Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Ipswich 2015: Can Ben Gummer improve the town?

Ipswich: an economic wasteland, high welfare reliance and stuck back into the early 90’s. Unemployment falling on one hand, on the other hand a new centre as an emergency measure to tackle youth unemployment is introduced! Ipswich’s Canary Wharf-cum-Monte Carlo looks like the aftermath from World War 2. Emphasis to push this has turned the town centre into what looks like the fallout from a Nuclear meltdown incident. 

Someone must be held responsible and accountable for the disaster that is Ipswich. A few players come into the picture… Suffolk County Council (SCC), Ipswich Borough Council (IBC), IBC’s arm-length Ipswich Central, Central Government, and our elected representative Ben Gummer MP.

The county and borough councils needs to be a unitary authority. Ipswich Central needs to be abolished with retailers in the town agreeing to spend the would-be Business Rates levy on employment!

Apart from Central Government (opening up a big can of worms… and beyond the scope of this article) that leaves Ben Gummer. What has this overpaid history-book writing, son-of-a-Conservative parasite politician (now in the House of Lords) actually done for Ipswich? And what hope does he bring for 2015 and beyond?!

Ben Gummer


Ben Gummer was quick to make false promises (i.e. lies, shock horror a politician lying!) on the vision of Ipswich having the long awaited wet-dock crossing and Ben’s pie-in-the-sky “Enterprise Island”.

Except, at least where I am, not one person has been calling for a wet-dock crossing… or funny enough, not one person has ever demanded converting part of the Ipswich Waterfront (a part that isn’t derelict or flats…) into an enterprise park. Ever! Not even when Chris Mole was our MP.

Enterprise Island

I would link to Ben’s site with the crazy plans (summary: Creating a crossing to ease congestion right next to creating an enterprise park likely to cause congestion) except you have to give him your email address so he can spam you with nonsense to get your vote in the 2015 General Election.

Ipswich 2020 Vision

All part of the vision for 2020 – for anyone a bit slow – there is 5 years in a Parliamentary term and there is an upcoming General Election next year in 2015 – so its all a lot of nonsense to see him through next year General Election and perhaps on to the next one too. Hold up.

Same old Tories?

I don’t believe in branding people through prejudice or hearsay – Tory or not – so the only way to fairly judge Ben Gummer is through his record as an MP… so far. This is where the rosy “Post-recession optimism” starts to fade.

Ben started off a little wet behind the ears, something resembling a human in part… since then he has been sent back to the Conservative Party finishing school, where anyone with the most basic attention to detail will realise, he has become more of an android Tory. The same voice droning on, in the same Tory politician grammar, utilising the same template body language.

Ipswich as it is now

The overrated half-finished Wet Dock (Ipswich Waterfront) university-cum-flats-cum-leisure area isn’t moving forward. So there is talk about buying a plot of land near Stoke Bridge and of course the (empty) “Wine Rack” is expected to finally be completed – not sure what overpriced flats have to do with the greater picture.

Waterfront Free Shuttle: axed

Ipswich Central’s Saturday-only free bus shuttle is being cut – people just aren’t using the service. The on-board wifi isn’t tempting – probably due to 3G and 4G mobile internet connections being widespread and the shortness of the journey – the bus itself looks a scary joke, poor livery with a colour scheme including pink to attract the female shopper. Painstakingly desperate, patronisingly sexist and… there is no shops! Someone missed the boat… (excuse the pun).

Perhaps the ‘X’ related to a NO: AVOID, REJECT, DISAPPROVE, CANCEL, STOP etc. .. and someone went along and done it. Okay, for Ipswich Buses, given a nice sum of money of Government to run this “service” and Ipswich Central gets to promote themselves a bit.

No shops

The lack of retail space is the biggest reason why Saturday shoppers aren’t remotely interested in hopping on a bus for a few minute journey in order to get to the Ipswich Waterfront.

