#BackBob

Bob Blizzard, Labour Candidate for Waveney

Bob's Updates

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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...

1 in 10 patients in Great Yarmouth & Waveney waited seven days or longer to see a GP the last time they tried, an official NHS survey has found. 

Over 22,000 people faced a wait of a week or more when they phoned for an appointment in the last year. 

Labour has pledged to invest £100 million in GP surgeries - saved by scrapping David Cameron's NHS market rules that waste millions on lawyers fees and contract tendering - to guarantee appointments within 48 hours or on the same day for those who need it. 

The annual NHS England survey, released earlier this month, also revealed that local patients struggle to see the family doctor of their choosing. 32% of patients who have a preferred GP had to see another doctor when they last went to their surgery. The next Labour Government will also give patients the right to book ahead with the GP they prefer to see. 

The delays have left 12,000 local people saying they would not recommend their family's practice to new patients. 

Bob Blizzard, Labour’s candidate in Waveney said:

"David Cameron has made it harder for people in Waveney to get a GP appointment - proof he can't be trusted with our local NHS.

"Within days of the last election, he scrapped Labour's appointments guarantee and now thousands of people here are waiting over a week. Labour will scrap David Cameron's NHS market and invest the savings in helping people get a GP appointment within 48 hours or on the same day for those who need it."


Andy Burnham MP, Labour's Shadow Health Secretary, said:

"This survey confirms what Labour has been saying. People want to be able to see the GP they trust, and who knows their family history, but are left phoning the surgery day after day only to be disappointed. Patients are waiting days or even weeks for appointments and that is forcing people to A&E in record numbers. 

“People know from their own experience that the NHS is heading downhill under this Government."

THOUSANDS OF PATIENTS WAIT OVER A WEEK TO SEE GP UNDER DAVID CAMERON

1 in 10 patients in Great Yarmouth & Waveney waited seven days or longer to see a GP the last time they tried, an official NHS survey has found. Over 22,000 people faced a wait of...

For decades the people of Lowestoft have, with a persistent voice, called for a third crossing. For the last 22 years, Suffolk County Council has declined to include such a scheme in their county transport plan and no bid for government funding was promoted by them. With the town’s population and vehicle usage continuing to grow, the situation has become intolerable to the point that Lowestoft’s transport system is now dysfunctional – something that affects every aspect of daily life – business, social and domestic.

Now, because of the campaign we have been waging, a third crossing is again being pursued by SCC. Or is it? They are consulting on three possible locations for a crossing. Overwhelmingly, people we speak to think it’s a no brainer – join up the South Lowestoft Relief Road (at the Lings/Asda roundabout) with the Northern Spine Road (at the Peto Way/Rotterdam Road roundabout) with a centrally located crossing, as shown in town plans dating back to the 1960’s.

Yet, it has become clear from meetings in recent weeks that another agenda is afoot. This involves locating a new crossing close to the bascule bridge and then taking the existing bridge away! So, just when the prospect of a new bid for a third crossing is starting to materialise, this bid may not be for an additional, third crossing, but simply a replacement crossing, perpetuating the dysfunctional road network we have endured for too long. This would be a betrayal of the people of Lowestoft and probably end prospects of a real third crossing forever.

The threat is real and perhaps explains why SCC is to spend £5 million on a footbridge next to the bascule bridge, in preparation for the bascule bridge to be taken away?

Such an eastern crossing would still tip all traffic into a clogged up Station Square area via Commercial Road, whether you want to go into the town centre or not. The only way this could be averted would be to move the railway station westwards, as there is no room to bridge the railway line. This would not be acceptable to the people of Lowestoft or the railway companies.

What could be driving this crazy idea? Apparently, a belief that a central crossing would obstruct the workings of the inner harbour. But most of the boats we see west of the grain silo are either rotting hulks or small pleasure boats. This part of the port has little more life in it than Monty Python’s Norwegian blue parrot! Are the thousands of real, active Lowestoft businesses that desperately need a properly functioning road network instead of grinding their way through Station Square or Oulton Broad, to be ignored?

