I read with interest Paul Geater’s column in last Thursday’s Ipswich Star, “County needs a change of heart on major road projects” which calls for Suffolk County Council to drop its attempts to secure Government backing for a northern bypass. I disagree with this view.
Boris Johnson has topped a poll carried out by Tom Hunt to see what Ipswich residents think about the different candidates in the Conservative leadership race to become the next Prime Minister. Overall 50% of those who took part in the poll voted for Boris Johnson to be the next Conservative leader and Prime Minister.
“A very disappointing set of election results for the Conservative Party last night. The poor national performance by the Conservative Party was unsurprisingly reflected here in Ipswich.
“Three years ago the people of Ipswich voted decisively to leave the EU and the local results last night make it clear that if there were to be another referendum here and the result would be the same. I hope this is something the local Labour MP bears in mind the next time he contemplates voting to revoke article 50 and block Brexit in Parliament.
“I’ve seen a fair bit of speculation since my selection that perhaps Ipswich is no longer a Town where the majority want to leave the EU. And that a significant number of people have changed their mind. The hugely impressive showing by the Brexit Party makes it crystal clear that this is not the case. In fact, I suspect that if there were another referendum the majority for leave in Ipswich would actually be greater than it was last time.
“Many who voted leave in 2016 decided to vote for the Brexit Party. Some of these voters had been lifelong Conservative voters. However the sad thing is that I know a number of voters in Ipswich who voted leave in 2016 who didn’t bother voting at all in these elections. Such is their sense of despondency and dejection at the fact that we three years after the referendum result, we remain in the EU.
“The reality is that the Conservative Party have lost the confidence of a significant number of leave voters. These election results are a strong message and its one we need to take on board fully as a Party. We do of course now have an opportunity in selecting a new Party leader and Prime Minister to ensure we get someone who will ensure our departure from the EU by the end of October. Last nights results demonstrate clearly what the consequences of not doing so will be for the Conservative Party.
“Shortly I plan to run an online poll so I can get a sense of what people in Ipswich think about the Conservative leadership contest and who people think would be best to be the next Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister.”
We hear often about how we’re living through a “housing crisis”. It has become harder and harder for young people to secure a foothold on the property ladder and in certain areas there often hasn’t been enough affordable housing to go around. The Government have taken some positive actions to address this over recent years but it’s clear to me that a lot more needs to be done.
We know in Ipswich the Borough Council owns a significant amount of council housing. This council housing stock plays a crucial role in providing homes for local people across the Town, many of whom are on low incomes or may be unemployed. It’s vital that there is enough housing of this tenure type to house some of the most vulnerable people in our community. I am fully supportive of the need for there to be more affordable housing for this reason.
However, when it comes to the allocation of council homes in Ipswich, my strong belief is that it should only be local people with a strong connection with the Borough who should be eligible for council housing. In other words, “local homes for local people”. [MG1] A recent Freedom of Information request has shown that this is not currently the case. Ipswich Borough Council do not operate a local residency requirement to join their housing register. Meaning that people with no connection to Ipswich are able to join the Ipswich Borough Council Housing Register to secure council housing. I can’t support this. I’m very glad that Ipswich Conservatives have made clear in their local election manifesto that they would introduce a local residency requirement for council housing and housing association homes.
There are examples across the country of councils that have local residency requirements and it works very well. For example, the London Borough of Havering has a requirement that you have to live in the Borough for over six years before you’re able to qualify to join the local housing register. To me this sounds like a very sensible policy and it’s one that enjoys a significant amount of support locally. Why doesn’t Ipswich Borough Council adopt such a policy? It’s Ipswich council tax payers who pay for the council housing so surely this should be a service which puts them first.
As it stands, if the housing needs of someone with no connection to Ipswich are the same as someone with a local connection, then the person with the local connection will be given priority. This is absolutely right. However, if the housing needs of the person from outside the area and with no connection to Ipswich are higher than someone with a strong local connection, then the person with no local connection will be given priority. In other words, someone without a connection to Ipswich will have higher priority than Ipswich residents if their housing needs are deemed to be greater.
A question has been asked about the proportion of council homes that have been awarded to people with no connection to Ipswich but the Borough Council have not been able to provide this information. The Borough Council state that this information is not collected. I wish it was. It would be very interested to see what percentage of council housing is awarded to people with no connection to Ipswich every year.
So yes, Council housing plays an extremely important role and we clearly need more affordable housing both to rent and to buy. However, when it comes to Ipswich Borough Council-owned housing, let’s make sure it’s “local homes for local people.” The Ipswich Conservatives local election manifesto makes precisely this commitment.
As published in the Ipswich Flyer May Addition.
I was glad to be able to get the responses to my transport survey in front of the Secretary of State for Transport yesterday. In total 83% of Ipswich residents who responded to my survey back a northern bypass. I was keen to make the arguments to the Transport Secretary yesterday.
I was also keen to stress the importance of there being a solution in the short term to prevent frequent closures of the Orwell Bridge. The Secretary of State said he’s instructed Highways England to carry out a study to look at what can be done and he said this should be completed over the next couple of months. I also called for a number of significant key investments to upgrade rail infrastructure across East Anglia. It will only be with these interventions that we can ensure that the new Ipswich in 60 service can become far more frequent and can operate at peak times. The cost of rail fares was also raised.
On Monday the Rail Minister visited Ipswich station and now I’ve been able to get the transport survey returns in front of the Secretary of State for Transport. I’m very glad the Government’s door is so open. I will keep on pushing to ensure that the views of Ipswich residents are heard loud and clear by Government.
By backing a second referendum on our membership of the EU, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has made it crystal clear that the Labour Party do not respect the vote that has already taken place. Today, Jeremy Corbyn has turned his back on Labour voters who voted leave!
Last week I visited several areas of Ipswich that have witnessed significant levels of crime related activity over the past few years. I wanted to learn more, talk to residents and gain a greater understanding as to what needs to be done to turn the situation around and ensure that crime rates are falling, not increasing.