MYGO Youth Unemployment

Elsewhere there is hope. In the town centre! The MYGO unemployment centre has opened for young people, promising a lot (probably in the form of ‘bogus’ apprenticeships and workfare) and claims to be a national first. Except, it is just a replacement for SCC’s closed “Infobar” in Fore Street. Jobcentre Plus’ involvement is enough to arouse suspicions as to the real intention of this centre, however, integrating services together seems a clever idea.

Unlike the Infobar which was staffed by public sector youth workers, a private-sector company owned by an employment agency is running the centre. In a similar way to provisions by the likes of Seetec, TNG and Reed in Partnership running DWP employment schemes; SCC is the one who tendered this out. The centre was recently visited by Iain Duncan Smith MP… clearly a bad omen, his anti-welfare policies has killed thousands. If that isn’t a curse, I don’t know what is.

Cornhill Project

Plans to remove the wheelchair accessibility of the town centre are still pending financing from local businesses. In short, Ben Gummer hasn’t really made an impact on the town outside education. Even with education it hasn’t been a resounding success.

Vision 2020 Ipswich: Bad idea

Ipswich doesn’t need Ben’s 2020 vision. We need an MP to campaign for a Northern Bypass – in particular regards to Felixstowe Port (birth 9 extension to be completed by Summer 2015) for when the Orwell Bridge is shut and Adastral Park hi-tech research and business incubator. Not a wet-dock crossing which won’t reduce gridlock. And an MP more focused on Ipswich, Suffolk rather than Norfolk.

An “Enterprise Island” is a silly concept from the offset. You need infrastructure – put simply… roads or rail… It is nowhere near the railway station and the roads near the Wet Dock is heavily congested and over capacity. Large businesses are beginning to desert the town in particular insurance. Legal & General is going despite good profits.

The town’s serviced offices and traditional offices are plenty to go around and largely under occupied.  With significant plans in expanding the population of Ipswich by building on the “Northern Fringe” its vital new jobs are created in the area.

Furthermore, Ipswich needs to become a Unitary Authority.

You are unable to view Ben’s plans without giving away your email address so the Conservatives can beg you – through spam – to vote for them in 2015! Why would he not want to shout about his “innovative” plans?

Ben’s Parliamentary Record

Enough! Lets get on to Ben Gummer’s actual House of Commons voting record. Comments made are more focused on those that are unemployed or claiming disability benefits but it pretty much fits most people, especially working families. Scroll down for welfare!

War & Defence

Voted strongly for use of UK military forces in combat operations overseas

Despite home affairs of substantial austerity, Ben Gummer voted for continued deployment of armed forces in Afghanistan and voted for air strikes in Iraq against ISIL (Islamic State).

Employment

Ben Gummer voted against guaranteeing jobs for the long term unemployed.

Tax

I won’t detail each summary for space. What is clear, the VAT increase hit families hard. Labour’s prior VAT decrease to 15% didn’t do any favours too.

Voted very strongly for increasing the rate of VAT

Voted strongly for higher taxes on alcoholic drinks

Voted very strongly against increasing the tax rate applied to income over £150,000

Voted very strongly against a banker’s bonus tax

Education

Ben Gummer is very active locally in regards to education schemes but just as happy to raise tuition fees.

Voted very strongly for raising England’s undergraduate tuition fee cap to £9,000 per year

Voted very strongly for university tuition fees

Constitutional Reform & Misc

Voted very strongly for reducing central government funding of local government

Voted moderately against more powers for local councils

Voted very strongly for the introduction of elected Police and Crime Commissioners

Voted strongly for requiring the mass retention of information about communications

Voted very strongly against greater regulation of gambling

Voted strongly against slowing the rise in rail fares

Voted moderately for restricting the scope of legal aid

Voted very strongly against restrictions on fees charged to tenants by letting agents

Voted strongly for the policies included in the 2010 Conservative – Liberal Democrat Coalition Agreement

Ben Gummer clearly shows himself to be out of touch with the needs, wants and desires of the average Ipswich-resident.

He feels SCC and IBC are adequate in improving the economic well-being of the town when its well-known SCC is anti-Ipswich and IBC largely unable to do anything. If central Government funding was reduced things will most certainly get worse. This is likely to be subsidised by Council Tax rises in the new parliament and of course, you guessed it, further cuts to services!

