#BackBob

Bob Blizzard, Labour Candidate for Waveney

Bob's Updates

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Tory councillor, Martin Parsons (Postbox Sept 12th) is right that when I was MP, I never asked for a REPLACEMENT crossing of Lake Lothing. I always argued for an ADDITIONAL CROSSING – a THIRD CROSSING, and I still do.

Within a month of being elected as Waveney MP in 1997, I obtained a special debate in the Commons on ‘Transport on Waveney’, the main focus of which was the need for a third crossing. I still have a file on all my work on the third crossing which anyone can look at, which contains reams of correspondence with Ministers, the Highways Agency and Suffolk County Council.

This includes the study, published in February 2009, which the Transport Minister commissioned at my request, and which calculated the benefit cost ratio of a third crossing. The BCR is higher than that of the High Speed Rail Project (HS2) on which the government now wants to spend hundreds of billions of pounds. I don’t know why more money is now being spent on more third crossing studies, except to delay any prospect it until after 2025.

However, as I have said many times in answer to those who try to score a cheap political point, an MP can only persuade central government to fund a road scheme if an actual bid for funding is made. All such bids have to be promoted by the local highway authority, in our case, SCC. When a Labour led SCC put in a bid for the South Lowestoft Relief Road, I secured £30m from the Labour government, the largest ever investment by any government in Lowestoft.

But SCC would never promote a bid for a third crossing, even after the 2009 study was completed. This is evidenced from an independent source, in a letter from Norfolk County Council to Gt. Yarmouth Port Users, dated December 21st 2009, which says. “From discussions with SCC, we do not believe they are strongly campaigning for a third river crossing for Lowestoft. The Highways Agency has carried out feasibility work, but we believe this was driven by the local MP.”

This fits with a letter from SCC to a Lowestoft resident in May 2007 which said, “there are no plans to promote such a project.”

In fact SCC’s own published ‘Strategy for Lowestoft to 2021’, which focuses on cycling, walking and buses, said that a third river crossing for road traffic may not be needed. That’s why they recently spent a pile of money on a little used giant bus shelter at the station and plan to spend millions more on a footbridge next to the bascule bridge.

I hope that with the campaign Peter Colby and I have been waging, SCC will see sense when they publish the report on the recent consultation on a third crossing. But what worries me now is that I hear a lot about a plan from WDC to bid not for a third crossing, but for a REPLACEMENT crossing near the bascule bridge, and then take the existing bridge away, leaving only a footbridge!

No wonder Cllr Parsons went on about a replacement crossing in his letter. I therefore now challenge the Tory leadership on WDC to come clean on this matter and tell the people. Are they pressing for a replacement crossing rather than a third crossing?

This would be transport nonsense and not solve the problems of Lowestoft’s dysfunctional road system. It would be a betrayal of all those residents and businesses who have for years wanted a third crossing.

By the way, all the documents from which I have quoted are in my file.

REPLY TO CLLR PARSONS - 'I WANT THIRD CROSSING, NOT REPLACEMENT CROSSING'

Tory councillor, Martin Parsons (Postbox Sept 12th) is right that when I was MP, I never asked for a REPLACEMENT crossing of Lake Lothing. I always argued for an ADDITIONAL...

From the EDP:

Campaigners have held a demonstration outside Carlton Court hospital to voice concerns over the future of mental health services in Waveney and Great Yarmouth.

More than 40 people were involved in the rally outside the facility in Carlton Colville on Saturday.

The event was organised by Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveny Bob Blizzard amid growing concerns that two older people’s and dementia assessment wards at Carlton Court are to be closed.

It comes ahead of a crunch meeting on September 25 when HealthEast, the clinical commissioning group for the area, will make a decision on proposals by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) to cut mental health services on the east coast.

Mr Blizzard addressed the demonstrators at the rally followed by John Waters, who is the chairman of the Friends of Carlton Court, mental health worker Terry Skyrme and Suffolk County councillor Sonia Barker.

The group was cheered on by visitors and staff entering the hospital grounds.

During the event, Mr Skyrme said NSFT was also proposing to cut Section 136 suites at Carlton Court and throughout Norfolk and replace them with a single unit at Hellesdon.

The suites are used to assess whether patients need to be sectioned and provide a place of safety for vulnerable patients.

Mr Skyrme, who works for NSFT’s crisis team and is a member of the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk, said: “While reducing in patients beds they have also decimated community services. They shouldn’t do either and they definitely can’t do both.

“There is a massive demand for beds because the community care is not there.”

Following the rally, Mr Blizzard said:

“I thought we had a great response. What we have got here is patients, their families, staff and voluntary supporters of the facility and they are all saying with one voice ‘don’t close this facility’ because it is absolutely needed.”

