Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Summer Holiday

Am away for a few weeks. Back soon…

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Saluting the Green Flag

Yesterday I went to Leybourne Lakes to watch the raising of the Green Flag, which had been awarded to the Lakes for the second year running. The Green Flag, the park equivalent to the Blue Flag, is a prestigious award and is by all accounts quite difficult to achieve. There are 11 Green Flags in the whole of the South East and Tonbridge & Malling have been awarded 2 so they were rightly feeling quite proud of themselves yesterday. Some of the volunteers in the park hoisted the Green Flag before we all gave Daniel, the park manager, a round of applause for his achievement.

After the Green Flag ceremony I joined my campaign manager and others in Larkfield to deliver my latest survey. After my recent sun burning I sensibly applied sun cream at every possible opportunity…my campaign manager was not so clever and is nursing burnt arms today!
I then spent the rest of the afternoon with my family in celebration of my 33rd birthday earlier on in the week. My nephews and neice bought me the new Tottenham shirt so in return I took them to watch Kung Fu Panda, which really was meant as a treat for them…honest! (It was brilliant!!!!)

Public Meetings re Chatham South School


The Council has arranged a number of public consultation meetings regarding the proposed merging of Chatham South School and Medway Community Colleage. At these meetings there will be a short presentation following by an opportunity to ask questions and give the Council your views. The meetings are open for anyone to attend and there is no need to make an appointment.

Thursday 11 September 2008
Chatham South School, Letchworth Avenue, Chatham
7.00 – 8.30 pm

Tuesday 16th September 2008
New Road Primary School, Bryant Street, Chatham
7.00 – 8.30 pm

Wednesday 17th September 2008
Luton Junior School, Luton Road, Chatham
7.00 – 8.30 pm

Monday 22nd September 2008
Glencoe Junior School, Glencoe Road, Chatham
7.00 – 8.30 pm

Tuesday 23rd September 2008
Balfour Junior School, Balfour Road, Chatham
7.00 – 8.30 pm

Thursday 25th September 2008
Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham
12.00 – 8.00 pm

Tuesday 30th September 2008
All Saints Primary School Magpie Hall Road Chatham
7.00 – 8.30 pm

Wednesday 1st October 2008
Kingfisher Primary School Kingfisher Drive, Princes Park, Chatham
7.00 – 8.30 pm

Thursday 2nd October 2008
Medway Community College, Magpie Hall Road, Chatham
7.00 – 8.30 pm

Monday, 21 July 2008

Vote for your Top 10 Blogs

In September the latest guide to the Top 100 political blogs will be published. Iain Dale has launched an appeal on his blog for readers to vote for their Top 10 blogs. This blog is available, under the rules, to be voted for in the candidate blog section!!

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Starting a domestic

I was out canvassing in Snodland this morning for the Town Council by-election on Thursday and had one of those moments you really don’t know what to do about. I knocked on a door and a rather good looking man opened the door with just a pure white towel wrapped around the lower half of his body. He was well tanned and to be honest it was rather difficult not to notice his sportsman-like physique. Naturally the first thing I spluttered was how sorry I was to disturb him etc etc but then by complete mistake said “I am finding it hard to concentrate…(nervous laughter by me)…” before finally getting out the point I was trying to make which is to see if he was going to support the Conservative candidate on Thursday. He replied “we don’t vote” before hollering into another room “we don’t vote do we love”. A female voice replied “yeah, I vote Labour” before he yelled back “WHAT? THAT LOT ARE RIPPING US OFF – YOU CAN’T SUPPORT THEM…”. At which point I could only apologise profusely for starting a domestic and scuttled off quickly to the next door. I didn’t really know what to put down on the canvass card so entered a W for won’t vote – he’ll probably be at the gym anyway!

After Snodland, I headed up to one of my favourite lunch time venues – the Robin Hood Pub – for a Ham, Egg and Chips to celebrate Proud of Pubs Week. I love a good pub – one with atmosphere and a proper pint – and would much rather head to a pub than a bar for a decent bite to eat and to relax with colleagues and friends. Sadly the pubs are having a rough time of late with nearly 30 closing every week and with the extra 4p being added to the pint following the last Budget the outlook is quite gloomy. Pressure is being put on pubs to diversify in order to meet costs and if they are not selling out to the high volume bar trade they are being turned into other commercial operations. Some research has been done into pub closures by Professor Preece of the University of Teeside and he makes an extremely good point about the value of the local pub: “In many cases the pub is the last community facility left – the village shop went years ago and the Post Office and bank have gone. There may be a village hall but it is not an inviting place to sit and chat. The pub was the place where the football team and the darts team were run from. Their loss is a great shame.” Sadly if the pubs continue to close then alongside the closure of Post Offices we will lose our last bastions of the community.

(Tracey & Adrian Gulvin enjoying Ham, Egg & Chips at the Robin Hood Pub)

Thursday, 17 July 2008

A day of education

Yesterday morning I was invited to join other members of the community to watch years 5 & 6 of Aylesford Primary School perform their school play. Sitting in the audience was the Mayor, the vicar, local councillors, school governors, police officers, residents of the Royal British Legion Village, councillors and myself and we all sat there for nearly two hours enthralled by the wonderful performance. The children told a tale of war time evacuation from London to Caerphilly. It was a brilliantly scripted play with a wonderful musical score, which the children sang their hearts to – including some very brave solo performances. They had one more performance last night and I am sure if it was half as good as it was yesterday morning, then parents will be very proud of their children today.
After the play I went to see Councillor Les Wicks, portfolio holder for schools at Medway Council, to raise with him some concerns that parents have raised with me about the proposed merger of Chatham South and Medway Community College into a new academy. One particular concern I raised with Les was how the consultation was being run but he reassured me that there are going to be a number of public meetings where parents will be able to raise their concerns directly to the Council. I would urge parents and pupils to attend these meetings – further information of the dates will be published here shortly.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

