Saturday, 12 December 2009
The Government’s proposals include:
· National Insurance hikes on workers meaning a smaller pay packet for anyone earning £20,000 or more.
· National Insurance hikes on local firms, making it more expensive to pay staff.
· Higher income tax, pushing more middle income earners into the 40 per cent higher rate.
· Inheritance tax rises by stealth, taxing people more as house prices start to rise.
· Higher stamp duty, meaning the average first time buyer will now pay £1,475 in stamp duty.
· A new telephone tax on anyone with a phone or fax line.
· Forcing councils to make more cuts to rubbish collections and pushing up council tax.
The only impact the Pre-Budget will have is to hike up taxes for the hard working families across Chatham & Aylesford. There was a suggestion that there would be an early Election because the Chancellor and Prime Minister would not want to hold another Budget – good – bring it on because this Labour Government will not doing anything to sort out the worst debt crisis this Country has ever faced.
Sunday, 6 December 2009
Across Kent, 10 pupils were expelled last year from all state schools. In over two-thirds of local authorities across England, including Medway, not a single child was expelled for bullying. However in Kent 260 pupils and in Medway 40 pupils were suspended from state schools – meaning the disruptive students returned to the school where they caused misery and fear for their classmates.
Since 1997, Labour Government rules have deliberately made it more difficult for schools to expel pupils, undermining the authority of head teachers and meaning bullies end up back at the same school as their victims.
Bullying makes far too many children’s lives a misery – I have been contacted by parents whose children have been bullied, including being physically beaten up! But the Government’s own figures show that in the vast majority of cases bullies are returned to the same school as their victims after a short punishment, rather than being expelled. I firmly believe that the key to tackling bullying is giving our teachers the powers they need to crack down on bad behaviour. Schools need the power to take a zero tolerance approach towards serious offences such as bullying so that they can maintain discipline in the classroom before it spirals out of control.
Much of the conversation concentrated on religion and in particular Christianity. I consider myself to be a Christian, although I don’t go to church very often, and I would never justify my politics through my religious beliefs like Tony Blair and George Bush often did – not least because, as I explained to the residents, my views on social issues are somewhat liberal and therefore contradictory to more conservative Christian views. Our discussion about the unintended impact on religious thought/practices of political and legislative change was very thought provoking. I am glad I took the time to do the meeting – I am sure it will stand me in good stead in the future.
Saturday, 28 November 2009
Friday, 27 November 2009
Thursday, 26 November 2009
The meeting with portfolio holders was interesting. It is always useful to get an update on some of the current and future issues affecting Medway. Schools were obviously top of the agenda!
This morning I had a meeting with a resident about issues in Chatham – it was a very informative meeting and there is lots for me to follow up on with the Council and other organisations. Although whilst getting my car parking ticket I noticed several rats scurrying through piles of litter and food waste and immediately reported it so that it can come and get cleared up and the rats dealt with.
And now I’ve just come back from the inaugural meeting of the Aylesford Active Retirement Association. There were over 90 people in the Capel Morris Centre and it looks like from the opening meeting that it is going to be a well supported group. I rather am rather envious of all the activities they have planned! Now I am about to get into my jeans and head up to Buckmore Park with the Youth Club for an afternoon of go-karting. Watch out the Stig!!
Monday, 23 November 2009
Tomorrow, down to Folkestone for an interview followed by carpet fitters, telecanvassing and dinner with my neighbour!
Saturday, 21 November 2009
An average £3,400 a year will be snatched away from 2.4 million pensioners – equivalent to a quarter of the average pensioner’s income. In Chatham & Aylesford this would affect a shocking 2,670 pensioners. Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance are based on need; they are not means tested and are intended to cover the extra costs arising from the impact the disability has on the life of the disabled person. The key feature of these benefits is that they can be spent by disabled people how they wish, without restrictions, to best support their individual care needs.
It is clear that Gordon Brown has chosen to penalise one of the most vulnerable groups in our society for the sake of another of his eye-catching announcements. As with every Labour initiative, someone has to pay and, as with many of them, it is once again those who are least able to afford it who are hit by Brown. These benefits provide vital support for disabled pensioners, giving them the chance to lead an independent life with the freedom to tailor their care to their needs. Of course, we need to do more to help people with their care costs, but it is completely wrong to do so at the expense of disabled pensioners.
David Cameron has made it clear that the Conservatives will protect Chatham & Aylesford’s pensioners and fight against Gordon Brown’s plan to scrap benefits for the disabled.
On Tuesday, I joined the team at the phone bank for some telephone canvassing. My sheet was Larkfield and I had a really positive response, as did my colleagues telephoning in other areas. One chap called me an angel but a huge number of people said “we gotta get this lot out”! The team came away feeling positive and looking forward to next week’s session.