Even if this almost dead part of the port could be revived, a central crossing is not incompatible with it. But if there were to be a renaissance, the new replacement for the bascule bridge would have to open up so often, that Lowestoft, without a third crossing, would come to a standstill much more often than it does now.

We urge people to respond to SCC’s consultation and let them know we need an additional, third crossing in the central location that would also provide valuable flood protection.

Bob Blizzard & Peter Colby

BLIZZARD-COLBY LETTER TO THE JOURNAL ON REPLACEMENT CROSSING

For decades the people of Lowestoft have, with a persistent voice, called for a third crossing. For the last 22 years, Suffolk County Council has declined to include such a...

From the Lowestoft Journal:

Campaigners fighting Tesco’s plans to open a new store in Pakefield were given a major boost last night.

The supermarket giant is hoping to convert the Tramway Hotel in London Road into a Tesco Express – despite fierce local opposition.

But the Pakefield Opposing Tesco (POT) group has now succeeded in getting the Victorian building listed as an asset of community value (ACV) – potentially delaying any decision on its future.

The news is a welcome boost for the campaigners, who suffered a big setback in April when Waveney District Council ruled the Tramway was a only pub – thereby paving the way for Tesco to press ahead with its proposals without submitting a full “change-of-use” planning application.

POT then lodged an application with the council, under the Localism Act, in an effort to get the building listed as an ACV. And last night it learned its nomination had been accepted.

The ruling means the community will have the right to bid to buy The Tramway – if it is put up for sale. However, with its owner Enterprise Inns seemingly only planning to lease the building to Tesco, other hurdles will still have to be overcome before the long-running battle is won.

Welcoming the latest development, the secretary of POT, John Ward, said he felt “immense pride” at learning that the council had listed the Tramway Hotel as a community asset.

He said: “We believe this is the first asset of community value in the Waveney area – the first of its type in the district. The reason for submitting the application in the first place was to show the strength of feeling in the Pakefield community and to help save the Tramway. It keeps our vision alive.”

Mr Ward, who lives in Pakefield and has always described the Tramway Hotel as “my local,” said the ACV ruling was welcome news after 20 months of campaigning against Tesco’s plans.

“It shows the strength of community feeling, not just to keep Tesco out – it’s to save the Tramway, which has been a part of Pakefield for more than 110 years,” he added.

Ever since Tesco announced its plans in November 2012, people in Pakefield have campaigned against the company’s proposals to take over The Tramway, which was once the southern terminus of the Lowestoft tram network.

Tesco initially said it hoped to open the store – which would be its fourth in the Lowestoft area – “by summer 2013” but its plans have been delayed in the face of the fierce local protests, including two demonstrations outside council meetings at the town hall.

The campaigners say a new Tesco Express would have a detrimental impact on existing shops in the area and compound traffic problems in the area.

Under the Localism Act 2011, the government introduced new powers for communities in England to nominate valued facilities, such as pubs, as assets of community value – giving local people the right to make a bid if an owner puts one up for sale.

Now the Tramway is listed, campaigners will have up to six months to consider their options for saving the building if it is put up on the market.

Welcoming the development, Bob Blizzard, chairman of POT, said:

“I think it’s a positive step forward. It recognises what we have been saying – that the Tramway Hotel is too important to the community to be turned into a shop we don’t need. But, the right to bid won’t kick in until we have seen off Tesco as Enterprise Inns are only planning to lease the building to them.”

Despite the good news, Mr Blizzard said POT was still pressing ahead with its separate bid to have The Tramway classified as a mixed use business trading as a pub and a hotel which, if approved by Waveney, would oblige Tesco to submit a full planning application.

He said POT was still waiting to hear when the matter would be considered by a meeting of Waveney’s development control committee.

