Thursday, 29 October 2009

The disrespect of the anti-war protesters

I am absolutely disgusted by the story on the Medway Messenger website regarding outrageous defacing of the Poppy Appeal posters by anti-war protesters. The Poppy Appeal not only raises much needed funding to support current servicemen, women and their families but it reminds us of the heroism of those who fought and died during two World Wars to defend the very freedom that allows people to protest in this country!

There is a time and a place for a protest but the defacement of a charity poster to make a political point is not it and I find I am sickened by the disrespectful and thoughtlessness of this act.

I hope they are caught and that the guilty party/parties are made to stand alongside veterans on Chatham, Gillingham and Rochester High Streets and made to collect for the Poppy Appeal from now until Remembrance Day.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

New Luton & Wayfield branch!

I have just returned home from the inaugural meeting of our new Luton & Wayfield branch! It is absolutely fabulous to have a branch up and running in what until recently had been a safe Labour ward, which of course returned its first Conservative councillor in decades in the September by-election. In all my time, and those of other political oldies at the meeting, I have never seen so many people actively involved in a branch – even in solid Conservative areas – so I feel very excited tonight by the enthusiasm and interest shown by new and old members alike to ensure the branch successfully contributes to the association and to my campaign.

Good luck Luton & Wayfield branch and welcome to the team!

Sunday, 25 October 2009

What is going on in the X Factor?

Danyl in a sing off with Miss Frank.

John & Edward survive.

The world has gone mad!

KCC AGM and canvassing in the rain!

On Friday I attended the Kent County Council Conservative Group AGM followed by the annual lunch with Guest Speaker Michael Howard. It was fascinating to hear what KCC has in story for the next few years although I was horrified to learn that Kent has the highest percentage of drugs misuse in the country.

After I left Maidstone I went to see a gentleman in Chatham about the standard of dementia services in Medway. Home visits are one of the most fulfilling parts of the job of being a candidate – it gives you a real opportunity to sit down in a relaxed atmosphere and talk through the issues at length. Carers are too often forgotten but they fulfill a vital role in our society and they need our support more than we can ever fully understand. I will definitely be picking up with the local health providers standards of dementia services when I next meet them.

Then on Saturday, we had a large team out in Snodland for a canvass session despite the persistent rain. There were some interesting issues raised on the doorstep this week including Nick Griffin’s controversial appearance on BBC Question Time – the whole episode has clearly divided opinion although I think whilst the BNP are a legitimate party whether we like it or not, the BBC were not wrong to give him a slot on the programme. Unless their share of the vote decreases or they are banned by the Government then they will no doubt get other opportunities in the future.

After ham, egg and chips at the Robin Hood, I headed off to Homebase – this is clearly now what my free time will consist off…

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Unemployment rises in Chatham & Aylesford

Shocking news buried in the unemployment figures released earlier this week for workers in Chatham & Aylesford. This time last year there were 1361 claiming Jobseekers Allowance but now there are a massive 2681 Jobseekers and increase of 97%. But there are only 189 jobs available meaning that there are 14 applicants for every vacancy. As stock markets recover and bankers bonuses return many are predicting an early end to the recession but it is clear that unemployment levels are still rising and that local workers are going to continue to find it very difficult to make ends meet.

Unreported from Conference, the Conservatives outlined detailed new plans, to simplify Labour’s numerous and piecemeal work programmes into a single back-to-work programme for everyone on out-of-work benefits. This would be backed up with new and additional work pairings, apprenticeships, further education college places and vocational education for young people. There would also be programmes to support self-employment, work clubs and volunteering opportunities to help people prepare for work and find jobs.

Unfortunately it is likely to be six months before Gordon Brown finally calls an election and with national debt rising quickly it looks like it is going to be a rough ride especially for those struggling without a job. The sooner we get rid of this failing Government, the better.

Brown takes the biscuit!

Why oh why did Gordon Brown need to take 24 hours to decide what his favourite biscuit is? Asked by mumsnet to name his preferred biscuit, he ignored the question despite being asked a Paxman-esque 12 times! Cameron and Clegg answered with oatcakes (are they biscuits?) and Rich Tea/Hob Nobs but clearly Brown needed to ask his advisers or appeal to focus groups before coming back with “anything with a bit of chocolate”. OK, I appreciate that this is not the biggest problem on the Prime Minister’s plate but it does show that he is unable to make a decision without dithering first. First he bottled an election and now he has crumbled over a shortbread but what next? The mum’s weren’t impressed, unsurprisingly.

For information my favourite biscuits are pink wafers. I have no idea what that tells you about me but with one of those in my hands I am not sure I would really care!!

