Red sky at morning – Shepherd’s Warning…

Red Sky at Morning
Red Sky at Morning
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12 things you should know about “Help to Work”

Another great post from “Another Angry Voice”.

“In April 2014 the Tory led government introduced a new punishment regime for the unemployed called “Help to Work”.  The scheme uses the threat of absolute destitution (via benefits sanctions) to compel the long-term unemployed into giving up their labour rights and working for no wage.”

In this article Thomas G. Clark outlines 12 significant criticisms of the scheme, and the misleading way it has been presented to the public.

Read More —

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Ebola Virus Key Facts 2014

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Victory for tenant battling to keep her home.

1-5a Civic Drive
1-5a Civic Drive

“I’m over the moon!”

The words of Mrs Gina Banash, on hearing the news that her ten months of living hell were over.

On Friday morning, Mrs Banash of Civic Drive received a call from her Housing Manager at Ipswich Borough Council, to tell her that the council were no longer giving two neighbouring flats to the drug rehabilitation charity, CRI, for their planned expansion.

The organisation, which has been operating from the previous Civic Drive pub premises since early 2011, had successfully gained funding in March last year to convert the council flats above their premises into a “recovery centre”. Aimed at working further with the six hundred clients on their books, CRI hoped to offer music, dance and other activities to their clients seeking a life away from drugs and alcohol – at the same time increasing their operating premises by more than double. The flats CRI wanted to convert included Mrs Banash’s home and two other flats recently vacated by tenants.

Back in 2010, as newly elected Borough Councillor for Alexandra Ward, I’d unsuccessfully opposed CRI’s planned change of use for the ‘Victoria’ pub site and what followed were a number of meetings with residents with complaints about the transformation works whilst they were being carried out and in the months following their opening, countless problems with CRI clients and their associates who were abusing residents of the flats. In fact CRI accepted that there was a problem when they applied to IBC last year for change of use for the flats and had gained funding to not only convert them, but enable the moving of any remaining tenants.

When CRI submitted their plans to convert the properties, I approached Ipswich Spy, who ran an article bringing Mrs Banash’s plight to the public and working closely with Gina, helped her to write a strong letter of opposition. Accompanied with criticisms by Planning and Environmental Health, a sudden withdrawal of the application came just before Christmas. Though we celebrated this temporary victory, we knew that another application would likely be submitted – and it was, in early January. In the meantime, Mrs Banash saw growing levels of support from friends, bloggers and Facebook users, with a campaign that went viral – piling pressure onto Ipswich Borough Council.

Friday saw the sudden unexpected termination of this ten month battle with CRI and the authority, as the Borough Council finally bowed to pressure and withdrew their offer to CRI, ending months of hell for an Ipswich pensioner who wasn’t going to be bullied out of her home – a home she raised her family in and had lovingly looked after for 28 years.

This plight, is not only a well deserved victory for Mrs Banash, but a victory for people power, demonstrating that public pressure and constructive objection to a ridiculous planning application really can work. Not only is Gina’s home safe, but the flats will be put back where they belong – in the IBC housing stock.

Note – At the time of publishing this article, the planning application was still live, and though Mrs Banash has been told that her neighbouring properties are not to be converted, until the application is withdrawn a 2000 word letter of objection will be on the desk of planners this morning.

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Five pence is going to make it better?

So, Labour intend to reintroduce the 50p tax rate, thinking they can fool people into believing that Labour are the party for the ‘working classes’ and those struggling to get by during this period of pretend austerity. The nasty rich people (often stereotyped as ALL being Tories) will pay to make things better for the economy, because the Tories, and their scapegoats, the Liberal Democrats, cut tax by five fricking pence on the pound, while continuing the policies of previous governments to demonise the poor and harp on about the ‘welfare’ budget, which is small, if you don’t include pensioners.

The fact of the matter is, no matter WHICH party you vote for, the ‘poor’ will get continue to get screwed from all angles, the rich will continue to get away with clever tax evasion tactics and get richer and whoever is in opposition will play the same populist political game with stupid promises that too many people are gullible enough to believe.

The divide between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ is getting bigger and the power of private multi-national corporations gets bigger and bigger. Fracking is suddenly safe, and even bribing the people with cash incentives is the order of the day.

Democracy? Yeah right!

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IBC Executive spend just THREE minutes discussing rent increases.

Last night (21-1-2014) was no ordinary night at Ipswich Borough Council’s, Grafton House. For, it was on this night that Ipswich political history was made! The meeting of IBC’s Executive Committee saw the first video recording of any council meeting by a member of the public or journalist. A big hat tip to Ipswich Spy, who were the first of what I hope will be an increasing number of journalists, bloggers and interested parties who will attend and record meetings open to the public.

This victory for transparency enables those unable (or desired) to attend, the opportunity to see our local politicians ‘at work’.  Meetings which usually see little or no attendance, can now be recorded and shared.

This ‘spotlight’ will inevitably make our local politicians more accountable than ever, hopefully inviting more criticism (and praise?) and enabling many to make a more informed decision on election day. No longer are we limited to viewing the activities of our MP’s,  we now have the opportunity, thanks currently to Ipswich Spy, the opportunity to witness – as I did as a councillor – some of the childish tittle-tattle that takes place at Full Council, along with reasoned debate in other committees, which tend to be far less partisan.

However, until the law changes and the constitution of IBC is amended, you can’t just turn up to a public meeting and start recording. There is due process and interested parties need to complete an application form, three days before the meeting they wish to record.  Ipswich Borough Council will be putting the necessary form on their website soon, or call 01473 432000.

The Executive spent how long discussing rent rises?

This historical first, saw Ipswich Labour fulfil one of their criticisms – Some of the shortest Executive meetings on record. Discussion of the rent rises, which will see the working poor foot an increase of nearly THREE times the rate of inflation, took just THREE minutes of the ‘champagne socialists’ time!

Watch the video from 8:48 to witness Cllr Mowles very brief rundown of the increases, quickly stating that this is in line with Government guidelines. Don’t expect Cllr Mowles to mention that these ‘guidelines’ have historically been ignored – some of which would see Council Housing rents rise to levels close to that of the profit-making private sector.

The Executive all agreed, without question, (except an unaudible comment by an officer) to put this recommendation to Full Council for it to be passed, and passed it will be, unless we see major dissent in the Labour ranks.

Over the coming weeks I look forward to seeing the first Full Council meeting being recorded. Take it from me, it’s all a show, and can – on occasion – show our political leaders in very poor light. Who knows the presence of cameras might calm some people down a little!

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Quid est veritas?