Friday 29 April 2011

Proud to be British

Picture linked from BBC:
Watching the wedding was such a huge reminder that we remain a unique and magnificent country.

Highlights to me were the singing of "Jerusalem" during the service and the massive crowds down the Mall.

When the naysayers start to run our country down and run the royal family down, show them that video,

History was made today, with a future King marrying a commoner, history is what brings tourism into Britain.   The Royal Family will continue to do that for generations.

My nomination for the award of misery guts of the day goes to Peter Hain MP, Labour Shadow Cabinet Member, who tweeted this during the service:

"Loads of TV coverage of Cameron and Clegg at wedding but none of Ed. BBC airbrushing Labour like the Palace?"

But, let's finish on a positive note - a great day for a great country.

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Ambition AXA Awards

This is a cut and paste job - but no apologies for that.  Something that is very important:

"We all dream of being the best at something; here is a helping hand"

‘Do you know of any young achievers aged 11-18 who care deeply about their community and dream of making a significant difference to the people around them? CSV is helping to judge the Ambition AXA Awards. They have been created to recognise outstanding young people involved in The Arts, Community, Enterprise, Science and Sport.  The winner in each category receives a bespoke mentoring prize to progress their ambitions to make a difference. It might be someone who has launched a campaign to slow down traffic and protect children, or someone who has dedicated themselves to fundraising for their local hospice, or someone who has tackled bullying at their school or worked to involve disabled children in their activities. Please encourage young people you know to apply by visiting or’

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Leaflet for Kingsmoor Ward

I am about to deliver this leaflet to residents in Kingsmoor Ward.

Why am I doing that when I'm not fighting an election?   Well, it gets the message about being unopposed out to the residents of Kingsmoor Ward and reminds them how to get in touch with me, but it also contains a few messages about AV and my reasons for supporting the "No" campaign. There is a danger that without a District and Town Council election residents will not turn out on May 5th - I want to encourage them to come out and vote "No".

The Trouble with Independents

Much has been said about Independents in the Fenland elections, much of it positive and much of it about the benefits of being free from party political influence.

But, is that freedom always a good thing?  People might disagree with and vote against a candidate because he belongs to a political party they don't like, that is fair enough.  But, do you always know what an Independent stands for?  Some people will vote for an independent just because they have that tag against their name, but it is possible to stand as an independent and have extreme communist or facist views.

There is another point about belonging to a political party.  As a Conservative I know that if I say or do the wrong thing, I will have an agent, or even the party machine or my political group on my back.  Actually the example of Lister Wilson at the County Council is a great example.

Compare that to the behaviour of the independent standing in March West by the name of Matt Broadfield.  Some people will see that he is an independent and vote for him just because of that.   Now look at his profile on the Cambs Times website.  This is, I believe, taken from a web page that is now taken down about a political party that Mr Broadfield is, as I understand it, intending to create.  My own view is that some of what is expressed there is bordering on the extremist - I am sure Mr Broadfield would disagree, but that is my view.  It might also be that his views are not articulated clearly enough and, as a result, they come across poorly.

Now let's look at the issue of behaviour.  Mr Broadfield is a user of Twitter.  His Twitter name is @fen_councillor . That, in itself, is misleading.  To the best of my knowledge Mr Broadfield is not a Councillor - he is a candidate.

Last week - he published this tweet to John Elworthy, the editor of the Cambs Times:

"I posted leaflet, emailed policies 4 my profile, non published, incompetence or bias? I treat unfairness with deserved bile."

and today, in a tweet to me, he referred to John Elworthy as "Elfworthy".    Now I know that John Elworthy is capable of fighting his own battles, but you do have to question the wisdom of taking that sort of attitude with a local newspaper editor (I think this is because he wants the Cambs Times to publish a different profile than the one currently being used).

Today, when I challenged about the approach he was using, I was described by Matt Broadfield on Twitter as:  "typically undemocratic/weak" - I suppose you could argue that is opinion - but there are no facts to back it up and plenty of evidence of me having taken tough decisions in the past.  But when challenged he retorted with "the man campaigning for health and wellbeing yet got more chins than a chinese phone book!"  Given that I have run four marathons, recently ran a 26.2kilometre road race and last year walked the 84mile Dales Way, that comment is nothing more than an empty insult.  Here is the point, if I behaved in this way, I would be dealt with.  In fact, I suspect if that was my behaviour, I would not have been allowed to stand as a Conservative in the first place.

So, my message is this - unless you really, really know what you are voting for and who you are voting for, be very cautious about voting Independent, independence may not offer the benefits you think it does.