Watching the Queen open Parliament on Wednesday, I felt embarrassed for her. The State Opening of Parliament is a major constitutional function and yet it felt like it was all about the Labour Party saving itself, not serving the country. Gordon Brown has nothing to offer except a series of half-measures aimed at partisan point-scoring – even Cabinet Ministers admit that their programme is about playing politics not improving people’s lives. There was nothing in the Queen’s Speech for the hard working man, woman or family in Chatham & Aylesford. A point, Sir John Stanley MP made as well on Thursday when I went to speak to his Executive Association. I had (have) a dreadful cough and rather rudely disrupted the proceedings with my spluttering before croaking my way through my own speech! Having tweaked my hamstring at training on Wednesday, I felt a tad crocked!!
The hamstring isn’t feeling too great tonight after delivering our latest newsletter with Tashi to probably the longest road in the constituency – Churchill – before going up to help in Blue Bell Hill. I am however getting lots of sympathy at home so have my feet up watching my sister’s best friend from school, captain the England Ladies Rugby team against New Zealand at a rainy Twickerham.
Saturday, 14 November 2009
It was a wonderful evening – the food was delicious, the company excellent and we raised vital funds for the campaign ahead.
Thursday, 12 November 2009
After training, I went to a charity Rugby match at the Aylesford Bulls between a President’s XV and an Army team. The “Poppy Day Match” was played in aid of Help for Heroes and was extremely well attended by supporters of the Club, the Royal British Legion, the Parish Council and local residents. I only managed to get to the last 30 minutes but at least I saw an Aylesford try! I don’t know how much the game raised for Help for Heroes but with very persuasive army personnel collecting money from the supporters I imagine it will be a significant sum.
Sunday, 8 November 2009
This afternoon I attended the Service at the Royal British Legion Village. Sadly, there were fewer men marching this year but I was told later by Edwin Boorman, President of the local British Legion that there were 250 people at the ceremony. I sat next to some veterans who were shivering as they braved the cold wind in just their jackets with their medals proudly pinned to their chests. It was clear that this Remembrance Service meant more because many had fought in World War II and had lost friends and colleagues. You could hear their voices break when they repeated the words “we will never forget”.
The sombre ceremony was broken by Squadron Leader Des Butters loudly asking everyone who returned from laying their wreath if they were going for a cup of tea after – Janet, who read a poem during the service, and I found this so surreal that we started to chuckle into our scarves and coats. Des, who wears hearing aids in both ears, was totally oblivious to what he had started.
Thursday, 5 November 2009
Preparing for the speech reminded me of the all night sitting, the tension between the Commons and the Lords, the fear from all sides that we were about to ancient freedoms, that a draconian Bill would be introduced with no prospect of any future review – it was an extraordinary 3 weeks, dominated entirely by this piece of emergency legislation introduced not because of an act of terrorism, but by a Law Lords ruling on the incompatibility of previous legislation with the European Convention on Human Rights. By talking about the Bill I hoped to demonstrate the brilliance of our system of checks and balances – the Executive were held to account by a mutinous Parliament, and then the Act when passed was considered by an independent judiciary. In this case, the emergency legislation proved (as all rushed legislation tends to be) bad legislation and so the process began again with a new Bill…
Anyway I am sure the law students found it more interesting to hear about how to address a judge but I certainly enjoyed talking to them and hope that I bought the constitutional law that they are currently studying to life.
Sunday, 1 November 2009
Thursday, 29 October 2009
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
Good luck Luton & Wayfield branch and welcome to the team!
Sunday, 25 October 2009
Sunday, 18 October 2009
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.
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!!
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
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
UPDATE: I’ve since been told that this poem was written by local poet Jim Bell.
Sunday, 11 October 2009
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
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
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…
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
After leaving Medway campus I had a meeting with Cllr Nick Chard at Kent County Council about, amongst other things, trying to resolve the problem of traffic on Lower Lunsford Lane. I hope we will get some kind of closure on this issue soon.
Saturday, 19 September 2009
Net borrowing for the first five months of the financial year stood at £65.3 billion, compared with £26.1 billion at the same stage last year. Total borrowing soared past the £800 billion mark for the first time and total state debt as a proportion of national output reached 57.5 per cent.
Just to pay the interest on its ballooning debts the Government must find more than £30 billion a year — about £500 for every man, woman and child in the country.
Thursday, 17 September 2009
I am not the kind of person that likes to play party politics with a child’s education and so I have always made my representation on these proposals in private. I had made it very clear to the portfolio holder that I believe both St John’s and Ridge Meadow to be good schools with a strong community base, something that is often under-estimated and devalued in our current education system. I firmly believe that if we don’t get primary education right, then we end up playing catch up throughout the rest of a child’s education. This is not only unsatisfactory from a learning perspective but also costly.
I was also concerned that these proposals are being considered at a time when Government spending on capital projects is being examined in detail and as we know from leaked documents earlier this week that spending could potentially be frozen in light of the huge national debt that this Labour administration has built up. I remain extremely worried that the schools will be closed on a financial promise to invest in other schools which may then not happen. If this were to occur, our children will end up being educated in over-subscribed schools with an infrastructure unable to cope with the demand.
