Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Vote Labour or the fox gets it...

As the Government's focuses on helping people get through the world economic downturn, it appears that Her Majesty's Opposition have a rather different priority...changing the law to legalise hunting animals with dogs!

I notice that the advert next to the coverage of the local Boxing Day gathering of horse and hound in my local evening paper the Peterborough Evening Telegraph has this link which leads to an appeal to stop cruelty to animals before it occurs.

Not sure whether it’s clever advertising or merely a happy juxtaposition, but good to see the RSPCA which campaigned to get hunting with dogs outlawed remains one step ahead!

Tory moves to bring back hunting with dogs reminds me of a now classic leaflet produced in the parliamentary by-election in Eddisbury in the late 1990s, when fox-hunting became a dominant issue.

Sadly, I no longer seem to have a copy, but well remember the headline:

Vote Labour or the fox gets it!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Award for our MP...

Congratulations to MP John Hayes who has been named Parliamentary Disability Charity Champion for his work to support brain-injured people and their carers.

John, MP for South Holland and The Deepings, was presented with the Disability Champion Award by Esther Rantzen at a ceremony at the Epolitix Charity Awards.

He suffered a serious head injury himself when he was in his early 20s and made an excellent recovery. Now, as an MP, he holds regular fund-raising events including an annual parliamentary cricket match, to help raise the profile of the Headway charity.

Police hunt hare coursers

Pleased to see Lincolnshire Police making arrests of lawbreakers who descend on our county at this time of the year for illegal hare-coursing. Lincs Free Press

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Gentleman of Deepings surfs on...


Sad to pass on Christmas Day news of the death of gentleman John Hollman, father of Deepings Olympic athlete Julie.

The family have been neighbours here in Church Street, Deeping St James for a quarter of a century and I had the privilege of knowing John. A couple of years ago he was clearing out his garage and flogged me an old windsurfer, complete with sail which he said was clogging up his garage.

Now it's clogging up my garage! In the unlikely event that I ever make it on the water, I'll be thinking of John.

Sadly, John was not well enough to travel to Beijing as planned earlier this year to see his daughter take part in the Olympics in the heptathlon - but I know that seeing TV coverage of her competing on the world stage must have given him great comfort.

Thoughts with John's wife Carole and all the family.

(Photo: Peterborough Evening Telegraph).

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A family's tragedy at Christmas...

A terrible loss for a 14-year-old to die at any time of the year, but this in Christmas week seems even more tragic.

Touching words from Chris Beckett, Head Teacher at Deepings School, commenting on the death of Danielle Beaver in a road accident earlier this week.

Danielle is the fourth Deepings student to die on the roads in the past two years.

I'm sure that our thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones, particularly in such tragic circumstances.

Why Cameron's team are revolting...

...And why they have so little to say on the current economic downturn (for the rest of us).

Anyway, it's in the FT.

No comment.

Radio 4 focus on Lincs child care cases...

News that the findings of a Lincolnshire County Council review into a case of serious child abuse may not be made public made the national news last night.

I was interviewed live by Eddie Mair (below, right) on the BBC Radio Four 'PM' programme at 5.45 last night, following my call earlier in the day to the Leader of Lincolnshire County Council to show political leadership by intervening in the case. I was responding to disturbing revelations in yesterday's Lincolnshire Echo that any failings which may have happened would be kept secret.

Sadly, the Council declined to take part in the Radio 4 programme, so we still don't know if Council Leader Martin Hill will involve himself in the case to ensure that the findings of the review are made public.

It was last June that a court was told that a young Lincoln mother left her two year old baby barricaded in her kitchen when she went out partying for a weekend.

The toddler was discovered by neighbours three days later in a flooded kitchen, covered in his own excrement and rummaged through rubbish bags for food 'like a dog'. The mother was jailed for 18 months and a County Council review ordered after it was revealed that the toddler had been removed from the 'at risk' register.

Clearly, it was the mother not the social workers or any other professional was responsible for what was described in court as the most serious case of child neglect ever seen by Lincolnshire Police...

But I also strongly believe that the people of Lincolnshire have a right to know what lessons can be learned from such cases, and what action is taken to protect children and minimise the chances of such abuse happening again.

In my view, the Council's statement in yesterday's Lincolnshire Echo that the findings may not be published do nothing to enhance public confidence in our local child care services.

The national spotlight is already on frontline services in Lincolnshire following the shocking case of the 'British Fritzl' who repeatedly raped his two daughters, leaving them pregnant 19 times. We'll have to wait for the outcome of the Serious Case Review into that case.

