Tuesday 31 May 2011

Rod Craig

Cambridegeshire County Council have released the news that Rod Craig, the County Council's Director of Community and Adult Services passed away last week.

It is very sad news. I had alot of time for Rod and he achieved a great deal for Cambridgeshire. 

My sympathies go out to his family.

Tuesday 24 May 2011

David Campbell Bannerman comes home

David Campbell Bannerman was a UKIP MEP for the Eastern Region.  I am pleased to say that he has left UKIP and has come back home to the Conservative Party.

It is quite an interesting turn of events, and comes as evidence is emerging of huge dissastisfaction within UKIP.  Only last week I was sent links to a couple of blogs that highlight massive discontent within their ranks - with a couple of names at the heart that will be familiar to those with an interest in Cambridgeshire political matters.

New Leader of Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats

Never let it be said that Cambridgeshrie Liberal Democrats stand united.   Their current Leader, Fiona Whelan is stepping down on June 19th, which means, I beleive, they are now embarking on their 3rd leader in a little over 3 years.

My congratulations to Killian Bourke who is the new leader elect.  He has set his stall out early with the following quote:
"I look forward to continuing the group’s role as a powerful and effective opposition, challenging decisions made by the Conservative administration"
Maybe the first thing he ought to learn is that effective opposition is not just about "challenging decisions" - it is about challenging where things are wrong and supporting where they are right.  The quote just about sums up the Lib Dem approach; they think effective opposition means opposing everything - because they think that is the line of maximum political advantage.

Seriously, I wish Killian well.

Saturday 21 May 2011

The Justice Secretary should bow out

I have been concerned about Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke ever since the election.  His unwise comments of last week are not the only issue, they are an indicator of a much bigger problem - which is that his whole stance on criminal justice seems to challenge a fundamental belief of most Conservatives.

Some crimes justify nothing else other than long sentences.  Repeated crime justifies nothing other than long jail sentences.  That is my view and, I suspect, that of most of my Conservative colleagues.  Punishment should be hard, but so should rehabilitation.  A Justice Secretary that fundamentally undermines this core principle, doesn't just do us damage as a Government, he undermines the values of the party.  If the Conservative Party loses its reputation as THE party of law and order, it will take a long sustained effort to wrestle it back.

I have massive respect for what Ken Clarke achieved as Chancellor, but I am increasingly of the view that in the interests of the Conservative Party he needs to stand down.

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Another one of the good days

Early start today, for a radio interview next to the River Cam in Chesterton.  This coincided with the announcement that both Peterborough and Cambridge are to get overnight stops as part of the torch relay.

These sorts of good news stories are great for politicians - but the most important thing is this is really good news for the County.  The closer and closer we get to the Olympics the more the excitement is going to ramp up; the overnight stops will create local events that will bring the Olympics out of London and to Cambridgeshire.

Also with me first thing this morning was Ben Hicks, a prospective Olympic rower, all 6'7" of him!! I then went to Trinity College and did the Launch of the Moment to Shine campaign where Goldie Sayers, Olympic Javelin thrower was on hand to help.  I have to say both our Olympians were a pleasure to chat to - as was Goldie's proud mum.  Moment to Shine is the first of a few campaigns to get people nominated to be torch bearers.  We need people to nominate inspirational people to be bearers for the relay, to give people that really deserve it the opportunity for an experience that will live with them forever.  If you know someone - go here and nominate them.

My final set of interviews were in another location with some young people.  Doing lots of television and press filming.  The young people came from Hinchinbrooke school, and local school sports partnerships.  I heve to say they were excellent, working with Goldie, being filmed with Hinchinbrooke's own version of the Olympic torch and also putting up with being interviewed by me - basically doing everything that was asked of them in a manner that was a real credit to them.  I did ask at one point what they would remember most - being interviewed by a politician or meeting an olympian (don't worry -I know the answer!!)

Sunday 15 May 2011

About that Caricature

I have always sort of wanted a caaricature of myself.  I have mulled over using one on my website and in letterheads for a few years.  My own view about a good charicature is that it says more about your personality than a photo ever can.

So I bit the bullet and got friend and fellow KISS fan (and talented spray paint artist) Nick Smith, to do one for me. I love it - I think it captures me really well, So, I am now thinking of doing a redesign of my website so it gets featured.

A few friends of mine have seen it and have commented quite positively - including one who suggested the horns are missing!!  

Just a final big up for Nick.  I am a big fan. I have a couple of his spray paint t-shirts, including the Gene Simmons one you can see him painting here.  Nick's website is here.

Quiz Night at the Conservative Club

Whittlesey branch of North East Cambridgeshire Conservatives are holding a fund-raising quiz night this Friday. Tickets are £8.00 per person and include a fish and chip supper.  The event is being held at the Conservative Club, with the fun starting at 7.30.  Maximum team size is 6.

