Labour attack a plan they support









Labour Councillor Harvey Crane has taken to the Ipswich Labour website to attack the idea of switching off street lights in Alexandra Ward, claiming that it will increase damage to vehicles, rapes, assaults and muggings. Ignoring the inflammatory and ridiculous inclusion of rape in that list as a crime that will be increased by less use of lighting, this is a policy that has been given huge support by the Labour Party in Ipswich, with Cllr Ross commenting here, here and here about how much he supports the idea.

Not only that but Labour published a newsletter in June, the Bixley Rose, which identified the street lighting switch off as their idea, before deciding it was better to blame the Tories at the County Council. It is, in fact, an initiative of the Tory led County Council, providing savings which are being recycled to ensure that libraries don’t close and school crossing patrols aren’t stopped, two things Ipswich Labour tell the voters they have responsibility for preventing.

It was once the province of the Liberal Democrats to be wicked, act shamelessly, stir endlessly, but now it seems that Labour have taken that page from the Lib Dem handbook. Ipswich Spy was once told of a Lib Dem activist caught in Leiston telling one neighbour that locally they knew Sizewell power station (a big employer in Leiston) was a great thing for the economy whilst telling the other that nationally Lib Dems were opposed to nuclear power. It seems as though David Ellesmere and John Cook, who led and inspired Labour’s revival in Ipswich, may have to ask serious questions of their campaigners and councillors if they are saying one thing to residents in one part of the town and another to residents in another. One face should not speak with two voices and expect to be trusted.

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15 Responses

  1. Slightly one sided post!
    I have said on numerous occasions that I believe lights being turned off in certain streets is a good idea, – ‘certain streets’ being the descriptive word.

    The ward Harvey represents is very different to Rushmere- the waterfront, college, UCS and parts of the town centre.

    My main concern has been the lack of consultation and publicity by SCC on the plan to turn the lights off – no surprise either that Ipswich was the first place in the county to have their lights switched off.

    We ahve said in every Rose, that we would support rewsidents if they wished for their lights to stay on and that we would take the matter up with the County Council

    • Alexandra Ward does indeed have the Waterfront, Suffolk New College, UCS and parts of the Town Centre, but the area that Cllr Crane is talking about, Darwin Road, is not that different to large parts of Rushmere as you well know Alasdair. We don’t have a problem with two Labour councillors having differences of opinion on what is right for their ward – that is life – but we are trying to tie down what Labour’s policy on this is? Is it the support for it from the County Labour Group and yourself, or the allegation that this will lead to more rapes from Cllr Crane, an allegation based on no evidence whatsoever.

      Switching off street lights is not a new policy in the UK. Essex have been doing it for years. Interestingly we haven’t heard about huge rises in crime in the parts of Essex where they have been switched off, but has anyone in Suffolk looked at the research? Before making kneejerk responses, why doesn’t Cllr Crane look at the situation in Essex and counsel his constituents that actually their fears, whilst understandable, are not justified. Councillors are also local leaders and as such they have a responsibility to calm fears not stir them up for political gain.

  2. Oh well, a mention of rape will get the Evening Star to publish the claims however ridiculous. We all have street lights turned off where I live except for Ravenswood. What is so special about Ravenswood?

  3. first I knew about the plan was about after the third of fourth consecutive day after the lights had kept being switched off and I was about to report them as faulty, when I then found a sign hanging just about loosely on a lampost in one street of an entire ward, so some nice consultation from SCC there.

    Ive no problem with street lights being switched off to save money in principle but

    1) if its to save money, where is my saved money, Im still paying the same council tax as people whose lights are still on, and excuse me but who asked me whether I wanted this “saved” money spent on libraries and crossing patrols, I might actually have wanted that as money back in my pocket for the reduced services the council are now providing,and none of this was in any election leaflets I saw so wheres the electoral mandate for it.

    2) why midnight ?, I know councillors like to be tucked up in bed by 9pm watching Downton Abbey, but some people actually after spending an evening in the town, or who have been to London for the day dont get back till between midnight and 1am. and now have to walk home in the pitch black, which isnt as safe as walking home with streetlights, fear of crime is just as big an issue as actual recorded crime is.

    3) if the council are so obsessed with safety and risk of being sued, they will spend over 1million pounds on replacing perfectly good paving slabs with tarmac to remove miniscule trip hazards, how does that attitude chime with letting people walk these same pavements in complete darkness completely exposed to trip hazards because they cant see them, its actually safer to walk in the middle of the road when the lights are off ,as you know roughly there wont be anything you cant see to trip you over.

    4) why hasnt anyone thought about just halving the number of street lights kept on, case in point the council keep replacing the orange sodium street lights with no doubt more energy efficient, but certainly brighter replacements, yet theyve kept the old sodium light spacing, so streets which were perfectly well lit before, now have far more lighting than they need. and could easily have saved money by just halving the number of streetlights.

    though no doubt all the councils vanity projects in the town will continue to be lit like Blackpool illuminations, theres no money to run streetlights in the town, but we can light the Waterfront for two years with some “interactive lightwaves”. (note the Arts council is funded by government, government is funded by taxpayers, so dont play the but we arent paying for it card)

    • The cost of running the council rises whilst the amount of money it receives falls. “Savings” aren’t returned to the council tax payer because are barely standing still in terms of council tax. That is why the cut by the last administration of 1% of council tax was so welcome. Unfortunately Clive it looks like the current administration are easing out of the budgeted commitment for a 1% cut next year, already arguing that money meant for the community will instead have to be put into the reserves because the council may not have received all the grants it thought it would receive. This is a bogus argument as anyone with any concept of Local Government finance would be able to make clear. The Borough and County will be aware by now of about how much they will receive in grant, and they know how much they need to reduce spending by. All they need to focus their efforts on is driving through efficiency and savings to back office functions, as well as doing business better and reducing discretionary spending, such as the subsidising of Unison by SCC and IBC. How they can justify to their members that the councils subsidise an office whilst cutting members jobs is beyond us.