I understand there are another THREE ongoing serious case reviews involving child protection services in Lincolnshire - the case of the neglected toddler was not considered serious enough to warrant a 'serious case review' and instead a 'management review' was ordered.

But whatever the review is called, I would have thought Councillor Hill would want to avoid a public relations car-crash by giving assurances that the findings will be made public - and any lessons learned.

If you want a listen to the BBC Radio Four interview, it's HERE. Move the timer across to 45 minutes 30 seconds into the programme for the start of the interview.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Son of 'British Fritzl' says he warned authorities ten years ago...

The son of the beast who repeatedly raped his two daughters over more than 20 years leaving them pregnant 19 times has spoken of the horror of his childhood.
He says he warned the authorities a decade ago of his father's atrocious abuse, but sadly nothing was done.

I missed his interview on BBC Five Live on Friday, but it was picked up by the weekend papers.

The headlines from The Sun to the Daily Mail demonstrate that any lessons that can be learned must be learned - and seen to be acted on - by all the agencies who came into contact with the family over many years - including Lincolnshire County Council, Lincolnshire Police and local health services.

Public must have confidence in child protection services...

I have today made a public appeal to the Leader of Lincolnshire County Council to show some political leadership in making public the findings of a review following a case of child abuse which resulted in a mother being sent to jail.

Friday, December 19, 2008

14 year old girl dies on Deepings road...

Peterborough Evening Telegraph has the details of the latest fatal accident which appears to have happened near the spot where Market Deeping Mayor Bob Glass died when two cars crashed in 2003.

UPDATED: Floral tributes as the girl is named in the Stamford Mercury.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

How did death Land Rover pass an MOT...?

Four young girls died in their father's badly botched Land Rover when it ran into a river in Lincolnshire. Today, their father faces a possible prison sentence as the heart-break story and photos of four beautiful girls are splashed across the front of the Daily Mirror.

Well done to Lincolnshire Police for securing the conviction after describing the vehicle in a Lincoln court as the worst maintained of its kind they had ever seen.

But if the death vehicle was so poorly maintained, how did it manage to pass its annual MOT test...?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Is MP who called 999 dizzy, or what...?

An MP is under fire for dialling 999 after hearing strange noises in her central heating boiler.

The noises which prompted the emergency call-out turned out to be caused by an airlock in the system. Now LibDem MP Lynne Featherstone has been accused by Tory rival Brian Coleman of being a dizzy airhead...

She's fought back, accusing Mr Coleman of sexist remarks.

You may remember Brian Coleman. Earlier this year he outrageously accused British Olympic medallists as having blood on their hands.

He's otherwise known as 'Cabbie' Coleman after his astonishing claims for taxis on the rates came to light - including a £656 fare in just one day!

So who's the dizzy airhead...?

Answers on a postcard!

Bush the Shoe Dodger...

Now we know what George Dubya has been doing in the White House...His quality dodges to avoid being smacked in the face with a pair of size tens at a press conference in Iraq clearly demonstrate he has reached the star professional level on his Wii game...!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Miners champion who took on the greedy lawyers...

Good news that two of the greediest lawyers who got rich creaming millions of pounds from compensation payments to sick miners have been struck off. But if they are guilty of ripping off their clients, shouldn't they be locked up and made to pay back their ill-gotten gains?

In allegedly trousering a staggering £24 MILLION from the pockets of the miners who put their trust in them, one of the lawyers reportedly became Britain's highest paid solicitor. They are both apparently planning to appeal being struck off, claiming they have done nothing wrong.

It seems they were only doing what many others in their 'profession' were also doing!

Exposing their greed is a huge victory for Notts Labour MP John Mann (pictured).

John deserves a medal for his tireless campaign over many years for miners and their families who have been shortchanged by unscrupulous solicitors.

Knowing John, I'm sure he won't give up his fight for justice until every solicitor involved has paid back every penny piece due to the miners, their widows or their surviving families.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Grammar school teacher's unacceptable behaviour...

Bourne Grammar School's reputation may take a knock with revelations that an assistant head teacher reduced a student to tears when she stuck tape over his mouth.

Tomorrow's Stamford Mercury has the full story.

I'm pleased to say that a General Teaching Council hearing ruled that such behaviour to be totally unacceptable.

When I was at school - Robert Pattinson Secondary Modern in North Hykeham - no-one batted an eyelid at far worse abuse by teachers.

Thank goodness that in the four decades since then, times have moved on.

When the earth moved and nearly all went down the pan...

This is a serious story about a man getting drenched after the earth moved in one of those newfangled superloos.

I culled it from the Islington Gazette.

Must have been really scary, but if you can get all the way through without laughing, let me know: you're a better person than me!

