Mental health services are 'not coping' and crime is up - the price of austerity
Looking back at 2018 it was a year of great achievements in Ipswich - Ed Sheeran announced he would be rounding off his world tour here, Broomhill Pool secured Lottery funding and work restrated on the Winerack.
But austerity continued to bite, as David Ellesmere discusses as he looks back on the issues he debated in his weekly columns throughout the year.
Despite Theresa May’s claims it’s pretty clear from the number of occasions I wrote about the problems in one public service or another that austerity is still very much with us.
One service struggling more than most was the NHS with waiting lists and times up. Mental health services – especially here in Suffolk – are just not coping.
The police are also struggling. In Suffolk there were 323 fewer police officers and PCSOs than four years ago. Crime was up but the number of crimes being solved was down.
Councils also started to fail last year with Northamptonshire declaring itself bankrupt.
Because of our careful management of council finances, we don’t face this dire situation in Ipswich.
We protected existing services such as free brown bins and grants to voluntary organisations as well as investing in new and improved services.
We improved street cleaning in the town centre, improved our CCTV system, opened the new multi-storey Crown Car Park and ran a free iCard scheme for youngsters over summer.
We invested heavily in trying to reduce homelessness. Fewer people slept rough in Ipswich last year. Work started on a new homeless families’ unit and construction of new council housing on Cauldwell Hall Road.
Many other developments completed or started. Birketts moved into their new offices and the Cornhill work finished. Work restarted on the Winerack, the conversion of the Malthouse to offices and the first warehouse on the former Sproughton Sugar Beet site.
We were very successful at attracting investment to Ipswich. Broomhill Pool finally got the go ahead from the Lottery. We got funding for the excellent Women 100 art exhibition and the loan of Rodin’s The Kiss.
Any of course we had the announcement that global megastar Ed Sheeran is going to play four gigs in Ipswich this year.
Finally, given the amount of time it took up over the last year I’m impressed I managed to avoid writing about Brexit until the middle of November. I don’t think I can promise to hold out that long this year!