Saturday, 8 October 2011

Time to improve care for dementia patients on hospital wards

I was shocked to hear on BBC Radio Kent yesterday morning the story of an 80-year-old dementia patient who had been badly treated on a Kent hospital ward after breaking her hip. The patient was left on a trolley in excruciating pain and in desperate need of the toilet for over five hours before she was finally seen by a doctor. While this story is both heartbreaking and shocking, what is even more outrageous is the fact that stories of dementia patients receiving poor treatment on hospital wards are not uncommon.

At any one time, up to a quarter of hospital beds are occupied by dementia patients over the age of 65, yet studies by the National Audit Office suggest that two-thirds of these patients no longer needed to be there. While this costs almost £6.5 million which could otherwise be invested in other NHS and care services, I am concerned that the hospital ward is an unsuitable care setting for people with dementia. Those with dementia in hospitals are more prone to complications such as delirium, infection and falls. Worryingly, hospital care can also exacerbate the symptoms of dementia and have a negative impact on their condition as the institutional and disempowering environment of hospitals upsets patients’ routines.

As Vice-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Dementia, myself and other colleagues have been in the position to hear from charities which do excellent work supporting those with Dementia, such as Age UK and the Alzheimer’s Society, on ways in which we can limit the negative impact of hospital care for dementia patients.

Relatively simple changes to the hospital environment can significantly improve the experience and quality of care for dementia patients. Minor changes to ward layouts, colour coded doors and simpler signs are just some of the suggestions which would reduce stress and confusion for those patients while freeing up nursing staff who would otherwise be assisting those in their care who were confused and disoriented and reducing associated falls and injuries.

Better training of ward nurses is essential. Most of the time nurses do a hard job fantastically well but there is much improvement required when it comes to dealing with patients with dementia. Having met with a number of carers it is clear that the “care” element of nursing those with dementia is sometimes lacking for example at meal times. Investment in better training is something we should now be considering and could save money in the long term.

More importantly however, it is vital that the number of unnecessary hospital admissions is reduced. This can only be achieved by the invaluable support of the community care which is available to people with dementia and those who care for them. I have previously and will continue to voice my support for reform of the social care system because of how proper care can transform the life of both patients and carers. If proper community support and assistance is in place 24 hours a day, the number of incidents such as falls which result in hospital admissions could be reduced significantly. I don’t want to keep hearing of appalling experiences like the one I heard on the radio this morning so it is a no-brainer really: it is time to urgently look again about how we treat our dementia patients in hospital.

Monday, 19 September 2011

We should bury our electricity cables

When I drive home from Parliament there is a high point on the M2, just past Bluewater, where you can see miles and miles of Kent countryside. A first time visitor would be preparing themselves to gasp at the potential beauty of the Garden of England but instead join us regular motorists at gasping at the horrible vista that actually greets us – the large number of pylons transporting electricity to and from the north Kent sub-stations to wherever they are required. They are ghastly and every time I drive into the M2 valley I think whoever allowed our countryside to be overrun with these giant steel statues should hang their head in shame.

I am opposed to any proposal which would see more overhead pylons built through our countryside. In Kent, there are plans to build new high voltage pylons and upgrade existing lines which could see a further prolification of steel and cable. Given we have the technology now to bury cables, which could see huge savings in maintenance costs in the long term, I see no reason why we have to continue with overhead pylons. Where existing electricity routes need upgrading I also think we should remove the pylons and bury the cables. The short term cost will not only be mitigated by the long term financial savings but most of all it will provide a far more aesthetically pleasing response to supplying our electricity.

If we wish to build Jerusalem, In England’s green & pleasant Land we could do worse than start by burying future and existing electricity cables.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Caring for older people

Yesterday I initiated a Parliamentary debate on Care and Services for Older People. Having purposely chosen a wide-ranging a title for the debate, to allow for the diverse nature and varied issues that older people currently face in the UK, I am pleased that so many of my colleagues joined me in using the opportunity to highlight topics across different Government Departments. These included financial education, housing needs, funding of care, service delivery and appropriate levels of care being available to older people to allow them to stay in their own homes for longer.

The increasing size of our ageing population and increased longevity of life is not new information; it is something that we have been aware of for many years. Therefore, I am pleased that in his response to my debate, Paul Burstow, Minister for Care Services, agreed with me that it is time to take action and ensure that this Government does not act as previous governments have by kicking this issue into the long grass. We should celebrate the fact that people are living longer; it is a great credit to our society that many people in the UK are having a longer third phase of life and we must act to support them rather than let fears for those later years of life daunt and overwhelm.