“It’s still vital that people support our application for a certificate of lawful use,

“People should continue to write to Waveney District Council’s planning department to support that application which, if successful, will force Tesco to put in a full change of use application.”

Waveney District Council has already informed Enterprise Inns PLC of its decision to list The Tramway as an asset of community value and warned the company that a six-month “moratorium period” will be triggered if it opts to sell the property.

When it announced its plans, Tesco said its proposed new store would create about 20 new full- and part-time jobs and provide more choice for shoppers in south Lowestoft.

Last night, a fund-raising quiz night was being held at The Tramway, as POT continues to raise funds for its campaign to save the building.

'NEW DEVELOPMENT IN CAMPAIGN TO STOP NEW TESCO STORE OPENING IN PAKEFIELD’S TRAMWAY HOTEL'

From the Lowestoft Journal: Campaigners fighting Tesco’s plans to open a new store in Pakefield were given a major boost last night. The supermarket giant is hoping to convert the...

From the Lowestoft Journal:

The government also provided a £125,000 grant to help assess options for a new multi-million road crossing over Lake Lothing in Lowestoft.

Suffolk County Council is carrying out a consultation on three possible routes – one next to the Bascule bridge and the others further up Lake Lothing at Silo Quay and at the adjoining Brooke Industrial Park.

However, with the funding not being made available until 2016-17, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveney, Bob Blizzard, said:

“To have to wait until after 2016 to even start yet another study fails to grasp the urgency with which a third crossing needs to be progressed.

“We’ve already had a study which I got commissioned in 2009.”

BOB SLAMS NEWS OF ANOTHER CROSSING STUDY

From the Lowestoft Journal: The government also provided a £125,000 grant to help assess options for a new multi-million road crossing over Lake Lothing in Lowestoft. Suffolk County Council is...

In reply to Roy C Smith (Letters July 4th), I must point out that although I have always been a keen DIY enthusiast about the house (thanks to my father who was a self employed signwriter and decorator), I am not a civil engineer or roads technician. Therefore, as MP, I was not capable of drawing up and designing a costed scheme for a third crossing for submission to government for funding! My three office staff were not engineers either.

As I have said before, no government can approve funding for a road scheme until it receives a bid. This requires SCC, as the local highway authority, to promote a third crossing by carrying out preparatory work and drawing up a scheme with the Highways Authority. They did this for the South Lowestoft Relief Road and £30 million was delivered by the Labour government.

In 1989/90 SCC did this for a third crossing and it was in the national roads programme. But when the John Major government axed the scheme after the 1992 election, SCC abandoned a third crossing and no bid has been submitted since.

In fact when, in 2008, with ministerial support, I approached the Highways Agency directly, SCC at first declined to cooperate with any study. When, in 2009, a study was produced, SCC did nothing with it. That is because their published transport strategy for Lowestoft involves spending £5 million on a footbridge beside the bascule bridge in the belief that so many more people will cycle or walk that a third crossing will not be necessary.

I’m pleased that in response to campaign that Peter Colby and I have mounted, SCC is now once again engaged with the idea of a third crossing, but momentum must be maintained, and they must properly evaluate the Colby scheme because of all its advantages.

Mr Smith shouldn’t be surprised that a businessman and I are working in close partnership. I have a file of letters from local businesses thanking me for the help I gave them when I was MP, ranging from some of the smallest to the largest in Waveney. As Chair of the All Party Offshore Oil and Gas Group, I worked closely with some of the largest companies in Britain. And there are successful businessmen, like Lord Sugar, who support Labour.

I will continue to work with everyone to achieve what Lowestoft needs and people want – a third crossing. A crossing in the right place, that allows boats to pass without stopping the traffic, and which provides flood protection, is a prize worth fighting for. Let’s all get behind it!

JOURNAL LETTER ON THIRD CROSSING

In reply to Roy C Smith (Letters July 4th), I must point out that although I have always been a keen DIY enthusiast about the house (thanks to my father...

