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Ben's Blog

10th June 2011

Dragons in Ipswich


There is so much that I want to report this week that I risk making a meal of it, and that more a collection of canapés than meat and two veg.  Or noodles, perhaps, which is what I had at the Golden Ship Chinese restaurant on Ship Launch Road on Monday.  The Chinese people there were celebrating not only two birthdays but the dragon boats, which traditionally sail at this time of year.

The next day it was a dragon of a different kind – Peter Jones – whose name is now affixed to the new Enterprise Academy, at the top of the new James Hehir Building, between Duke Street at the waterfront quay.  In fact, the prominent penthouse window at the top, which many of you will have seen, is part of the new school.  The view from there is, I can assure you, one of the best in and of the town.

As I looked out during the speeches, I reflected that on this bit of land there was once a shipyard (hence, of course, Ship Launch Road) and then the industrial behemoth that was Ransomes Sims and Jeffries.  Now, link by link, the town is remaking itself, and this new Peter Jones Academy will be an important part of the chain.

Already this has marked itself as an inventive place to be, so I was not too surprised that ceremony consisted of a local street poet and an urban artist.  Great stuff.

But they were not the real stars of the show: for me it was the students who have already signed up, from Claydon, East Bergholt and Ipswich – all of whom are about to start a linked course at Suffolk One.  Having met them I have no doubt that many of them will soon be running companies of their own, generating the new employment that ships and lawnmowers once used to provide.

Now, for the Chinese, the dragon is a sign of wisdom, strength and good fortune.  How appropriate then that this wonderful new centre is named after Peter Jones, the tallest and richest of the Dragons Den brood.

Freedom Bill

I put my name down this week for an amendment to the Freedom Bill – the piece of legislation that scraps so much of the draconian silliness of the last administration.  The new clause I am supporting is very simple: it advocates removing a Labour law that makes it illegal (yes, and this really is true) to insult people in the street.  Although it has been seldom used, this rule basically stops people protesting or preaching, if another nearby objects to what they have to say.

Sometimes you have to wonder what planet these guys were on.  Aren’t we supposed to be a free society?  The fact is you cannot legislate for civilised behaviour.  So I will do what I can to remove this awful abuse of freedom from the statute book.

And then, you can insult me in the street to your heart’s content.

Fallen in Love

On Sunday I was lucky enough to go to the last night of Fallen in Love – an amazing new play by Jo Carrick performed by the Red Rose Chain at Gippeswyk Hall.  All about Anne Boleyn, and true – unusually for drama – to the historical account, this is a real jaw-dropper of a production.  My father and mother went last week and were amazed; my brother, sister and two friends went with me on Sunday and totally agreed.

Happily, we are not the only ones: it’s soon going to Edinburgh and then – with luck – to London.

A mixed week, therefore, but I finish feeling more than a little upbeat.