Complaint about Tory wide of the mark

LABOUR'S complaint about Paul West got the response it deserved from the Standards Board for England.They rejected it out of hand.Frankly I don't know why an experienced and canny councillor like John Mowles felt unable to fight his own battle, and ran to a higher authority.

LABOUR'S complaint about Paul West got the response it deserved from the Standards Board for England.

They rejected it out of hand.

Frankly I don't know why an experienced and canny councillor like John Mowles felt unable to fight his own battle, and ran to a higher authority.

Mr West upset his Labour opponent by suggesting that householders seeking planning permission for a small extension to their homes faced different rules to a property developer hoping to build a 23-storey block of flats on the Waterfront.

You might not agree with that comment - Mr Mowles plainly did not - but surely that is just the kind of thing you get when there is a healthy level of debate on local issues.

Labour clearly felt that having seen two Tory councillors suspended after a referral to the Standards Board last year, it was worth having another go - this time targeting Mr West who as well as being a borough councillor will also be the Tory candidate in the general election.

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Mr Mowles - who was Labour agent until the last general election - alleged Mr West was using his platform as a councillor to advance his political career.

Excuse me, but isn't that what ambitious councillors have been doing since time immemorial?

Are we supposed to believe that David Blunkett wasn't advancing his political career when he was leader of Sheffield City Council in the 1980s?

And are we to believe that it's pure coincidence that Chris Mole was leader of Suffolk County Council before becoming MP for Ipswich?

I've got a lot of time for Mr Mowles - but frankly, on this occasion, I think the Labour veteran has completely lost the plot.

I WAS at the launch of the new park and ride link to Ipswich Hospital the other day.

While it shows the county council is trying to do something about an increasingly serious problem of parking at the hospital site, it's a bit like applying a sticking plaster when you've severed a limb!

I can see the benefit of stopping park and ride buses from Martlesham at the hospital - they go past the site anyway - but I really can't see many people heading for the hospital catching two buses from the other park and ride sites.

The fact is that in changing buses you increase the time of your journey - you'd probably have to allow yourself an hour to travel from Copdock or Bury Road to the hospital.

Faced with that kind of journey on a daily basis, I can't really see any staff taking advantage of the new service.

And if you're going to hospital for treatment you probably wouldn't want to be subjected to that kind of hike either.

About the only people who I can imagine would find the new tickets useful are those people who are planning to combine a visit to the hospital with shopping in the town centre - and there won't be enough of them to make a significant impact on the parking problems.

What is needed is for the hospital bosses, county council officials, and borough council officials to get their heads together and come up with a solution for the disastrous parking situation fast.

It is intolerable for people living near the hospital to have all their streets clogged up every day with hospital-based vehicles.

We know the hospital has financial problems, but frankly its bosses must act to remedy the difficulties faced by its neighbours.

The hospital has to be prepared to face the traffic problems its success has created - otherwise it will continue to be regarded as a neighbour from hell!

EURO-MPs don't often hit the headlines, except when they're up for election - but some do have the knack of using their jobs to do something interesting.

Last year the Eastern region of England elected seven Euro-MPs. How many can you name?

The two with the highest profile are Liberal Democrat Andrew Duff - whose office sends out worthy, if boring, press releases by the score - and Labour's Richard Howitt who has managed to use his position to promote the parliament's work and show that there's more to being a Euro MP than just drawing a fat cat salary.

A few years ago he was at the forefront of the campaign to free the British plane spotters from a Greek jail.

And now he's just returned home after being one of the official observers at the Palestinian election.

That role must have had its dangers - but Mr Howitt joining former US President Jimmy Carter's team ensuring that the election of Mahmoud Abbas was as fair as possible under the circumstances.

Being a Euro-MP must have its frustrations. You have a good salary, expenses other people can only dream of, and the chance to travel the world.

But you also know that 99.9 per cent of your voters don't have the foggiest idea what your purpose in life is.

At least Mr Howitt is showing that there is some purpose to his position outside the Euro-bubble.

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