A new house

I have had a quiet weekend politically but a busy one personally! Finally, after months and months of building work, I started moving things into my new house in Aylesford. The painters are still in, the bathroom needs to be tiled and the phone line connected – so it is not all perfect just yet but I have a bed, sofa, kettle, pasta strainer and wine glasses…a few more trips to Ikea and B&Q will no doubt take place over the coming months but I cannot wait to finally put my feet up in front of the TV in the new pad!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Update – Aylesford Flood Defences

Following football training tonight, I dashed down to Aylesford Community Centre to catch the last 40 minutes of a public meeting on proposals to defend Aylesford from flooding hosted by the Environment Agency and in conjunction with the County, Borough and Parish Councils.

The meeting follows one I organised earlier in the year and it was great to see that the EA have made some progress on proposals to prevent the Aylesford stream flooding again. However the downside is that by the time it takes to get approval, funding, contractors and then the work finished probably means that local residents will be worried every rain storm for a good few years yet! Mind you the Village is some way forward from where we were at the beginning of 2009 and we now have a flood plan which is a very good start and can be found HERE.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

A poem about Coney Banks

I have been sent a rather nice poem about Coney Banks. Sadly it is not signed which is a shame because I like it and can’t reply to say thank you. So instead I shall showcase it here:

The faint yellow glow at the east of the valley
changes to an orange hue,
as night time transforms, at the break of day,
it enhances Chatham’s unsung view.
From Waterworks Hill, beyond Fitness First,
across the Pitch and Putt course, to the Coney Banks,
on the horizon, the lines of silhouetted firs,
like charcoal drawings, on parade, in ranks.
Once this glimpse of morning glory
has passed, and the day’s begun,
into focus will emerge the rows of houses,
windows reflecting the rising sun.
Tranquil, until the onslaught of traffic
breaks the stillness of this Kentish morn;
breathtaking, for a fragment of time,
as a brand new day is born.

UPDATE: I’ve since been told that this poem was written by local poet Jim Bell.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Breaking News is Bad News for Kent Commuters

The BBC is reporting that tomorrow Gordon Brown will announce the sale of UK assets in order to raise £16bn to plug the Treasury black hole. This sale will crucially include the Dartford Crossing; if a private company or investor is going to be interested in buying the assets it will obviously want to make a profit.

So if the Dartford Crossing is sold, Kent’s commuters crossing the Bridge will continue paying the tolls that should have finished in 2002. Charges were introduced in 1963 to finance building the tunnels and latterly the bridge but were due to end once the debts had been paid off – this happened nearly 7 years ago and instead of the tolls ending, they went up! The proposed sale of the Crossing signals that the charges will now never end and the cash strapped motorist trying to get to work will be the ones that get penalised again.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Canvassing in Snodland

It was great after a month or so of delivering newspapers to get back on the doorsteps canvassing today. Ten of us met in Snodland this morning and spent 2 hours talking to people about their local and national concerns. I love canvassing and think that senior politicians and their advisers should do more door knocking in order to find out what people are really thinking!

We didn’t find anyone who confessed they were going to vote Labour next time; we did find some (including a former senior Labour activist) who were not going to vote Labour on polling day. I spoke to several public servants who had heard George Osborne and David Cameron’s speeches on freezing public sector pay and both recognised that whilst they weren’t over the moon at the idea of a pay freeze, they would much rather have a job in a year’s time. They did also say that they believed that whichever party won the next election their pay would have been frozen so they thought the openness and honesty of David and George was refreshing.

People are still angry about the MP expenses scandal and it seems that the more affected they have been by the recession the more cross they are – and who can blame them? It certainly hasn’t been Westminster’s finest hour.

Immigration is still a hot topic of conversation and the perceived inequity, from housing allocation through to job seeker centres, is still prevalent. A number of people also raised with me the amount of bureaucracy in place today – as one chap said, “how many people do you need to make sure my bin gets collected”?

After the week in Manchester with the leadership sending out strong honest messages about how tough the next few years are going to be, it was good to go out in Snodland and be welcomed so warmly; one chap said when I introduced myself as a Conservative “that’s alright then luv, I want to belt the other lot” – his chance will come soon enough…at the ballot box in a few months time!

Friday, 9 October 2009

I am alive!

My apologies for the blogging break – I am indeed still alive…just!

Since I am still working full time for me the political party conference season is about more than just my own party’s conference and therefore through work have attended the Liberal Democrat and Labour conferences too, hence the lull in posts.

However over the past few weeks I managed to also fit in a wonderful evening speaking to Strood Conservatives, kept up to date with my correspondence and telephone calls, had several meetings with key charities and organisations, finished delivering my latest newsletter, and managed the girls to a 3-1 victory in our second league match of the season!

Now that I am back in my routine, normal blogging will resume…