Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Broken Promise On Mixed Sexed Wards

I was actually completely horrified to hear earlier today that the Government have given up on their commitment to end mixed sex wards in NHS hospitals. Spending time in hospital due to illness is bad enough without the indignity of having to share a ward with members of the opposite sex, particularly for the elderly. Despite making the promise over ten years ago, more than 80 per cent of hospitals still do not segregate men and women on wards – which is scandalous. Hospitals in developing countries manage to have single sex wards but yet we can’t. Broken promises are not what people in Chatham & Aylesford voted for and I am sure they’ll remember that when they next go to the polls.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

More recycling bins please

I was out in Princes Park today with local councillors Pat Gulvin and David Brake and was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who requested bigger recycling bins. The Council has recently changed waste collection services to encourage people to recycle more and in the area we were in today it seems to be working. A number of people I spoke to said that the box wasn’t big enough and they would like a wheelie bin. It was good to hear – people are beginning to take recycling far more seriously and if the Council can provide them with the extra boxes then that is good news all round.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Supporting the Police

I took a long lunch break today and headed over to Westminster to support the Kent Police officers marching through London in protest of the Home Secretary’s outrageous decision not to backdate their pay rise to September giving them a 1.9% rise instead of the recommended 2.5% rise. Jan Berry, the chair of the Police Federation, hails from Kent had time for a quick wave at me as she led more than 20,000 officers past the Home Office. I know the police are not perfect but they do a tough job and they do not deserve to be betrayed like they have. Ironically, the Home Secretary will shortly unveil her new Counter-Terrorism plans which she will be relying on the police to implement. And no doubt they will…but maybe through gritted teeth.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

We’re on our way to Wembley

FIVE – ONE. Read it again. Tottenham FIVE; Arsenal ONE. And Spurs are on their way to Wembley. I wasn’t at White Hart Lane but I was glued to my sofa…apart from when the Sky signal crashed and then I was glued to my kitchen radio. But oh my gosh what a game. The last time Spurs beat Arsenal so heavily was in 1983 – the season I started supporting them at the grand age of 8!
I am so pleased for the team and the supporters. Spurs fans have a tough ride – one minute we are great, the next we are rubbish. It is one emotional roller coaster ride being a Tottenham supporter but there is always one match a season which is talked about for a long time after – I reckon this one might be this season’s game despite some recent corkers (eg Reading).
I am one happy bunny…and am now looking for a ticket to Wembley!

Monday, 21 January 2008

Back at School

Took the day off work today and went back to school…well college! I was invited back to Mid-Kent College to speak to the public service students about being a candidate, elections, campaigns etc. I always really enjoy myself on these occasions. I found the students engaging and many asked extremely interesting questions on all sorts of issues ranging from teenage pregnancy, the smoking ban through to how much an MP gets paid and the war in Iraq. The feedback I got after was that the students were pleased to see that politics isn’t all about stuffy old men making decisions that have nothing to do with them. And hopefully after the next election that will be true for Chatham & Aylesford!!

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Women and politics

Today I appeared on live television for the first time. Previously I have done pre-recorded TV which is fine because if you muck it up you just start again, but with live TV there are no second chances so it is hardly a surprise I was a little bit nervous!

I joined Paul Siegert on the Politics Show South East for a discussion about women in the Conservative Party, linking into the selection of Ann Widdecombe’s replacement today. Paul is a really nice guy and totally put me at ease before the programme went live – he is a fellow Tottenham fan and also a former under 10 (boys) coach so was sympathising that I had missed my girls play this morning to go to the studio (a text arrived during the programme to say they lost 1-0 but played in the same way as the second half last week, so well done girls).

Despite having a dry throat and the start of a cold I think I did OK and got my points across that the Party has changed, there is more to be done but positive discrimination is not the best way to go forward. Women should be selected on merit, not because they are women. For the next seven days you can re-play the programme and judge for yourself HERE.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Unit 1 is open again

After months of hard work by parents and skaters, Unit 1, the excellent indoor skate park on the Rochester Industrial Estate has re-opened. Much of the work, which involved a large amount of complex legal negotiation, was done by two parents Kathy and Andy, although there are others who helped along the way including Blue Bell Hill & Walderslade Councillor Allan Sullivan.

I started to support the campaign after I heard the plea from a young skater to Medway Council to help, and met with both Kathy and Andy early on in their plight. As I have previously stated on this blog before, I am a huge fan of skate parks as they give skaters a single place to go rather than have them use the streets as their park. So today, I went along and watch an amazing number of talented skaters – boarders, rollerbladers and even scooters – exhibit their skills. I am absolutely thrilled that Unit 1 has re-opened and look forward to supporting it in order to ensure its future success.

Metric Martyrs

An online petition has been created in honour of the late greengrocer Steve Thoburn who as a result of a ridiculous EU Directive was convicted of selling bananas by the pound. Sadly Mr Thoburn passed away just a few days after the European Commission finally saw the error of its ways and decided not to enforce metrication. The petition calls for a posthumous pardon for Mr Thoburn and you can sign it HERE.