The Minister made it clear that not only funding but delivery of care and services for older people is something that has not previously been given the priority it deserves. I welcome the Minister outlining the Government’s actions to move forward, next April, on implementing a White Paper for Social Care, including the recommendations of the Dilnot Report to secure a new funding system for social care. This will be a system which is both sustainable and fair whilst still ensuring that the quality of care is the greatest priority.

While I was disappointed to hear that the Government is not currently minded to create an Older Person’s Minister, I was pleased that the Government will look at my suggestion to establish a new Cabinet Committee on Older People’s issues and a new test within regulatory impact assessments that specifically looks at the effect of proposals on the over 65s in the way that it does for other defined sectors of society.

It was hard to get everything that people wanted to speak about on this issue into a 90 minute debate and I’m sure we could have covered even more topics but I am pleased I got the debate and highlighted the concerns of many people, young and old, across my constituency and beyond about the way we care for older people. But what was absolutely clear is that this is an issue we can no longer ignore.

The full debate can be read HERE.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Disappointing increases to train fares

It was announced today that train fares next year are going to go up across the country by an average 8%, i.e. RPI plus 3. I am really disappointed that yet again my commuting constituents are going to face astronomical fare rises, which is why, as the more generous local residents have recognised, I have long advocated a more favourable deal in the South East. I will say more about what I intend to do later in this post but first, while not apologising for the increase, I want to just address some of the more political points that are being made on this issue.

Most people who follow my commentary on various issues know that I understand that party politics tends to turn most of the electorate off and so I save my partisan points for the Chamber. However, it is important to note that this is not something the Coalition Government has just dreamt up; the formula of RPI plus 3 was introduced for Southeastern customers under the last Labour Government, while the rest of the country faced increases of only RPI plus 1. And yes, before someone says in the comments, I know we’ve been in Government for a year, but as most people also recognise we’ve taken the reins at a time that this country faces the largest deficit since the Second World War. I also acknowledge that in that time we’ve had High Speed 1 built, which is great if you live anywhere near the route and can afford the extra premium you pay as a customer to use. And maybe the increases are as a consequence of privatisation, but Labour had 13 years with large majorities in the Commons to renationalise the rail service and didn’t.

So now I’ve got that out of my system and hopefully put it in a bit of political context I would like it firmly placed on the record that I don’t agree that Southeastern customers should be continuing to pay the plus 3 formula. I think commuters across Kent and neighbouring counties have paid their fair share. Any future investment in nationwide rail services should be paid for by other train users. If the South East commuters paid for HS1 then why should they now be asked to stump up for HS2? In my view they shouldn’t. The money Southeastern get from the commuters already should be enough for investment in stations, rolling stock etc but the main thing constituents ask me for is simply a better service. They want a service that gets them to their destination on time (preferably with a seat), stops at the stations it is scheduled to stop at, that the staff are polite, and that the toilets are clean. If five years of the highest increases in train fares in the country cannot deliver that then we have more than a problem of simply being an additional squeeze on the wallets of commuters.

Train operating companies have some leeway in how they implement their fare increases and I will be writing to the Chief Executive to ask for some leniency in how the fares are increased on various routes. I know people will read this beyond my constituency boundaries, and I apologise that this may impact you adversely, but I will be making representations for consideration to be given to lower increases for those travelling from stations in my constituency. I will also be making further representations to Government Ministers to try and ensure that the plus 3 formula is reduced in the South East before other parts of the country – we’ve paid our fair share and now it is time for a fair fare.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Social Networks & Riots

Last week’s violence, riots and disturbances were a disgrace. A criminal minority gathered to opportunistically cause damage and take what they wanted from shops and businesses up and down the country. These mindless thugs apparently used social networks to organise themselves thus giving the networks a bad name and which has now opened up a debate about whether they should be shut down in times of unrest to prevent scenes like those we witnessed last week.

On Thursday, I intervened on the Home Secretary during her statement in the Commons about the use of social networking during the riots and disturbances in London and elsewhere. I wanted to make the point, in the confines of a short interjection, that there is a difference between open networks (Twitter, Facebook etc) and closed networks (Blackberry Messenger) and that future consideration of their advantages and disadvantages to public order should be distinguished as such. However, and I can not be clearer than this – not for one second do I think they should be closed down. Monitored, yes; accessible to the police in certain circumstances, yes; shut down, no and especially if we want our voice heard when we condemn the practices of other regimes that restrict access to social networks or a free press.