I suspect tickets will sell out - but if you want any, get in touch

Thursday 12 May 2011

New Mayor Elected

Last night was the first Town Council meeting after the election.  The first item of business on the agenda was to elect Cllr Kay Mayor as the new Mayor of Whittlesey (yes, Mayor Mayor!!).  Kay has been Deputy Mayor for the last two years, so she has worked her way into it and she will do a great job.

I had the privilege of being elected as Deputy Mayor.  It is always a privilege to represent Whittlesey in any capacity, but especially so in a role like this.  I shall do my best for our great Town in my new role.

Saturday 7 May 2011

Another Lib Dem...

Many, like me, believe Vince Cable is sat at the Cabinet table as a reluctant member of the coalition, biding his time waiting for exactly the right moment to mount his coup.   It can be the only reason for his now seemingly regular snipes - they are a way of constantly test the water.  Today he has described the Conservatives as "ruthless, calculating and thoroughly tribal".

Can't think why people call politicians two-faced?

Friday 6 May 2011

Nothing more to be said..

Nothing more to be said about this guy except that he is a Lib Dem, one they keep putting forward as a candidate. Can it be any surprise that there are those who say the Lib Dems started to get their cum-uppence in yesterday's elections.

I am not going to comment more, except to say, that Lib Dems are free to disown their own candidates in the comments section of my blog - AND I KNOW YOU READ IT!!

Election Counts - The Ultimate Emotional Rollercoaster?

Elections are a tough time for politicians, intriguing, exciting - but tough.  Counts are the same but (normally?) distilled over a period of just a few hours.

Despite not having to go through the grinder, I was at the verification last night and the count today - because, of course, I have a buy-in to those seats that I have helped with and a passionate desire to see both Fenland District and Whittlesey Town Council remain under Conservative control.

The happy news is that Fenland remains a strong Conservative District.  We went into the election with 38 out of 40 seats, and leave it with 34 out of 40.  It is an astonishing endorsement of the work Conservatives have been doing in Fenland.  Those that predicted a wave of Independents flooding the District were disappointed (perhaps very mildly satisfied).  Those that predicted 8-12 losses for the Conservatives were also wrong (take a bow Mr Elworthy).

The tough stuff is what lies underneath that, especially some good Councillors losing their seats (especially Ray Griffin and David Wheeler, who I know have worked their socks off for Waterlees Ward ), when exciting and fresh thinking candidates don't succeed (such as Adam Triggs and Steve Tierney).  I had quite an interesting chat with the Bucknors who won the day over David Wheeler and Ray Griffin today.  My instinct is they are decent people and I hope I can work with them.

But life will go on, and Conservatives will continue to deliver for Fenland.  It is also heartening that Conservatives won through in every District seat in Whittlesey.  Hats off to Roy Gerstner for a hard fought independent campaign, coming a close second to Ken Peachey. Conservatives will continue to fight for Whittlesey.

I have two final things to say.  Firstly, the idea that the stress for Town Council candidates should continue over the weekend is ludicrous,.  But, it is true that many Town Council counts have been delayed because of a referendum for which we already know the result.

Finally, election agents are the hidden marvels behind successful election campaigns, the last to take the credit and the first to take the blame.   Step forward and take a bow Conservative agent extraordinaire Debbie Clark, she deserves huge plaudits for yet another fantastic Conservative result at Fenland District Council.

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Voting Conservative in Fenland and Whittlesey is the only option tomorrow

I have had the privilege of working with my Conservative colleagues at Fenland for eight years now and with my Town Council colleagues for twelve.  Eight years ago at Fenland we were still struggling to get over the legacy that was inherited from Labour in 1999 - a legacy of atrocious public services and a Council that just was not responsive.  As a Town Councillor for the four years before 2003 I was dealing with complaints about basic services in the Council - grass not being cut, litter not dealt with, cemeteries not maintained, bin collections that were erratic and poor.   Those are the core services that a District council provides.  In 2003 it was clear that Fenland was a poor Council.  It is now an excellent Council, and the fact that the election campaign across the District has completely ignored those basic core services can only be for one reason,  that is because in transforming the Council, Conservatives have delivered.

That doesn't mean things are perfect, I have dealt with a complaint about dog fouling this week and one about full litter bins along the Bower,  but both were dealt with within a day.  In the instance of the dog fouling, they didn't just deal with the mess irresponsible owners had left behind, but renewed signs in the area too.  You already have a responsive Council that deals with core services, so why vote anything other than Conservative?

But, that does not stop our Council dealing with major strategic issues, just look at the Boat House in Wisbech, Fens Business Centre as examples, or the work that is going in to supporting the Whittlesey Market Town Transport Strategy.  It is the combination of being able to deal with basic services and deliver on Fenland's strategic goals that makes it an excellent Council, indeed one that is recognised in the Municipal Journal Awards as the best District in the Country.   Why change it?