I am sure Mr Broadfield will not like some of what I have said here.  He is free to comment and, provided the language is appropriate and free of insults, I will publish.

Sunday 24 April 2011

In Defence of the Coalition

It would not surprise anyone to know that I am not a fan of the Lib Dems, and especially of their passion for taking political advantage out of any situation.  However, I am also understanding of the reasons for a coalition Government given the outcome of last year's General Election.

One aspect of a coalition that I don't think is understood is the inevitably of tensions and differences, such as we are seeing at the moment over AV.  Mature coalition Government and mature media has to recognise this and accept that those tensions are sometimes going to break out in the open.  Just because it does, should not continuously lead to commentary about the end of the coalition, it should, instead, be interpreted and accepted as an inevitable part of it how it operates.

I am absolutely clear about the need for a No vote in the referendum.  As are almost all of my Conservative colleagues.  The one thing that does bother me is that the Lib Dems will use the outcome of the referendum as an excuse to get rid of Nick Clegg and to end the coalition.  It will be a mistake in my opinion.  Much as I disagree with electoral reform, Nick Clegg has taken the Lib Dems closer to changing the electoral system than any previous Lib Dem leader.  To get so close and fail may not be perfect, but it will be better than any of his predecessors managed.  That would not have happened without him or the coalition.

Lib Dems also need to understand the implications of such a decision.  If it forced a general election, the end result could be to put the deficit denying Labour Party in power again.  That would be a disaster for our Country, not least because it would come about because of a collapse in the Lib Dem vote; people don't vote for divided parties (yes, I know they are currently polling at a disastrous 10% - but leaving will potentially make that even worse).

I suspect that latter issue is what will make the difference - Lib Dems will always do what is best for them electorally, rather than what is best for the Country.

Thursday 21 April 2011

Whittlesey Youth Club Sleepover

I had the pleasure of helping at the sleepover at the Youth Centre last night.  I have to say I had a fantastic time.

The event was held as part of a plan to raise funding for the Youth Centre, to try and make sure our youth provision is maintained in the light of the cuts that are being made, something the Whittlesey Action for Youth group is also trying to do (and which also met last night).

The Young People were excellent, they had great fun, enjoyed each others company and were an absolute credit to themselves.  It was a pleasure to spend time with such good kids.  And it is a credit to them that they have reacted to the funding issues in the Youth Centre in such a positive way.  There are a number of adults who could learn from their attitude.

I also take my hat off to those who helped offered their own time helping out time last night.  I did a shift until midnight, but people stayed much, much longer than I did. Lovely, dedicated people who want the best for the Young People in Whittlesey.

So, the question is, should the "soak the youth worker" I have photos be published?  I suppose if I do photos of sleeping bag racing might emerge!

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Letter of support from Waterlees

I spotted this letter of support for the current Conservative Councillors from Waterlees in the Cambs Times.  I agree wholeheartedly with what it says.  Both Ray Griffin and David Wheeler have worked incredibly hard for their residents and, in fact, some of the current mischief about one of the most important investments in the area, the play area in the Spinney, is not about the reality of what is happening and has been done, but an exaggeration of some minor issues.  It was interesting canvassing in the area a few days ago (and I'll be back) hearing someone say that their son loves the play area, but she is voting for XXXXXX because he wants to close it because of all the trouble.

What trouble?   I keep getting sent images of the park open after hours (which we are dealing with), but they are images of children doing absolutely nothing wrong.  The police have confirmed that the site is not an ASB hotspot - and we ignore the fact that there were considerable problems on that land before the play area was put in place.

Ray and David have done an immense amount for Waterlees Ward - more than any previous Councillors and I really do hope, from the perspective of an individual that is passionate about dealing with difficult social problems  as much as from a Conservative perspective that they are re-elected.

The canvassing I did, was overall, very positive - which is a good sign and I'll be back helping in a few days.

If you want to know what I mean, I suggest you go to the Cambridgeshire Atlas and do some digging about Waterlees.  Looking at Male life expectancy figures is a good start.

New Portfolio at County Council

Yesterday it was announced that I will be taking on a new portfolio in the Cabinet being formed by Nick Clarke, the new Leader of the County Council.

The new portfolio is Health and Wellbeing, quite an exciting post with responsibility for delivering on public health, which is to be passed to Local Councils by the Government and will include linking to many organisations around the County, including the emerging GP consortia.

The new portfolio includes Registration and Coroners services (which I have had involvement with before) and emergency planning, which is new to me, but an important role of the Council.