During the recent revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa, we in the West, with our wide and free access to technology, social media and non-state controlled communication networks congratulated those who used, for example, Twitter to their advantage. In fact the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said in the Commons the following:

“there is no doubt that social networking sites have played an important role, particularly in Tunisia. That was very apparent from the young people I met and talked to there, many of whom, especially the young women, had taken part in the revolution on social networking sites rather than out in the streets. They were very proud of the way that they had co-ordinated their messages in the days before the revolution in order to intensify the action and demonstrations that took place. Those sites have played an important role and it is something that we should be positive about overall. The world is changing in a very significant way: people of all ages have access to communicating in that way and it is important that their freedom to do so is preserved. One way in which the Egyptian authorities have gone wrong in the past couple of weeks has been in trying to suppress access to the internet and misuse mobile telephone networks. People now have the right to use those things in a relatively open way”
We cannot have it both ways. We cannot on the one hand think that protests against an oppressive regime (a regime that viewed the “protests” as violent civil disturbances) organised on social networks is fine and should be encouraged and congratulated, but on the other hand violent civil disturbances in a democracy organised on social networks is not OK and should be curtailed. I do not for one minute condone the use of social networks by criminals, and the activities of last week were shocking, but the answer is not to oppress the use of Twitter, Facebook and even Blackberry Messenger, but to understand them, embrace their capabilities, and where necessary allow the authorities to use social network messages as evidence against perpetrators.

Many police forces, my local Kent police being one, used technology to great effect earlier on in the week. Clearly open networks allowed for arrests to be made for inciting public disorder, as well as providing the police with a means of monitoring potential targets. But they also enable the police to get clear messages out to the public. With rumours flying around the social networks about looting and rioting, police forces and other authoritative sources, were able to dispel the myths using the same networks that were propagating them. If networks were closed, as some suggest, then the rumours would still be flying around via other means of communication (dare I mention via good old fashioned oral communication) but without the instant truth also being known, and in a bitesize 140 characters.

I worry more about closed networks such as Blackberry Messenger, which is a safe, secure and encrypted instant communication tool, and one that I use myself. It is as far as I am aware impossible to monitor in real time, thus taking away from the police the intelligence advantage of Twitter etc. But I see no reason why it should not be used to prosecute those involved in criminal activity, and if there is not already existing legislation then this is a potential area of exploration.

So like my colleague Robert Halfon, I feel very uneasy about shutting down networks in times of civil disobedience. I campaign for greater civil liberties in other countries, so that fellow citizens of the world can enjoy the freedoms we in the UK have. It would be hugely hypocritical, and a massive victory for the oppressive dictatorial regimes we as a nation criticise, if we were to control social networks enjoyed by the law abiding majority because they can be abused by a criminal minority.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Debt, credit and me

Following an article in the Messenger and on BBC Kent, it is really interesting that I’ve subsequently been praised for my “honesty” and and “bravery” for talking about the debts I accumulated shortly after I arrived in London after leaving University. I don’t really think of it as honest or brave, and nor do I see it as an embarrassing tale. I just see it as a part of my background that now as an MP I can draw lessons from and help other people avoid.

My story is one based on youthful stupidity. As a teenager, I had worked and saved. When I went to Uni, everything I took with me in my little car I had bought myself. I was rather proud of myself – I didn’t have rich parents or relatives to buy me what I wanted or needed so I was financially prudent throughout my degree course and left with only what today would be considered a small amount of student debt. But then I arrived in London, started earning a small salary but lived, dated and worked with people who earned a lot more and I simply wanted to keep up and live the high life. I would buy things on store cards and maxed out credit cards. I got overdrafts and loans. And then got more. Added to my small student debt, I was soon nearly £15,000 in debt. What happened next seemed cruel at the time but turned out to be a life saver. The bank manager called me in, advised me on how much danger I was in financially, cut up all the plastic in my purse and put me on a repayment plan. It was awful at first but got easier as time went by and then after some considerable time, I finally made my last repayment and felt completely liberated!!

