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Parties' final push in Ipswich election

PUBLISHED: 14:36 20 November 2001 | UPDATED: 15:21 03 March 2010

WITH polling stations due to open in less than 48 hours for the Ipswich by-election, the major parties have been pushing their big guns into action. Political Editor PAUL GEATER has been meeting Home Secretary David Blunkett and shadow chancellor Michael Howard - while in Westminster, problems with the town's buses have been brought up in Parliament.

WITH polling stations due to open in less than 48 hours for the Ipswich by-election, the major parties have been pushing their big guns into action. Political Editor PAUL GEATER has been meeting Home Secretary David Blunkett and shadow chancellor Michael Howard – while in Westminster, problems with the town's buses have been brought up in Parliament.

CARRY on naming and shaming young troublemakers!

That was the message to The Evening Star today from Home Secretary David Blunkett when he became the latest big name to visit Ipswich as part of the by-election campaign.

He spoke to the Star after being given a firm ticking-off by former teacher Terry Hagan who was angered by cutbacks to the youth service.

Mr Blunkett met community leaders from the Chantry estate at Lavender Hill to hear about their problems with crime – especially anti-social behaviour.

And Mr Hagan, who retired as youth tutor at Chantry High School two years ago but still lives in the area, was waiting for him.

"The problem is that there's nothing for young people to do in the area – the youth clubs have been closed down," he said.

"When I started here 20 years ago there were 18 people – paid and voluntary – working with the youth service. They have all gone, it's now become community education.

"The youth clubs have been allowed to wither and die. The council says it's because there's no demand – that's not true. The kids who would use them might be younger, but there's still a need for the facilities."

Mr Blunkett said the government was launching new initiatives to try to provide activities for youngsters on estates like Chantry.

But he also heard about the success of Anti Social Behaviour Orders (ABSOs) and Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs) in combating "nuisance" crimes.

Last week the Star told how Ryan Wade and Keith Leathers, both 16, had been banned from Co-op stores for unacceptable behaviour over a two-year period.

Mr Blunkett backed the decision to allow their names to be published.

"These kind of orders need maximum publicity to act as a deterrent to others – it is good to see that the issue is being taken seriously in Ipswich," he said.

Meanwhile the Conservatives were calling up three high-profile visitors on what they were dubbing "Super Tuesday."

Transport spokesman Eric Pickles and shadow local government secretary Theresa May were in town during the morning - and shadow chancellor of the Exchequer Michael Howard was visiting the town during the afternoon.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman Simon Hughes, who helped launch Tessa Munt's campaign nearly three weeks ago, was back in town for a final push.

Mr Howard said his message to the party faithful and the Ipswich voters was that the current government had made life more difficult for business.

"New figures show that Britain has slipped from ninth to 19th in the world league table of competitive economies," Mr Howard said.

"This government is strangling business with red tape - I shall be meeting small businessmen and women to hear about their problems."

Mr Howard said his party was determined to improve public services like health and education - and rejected Labour claims that it was determined to cut spending by £20 billion.

"We are committed to expanding public services - but not necessarily by increasing taxation.

"I think we are getting our message across, we are finding that people are looking at what is happening.

"In my own constituency I have had more letters about public services in the last 18 months than I had had in my previous 18 years as an MP," he said.

 

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