LABOUR WON’T LEAVE THE FORGOTTEN 50 PER CENT OF YOUNG PEOPLE WHO DON’T GO TO UNIVERSITY BEHIND

Our education system needs to change if we are to set all young people up for the future and if we are to build the high skill, high wage economy we need to succeed as a country. We need to offer a clear, high quality vocational route right through education for young people wanting to pursue vocational and technical qualifications.

For young people following the traditional academic route there has for many years been a clear route from age 14 through GCSEs to A’ levels and on to university. But not enough attention has been paid to the options available to young people who do not go to university. This ‘forgotten 50 per cent’ of young people face a confusing mix of vocational courses, many of which fail to offer progression to good jobs or further study. This is failing young people and holding back businesses that can’t get the skills they need to succeed.

So the next Labour Government will end the culture that says the academic route is always best and vocational skills are second best, with radical reforms to our education and skills system to create a clear route for the forgotten 50 per cent.

Ed Miliband has already set out measures to introduce a new gold standard vocational qualification – the Technical Baccalaureate – for 16-19 year olds, tackle poor standards in English and Maths, raise the standard of FE colleges and radically improve the quality and quantity of apprenticeships.

This week he announced that Labour will introduce new Technical Degrees as the pinnacle of this new gold standard vocational route, ensuring that young people that excel in vocational skills have opportunities to progress to high level training that sets them up for a career. This will give young people embarking on vocational education at 14 a clear path through education and into a skilled career. 

One Nation Labour will mend the broken link between growth and living standards, so that we can earn our way out of the cost-of-living crisis. We need big reforms – not big spending – to address deep-rooted problems and create an economy that is made by the many, not just a few at the top. 


YOU CAN'T TRUST DAVID CAMERON WITH THE NHS

This week in Parliament David Cameron was caught out using phony figures to cover up what is really happening to the NHS on his watch. He tried to pretend that average waiting times in A&E had fallen – but the independent and respected House of Commons Library proved that in fact, patients are spending longer in A&E.

He promised that his £3 billion top-down reorganisation would make the NHS better. But on count after count, things are getting worse for patients.

The number of people waiting more than four hours in A&E is at its highest level in a decade. Waiting lists have reached their highest level for six years. And the number of people waiting more than six weeks for vital diagnostic tests has more than doubled in a year.

These are shocking statistics for patients, NHS staff and the public who fear the NHS is crumbling before their eyes.

David Cameron can try and massage the figures, but his complacent claims contrast starkly with the experience of people’s everyday lives.

The truth is that his costly top down reorganisation of the NHS is diverting billions of pounds away from patient care.

David Cameron tells us things are getting better. It just makes him sound more and more out of touch.


LABOUR’S PLAN TO DELIVER A WORLD CLASS TEACHER IN EVERY CLASSROOM

David Cameron and Michael Gove’s schools policy is taking school standards backwards: failing to meet teacher recruitment targets; placing unqualified teachers in our classrooms; and talking down the teaching profession as the ‘enemies of promise’.

Day in, day out, it’s the teachers in our classrooms who hold the greatest influence over the learning and development of our children. And we know that the quality of teaching makes the biggest difference to our children’s exam results, their character and their confidence.

So the next Labour government will have a laser-like focus on reforms that will deliver a world-class teacher in every classroom. We are looking at the best systems, in particular Singapore. There, teachers have distinct, high status aspirations – like Master Teacher status - to keep the cream of the crop in the classroom.

But under this Tory-led government, instead of raising teaching standards, David Cameron has delivered a 16% rise in unqualified teachers in the last year alone. He has changed the rules to allow unqualified teachers into the classroom on a permanent basis. If we want to compete with the rising powers of the East, we should learn from their success. That’s what Labour is doing.

WESTMINSTER ROUND-UP

LABOUR WON’T LEAVE THE FORGOTTEN 50 PER CENT OF YOUNG PEOPLE WHO DON’T GO TO UNIVERSITY BEHIND Our education system needs to change if we are to set all young people...

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