But my whole personal experience made me very aware of how easily you can live beyond your means. However I think of myself as quite lucky that the credit shops, websites or telephone lines that exist today were not freely available back then. I’m in no doubt that given on occasions the vulnerable position I had put myself in, I would have found them immensely attractive. Payday loans are obtainable in minutes and can often help a person out of a hole but the problem is that unlike if you miss a payment with your bank, who do often clock a problem and follow it up with the account holder, some credit lenders end up charging massive interest rates and roll over loans making the situation worse. Then to compound the problem, debt management companies advertise to help consolidate the money you owe into one lump sum but charge large up front fees, which in turn help market the product wider, and again mean that the consumer ultimately pays a significant amount more than was owed. Thus the vicious circle of debt begins and there are some horrendous stories of people paying back tens of thousands more than they had originally been lent in the first place!

Along with colleagues I met with Consumer Minister Ed Davey about this issue last week. While it is clear that not every lender or debt management company is unscrupulous, there are lots that do see an opportunity for profit in a growing industry. The Government is consulting on some of these matters at the moment, the OFT is looking at strengthening parts of its guidance and colleagues are working cross-party on consumer credit, debt management and as importantly, financial education. It is important that these three issues are all considered together and I am pleased to be involved in the various meetings and discussion groups with good providers and advisory services. However it is equally important that consumers are made aware of the free advice, credit unions or free debt management programmes that are available. The Citizens Advice Bureau provides an excellent debt advisory service and the Government continued with funding the financial inclusion fund for the next year in recognition of this service. In Medway the CAB is seeing more people coming through their doors with an increased about of debt, and while on one hand it is obviously very worrying that more than a million pounds of debt per week is now visible in Medway it is on the other hand reassuring that people are turning to the CAB for advice. My colleague Mark Reckless and I have long championed their cause locally and we shall continue to do so.

The truth is that anyone can get into debt. Lower income groups are more vulnerable but it is not an exclusive problem to one part of society. However it is noticeable how many money lending shops have sprung up in the high streets of the more deprived areas and what income groups the debt industry is marketed at. People need to be able to take responsibility for their own behaviours but they often need to be guided in the right direction – I got it from the bank manager and to this day I remain grateful. It sounds cliched, but it is very easy to get into debt but it is a lot harder to get out of it. The political, backbench and ministerial discussions will continue for some time I’m sure but in the meantime I will continue to direct constituents who come to me with their debt problems towards the many free services that continue to compete with those who finance their often aggressive marketing through upfront customer fees.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Southestern’s franchise extension

It appears my tweet yesterday regarding the extension of Southeastern’s franchise to 2014 may have upset the Comms team, but having looked in detail at their announcement I feel they should be grateful it wasn’t worse!

Southeastern made three announcements yesterday. Firstly, they have been awarded an extension to their current contract which will now run until March 2014. Secondly, there is due to be a consultation on a new compensation system thought to be in place by mid-2011 and thirdly, a high speed service will be operating from Maidstone West to Strood as of May.

Franchise Agreement Extension

With regards to the contract extension, first of all I should point out that this was not wholly unexpected. As per the franchise agreement negotiated by the previous Government in 2005, Southeastern’s contract was due to expire on 31 March 2011 with an option within the agreement for a two year extension if they pass certain criteria and a performance based review. Given Southeastern appear to have met these targets, it does beg the question that if they can be awarded an extension to their contract, despite consistently scoring in the bottom 3 or 4 of Train Operating Companies for punctuality, what on earth did the previous Government negotiate as the criteria? Unsurprisingly commuting constituents are reacting with words such as “angry” “livid” “baffled”.

Clearly they were not robust enough and unfortunately it is those who use the service who will continue to suffer unless Southeastern make significant improvements. What we need in the future, and I will press Ministers on the issue, is more challenging performance targets incorporated into franchise agreements. It is no use if they are set low enough to allow poor services to continue indefinitely.
Looking to the future, I do hope Southeastern do not see this as an endorsement of their service and rather as a last reprieve and an opportunity to make significant improvements.

Proposed Compensation Scheme

I’ve had a lot of enquiries about the new proposed compensation scheme. Little in the way of specific details have emerged as of yet, however the intention is to compensate those whose train arrives at the destination over 30 minutes late.
Whilst this is a welcome development, I will be keen to see the specific details, particularly how this impacts season ticket holders, does it apply in bad weather, and is it only for those who disembark at the final destination? I will also be interested to learn why such a system was not in place beforehand, when it operates on other Govia (Southeastern’s parent) franchises such as Southern. It is being described as a “silver lining” by some passenger groups but I prefer to wait and see. A very small percentage of trains run 30 minutes late and I think my commuting constituents would rather see a proper independent audit of the end of year punctuality statistics, broken down by line, and compensation schemes based on that rather than a programme operational on few occasions.

