Labour councillor Alasdair Ross used an intervention in the debate around the proposed economic development strategy for the town to condemn Tory MP Ben Gummer for not accompanying a delegation who went to Westminster on Tuesday to meet with Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles.
Yet Mr Gummer claims he gave up his place on the delegation in favour of representing Ipswich during an important debate in the House of Commons, with the added benefit that this allowed others to attend on a delegation whose numbers were tightly restricted by the DCLG.
Cllr Ross told Ipswich councillors that “when this council, led by Cllr Ellesmere, sent people to meet with Eric Pickles, our MP, Mr Gummer, was busy being told off for being unruly.”
Yet a quick check of Hansard, the record of all that is said in Parliament, shows that Mr Gummer was not reprimanded for being “out of order” at all in the Commons yesterday. He did speak, in the debate on fair constituency boundaries, when he condemned what he called a typically graceless speech by Labour shadow minister Sadiq Khan, but he certainly wasn’t unruly.
Mr Gummer told Ipswich Spy that he had given up his place on the delegation so that others could attend, adding “I see Eric Pickles several times a week so there was no point in me taking up a place. I’ve lobbied ministers personally and heavily on this issue.”
Cllr Ross said that he could have received an explanation from Mr Gummer about why he wasn’t on the delegation, had Mr Gummer not blocked him on twitter. “I’ve asked him eleven times to explain to me why he blocked me on twitter. I’ve never been rude to him and yet he has blocked me. I’ve emailed him but he won’t reply.”
The delegation was a joint Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council visit to discuss City Deals with Secretary of State Eric Pickles. Council Leaders David Ellesmere and Mark Bee were joined by Chief Executive Russell Williams, Deputy Chief Executive Lucy Robinson and Economic Development Portfolio Holder (at SCC) Judy Terry to meet with the minister.
Mr Gummer said “I am really disappointed that Cllr Ross has attacked me for giving up my place on this delegation. I was trying to be helpful, and because I didn’t go it meant the Local Enterprise Partnership didn’t have to drop the business representative. Numbers were tightly restricted by the DCLG.”
Whilst any delegation from Ipswich is understandably strengthened by the attendance of Mr Gummer, voters in Ipswich would always rather he was in the House of Commons when crucial issues are being debated. Yesterday was a key element of the Government’s electoral reform program, and members of all parties were expected to be in attendance; even Gordon Brown managed to vote in the opposite lobby to Mr Gummer. Criticising him for doing his job really is dragging the bottom of the barrel.
Filed under: Campaign Activity, Government, Ipswich Borough Council, sightings, Suffolk County Council Tagged: | Alasdair Ross, Ben Gummer MP, David Ellesmere, DCLG, Eric Pickles MP, Hansard, Ipswich Borough Council, Judy Terry, Lucy Robinson, Mark Bee, New Anglia LEP, Russell Williams, Sadiq Khan MP, Suffolk County Council