#BackBob

Bob Blizzard, Labour Candidate for Waveney

Bob's Updates

I would like to explain to former Conservative councillor, Mrs Vigo di Gallidoro, (Postbox Nov 7th) that no government will fund any road scheme unless a bid for it is promoted by the local highway authority, in our case, Suffolk County Council. Whitehall doesn’t have searchlights roaming all over the country for places to spend money. A bid has to be made, and since the John Major government removed the Lowestoft Third Crossing from the national roads programme in 1994, SCC has not promoted the scheme.

This is best evidenced in a letter from Conservative controlled Norfolk County Council, dated December 21st 2009, which said, “From discussions with SCC, we do not believe they are strongly campaigning for a third river crossing in Lowestoft. The Highways Agency has carried out some preliminary feasibility work, but we believe that this was driven by the local MP” (me).

When SCC did put in a bid for the South Lowestoft Relief Road, I did my job as MP and delivered £30m from the Labour government for its construction, the largest ever government investment in Lowestoft.

Mrs Vigo di Gallidoro is also wrong in saying that the last Labour government was profligate in its spending. From 1997 to 2008, debt was reduced from 42% to 37% of national wealth. In November 2008, David Cameron told the CBI conference that he would stick to Labour’s spending plans, “because they are tight.”

Then, Lehman Bros bank in New York went bust and set off a world financial crisis and recession. Whatever one thinks of Gordon Brown, he didn’t cause Lehman Bros to go bust! The current government still inherited a debt which was the lowest of the world’s leading economies. Readers can see the Chancellor, George Osborne, admitting this to the Commons Treasury Committee in 2010 by following this link: backbob.org/osborneliedondebt. But, by broadcasting to everybody else that we had the worst debt in the world, he destroyed economic confidence and we went through a double dip recession.

We have been told there is no money, but if there is enough public money to spend £14m on new council offices; £15m on top down reorganisation of the local NHS that we were promised wouldn’t happen; £5m on a footbridge next to the bascule bridge and a giant bus shelter at the station that is mostly empty; untold millions on a Free School hardly anyone wanted; and £2.4m to buy the Sanyo site to prevent it being used for jobs; then I think it is possible to bid for a third crossing and succeed.

LETTER: THIRD CROSSING & THE ECONOMY

I would like to explain to former Conservative councillor, Mrs Vigo di Gallidoro, (Postbox Nov 7th) that no government will fund any road scheme unless a bid for it is...

Bob Blizzard was on BBC Look East on Monday 10th November, responding to David Cameron's roads "revolution" announcement.

BOB ON LOOK EAST - ROADS "REVOLUTION" OR RE-ANNOUNCEMENT?

Bob Blizzard was on BBC Look East on Monday 10th November, responding to David Cameron's roads "revolution" announcement.

Hundreds of events will be taking place this week as charities use Trustees’ Week as a time to thank the one million trustees across England and Wales for their time and dedication.

There are 248 voluntary organisations in Waveney that all rely on the dedication, energy and commitment of c. 1,400 trustees in order to support their beneficiaries.

Trustees are the people ultimately in charge of a charity. They make decisions that help charities achieve their aims and change their beneficiaries’ lives.

It is also a time to encourage more people to become trustees, as many voluntary organisations find it difficult to recruit new trustees. As many as one in five charities are looking for a new trustee.

Being a trustee allows you not only to make a difference to the lives of others, but to learn new skills, meet different people, and develop your career. Voluntary organisations are always looking for a range of skills and different backgrounds on their boards, as well as more young people. You can find out more about trustee vacancies in your local area through NCVO’s Trustee BankCharity Job and Do It.

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said:

“Trustees’ Week is a great opportunity for us to recognise and celebrate trustees and the valuable contribution they make to our society. They play a vital role, volunteering their time and working together to make important decisions about the charity's work. Good governance is at the very heart of an effective charity.”

Bob Blizzard, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Waveney, said:

"Voluntary organisations contribute so much to our local community. It's well worth supporting them by giving time." 

Trustee facts and figures

ONE IN A MILLION

Hundreds of events will be taking place this week as charities use Trustees’ Week as a time to thank the one million trustees across England and Wales for their time...

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'LOSS OF LOWESTOFT WIND TURBINE PROJECT IS MAJOR BLOW'

I've just been to Lowestoft Fire Station to listen to firefighters as they start their strike.

They risk their lives for us.

We need fit, strong firefighters.

The government says they must work until they are older, but they can be sacked if they fail a fitness test.

That's not fair.

They deserve our support so that the government settles the dispute instead of using it as a political football.

FIREFIGHTERS DESERVE OUR SUPPORT

I've just been to Lowestoft Fire Station to listen to firefighters as they start their strike. They risk their lives for us. We need fit, strong firefighters. The government says...

If only it really WAS land that has 'been derelict for years' that would be transformed by the plan for 850 houses referred to by Cllr Ardley (Postbox Oct 24th) and which he previously described as 'fantastic'.