He thinks austerity Britain can waste an estimated £50m on PCC elections every 4 years and thinks it’s perfectly reasonable to cost taxpayers £951,309 per year for Suffolk PCC (figure likely to vary year on year). And its a similar cost to every other police authority area.

He believes GCHQ etc. should be able to retain data relating to internet use, phone calls and mobile location indefinitely.

Ben is content in the rise in rail fares despite commuters getting a poor service. He is fully under the delusion lower unemployment in the area is due to the commitment in the Great Eastern main line. Mr Gummer is fully on board the mandatory Tory bandwagon of wanting significant legal aid reductions. I personally, will add that its a mandatory element of austerity cuts and attacks against the poor – so far many savings to welfare will be eliminated or reduced by appeals or legal challenges – if you can eliminate this then more savage cuts can be achieved. This said, Iain Duncan Smith said today that the Government has saved £50bn from welfare so far, accumulatively.

Furthermore, he believes letting agents shouldn’t be restricted on fees they charge tenants. We haven’t finished yet, read on for the appalling welfare voting record of Ben Gummer…

Welfare & Benefits

Voted strongly for reducing housing benefit for social tenants deemed to have excess bedrooms 

This is (if you haven’t guessed it) the so-called “Bedroom Tax”. If you are on benefits then you will find this section very interesting indeed.

Voted very strongly against raising welfare benefits at least in line with prices

Ben Gummer was in favour of the compromised 1% rise in benefits rather than the 2.2% it would have been to be in line with prices. No idea what prices they are looking at. Cost of living has increased far beyond that.

Voted very strongly against paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work due to illness or disability

Ben Gummer voted against making an exception for those with cancer to be able to continue receiving contribution based (i.e. that they have paid in for) Employment & Support Allowance beyond 365 days (instead of 730 days, as proposed).

Ben Gummer voted against setting the lower rate of Universal Credit payments for disabled children and young people to two thirds of the higher rate (therefore losing families £1400 through the switch over). He also voted against young disabled people from being treated as having enough NI contributions to get contribution based ESA to save the Government £11m a year (A very tiny saving in the grand scheme of things).

Voted strongly for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits

Ben Gummer voted in favour of reducing Housing Benefit for those claiming Jobseekers Allowance over a year.

Ben Gummer voted against an element of childcare for Universal Credit and to cap welfare benefits to £350 per week for a single person and £500 per week for a couple.

Ben Gummer voted for Universal Credit and PIP.

Ben Gummer voted for a welfare cap on the overall amount the state spends each year for welfare (bear in mind statistics proves that more money doesn’t get claimed then that which is fraudulently claimed… a cap on the welfare budget could restrict access to welfare despite someone meeting the conditions).

Ben Gummer voted not to halt additional austerity measures (reduce spending and welfare cuts) (2014). This will include – by further votes – that if re-elected in 2015 to increase the austerity measures.

Voted very strongly against spending public money to create guaranteed jobs for young people who have spent a long time unemployed

Despite the recent launch of the MYGO centre in Ipswich, in the past Ben voted against creating more jobs for young people funded by bank bonuses – this would have guaranteed 100,000 jobs (nationally!). Half of Ben seems to want to stick his face alongside any examples of economical or business success in the area – whether it is rebuilding a school or opening a new unemployment centre – but at the same time not wanting to get involved in any schemes to actually get people into work. This is not mutually exclusive, they generally go hand in hand.

Ipswich 2015 and Moving forward

So, Ben Gummer doesn’t appear the best candidate to move Ipswich forward – neither does his party, The Conservatives who are really not the best people to get the country moving again. As we all know.

Feel free to comment on this article and about Ben Gummer, and to answer the below questions!

Who will you vote for? (and Why?)

What will you hope they will bring to Ipswich?

What do you think Ipswich needs?

Is the Wet Dock (Ipswich Waterfront) the jewel in the crown, or should the idea be scrapped?

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