    • As a matter of interest who pays for the street lights along the dock clives?

  4. I was with Harvey when he was speaking to concerned residents on darwin rd.they approached him and brought up the subject of a rape incident.Harvey has also been working closey with neighbourhood watch in darwin rd who have raised concerns over the lighting issue.

    • As we said earlier Glen, it is often a councillors duty, as a community leader, to calm unjustified fears rather than exploit them. If you are elected for St Margarets we hope you will bear this in mind. Rape, a disgusting crime, is thankfully rare, and the amount of lighting is not going to have a huge amount to do with the number of sexual assaults. To repeat the claim in a website article is irresponsible in our opinion.

  5. I know Harvey and it would in no way be his intention to exploit the fears of his consituants.Harvey is trying to give his consituants a voice they have concerns they are the ones who live there and have witnessed incidents.they feel that if the lights go off it will make matters worse.surely its his duty to bring these matters up if its of genuine concern. we don’t live in an age when everyone is tucked up in bed by 10 anymore.people work shifts bars stay open till 2 in the morning.I believe the attack the residents were talking about happened when a woman was walking her dog at 3 in the morning.this happened when the lights were on and I understand such attacks thankfully are rare,but I don’t think the residents fears should just be ignored.but we shouldn’t turn this into some” turn off the lights people get raped”issue as that’s not what its about it was one of a number of issues the residents brought up.

    • It is of course the duty of an elected councillor to raise issues of genuine concern raised with him by constituents with the relevant authorities, such as the SNT and the LA. Harvey may well have done so here, but he also produced an article for the Labour website which said that he thinks that there will be an increase in more serious crimes such as rapes, assaults and muggings. The inclusion of this phrase is sensationalist and undermines the story. Elected councillors have a duty to inform residents (no doubt all the county council members helped with literature, including the Lib/Tory ones?!!!) but also to educate them. Here Cllr Crane has chosen instead to repeat that he believes personally that there could be an increase in rape. This either makes him an idiot or incompetent. If he truly thinks rape as a crime is linked in any way to the level of lighting in a street, he knows absolutely nothing about the criminal statistics which show the vast majority of rapes are between people who already know each other or are already in a relationship. If he is merely trying to express the fears of his constituents, he could easily have said he has heard their concerns that serious crime is more likely and has asked the police to increase foot patrols in the area. Of course that wouldn’t be anywhere near as sensationalist as an article which uses rape twice as a reason not to do something fully supported by Cllr Ross and Cllr Martin.

      The original point of our story, and we did consider not mentioning the rape issue at all, was that Labour appear to be telling people in Bixley it was their idea, people in Rushmere that its good and people in Alexandra that its bad. We have to ask Glen, what are you telling the residents of St Margarets? Are you taking the environmental line of Cllrs Ross and Martin, or the crime line of Cllr Crane?

  6. My line is I feel there should be a consultation.listen to what the residents have to say but also look at the would be helpful to look at how the process works in other areas.I do think its important to be inclusive of the community on this issue.people feel they are ignored and don’t have a say or their opinion doesn’t count.this is a chance to give them a voice.

    • Without disagreeing on the fact that people feel they weren’t told, these changes were in the consultation for the last SCC budget, the changes weren’t picked up by County Councillors despite scrutiny and cabinet and full council meetings all being a chance to raise them. You can, however, legitimately raise a question about the County Councillors not raising the issue, especially in a county council election. Of course you are standing for the Borough Council, what precisely do you think is the point of asking residents their views on an issue you won’t have any control over? Don’t you think they will just see you as another councillor who failed to do what they asked if you ask them their opinion and then do nothing about it?

      The danger of fighting a by election on issues for which the council you are standing for has no responsibility is if you are elected on a mandate to change that issue.

  7. I was offering my opinion not a manifesto.
    In the St Margaret’s rose next to the very fetching picture of a Jon Barnes look a like we do state that it is Suffolk county council not ipswich that are responsible for the street light issue.the issue hasn’t been raised on the doorstep when I’ve been campaigning yet but rest assured I will advise them its a county issue and who to contact to voice there concerns.

  8. Thanks for the supportive comments from Glen and Alistair. I note the Ipswich Spy’s views on me. Clearly you are not a great fan of local Councillors supporting local campaigns. I have great admiration for people who feel passionate about their locality and are prepared to campaign for a better future. I will continue to support residendents in Darwin Road and hope that their lights will be switched back on.

  9. [...] with the idea from Ipswich Labour. However not all Labour councillors backed the scheme, with Cllr Harvey Crane showing concerns that it might increase crime and disorder, in our view stoking the fears of the residents for narrow political gain, rather than using an [...]

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