HealthEast has held a public consultation over the proposed cuts, with 80pc of respondents saying were against a plan to reduce the number of acute beds at Northgate Hospital in Great Yarmouth and Carlton Court from 28 to 20 and relocate onto one site.

And 78.4pc of respondents were against the plans to close two older people’s and dementia assessment wards at Carlton Court.

The cuts are being looked at as part of NSFT’s need to save 20pc over four years.

'DEMONSTRATORS VOICE FEARS OVER CUTS'

From the EDP: Campaigners have held a demonstration outside Carlton Court hospital to voice concerns over the future of mental health services in Waveney and Great Yarmouth. More than 40...

 

Kessingland residents affected by noise from two wind turbines feel let down by Waveney District Council’s inadequate response to their complaints. Figures obtained from WDC show that:

There have been 465 complaints from 44 households. 358 of these complaints were not responded to with a visit.

Of the 107 visits made, only 37% took place within 2 hours of the complaint. Nearly half of these visits took place more than 24 hours after the complaint.

Bob Blizzard, who has been asked by residents to assist them, said, 

“With so many complaints, there is clearly a problem. But unless the council responds reasonably quickly, they are unlikely to witness the noise and gain the evidence they need to take action. It’s like turning up to a complaint about a loud party 24 hours later and saying there is no noise!”

Noise monitoring equipment has been installed by the council on occasion, but only in four properties, with only 22.5 minutes of recording over three years.

“We now know that the worst noise occurs when there is a south westerly wind. Residents are asking for more proactive monitoring when the weather forecast predicts such winds.

“Everyone deserves to be able to sleep at night, but some residents are suffering a miserable time. This has gone on for too long and they feel let down. The council has suggested that some residents have been over sensitive with complaints, but they have better things to do with their lives than keep ringing the council. WDC should do more to gather the evidence they need to take action. Residents would be happier if the turbines were turned off at night.”

COUNCIL’S INADEQUATE RESPONSE TO WIND TURBINE NOISE

  Kessingland residents affected by noise from two wind turbines feel let down by Waveney District Council’s inadequate response to their complaints. Figures obtained from WDC show that: There have...

From the Lowestoft Journal:

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I was delighted to 'do the honours' at Belle Coaches 90th Anniversary celebration on Friday. A great Lowestoft company that puts customers first. Well done Robert Shreeve and team.

BOB JOINS BELLE COACHES TO CELEBRATE 90TH ANNIVERSARY

From the Lowestoft Journal: I was delighted to 'do the honours' at Belle Coaches 90th Anniversary celebration on Friday. A great Lowestoft company that puts customers first. Well done Robert Shreeve and team.

Cllr Barnard, the Conservative Cabinet Member for Finance, said I had got a key fact wrong regarding the new £14 million WDC and SCC council offices (Postbox Aug 29th), but his explanation beggars belief.  He says that Waveney taxpayers are not paying for the new council offices because the councils will sell off assets to pay back the £14m they borrowed. But has he forgotten who owns those assets - the Waveney taxpayers! When a ruling group forgets things like this they have been in office too long.

However, Cllr Barnard has unwittingly shown us how the Colby/Blizzard third crossing/barrage could be funded - by selling off assets. How about starting with the little used Belvedere Road car park, and most of the completely unused Clifton Road car park (that nobody will pay to use because Asda opposite is free).

If we could add in the £millions to be spent on the pointless footbridge next to the bascule bridge; and the £2.4million handed over to Sanyo for a site that could be developed by the private sector; and the millions spent over the years on traffic lights, road signs and bollards to tinker with Lowestoft's disfunctional road system; and some of the £millions taken off developers through the planning process, we could be well on the way to creating a pot for a third crossing - if WDC and SCC had the political will to do this. It would encourage the government to stump up the rest.

Our third crossing/barrage proposal is much cheaper that the expensive lift up bridge and separate flood barrier being favoured by the two Tory councils. So, if they can fearlessly go ahead with new council offices, why not the things that people really want. - a third crossing and protection from flooding. 

TORY CLLR FORGETS THAT COUNCIL MONEY IS TAXPAYER MONEY

Cllr Barnard, the Conservative Cabinet Member for Finance, said I had got a key fact wrong regarding the new £14 million WDC and SCC council offices (Postbox Aug 29th), but...

I have heard from good sources in the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust that the acute adult ward at Carlton Court is to be closed.

So, we are holding another protest rally outside Carlton Court on Saturday 13th September at 12.30pm. I urge all those who care about our local mental health services to come along.

The original proposal was to reduce the number of adult acute beds in Waveney and Gt Yarmouth from 42 to 20 and locate them in either Carlton Court or Northgate Hospital. This was part of the Trust's response to the government's demand to take 20% out of its budget over 4 years.