PS - Bet you didn't know there was a British Association for these matters...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Bad week for Botcher Boris as another top aide quits...

David Cameron is likely regretting his photo-op with Tory playboy tycoon David Ross now that his £130 million shares scandal has been exposed.

But doesn't the judgement of Dave's Bullingdon Club mate Boris Johnson looks even worse than David Cameron's, as the Mayor of London hopelessly tried to save yet another of his top advisers. All this in the same week as he is being investigated over his behaviour in the Damien Green affair.

The headline in today's early London Standard was
'Boris stands by 2012 aide facing probe into £130m shares scandal'
The Standard declared that Boris was 'standing by' David Ross who he had appointed to oversee the 2012 London Olympics on his behalf - despite the fact that Mr Ross faces a formal investigation by the Financial Services Authority.

A spokesman for Boris told the Standard:
'If the FSA doesn't find any fault with David Ross all we have to go on is his firm saying it's an oversight. The Mayor is not yet convinced that the case for him going is overwhelming. The crucial fact is whther they can demonstrate in any convincing way that he's messed up. If the FSA doesn't say it's more serious then it is hard for us to act'.
Labour were quick to point out that despite Mr Ross being forced to resign under a financial cloud from the company he co-founded, Boris still thinks he's an appropriate person to oversee London's Olympic budget.

Labour quickly accused Boris of being so terrified of losing yet another adviser that he was failing to see that the longer Boris failed to act, the quicker financial confidence in the Olympics would diminish.

Within a couple of hours, the Standard was changing its headline, to reflect Ross's resignation as Boris's man at the Olympics.

If a week's a long time in politics, what's a couple of hours...?

The Standard went on to report that Ross's departure is
'a major blow to Mr Johnson and prompts further questions about the Mayor's judgment.'
He is of course the fourth senior City Hall aide Boris has lost in recent months.

Boris was forced to sack his chief political adviser, James McGrath, after the former Central Office aide suggested black people should "go home" to the Caribbean if they did not like living in Tory-controlled London.

Then his deputy mayor Ray Lewis - hailed as a champion by David Cameron - was forced to resign after allegations over 'financial irregularities and inappropriate behaviour'.

And then Tim Parker, another of Boris's deputy mayors who also served as chair of Transport for London, bcame the third of his senior team to quit in controversial circumstances.

Is this Boris's worst week so far as the most high-profile elected Conservative in the land?

I suppose it could be worse for David Cameron, pictured in most of today's newspapers with the fallen tycooon at a Tory social event: A Independent profile of Mr Ross suggests that he was considered as Tory candidate for Mayor of London...!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

East Mids lad is new world champ...

Britain has a new world champ.

Well done Carl Froch from Nottingham who has just become World Super Middleweight Champion after 12 classic and thrilling rounds against courageous French Canadian boxer Jean Pascal.

Pascal was undefeated until he was struck by 'Carl the Cobra' tonight. Froch won in a unanimous decision for the world title left vacant by Welshman Joe Calzaghee.

Why Bullingdon Boris is not fit to be in charge of policing...

Mayor of London and self-appointed chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority Boris Johnson is under fire for contacting a suspect in a police investigation.

He's also probably prejudiced any trial by publicly suggesting that it's unlikely any charges will come of the said investigation.

Don't say you weren't warned and warned again about Bullingdon Boris's lack of fitness to be in charge of policing in our captial city...

Friday, December 05, 2008

A dozen more Children's Centres - thanks to Labour!

I see Tory controlled Lincolnshire is to receive more millions in grants from the Labour Government to open another dozen SureStart Children's Centres across the county.

There's already two dozen SureStarts giving thousands of Lincolnshire children a better start in life - including one that opened in The Deepings earlier this year.

The Tories who run Lincolnshire are happy to grab the extra millions from the Government and then attempt to claim the credit for opening new SureStarts.

Ironic then that if David Cameron's Tories were ever trusted to run the country, they are pledged to CUT investment for SureStart Children's Centres.

And the investment is indeed truly staggering, particularly considering that not one of these Children's Centres existed before 1997.

I recall a debate on SureStarts at a county council meeting some time ago when I proudly welcomed a Government announcement of £30 million to cover three years running costs for the existing SureStarts in Lincolnshire.

A Tory councillor thought he had spotted an obvious gaffe and jumped to his feet, anxious to correct me...

"Councillor Dilks has just suggested that the Labour Government has allocated £30 million for running SureStart Children's Centres for this county. Surely the £30 million figure is for the whole country, not just for this county...perhaps Councillor Dilks would like to apologise for attempting to mislead this Council..."
Er, no.

