Following my visit to the Hawthorn Drive GP surgery, I’ve now written to the Health Secretary calling for fairer funding for GP surgeries in Ipswich. At the moment the national funding formula doesn’t take into account local pockets of deprivation when working out how much money GP surgeries should get. Yet this is a significant reasons why Hawthorn Drive and a number of other GP surgeries see more people who are living with mental illness and other conditions. This has contributed to the funding pressure the Hawthorn Drive practice is under and this pressure will only get greater with an aging demographic in Chantry.
I’ve called on the Health Secretary to look at increasing funding for the Hawthorn Drive Surgery in particular but also GP services across Ipswich which are losing out in this way. The second lockdown will only increase the pressure in areas like mental health and it mustn’t be areas with higher disadvantage which get left behind.
Very honoured to have laid a wreath at this mornings Remembrance Sunday service on Christchurch Park. A much scaled back socially distanced event but an extremely poignant one nonetheless. Well done to the Suffolk Royal British Legion and all those involved in putting today’s service together. Very strange the national anthem being played and not being able to sing but I’m glad that this Sunday like every other Sunday we were able to mark the occasion. I was pleased to see that many others were able to join us but in a safe way. I very much hope and believe that this time next year the park will again be filled with thousands people from across Town wanting to pay their respects. We must never forget the extraordinary sacrifice made by those who have given their lives for our country and the liberties and freedoms and are so intrinsic to who we are.
This week I asked the Minister for Policing directly about getting robust punishments in place for those individuals who try to use Covid-19 as a weapon by spitting and coughing at police officers. Unfortunately we have seen reports of this despicable crime in Ipswich and around the country during this pandemic. And back in April I called in the House of Commons for the full force of the law to come down on anyone found guilty of assaulting our police officers in this heinous way, when they’re going above and beyond to keep us safe. I’ve also stressed the need to clamp down on this crime with the Government through written questions.
It was good to hear in the Minister’s response that the Government is seriously focusing in on this issue with prison sentences being handed out and that new laws are in the pipeline that will double the maximum sentence for assaults on emergency service workers. Spitting at police officers is a disgusting crime at the best of times, but during Covid-19 it’s particularly aggravating potentially with severe consequences for officers’ physical and mental health. I’ll be making the case that these new laws on tougher sentencing should be brought forward as soon as possible.
On Monday I met with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution about preventing suicidal behaviour on the Orwell Bridge and how those at risk on the Bridge can be helped. Every suicide and every time someone goes up on the Bridge with suicidal thoughts is a tragedy and we must take every possible step to ensure the authorities can intervene before the worst happens.
One of the issues raised with me by the Institution was their understanding that cameras on the Bridge, which could spot people at risk, aren’t currently working. Any cameras need to be consistently monitored as well. And I’ve now written to Highways England’s CEO calling for this to be look into. As well as the Orwell Bridge, we also need a local approach to looking at other potential sites where people could be at risk and what we can do to make sure the chance to help isn’t missed. The Institution have also said the number of incidents on the Bridge have increased since the first lockdown. Clearly with the new national lockdown and more restrictions on people’s ability to see loved-ones and potentially more pressure on their finances in the run up to Christmas, we have to do everything we can now.
I’m also looking to raise this issue as part of my work on Ipswich’s Transport Taskforce and its engagement with Highways England. We must ensure this issue is prioritised locally. This will be a focus for me over the coming days and weeks. I’ll keep working with the local branch of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution based in Harwich which is mainly made up of volunteers who respond with lifeboats if someone is at risk on the Orwell Bridge. And of course I’ll continue working with organisations like Suffolk MIND and our local NHS to ensure everything is being done to stop anyone getting to the place where they feel their only option is take their own life.
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.