As a result of our campaign against this proposal Health East launched a public consultation on these proposals. There was a big response to the public consultation which showed a massive rejection of the proposals.

Health East is due to announce a decision at its board meeting on September 25th. However, my sources tell me that the Trust intends to go ahead with the proposal to cut acute adult beds and locate them in Northgate. I'm told the Trust always intended to do this, regardless of the outcome of the consultation.

In July, I made an FOI request to NSFT, asking for the bed occupancy figures for the acute wards at CC and Northgate. Having head nothing, I contacted the Trust last week and was told they had lost the request, even though I showed them the original email. The request was resubmitted and I await the reply. All my info from the hospitals is that the wards are regularly full.

However, (from an impeccable source within NSFT) on August 4/5th a Section 136 patient was in need of emergency admission. Carlton Court was full so the patient was told to sleep on a sofa and did so. An incident form was completed as ward staff were very uncomfortable about being told to do this.

All my information is that these beds are regularly full and very much needed. The Trust told us two years ago that the demand would decrease as new community based care was developed. This hasn't happened.

It's not acceptable for the second largest town in Suffolk to have no in patient facilities for those suffering acute mental ill health. When I was MP, I secured the funding to build new, state of the art facilities at Carlton Court. It would be heart breaking to see them taken away. I urge everyone to turn up and make a stand.

Will you come? RSVP here.

CARLTON COURT RALLY - BED CUTS LOOMING?

I have heard from good sources in the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust that the acute adult ward at Carlton Court is to be closed. So, we are holding another...

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I would like to correct former Conservative councillor, Melanie Vigo di Gallidoro (Postbox Aug 22nd). During last week’s visit by two front bench Labour MPs, I showed them the fountains on Royal Plain, the East Point Pavilion and we went into the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club for refreshments. From the top of the Yacht Club we looked out over the seafront and the yacht marina. None of these places could possibly be described as “the most run down parts of the town.”

However, like most other visitors to Lowestoft this summer we could not but notice the main beach still fenced off along the promenade, eight months after it was damaged (with no signs telling people there is another beach further along the seafront). And seafront businesses told us how this has affected trade, along with the loss of the air show and the carnival.

The closure of the South Pier doesn’t help either, and I make no apology for looking at this and meeting with some of the Pier Pressure group to highlight it. In 1991, when I was Council Leader, we re-opened the South Pier for visitors and locals to enjoy. It was recently closed off by senior Tory councillors without even a vote or public discussion.

On television, Look East showed some selectively unflattering images of the Kirkley shopping area. Although there are times when I might wish I did so, I do not control the BBC. Neither I nor the Labour Party directed their cameras to Kirkley, or told them where to point them, or whom to speak to. Indeed we didn’t even know they filmed there. Even so, I would disagree with Mrs Vigo di Gallidoro that the Kirkley shopping area is one of the most run down parts of town. There are some attractive new businesses and together the traders are working hard promoting their shops.

Their efforts and the whole town would be assisted if the government and the council had spent money on repairing access to the beach, opening the pier and supporting an airshow and carnival, instead of spending £millions on new council offices and a pointless footbridge next to the bascule bridge.

But nothing would regenerate Lowestoft more than the third crossing barrage scheme that Peter Colby and I are proposing, so that the town could function normally, with a road system that enabled visitors to actually find our beach easily. That’s why I took the opportunity last week to gain support from two possible members of a future Labour government who were not in the Commons when I was MP.

Lowestoft seafront has similar Victorian architecture to Southwold. It could be just as prosperous, if the right decisions were made.

REPLY TO FORMER TORY COUNCILLOR - LABOUR'S 'SEASIDE EXPRESS' CAMPAIGN DAY IN LOWESTOFT

I would like to correct former Conservative councillor, Melanie Vigo di Gallidoro (Postbox Aug 22nd). During last week’s visit by two front bench Labour MPs, I showed them the fountains...

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Cllr Law's only justification for spending £2.4 million of our money to purchase the Sanyo site for housing and, in so doing, turning away £4 million of private sector investment to develop the site for jobs and housing (letters Aug 15th) is that a company which is no longer doing business in Lowestoft thinks that this deal and the council's Area Action Plan are good for the town.

He has still failed to explain why, having allocated it for housing, the site was up for sale for more than three years and no local housebuilders wanted to buy it.

Nearly everyone I've spoken to thinks it would have been better to let Peter Colby buy the site for £2.4 million and invest a further £1.6 million of his money, turning the better quality buildings into affordable units for businesses to create jobs, while still leaving the other parts of the site for housing. To demolish decent quality commercial buildings in a town crying out for jobs is a kind of industrial vandalism.