A second half victory

The girls had a tough match today but we all came away feeling really proud of them. We were 6 nil down at half time, and yet we were the ones going downhill! But even though the goals were going in there were moments of brilliance from our little ones which made us all feel good – a string of passes, some wonderful runs down the line, and some excellent charges into the box. As a coach you sit there and think “wow, the training is paying off!”. At half time, we switched from a 2-2-2 to a 3-2-1 and begun the uphill battle – and would you believe it we scored twice after some remarkable running from defence, and excellent passing to our striker who hit the back of the net with ease. I think I jumped higher and yelled louder than at many of the nail biting Spurs matches I have attended over the years. Final score 7-2 but it was the second half performance which had us all cheering at the end. Well done girls. You lost, but we were all proud of you.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Aylesford at Night

Kent Online has reproduced an absolutely stunning picture of Aylesford at night. Those who live there or have visited the village already know how lovely it is but it is great to be able to use modern technology to showcase it to the world.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

It’s the small things that matter

There is a great story on the Princes Park blog about how some barriers in an alley have finally been erected, after months of hard work by Cllrs Pat Gulvin and Matt Bright and the constant pressure applied on the Council from local residents. The barriers have been put in to stop motorbikes roaring up the alley way at all times of night and day, allowing residents to go ahead with their lives in blissful peace. This is the perfect example of what your hard working local Conservative councillors can achieve – well done Pat and Matt.

Monday, 7 January 2008

It could be ME!

The National Lottery has released figures this morning showing that the ME postcode is the luckiest postcode for the lottery based on the number of top prize-winning entries as a proportion of its adult population. It is only the third time that the ME postcode has been in the top 10 and now claims the number one spot from Ilford in Essex.

Apparently the Medway Towns has one top prize-winning ticket for every 6,119 adults who are eligible to play the Lottery, compared with Ilford in second place with one in every 6,839.

Furthermore, it is revealed that one in every 9,423 of people in the UK who are eligible to play the Lottery has now won a share of a National Lottery jackpot, compared to one in 19,000 when figures were first published in 2002.

Despite ME being the luckiest postcode it is hasn’t yet worked for me – I haven’t won more than a tenner on the lottery for about 3 years. Grrr.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Labour’s scandalous early release scheme

Recently published Government statistics reveal that 425 criminals have been let out of prison before finishing their sentences across Kent since June, under Labour’s controversial new early release scheme. Nearly 100 of those released were housed in prisons in Rochester and Maidstone.

Across the country, 11,000 criminals have already walked out of prison early under the ‘end of custody licence’ system, with an estimated 25,500 criminals to be let out over a full year. They include violent offenders and foreign nationals convicted of serious offences. The scheme was introduced because a shortage in prison places, thanks to a funding crisis caused by Gordon Brown.

In my view, serious crimes should be punished by a prison sentence, not least to protect the public. At least now we can see why violent crime has doubled under this Government when Gordon Brown is giving the culprits a ‘get out of jail’ card. This is fundamentally wrong. Sentences should fit the crime, not this week’s prison capacity.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Happy New Year!

I wanted to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year and look ahead to the ten things that 2008 has in store:

1) Sadly the New Year won’t start off well for commuters who, as likely season ticket holders, will from tomorrow face an average 6.8% rise in their fare, set by the Government. Even non-commuters in Kent will face a 4.8% average rise, set by the train company. How this encourages people to get out of their cars and use public transport I simply don’t know.

2) Meridian Girls Under 10s will complete their first season in the Kent League. It has been a bit of a baptism of fire for all involved including the coaches but we look set to survive the season and have had a fair amount of fun along the way.

3) Business leaders and finance experts predict that the year ahead will be uncertain and there are mixed messages on the stability of the housing market. However it has been predicted that house prices in Chatham are set to increase because of the new high-speed link into London – good news if you are a seller, but not such good news if you are a first time buyer.

4) Kent County Council will hold a massive county-wide school games competition for children aged between 7 and 16 in sports including athletics, basketball, cricket and swimming, culminating in a grand final.

5) Plans for the re-organisation of blue-light services at Maidstone Hospital look set to be approved meaning that those in need of certain A&E services will have to travel the extra 40 minutes to Tonbridge. An absolute outrage.

6) We know that Gordon Brown won’t be calling a General Election! He ruled out a 2008 election at the same time he bottled an October/November election last year.

7) During 2008 I will publish my 200th post on this blog and if it continues as it is at the moment it will have received over 30,000 hits – most of which I am pleased to say are from local users.

8) The Green Belt will continue to be under threat from the Government’s plans to build more houses. Medway Magna has yet to indicate that it has listened to the massive opposition from local residents to its proposals to build 9,200 houses on the Capstone Valley – hopefully they will do in 2008.

9) Kent Cricket Club will host the touring New Zealand side in April and the women’s one day international between England and South Africa in August. This is great for the club and great for Kent cricket fans.

10) Tottenham will hold on to Berbatov, who will inspire the team to rise out of mid-table obscurity and make it into the Champions League…or maybe not.

Whatever else is in store, I hope 2008 brings you peace, joy and prosperity.