High Speed Service from Maidstone West

Finally Southeastern announced a high speed service will operate from Maidstone West to Strood. This is great news for those who live in Maidstone but means nothing but likely disruption for my constituents and those who commute from Rochester. The service will not be stopping at Aylesford, New Hythe or Snodland and details have yet to be announced as to how this will affect the current stopping service operating on the Medway Valley Line. Any reduction in the regularity of the service that many train users currently rely on will not be acceptable. Yesterday’s announcement also gave no further details on future plans for the West Malling line, a point I am sure Sir John Stanley and I will be raising again with Southeastern and the Minister.

So, all in all my tweet yesterday was rather moderate given that I am failing to see the good news for my constituents in the announcement from Southeastern. The company is fortunate in my view that the Government was contractually obliged to extend its franchise for two years and I hope that they now see this as an opportunity to show its passengers, who pay a ridiculously high price to use their service, what kind of service it can run. Responsibility for the next franchise negotiations is now fully in the hands of the new Government and Kent MPs will be watching with close interest.

Monday, 14 March 2011

A tiny insight into teaching

I really enjoyed my TeachFirst experience on Friday. A lot of effort was put into supporting me from the team including Jane, a TeachFirst teacher at Aylesford School, who helped with all the lesson planning and the interactive white board, and it was really appreciated. I hope that I gave the children a good lesson and now the adrenalin (and possibly white board marker) high has abated I can look back and genuinely say that I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.

When I was at school I had many excellent teachers but two were absolutely inspiring: Mr Pickering, my third year teacher at Hythe Primary and Miss Morton (as she was then), my history and politics teacher at Folkestone Girls. I still remember them and their classes (for example Miss Morton’s chalk sketch on the blackboard of the Battle of Naseby, with stick men indicating the New Model Army, redrawn to perfection in my own rough book) but whilst it is easy to remember their personalities I don’t think we as students ever appreciated how much time went into preparing for our lessons.

I know I’ve only done one class and I got a lot of help doing it. Plus explaining the role and responsibilities of an MP is not a particularly difficult class for an MP to take. But I do feel like I got a tiny insight into what it is like to be a teacher and how much prep goes into delivering a lesson to a mixed ability group of children. The hour class whizzed by and I got my timing slightly wrong on delivering to the plan; I had taken the political knowledge levels of 13 year olds too much for granted (casting my mind back to when I was 13, I don’t really recall knowing anything about politics so I fear I momentarily succumbed to the Westminster-bubble) which meant I needed to explain more than I had planned; I didn’t appreciate how hands on teaching is today, compared to when I left school nearly 18 years ago, and it is impossible to switch off for even a nano-second; and I was left in no doubt that the better prepared you are, the smoother the class will run.

I personally got a lot out of the experience and I hope the students did too. I was pleased that a number of students put up their hands at the end of class when I asked if they wanted to be an MP now they knew what one did, so maybe I didn’t do too badly after all.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Good Morning Miss Crouch…

When I was a spotty, goofy, spiky haired third year at my all girls school in Folkestone we were made to stand up at the start of class and greet the poor overburdened, underpaid teacher with a monotonous and ambivalent “Good Morning Mr/Mrs/Miss X” before sitting down, opening our wallpaper-covered rough books and listening in silence whilst lessons were chalked up on the blackboard. Is it still like this? I doubt it. But tomorrow I find out as I will be doing my bit to promote Teach First Week. Over the course of the past week more than 30 individuals from business, politics, journalism and the world of entertainment have been given the chance to experience life as a teacher in a Teach First partner school.

So in the morning I will be teaching a Citizenship lesson to a Year 9 class at Aylesford Sports College and I confess as my hour in the classroom gets closer I am feeling both excited but a tad nervous about it all! Although I have a Teach First participant helping me plan my lesson in advance of teaching it, I can’t help but worry that these poor kids may one day be examined on what I’ve taught them. However, despite the fact that I will be given feedback on my classroom performance, for me the whole point of the exercise is less about my ability to inspire 29 third years and more about gaining a better understanding of how much work goes into planning and teaching a lesson. I have already learnt so much and haven’t even gone through the school gates yet! And whilst taking one class isn’t going to give me universal knowledge of either the profession or education policy, I hope it will give me enough insight to provide a positive contribution in future parliamentary debate on issues that effect either/both.