On Saturday, I met a local businessman whose company has just won a valuable contract for the offshore sector and desperately needs additional premises he can move into. The only place he can find is in the old Brooke Marine yard. But we know that Cllr Law wants to see those buildings knocked down as well, because he recently heralded a plan from an out of town developer to do just that as part of a scheme to build 850 houses on  the Boulton and Paul playing field and the County Wildlife Site next to it as well as the Brooke Marine site.

Of course there are people in Lowestoft who need houses, but without jobs, local people won't be able to afford to buy or rent them, or will require taxpayers to pay their housing benefit.

There was a time when Tories were seen as a party of business, but now they turn away private sector investment (Mr Colby is investing £12 million in Ipswich). As well as the £2.4m on the Sanyo site, they are spending £14m of our money on new council offices and £5m on a footbridge - things that people don't want. Then they say they have no money to repair the access to our main tourist beach, or to keep the South Pier open or to support the Air Show - things that people do want. It's not even midsummer madness - it 's part of the Tories' carefully prepared Area Action Plan!

LETTER TO THE JOURNAL ON SANYO SITE

Cllr Law's only justification for spending £2.4 million of our money to purchase the Sanyo site for housing and, in so doing, turning away £4 million of private sector investment...

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From the Lowestoft Journal:

Political battle lines were being drawn in the sands of seaside towns across the country this week.

And key issues were highlighted in Lowestoft today as two high profile shadow ministers joined prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveney, Bob Blizzard, on a tour of the town.

With Labour MP’s Jon Ashworth and Gloria De Piero on the party’s summer seaside express, which visited coastal towns Brighton, Lowestoft, Morecambe and Blackpool this week, campaigners took to the seafront and the streets today as part of an effort to win key election seats.

On their first-ever visits to Lowestoft, Mr Ashworth and Miss De Piero visited Lowestoft to see examples of what they believe are seaside towns being letdown by the government.

The whistle stop tour of south Lowestoft saw the MP’s look at the damage caused to the town’s seafront by erosion and winter storms, speak with local campaigners and businesses over the closure of parts of South Pier and line up on the bascule bridge amid further calls for a third crossing of Lake Lothing.

And the message was loud and clear, as the MP’s, Mr Blizzard, county councillors, district councillors and campaigners lined up with signs saying “3rd crossing not footbridge” on the town’s main crossing.

Labour MP for Ashfield and shadow minister for women and equalities, Gloria De Piero, vowed that Labour will help towns like Lowestoft, where wages are falling well below the national average. She said:

“This is a beautiful place and its heartbreaking to see that people can’t use parts of the pier.”

Mr Ashworth said:

“What has really struck me is that there is so much potential here but the Tories are letting locals down.”

They threw their weight behind Mr Blizzard’s campaign to return to power, and Mr Blizzard said: “It is important to ram the third crossing message home as this is what the town needs.”

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SHADOW MINISTERS VISITS LOWESTOFT

From the Lowestoft Journal: Political battle lines were being drawn in the sands of seaside towns across the country this week. And key issues were highlighted in Lowestoft today as...

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Excerpt from the Lowestoft Journal:

Campaigners fighting plans for a new Tesco store in Pakefield were celebrating this week after councillors dealt a major blow to the supermarket giant.

Waveney District Council’s development control committee agreed that the Tramway Hotel in London Road should be classed as a mixed use business trading as a pub and a hotel.

The ruling means Tesco will now have to submit a full “change of use” planning application if it wants to press ahead with its controversial scheme to convert the building.

At Tuesday evening’s committee meeting, members approved an application made by Eric Peak, on behalf of th Pakefield Opposing Tesco (POT) group, to classify The Tramway as a hotel and pub – a decision which went against council officers’ advice that it was only a pub.

Bob Blizzard, chairman of POT, spoke at the meeting at Lowestoft Town Hall and received a round of applause from campaigners when he argued that The Tramway had a “viable and sufficient” income from it accommodation rooms.

After the meeting, he pledged to keep up the fight against Tesco in case it submits a planning application.

“The council has made the right decision. We have achieved justice. It is another round to us but the fight goes on. The ball is now in Tesco’s court.

“I hope it gets the message and comes to the conclusion that it should pull out of Pakefield.”

Malcolm Pitchers, councillor for Pakefield, said: “I believe the Tramway Hotel is exactly what it says on the box. It is still a hotel.”

Labour group leader Sonia Barker, who also represents Pakefield, addressed the committee and, to cheers from campaigners, she said approving POT’s application was “the right and moral decision...for the good of the community of Pakefield”.

After the meeting, she urged campaigners to stay alert to the possibility of a Tesco planning application.

'DELIGHT AS COUNCILLORS DEAL A BLOW TO TESCO'

Excerpt from the Lowestoft Journal: Campaigners fighting plans for a new Tesco store in Pakefield were celebrating this week after councillors dealt a major blow to the supermarket giant. Waveney District...

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