A tad red faced

The under 10s, 11s and 12s were all in the same tournament today in Chatterden with the under 10s getting into the final, beating teams older than themselves and playing brilliantly. Unfortunately they lost to Lordswood in the final but they had played so well that they thoroughly deserved their runners up medal. Unfortunately muggins here completely under-estimated the strength of the sun and am currently sitting at my PC radiating heat (and light) with an extremely burnt nose and forehead (or “spam” as one of the coaches called it!). I am usually so paranoid about getting burnt that I put too much cream on and wonder why I never tan! Which is why I am feeling even more of a wally this evening. Time to put the sun cream back in the car methinks…

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Carnival Time

I joined the Brownies this morning for another Bash the Trash event and the turnout was excellent. I was sent with local Councillors Allan Sullivan and Peter Homewood to tackle Fossington Way which was so bad that I had noticed all the litter as I drove past to meet the Brownies in the first place. It didn’t take us very long to fill our bag and we were glad to get back to base for a glass of squash prepared by Brown Owl.

I then headed up to Lordswood to meet other members of the team and help deliver our latest survey, before going over to Snodland for their annual Carnival. Despite the weather not being as good last year, I think there were more people at this year’s Carnival – and there were definitely more floats, including one which nearly got stuck getting into the park in the first place. It certainly added a bit of drama to the occasion!!

Saturday, 5 July 2008

An afternoon with Ann

It has been a very long day. My under 1o girls were in a football tournament at Vintners Park this morning starting at 8.30am. Sadly because of prior commitments I could only watch their first two games (won one, lost one) before dashing off in my suit – I looked very fetching on the sideline! – to Larkfield for a meeting.

After a quick cup of coffee in Sainsbury’s cafe with my President, I headed up to Kits Coty for an afternoon tea with Maidstone MP Ann Widdecombe. It was great that she could come and as I stood in front of the gathered guests I felt proud that at (hopefully) the start of my Parliamentary career I was able to thank a formidable and much admired neighbouring politician at the end of hers. Ann is a politician who has become popular, well-liked and trusted. Even my mum likes her and if I can capture half Ann’s energy and enthusiasm then I’ll be doing OK.

I spent a long time talking to a variety of people including a now retired GP about the issues he faces as a doctor and how difficult it is to practice, whether you are a GP, a doctor or a nurse, with so many managers trying to run the NHS. A point that was being made by one of the doctors at the Medway Maritime today, as the NHS celebrated its 60th anniversary. After the tea finished I had to go to Lordswood for another meeting before calling it a day.

I was very sad to have missed the Veterans Day in Chatham, but I was listening to the news reports on Radio Kent and was pleased that it appeared to have gone very well.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Spitfires in the final

I was listening to some of the ball by ball coverage of Kent v Durham today in the Friends Provident Semi-Final. I haven’t managed to get to a single game this season but was delighted to hear them get through to the final at Lords on 16 August thanks to some fantastic batting and bowling by the Spitfires. I think they are truly one of the best one-day teams in the Country at the moment – their all round game is really good. Yorkshire or Essex stand in Kent’s way to be this season’s Champions – fingers crossed for another trophy!

The Sopranos – Dickens style

Exciting news from BBC Kent – a new drama is to be filmed at Dickens World!

According to the report filming for a TV series set in the 18th century and featuring Andy Serkis is to take place at Dickens World. The 13-part drama, entitled Newgate, is said to feature a Sopranos style storyline set in the London of 1720 and filming is to start at Dickens World, Chatham, Kent, on 12 July. The filmmakers hope the series will be broadcast in 2009. Andy Serkis was of course Gollum in Lord of the Rings.

Insert Crouchian fact: my brother worked on the special effects for the third Lord of the Rings film, in particular the battle for Minas Tirith. So despite having never read a word of Tolkien (unlike my sister who is a Tolkien addict), I rented the previous two Lord of the Rings films just so I could go a watch the third one to see my brother’s work – that is nine hours worth of sibling dedication for one major scene!!

Skipping Class

I went to New Road Primary in Chatham today and saw one of the most amazing school initiatives I’ve seen to date. It is “Skip2Bfit” and was sent up by a Kent based chap called John McCormack, a former boxer and boxing trainer, who has introduced skipping into primary schools as a way of improving academic performance.

The pupils (and teachers) at New Road Primary were having a lot of fun skipping to the Eye of the Tiger when I arrived at 2pm and it wasn’t long before I got roped in (geddit?) to having a go – thankfully I had my plimsolls in my handbag so didn’t have to do it in my heels! I only had a token skip – it is hard to do it properly in a suit – but even after a little while my heart was pumping away. That said I think my biggest worry was that I was going to whack some kid with my skipping rope – not exactly a vote winner!

Anyway, my efforts were token but the efforts of John, Dwain and the others who run Skip2Bfit are full time and hugely impressive. John is absolutely convinced that this initiative helps improve academic performance – and with some reason: in Medway alone it has been proven that it has raised concentration levels and learning ability – and it goes without saying that it helps keep children fit and healthy.

I gave out the certificates at the special assembly at the end, which was followed by a “face off” between the best teacher and the best student, which had all the students (and teaching) cheering along. All in all the whole thing smacks of fun – and how else do you get children engaged in learning and fitness if it is not fun. I enjoyed my little skip but annoyingly I forgot to ask for permission to publish pictures of the children I was skipping with – hence the cropped picture above – but hopefully I will publish more soon.

After an afternoon at New Road Primary, I went to see a parent of two children at Chatham South School. He is very concerned about the proposed merger of Chatham South with Medway Community College. More soon on this…