I will let you know how it goes…

Friday, 11 February 2011

Inviting Local Bands to Rock The House!

Calling all unsigned local bands!

A press release has just landed on my desk asking me to propose the best unsigned band and best live venue from my Chatham & Aylesford constituency and I want to hear your suggestions!

This follows the official launch of ‘Rock The House’, a national music competition in search of talented new artists and venues from across the UK, being sponsored by the Hove MP Mike Weatherley, a Parliamentary champion for the music industry.

‘Rock The House’ is a music competition with a political twist; supporting unsigned bands and artists, it will raise political awareness of issues around music copyright and the importance of protecting the intellectual property of artists’ work.

Bands, artists and venues are invited to enter themselves, via their local MP, who will make nominations to a judging panel of music industry heavyweights, on behalf of their own constituencies. Entries can be submitted until the closing date of 31st March 2011. Winners will be announced by the end of May.
You can email me direct with a link to your myspace or other audio sharing space on [email protected]

All competition finalists will be invited to attend an exclusive star-studded event on the Terrace of the House of Commons on 30th June. Other top prizes up for grabs for winners include: Yamaha music gear and instruments, master classes with top industry consultants, high profile media coverage, and much more.

Sponsors and supporters include: UK Music, Future Publishing, EMI, Yamaha, Consumer Focus, Music Managers Forum (MMF), Incorporated Society of Musicians, and All Party Parliamentary Group on Music (APPG).

Monday, 7 February 2011

Launching Financial Education For Young People

On Monday, I attended the launch of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Financial Education for Young People as part of a major campaign for compulsory financial education in schools. Over 170 MPs from all parties have joined the group, making it one of the largest APPGs ever.

Formed on the back of a debt-ridden financial crisis and an increasingly complex financial world, the group is calling is for compulsory financial education in schools, ensuring young people understand money, consuming and debt. It’s set to be the new force behind pushing financial education up the agenda, and co-ordinating the agencies already working towards it, including charity pfeg and

I think it is vital that we equip the next generation with the understanding to be able to make informed financial decisions. I am pleased to be a member of this group, and hope that through working together we will be able to help young people better understand the difficult choices that they will need to make.

The Launch was attended by Martin Lewis, creator of Martin is a great champion for the cause. Martin hit the nail on the head when he said “What’s been deeply frustrating campaigning on this over the years is while virtually everybody agrees it’s needed and people often say ‘I wish I’d had it’, making it happen is a nightmare. That’s why this co-ordinated effort is so exciting. After all, as a financially illiterate nation, it’s not enough to rely on parents to teach financial education. Schools are the key to breaking the debt cycle leading to less mis-selling, fewer bad debts, better consumers and could save the public purse a fortune. It’s a national disgrace that in the 20 years since student loans were launched we’ve educated our youth into debt, but never about debt. Now as tuition fees are getting bigger we simply cannot leave young people uneducated on this matter.”

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Supporting the Fish Fight Campaign

My colleague Zac Goldsmith has tabled an early day motion in Parliament supporting the “Fish Fight” campaign, which I have signed in support thus reassuring the many constituents who have contacted me about this issue.

The campaign highlights that up to half of all fish trawled in the North Sea are thrown back either dead or dying because of EU rules on quotas. The campaign calls for strong reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy in order to eliminate the environmentally and economically damaging practice of discarding fish before landing and instead institute a regionalised, ecosystems based management framework. That all seems to make better sense to me!

Monday, 17 January 2011

The Government has already said NO to Boris Island

Yet again, Boris Johnson’s ludicrous Thames Estuary Airport proposal is back in the news. The Mayor’s steering group is due to publish a report outlining its proposals, which Paul Francis from the Kent Messenger highlights HERE.

I am beginning to find this continuous attempt to scare Medway residents by the Mayor and his team a tad tedious. The Mayor has no jurisdiction over where and when airports are built. The Prime Minister has said no to the proposals, as has the Secretary of State for Transport and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who can think of better ways of spending/saving £40bn.

It really is tiresome to keep saying to Boris to stop even thinking about the Thames Estuary Airport but let me, on behalf of everyone locally, say one more time – Medway says no to Boris Island, and the Government agrees.