I am deeply passionate about ensuring that children across Chatham are given the best chance in life and fundamentally believe that the way to do this is to provide first class facilities, the best teachers, and an environment where they can thrive. Both St John’s and Ridge Meadow, in my view, have provided such a base and so I am not going to pretend I am anything other than disappointed with the decision today.
Sunday, 13 September 2009
As you progress through the age groups the game development begins, so this season we play 11-a-side instead of 7, on bigger pitches with larger goals and for a longer time each way. Today we had an away game and an early kick off which was a bit of a shock to the system for those of us who have enjoyed their Sunday morning lie in during the summer break!
Our 10 girls (yes we were one short) battled hard against Gravesham and only really lost it in the last 5 minutes when the team understandably began to tire. No points but a happy manager, some very proud parents, and 10 exhausted girls who will no doubt sleep very well tonight!!
Saturday, 12 September 2009
Sunday, 6 September 2009
It was obviously a real honour to be given such a gift and Andrew was momentarily speechless – however, I think the next campaign he runs people will think twice about refusing to go out delivering leaflets in the pouring rain!! Anyway it was a wonderful event and one that Tashi, Andrew and the team thoroughly deserved.
Saturday, 5 September 2009
Obviously the first thing to do is to say congratulations to Tashi on his fabulous by-election win on Thursday. Luton & Wayfield has not had a Conservative Councillor for over 40 years and so it was a historic victory and one that I do not think local residents will regret. I went canvassing with Tashi a few times before I headed off to France and I genuinely believe that if he applies the energy and enthusiasm to being a councillor as he did on the doorsteps then we will see some pretty swift improvements in the area. Tashi has said he will work closely with Cllrs Tony and Val Goulden, two former Labour Councillors who I like and have previously worked with on a local issue and who now sit as Independents after being cast aside by the local Labour Party. Local Tory blogger Alan Collins carried a post on their resignation but the most interesting part of the post is the comment from Tony and Val’s daughter giving the real story. When I heard the news about the Gouldens I rang and left a message on their answer machine – not to gloat or to dig further but simply to check they were ok. Leaving a party you’ve fought blood, sweat and tears for must be an extremely difficult thing to do and Michelle’s comments make it clear how hard it has been for the whole family. So now Luton & Wayfield has a Conservative Councillor ready to work hard and will no doubt get a huge cheer when he enters Gun Wharf next week.
Speaking of Gun Wharf, the excellent “Tales from…” blog by Alan Watkins has returned after a short break (no pun intended) after being ordered to rest after he broke his leg. His misfortune led to one of the funniest out of office messages I have ever read: I am currently signed off until August 24 due to a slight contratemps with a carpet, a doorway, a carrot and (subsequently) a surgeon. The mind boggles…
Now I’ve blogged, drunk my coffee and checked out the local news it is time to turn my attention to the 350 emails blinking at me in my inbox – and these are candidate related ones – I daren’t turn on my work blackberry! Think I need another cup of coffee…
Tuesday, 11 August 2009
Sunday, 9 August 2009
The Facebook event page can be found HERE but below for ease of reference is the background information to the event:
Saturday, 8 August 2009
After lunch I went with my sister, younger nephew and niece to see the brilliant and hilarious Ice Age 3 – they had been kicked out because my older nephew was building a hovercraft as part of his summer homework! I don’t remember my homework being that fun?
Sunday, 2 August 2009
Our Save Capstone Valley petitions have now received nearly 20,000 signatures and it remains one of the top issues raised with us on the doorstep as we continue to canvass in Luton & Wayfield. Tashi and I met local Luton residents at a coffee morning yesterday and it is clear that there is already genuine concern about traffic, school and hospital capacity so a further 9,200 houses is going to have a massive impact on the local infrastructure. So we need to keep the pressure up and make sure that the planning officials know the strength of local feeling against Medway Magna’s proposals to build in the Capstone Valley. If you have not yet signed the petition you can do so HERE.
Sunday, 26 July 2009
Saturday, 25 July 2009
Friday, 24 July 2009
Monday, 20 July 2009
Sunday, 19 July 2009
Saturday, 18 July 2009
It was a good session although I was desperately sad to knock on the door of a much needed maths teacher who said he was leaving the UK to live in South Africa – it seems he has just had enough and it was easier for him to go there than his lawyer girlfriend coming here! Immigration was mentioned to me more than once on the doorstep this morning and it is quite clear that the longer the issue is ignored by Government, the stronger the anger gets.
We went to the Robin Hood for lunch where a wedding party turned up half way through lunch in a fabulous old car. We slipped away quickly and quietly, not wanting to get in the way of the bride and groom’s special day.
Having been at a 40th birthday party last night, I am off to a 30th birthday party this evening. After an extremely busy week at work, I’m exhausted and would love to spend the night in with my feet up but I am going to pop by to give her my best wishes. However, my other half has made his excuses and plans to watch the golf/cricket instead!