springer Spaniel, Poppy. Before I spoke, Chris described how Poppy had been left injured and abandoned by the side of the road on a stormy night in January and left to fend for herself. But Chris rescued her, and although I haven’t been able to meet Poppy in person yet, I’ve seen photos of her and she looks like a very happy and well-loved dog.
Chris and Poppy’s story is a moving one and honestly when I was elected to Parliament and I didn’t expect to spend a great deal of my time in Parliament discussing animal welfare issues. But having taken up the campaign for tougher sentences for pet theft as well and having learnt more about crimes involving animals these past few months, it’s become clear how this is one of the types of crime where the gap is biggest between the what the public expects punishments to be and what the law says they should be.
I also used my speech to expand a bit more on the pet theft debate I led on Monday. Currently the sentences handed out to pet thieves are mainly determined on the monetary value of the pets they have stolen. This is what so often results in pet thieves getting nothing more than a slap on a wrist and a paltry fine. But talk to any pet owner and they’ll tell you that the monetary value of their pet is what matters least to them. It’s the invaluable and irreplaceable companionship they offer which is so important and this is what needs to be reflected in pet theft sentencing. I called again for the Secretary of State to write to the Sentencing Council recommending they update their guidelines to reflect this after I’ve met with him and written to him about it recently. Increased sentences for animal cruelty and pet theft should go hand in hand. And both are crucial changes that must happen if our laws are to mirror our views towards animals in modern society.