In Whittlesey, the Labour campaign has said much but offered little vision, indeed they have come forward with the idea that we should ignore the bypass, and focus instead on a link road from the A605 to Station Road.  Why not do both?  That's what the Conservative Town Council is doing?  I am already going to be elected because I have been unopposed for Fenland, but I will make this pledge - I will never give up on my personal commitment for a bypass for Whittlesey, the benefits to our Town and to the rest of Fenland are too great.  I will also campaign for improvements to our Town Centre.

Prior to the general election last year the Labour Party tried to oppose the changes to the allotments in Whittlesey.  It is interesting that it gets no mention in their local election literature - that is because the improvements have been a resounding success.  Conservatives delivering for Whittlesey, Labour moaning.  Same old story.

Much has been made of the independent campaign in Fenland.  But, really what does it offer?  There is no doubt independence offers dangers, I have already highlighted some of that here.  But much of their campaign has been about exaggerating the level of debate amongst the Conservative group at Fenland.  Well, let me tell you something, group debates are supposed to be robust - that is how you arrive at solutions, the sort of solutions that provide results that have delivered for Fenland over the last eight years - but do not pretend that robust discussion is the same as the divisions that the independents are portraying.  Independence does not facilitate good collective debate and decision making, it is why it will not deliver for Fenland in anything like the way the Conservatives have over the last eight years.

I could talk about the Lib Dems here, but I really can't be bothered.  My views about the behaviour of local Lib Dems have been well expressed before.  You vote Lib Dem at your peril.

The evidence is clear, Conservatives are delivering for Fenland and Whittlesey.  Why change a winning team?

Why it is important to turn out and Vote No for AV tomorrow

There is much in the media about a poll published today that showed a substantial lead for the No to AV campaign.  That is great news, the Yes campaign has failed to put a decent message across in my opinion - and for good reason, I am not sure there is a message that is strong enough to counter the arguments in favour of a No vote.  Our system of electing MPs is not broken, there is no need to change it and no need to complicate it.

However, it is important to warn against complacency and ensure there is a good turn out. I know the Lib Dems, and I know that however decisive the No vote on Thursday, they will not accept a democratic mandate and will do anything to repeat the referendum until they get there way.  The No vote on Thursday needs to win, it needs to win decisively and with as high a turnout as possible.  That is the only way the Lib Dems will be without an excuse for electoral reform for a generation (but I suspect even that won't stop them).

Tuesday 3 May 2011

Cambridgeshire's Transport Revolution

This press release was issued by the County Council today.  It challenges every comment that has been made about subsidised buses.   We have always made plain that our intention is to develop community transport to replace the old and outdated methods.

Conservatives innovate, others whinge.

"BE PART OF CAMBRIDGESHIRE’S TRANSPORT REVOLUTION A new scheme to revolutionise transport in Cambridgeshire could unlock tens of millions in investment, make it easier for people to catch a bus and has the potential to create new businesses. Cambridgeshire County Council is working in a cross authority partnership to see if public services can align their resources to boost local transport and business enterprise. Once agreed, pathfinder projects could be set up in the County by autumn to provide high quality community transport that will meet the needs of residents and statutory services ranging from taking children to school to providing transport to the local doctor. These local transport groups could include franchise agreements were residents are guaranteed a high quality service and which would encourage local enterprise, business and employment opportunities. The Council is looking to set up the first pathfinder projects in areas where bus subsidies are being reduced. Alone the County Council spends more than £20 million on providing statutory transport with extra money available for community schemes. The Council wants to see existing businesses, budding entrepreneurs and charities to step forward and grab this opportunity to take part in the scheme. Cambridgeshire Future Transport is a partnership between the County Council working with district and city council partners as well as other public services and authorities. It also has representatives from community transport and bus operators to help provide business and industry knowledge. The initiative will:
  • Ensure transport is well managed, easy to use, and delivered at a reasonable price
  • Handing budgets and power to communities so that they can find local solutions to local transport needs
  • Looking at an innovation fund to help local entrepreneurs and charities start up and expand local transport services
  • Drive through savings for public services while providing a seamless transport service
 Currently the Council spends millions of pounds on subsidising large buses that are often empty and sometimes buses and even local mini-buses are left idle through the day between pick-ups. This means there is plenty of capacity not only for improvements to be made but to create jobs and increase economic prosperity. The new scheme being developed could plough millions of pounds into the hands of local residents and businesses and co-ordinate transport across organisations to provide a much better service."
Nick Clarke, Leader Elect of the County Council, will be on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire tomorrow morning talking about our transport plans.