However, the Jeld Wen playing field is not derelict. The County Wildlife Site behind it is not derelict land either. The Brooke Marine industrial site has suffered from years of neglect by its owners, but 120 people are working there because water front land is badly needed by businesses which can't find such sites available anywhere else in Lowestoft. That's why it should be retained for industry and employment.

Local and national builders think that the development of the Brooke Marine site for housing is unviable. That's why none of them have come forward with plans and we are just left with an application from companies involved in the Pleasurama site fiasco in Ramsgate which has enraged people there.

The plan proposes to build on the playing field and the wildlife site first (the easy bits). So we could end up losing them, while Brooke Marine DOES become derelict, because WDC does not seem to have secured any guarantee that this difficult and expensive to develop site will be completed.

In focusing upon my opposition to this plan, Cllr Ardley is forgetting about local people. The people who live in that part of town are strongly opposed to it and so are many others beyond. They asked me to support them. They turned up to the Town Hall and sent in hundreds of letters because they are angry. They have minds of their own. Cllr Ardley should go and meet them to find out. It will make them even angrier that he concluded his letter by saying he and the Conservative leadership of WDC will ignore what they are saying.

It's unfortunate that he talks about the buzz of interest from firms in the offshore wind industry in the week that we learned that the Galloper wind farm has been shelved by the energy companies because of lack of government support. All the more need to hang on to what we have, instead of driving away a company currently employing 80 people at Brooke Marine which would like a longer lease so it can expand.

Finally, the third crossing that Peter Colby and I are proposing would not cut the inner harbour in half. The small number of boats that now use the western end of the port would be able to pass through. However, a third crossing would help to overcome the problem arising from the whole town of Lowestoft being cut in half by Lake Lothing.

TORIES ARE FORGETTING ABOUT LOCAL PEOPLE

If only it really WAS land that has 'been derelict for years' that would be transformed by the plan for 850 houses referred to by Cllr Ardley (Postbox Oct 24th)...

Lowestoft's hopes of enjoying a huge jobs boost from new offshore wind farms on its doorstep have "received a major blow because of the government's energy policy," Bob Blizzard, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Waveney, said today. And, "An urgent rethink is necessary if we are to avoid losing the best economic opportunity we've had for a generation," he added.

Last week, the Galloper wind farm, which had planned to locate its operational base in Lowestoft, was cancelled, as the lead company, RWE, pulled out, following a similar move by its partner, SSE, earlier in the year. The main reason was the failure of government to award Galloper an 'Investment Contract', the government's funding mechanism for wind farm projects caught in the transition period between the switch from the previous Renewables Obligation system to the new Contracts for Difference regime coming on stream in 2017. Five offshore wind farms were awarded such contracts in April, but not Galloper. *

RWE said that without any certainty of future funding, there was "an unacceptable balance of risk and reward."

The future of the giant, round three, East Anglian Array wind farm, stretching up to 50 miles offshore in waters directly opposite Lowestoft is also now in doubt. One of the two partners, Vattenfall, has already pulled out, and the remaining company, Scottish Power, is very disappointed that the government has only announced total contractual support for 600MW in its latest rollout plan, with uncertainty about what will happen beyond. This is below Scottish Power's expectation and insufficient for the company to put in place the supply chain needed to deliver the project to the planned timescale and casts doubt over a company's investment decision.

Last week, the Chief Exec of trade body, Renewables UK, Maria McCaffrey, issued a stark warning to the government that, "the lack of a long term strategy is stifling confidence. To provide the UK with energy security, the industry needs to know how much offshore wind capacity Ministers want to see installed by 2030. Switching from RO to CfD has left developers working under extraordinarily challenging conditions, forcing some projects to grind to a halt."

Bob Blizzard said,

"Having championed Lowestoft's ambition to be a leading centre for UK's offshore wind, I have, over the past four years, sadly watched things slipping away, with new investment in new wind farms held up and now in serious doubt.

 "These projects involve massive multibillion £ investment from companies. They need certainty from government and good forward contracts for their energy to make the decisions on which the jobs we hope for will depend.

 "The government needs an urgent rethink before companies give up altogether, but all we hear about from government is fracking for onshore gas, not enthusiasm for offshore wind."

GOVERNMENT RETHINK NEEDED TO SAVE LOWESTOFT'S OFFSHORE WIND PROSPECTS

Lowestoft's hopes of enjoying a huge jobs boost from new offshore wind farms on its doorstep have "received a major blow because of the government's energy policy," Bob Blizzard, Labour...

A survey of Bungay retailers, carried out by Bob Blizzard, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Waveney, has revealed the impact on their trade of the new one way system installed by Suffolk County Council.

Bob Blizzard said:

As SCC always claimed that the main purpose of the one way system was to boost business in Bungay, I was surprised that they had not carried out any survey to see if it has been a success now that it has been operational for six months.