I was happy to let a senior officer wipe the smile off his face by telling him that I was right on the money!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008

One-star Lincolnshire chases glory...

On the day it was revealed that one of the most horrific ever cases of child sexual abuse took place here in Lincolnshire, you could be forgiven for thinking that social services bosses would have something better to do than chase glory...

The unspeakable in Lincolnshire...

Totally unspeakable...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Recession can be good for you says Top Tory...

A senior member of David Cameron's Conservative team says "recession can be good for you" as anyone who loses their job will be able to spend more time with their family!

Andrew Lansley's offensive comments, made on an official Conservative Party website, are revealed on the Recess Monkey blog.

As the Monkey says, Lansley has let the cat out of the Tory bag and provided proof if it were ever needed that David Cameron's Conservatives are happy to sit back, do nothing and leave people to sink or swim in the current economic downturn - in contrast to Gordon Brown's action now to help pensioners, families and businesses emerge from the downturn quicker and stronger.

Don't try the link provided by Recess Monkey as it appears that Dave's team have attempted to destroy the evidence by airbrushing out Lansley's entire article from their official website.

At least it's being reported by the London Standard.

Another schoolboy error from Team Cameron.

UPDATE: The Telegraph is reporting that Mr Lansley, who is Cameron's health spokesman, has been forced to apologise for his rather ill-judged remarks...

UPDATE 2: The Guardian points out, it was only a week ago that Conservative Deputy Party Chairman John Maples was forced to apologise after he said that the recession "must be allowed to take its course".

As Work and Pensions Minister James Purnell says, Mr Maples may regret his remarks, but doing nothing is exactly what the Conservatives would do under Cameron/Osborne...

Well, if nothing else, the dividing lines are now crystal clear: Do Something to save jobs and help families, businesses and pensioners with Gordon Brown or Do Nothing under David Cameron.

Discuss!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Shares soar to record rise...

Shares have recorded their biggest ever one-day rise. The FTSE has just closed up almost ten per cent on this morning's opening - partly due to the City welcoming measures announced by the Chancellor today to help small businesses, families and pensioners through the current tough economic times.

Lincs Police and The Bill...

The BBC reports that Lincolnshire Police spends £900 a day on translation services...

Friday, November 21, 2008

BBC go over the top...and I'm right behind them!

Thanks to Brynley for pointing out that the BBC link I posted about 'sixty migrant workers arrested' in a Holbeach leek field in fact only refers to 'eight arrests'...

I wondered what Brynley's point was - until I revisted the BBC link and to my horror, saw that it had been amended. Rather than delete the original post, I thought it best to explain what I think has happened...

I picked up reports of 60 arrests from the BBC front page and judged it to be a significant 'local' story worth a mention on my blog...

It seems that a few minutes after I posted, the BBC updated their link, downgrading their earlier story of 60 arrests to just eight!

Looks like even eight may be more than double the actual number...

The Spalding Guardian says there were just three arrests...

Should I cancel my licence fee...?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mass arrest of migrant workers in South Lincs

Sixty men and women of all ages - all thought to be from Eastern Europe - were arrested while picking leeks in a Holbeach field today in one of the biggest ever operations in the UK to target the illegal trade of people trafficking across international borders.

I hope the authorities are able to nail those who organise and rake in the profits of this evil trade.

BREAKING NEWS: Mind the Gap

Latest poll shows Labour closing the gap on the Tories to just three points. According to Mori, Cameron's Conservatives are down five over the past month, while Labour are up seven.

Bring it on...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Easy pickings in the Deepings...

Too many Deepings people are leaving easy pickings for burglars by failing to lock up before going to bed.

Since September almost one 'break-in' a week has been reported in Market Deeping and St James, prompting a warning from local police to lock up at night and take valuables to bed.

In most cases, police say the burglars entered homes through unlocked doors, helping themselves to goodies like i-pods, mobile phones and wallets.

Not so much 'break-ins' as 'walk-ins'...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Kilroy wasn't here...

It seems no-one at the European Parliament will miss Robert Kilroy Silk while he attempts to relaunch his failed TV career tonight on the nonsense that is 'I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here'.

His 'colleagues' from across the political divide agree he's so rarely in Brussels that another few weeks absence won't make much difference.

Kilroy's promised big changes when he was elected as a UKIP MEP to represent the good folk of the East Midlands in the Euro-Parliament in a blaze of self-made glory almost four years ago, but it's proved to be all bluster.

I've only met Kilroy once and it was an unpleasant experience. Our paths crossed in Northampton on the night the votes in the Euro election were counted. As he brushed past us ordinary people - and a queue of MPs and MEPs standing patiently in line to gain entry to the count - he demonstrated all his legendary rudeness and arrogance.