I am really looking forward to the new challenge which will widen my own experience, but will also use a significant amount of what I have learned in my previous Cabinet roles.

Tuesday 19 April 2011

It's a tough job..

Today I had the pleasure to attend the opening of the Lee Valley White Water Centre, which is to be the canoeing venue for next year's Olympics.   The venue has been completed on time and on budget and is the only Olympic venue that will be open to the public ahead of the games.

I have spent a lot of time discussing the venue over the last few years in my capacity as Board Member for Nations and Regions East (the Board responsible for Olympic delivery in the Eastern Region).  So it was great to be able to see it completed and getting plaudits for being such a challenging canoeing venue.

I also had the privilege of being able to have a go at white water rafting - which is one of the ways the venue will generate revenue.  It is something I have always wanted to do, and I now want to do it again.  It was an excellent experience.   I got very wet, and had a nice swim after falling out the raft on one occasion.  But I loved it and would recommend it to anyone!!

Friday 15 April 2011

Election of Cllr Nick Clarke as Leader of Cambridgeshire Conservative Group

I would like to offer my congratulations and total support to Nick Clarke who was elected as Leader of our Conservative group today and is set to become the new Leader of the County Council from May 17th.

Nick has great qualities and experience that mean he will make an excellent Leader.

Thursday 14 April 2011

Street Lighting Funding Approved

The Government has today approved more than £100 million of funding to improve street lighting in Cambridgeshire.

The Private Finance Initiative (PFI) scheme includes the following:

  • Installation of 37,600 new lighting columns within the first five years; 
  • Replacement of over 4,500 illuminated traffic signs and bollards; 
  • Reduction in energy consumption and CO2 emissions; and, 
  • State of the art technology for early detection of defective lighting

The County Council have spent years getting this project right.  It is good, up front investment that will save money in the long term and make our street lighting provision much more adaptable.

Friday 8 April 2011

Elected Unopposed

I got this in an email from the Chief Executive at Fenland today:

"Dear Martin, this is just to advise you that as you were the sole nominee for the Kingsmoor Ward (Whittlesey) at the deadline for the closure of nominations for candidates for the forthcoming District Council elections on 5 May, you are automatically elected for uncontested election as Councillor for the Fenland District with effect from 9 May 2011."

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Bassenhally Farm application approved

The outline planning application for Bassenhally Farm was at planning committee today and was approved.

I spoke against the application and raised a number of highways issues, in particular that an access onto Drybread Road would worsen what is already an unacceptable situation outside the school at opening and closing team.

I also made a strong case that we already know and have hard evidence of what happens when the A605 has more cars along it, and that this evidence on the ground should be considered as much as the data.

But the Highways advice that there would be no implications won the day. I have asked for some evidence about those highways considerations, but the decision today means that the principle of development on that site is agreed, and therefore the only consideration is the detail that will come with a reserved matters application. But it looks like it will be impossible to prevent the development taking place.

Tuesday 5 April 2011


I found out yesterday that I am one of only two seats in Fenland that is unopposed for the District Campaign and that Rita Jolley and I are also unopposed for the elections for Whittlesey Town Council.

It is a very strange feeling, I enjoy the challenge of elections; they are what politics is about, so part of me is disappointed.  But there is another part of me that is obviously delighted that I can continue to serve the residents of Kingsmoor Ward.

Of course, that does not mean the election campaign is over.  I am passionate about the need to reject the proposals for AV and will be putting out literature to Kingsmoor Ward about that, and I will be supporting colleagues who are facing contested elections.

Vote Conservative

Is there an election going on..

Is there an election going on?

I ask that question because I can't think of any reason why the Lib Dems would want to create a story out of nothing?

This is the story.

There is no suggestion, nor has there ever been that the Government's music grant will be used on anything other than music.  What we are looking at is how we can use that grant to make sure every child in Cambridgeshire benefits given that not all schools use Cambridgeshire Music's services.  This is not a cause it's an election stunt.

Oh - and there's another one.  Last week we put out this press release - bear in mind this is for funding for the whole County.   Yesterday Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge City put out a press release claiming credit for Cambridge City's share.  I refuse to link to the press release out of principle.

Lib Dems will do anything for a vote - remember that on May 5th.

Sunday 3 April 2011

Thorney Running Club

Time and other commitments means that I don't run with these guys enough.  But Thorney Running Club are a good, friendly bunch.  I have been sent this poster, so thought I would put it on this blog:

If you are a bit of a runner (and I am definitely a bit of a runner) it might be worth checking them out.   A warm welcome assured.