So I decided to ask all retailers in St Mary’s Street and the Buttercoss myself. Last week I surveyed all 38 retail premises currently operating.

The results are:

  • 12 businesses said trade was down compared to what it was before the one way system.
  • 3 businesses said trade was up.
  • 15 businesses said trade was the same, of which 5 reported a downturn while works were being carried out from which they have returned to the previous level.
  • 8 businesses could not say because they were not operating before the one way system.

Two businesses have been particularly hard hit. One larger store had to lose a member of staff because of less trade. Another business has been flooded a number of times since the new pavement was installed.

Most businesses felt that the streetscape of St Mary’s Street was more attractive, but there were mixed views on the parking arrangements.

Bob Blizzard commented:

I am aware that there are divided views about the one way system among Bungay people. However, the survey of businesses suggests that the money spent by SCC has not brought increased trade overall to the shops in roads affected.

Bob Blizzard also intends to carry out a further survey of shops in Earsham Street which was not directly affected to see if there has been any effect on them. 

SHOP SURVEY ON BUNGAY ONE-WAY SYSTEM

A survey of Bungay retailers, carried out by Bob Blizzard, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Waveney, has revealed the impact on their trade of the new one way system installed by...

From the Lowestoft Journal:

As the district’s former MP who served Lowestoft for 13 years, Bob Blizzard is perhaps as well placed as anyone to know about its quirks.

So when he heard that comedian Mark Steel was looking to find out what makes the town ridiculous, he had a few suggestions of his own.

“The quirkiest thing of all is when you stand at the bridge at Asda looking across the river, and you have to drive all the way round to get across to the other side,” he said.

“I don’t know of any other town where you’d have to take such a detour to get from one side to the other.”

He also highlighted “ridiculous buildings near Asda that have lay there empty, that could’ve been used for 10 years” and “having a pier that is closed off”, adding: “For a town with a fishing background, it’s quite a sore point.”

However he said: “Perhaps the weirdest thing is that we are the most easterly point in the country but we have no way of recognising it.

“We haven’t got a monument or any particular attraction. If you think about the number of people that go to John O’Groats or Land’s End, we are right on the most easterly point and we don’t really make anything of it in terms of a visitor attraction.”

He said that when he was an MP, there were attempts to try and build something to mark it – but that bids to attract funding stalled.

LOWESTOFT’S QUIRKS

From the Lowestoft Journal: As the district’s former MP who served Lowestoft for 13 years, Bob Blizzard is perhaps as well placed as anyone to know about its quirks. So...

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From the Lowestoft Journal:

Mental health chiefs insist they have enough beds in Waveney and Great Yarmouth, despite figures showing two hospitals were more than 90pc full before a decision was made to close inpatient beds.

Officials from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) and HealthEast announced plans last month to reduce the number of adult acute beds in the area from 28 to 20.

The decision means that all 14 inpatient beds at Carlton Court, near Lowestoft, will be closed next year, once Northgate Hospital in Great Yarmouth is extended to include more beds.

However, campaigners have questioned the logic of shutting beds after new figures revealed that the two hospitals were full to capacity on many occasions over the last two years.

Figures released under a Freedom of Information request show that on average 93pc of adult acute inpatient beds at Carlton Court were occupied between September 2012 and July 14. The response also revealed that 94pc of Northgate Hospital beds were in use in that period.

Bob Blizzard, prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveney, spoke of his frustration after the figures were released after a decision was made to reduce the number of inpatient beds in the area.

“These figures prove what staff and patients have been telling us, that the wards are full or overflowing all the time. This is why patients have sometimes had to sleep on sofas or be sent to beds a long way away out of area. These figures do not justify the closure of Waveney Ward at Carlton Court, agreed by decision makers,” he said.

Debbie White, director of operations for Norfolk and Waveney at the mental health trust, said they aimed to reduce pressure on beds in Yarmouth and Waveney by opening 10 new assessment beds at Hellesdon Hospital, Norwich.

“We are committed to using all the facilities and wards at Carlton Court to provide a range of new improved services as we develop it as a centre of excellence for older people’s and younger persons’ care.

“A third of service users in the adult acute beds in Carlton Court and Northgate Hospital in Great Yarmouth were from the Central Norfolk area. Great Yarmouth and Waveney residents are rarely placed out of area because we have enough capacity locally to care for them,” she said.

Twelve dementia beds on Larkspur Ward in Carlton Court have also been closed as part of the role out of a Dementia Intensive Support Team (DIST) providing more community care. However, 10 beds on Laurel Ward for older people with conditions such as bipolar, depression and schizophrenia are being reopened.

'CAMPAIGNERS QUESTION LOGIC OF SHUTTING MENTAL HEALTH BEDS IN WAVENEY'

From the Lowestoft Journal: Mental health chiefs insist they have enough beds in Waveney and Great Yarmouth, despite figures showing two hospitals were more than 90pc full before a decision...

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