Category Archives: eXplore card

Suffolk Tories: the Milquetoast Manifesto

Snapshot of Suffolk’s County Council  2009-13:

Threatened closure of 29 libraries.. the vanishing of the Road Crossing patrols..  loss of the rural evening and Sunday bus services.. closure of Youth Clubs.. divestment of Highway Services..  divestment of Country Parks..  vast sums spent on gagging clauses,  consultants and senior management salaries and perks.. abolition of the Explore youth travel card..  sale and potential closure of Care Homes..  the plummeting of Suffolk schools down the educational league tables to their current places as 148th out of 151 at Primary school level, 141 out of 151 at secondary level… (there’s plenty more, but that’s enough to be going on with)

It’s quite a spectacular grime sheet, isn’t it?

As the 2013 elections approach it may be worth  remembering that the Suffolk Conservatives made no mention of Suffolk’s  New Strategic Direction when they went to the polls in 2009. Yet it didn’t stop them doing their darnedest to implement it without any mandate once they had their majority. (And when they were stopped, many of the NSD proposals continued under a different guise..)

It might be well to ponder this before voting. The Suffolk County Conservatives’ 5-pledge election manifesto is as thin as a lo-calorie water biscuit – and about as nutritious. They promise to replace a youth travel card they cut two years back, the high-speed broadband they funded in this electoral cycle, plus an (unavoidable) expenditure on care , a Country-wide ‘No ColdCalling Zone’ (go figure) and that old Tory staple of no council-tax increase – which is always wheeled out as an alibi for their more spectacular episodes of financial mismanagement. And .. er.. that’s it.

So – as I say – milquetoast from start to finish.  

But who knows what may be on the secret agenda for the next four years?

Young Persons Travel Card: Suffolk Tories’ Amnesia?

I just cannot get over the Suffolk Conservative election pledge  “A new travel card for young people

Are they amnesiac? have they an overdeveloped sense of irony?

The Suffolk Explore card, cut by the Conservatives  in haste, and apparently now repented at leisure
The Suffolk Explore card, cut by the Conservatives in haste, and apparently now repented at leisure

Suffolk Conservatives wouldn’t need to pledge a new travel card for young people if the very same lot hadn’t cut  the Explore card two years ago – halfway through the academic year 2010-11 – causing a huge amount of problems to all those young people who were not lucky enough to have other means of transport.  The Suffolk Conservative Councillors  who are now making this pledge voted like sheep to approve that cut (see link)  despite the harm it caused to education, employment and training.

So what’s changed?

Is it the imminence of the May 2 elections? Is it maybe that those very same young people are now old enough to vote? The cynicism is breathtaking.

Suffolk Conservatives – don’t you realise you are dealing with real lives, real futures, real people?

Youth travel is an issue for every day – not to be cut and restored for electoral advantage!

 Addendum: LibDem candidate Emma Greenhouse was personally affected by Suffolk’s Explore card cut.  She is now campaigning for better public transport for everyone in Wilford!

Votes at 16: true democracy

Last week Parliament made history by supporting the LibDem motion to give 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote .  At last. This is something we Lib Dems have been proposing since the last Millennium.

I can’t see why anyone finds this the slightest bit controversial. Surely if you are old enough to marry, join the army and to pay tax, you are old enough to vote on who can marry, when we fight and how much tax we pay?

Those  who argue that many young people ‘don’t know enough’ to vote, need only look around at their own peers.  No-one is making the case that people are ever too old to vote.

I’m certain that lowering the voting age would change politics for the better. If politicians have to appeal directly to 16 year olds as well as 46 and 66 year olds it will broaden their priorities.

Would the Suffolk Conservatives have scrapped the Explore young person’s travel card  two years ago  if the  cut impacted as fully on the ballot box as it did on young people’s lives?

I suspect not!