Of course, Kilroy soon fell out with UKIP when his coup to become its Leader collapsed in farce. So he formed his own party and looked around for a target seat to launch his bid to return to Westminster.

He picked on Erewash in Derbyshire, but Kilroy badly misjudged sitting MP Liz Blackman. I know Liz and in contrast to Kilroy, she is one of the quietest, and most hard-working parliamentarians anyone could ever wish to meet.

Liz sensibly let Kilroy grab the headlines while she continued doing what she does best - working hard for her constituents.

Far from beating Liz, she actually increased her majority and Kilroy was suitably humiliated. For me, the Erewash result was the sweetest of the night.

Let's hope Kilroy doesn't choke on his wombat testicles...eh?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Friday, November 07, 2008

Good news travels fast...

Flew up from Miami yesterday for a day in Washington before flying home tonight and just seen the headline in the Washington Post celebrating Labour's by-election win in Glenrothes (sorry can't link on this hotel computer...)

So that's two excellent election results this week...

Both well deserved, I'd say!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

President Obama says ''Yes We Can..."

Great acceptance speech from President Elect Barack Obama after his landslide win evoking memories of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" oration.

I found it interesting that Obama used the story of a 106-year-old woman who voted in this election amd questioned what might be possible in the next 106 years...

Here in Miami on Sunday, among the lines in the pouring rain waiting to vote was a 102-year-old woman determined to vote for the first time.

Seniors for Obama!

The election results in Florida were wafer-close for several hours but the State was finally called for Obama.

I was privileged to be invited to the Obama Victory Party in Miami Beach to watch the results come in - and celebrate. The atmosphere was electric and highly emotional, with activists screaming with delight as updates from each state were reporterd - results augmented by frequent announcements from the stage by enthusiatic local campaigners about Florida victory followed by Florida victory.

Miami polls closed at 7pm - three hours earlier than in British General Elections - and it was clear early on that this was indeed going to be the historic night on a scale I never dream possible: yes, bigger even than John Fitzgerald Kennedy's win almost half a century ago, and bigger than the more recent Clinton push.

Astonishing that John McCain knew he had lost early and made his speech accepting defeat by 11.30pm.

It was a gracious loser's speech offering congratulations to President Obama, which attracted polite applause as the footage was relayed live to massive screens on either side of the stars and stripes backdrop to a partisan Democrat audience in Miami.

President Obama was able to start his acceptance speech before midnight - almost, if not entirely without precedent.

He paid tribute to the service to country by his opponent, who was tortured as a prisoner in the Vietnam War.

The Obama effect has rocked America and created a movement, rather than simply winning an election.

Expectations and hope for improvements are massive.

So. After the most costly, lengthy, most gruelling campaign which tested the candidates to the limit, America has chosen it's Leader.

Tomorrow the real work starts.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Live from the White House...

Quick blog from the White House...No, not the one in Washington, but Sky TV's US Election set in Miami, where a few colleagues are doing a quick interview.

Very grand on the waterfront, and a huge contrast from the deprivation of just a few blocks away from the skyscrapers and the glamour of Miami Beach.

I've knocked a lot of doors over the years, but never seen poverty like I saw this morning in an African-American area called Overtown, Miami.

Tiny one room dark apartments of the like I've never seen anywhere in Britain.

Quite shocking.

In Britain, we take the NHS for granted. The people I met this morning have no health care - which is why Barack Obama wants health care for all Americans - a plan opposed by the Republicans who try to use the policy to demonstrated that Obama is really a 'socialist'!!

Sunday, on the last day of early voting, we watched people wait patiently in line and in torrential rain for eight hours in Liberty City, Miami, and helped hand out water and cookies.

What was amazing was that they stood in line for eight hours, determined to exercise their democratic right.

While it was good to see the huge turnout, voting in a democracy should surely not be made so difficult.

Only a few hours before we know whether it will be McCain or Obama in the White House...

Whoever wins, there is a huge expectation of delivery.

More later hopefully...

Monday, November 03, 2008

Champ by a whisker...and Chump on a turkey-shoot

Totally missed Lewis Hamilton's historic victory in becoming the youngest ever world motor racing champion at the age of just 23 - in only his second F1 season...

No-one seemed very bothered about motor racing here in Little Haiti, Miami: despite flicking the channels on the telly on a mini-bus on which we were based for the day, I couldn't find a trace of anything remotely F1.

Plenty of Sunday programmes hosted by cammed-up geeks demonstrating how to gun down turkeys with high-powered rifles and even one showing how to sit in a tree and wait for a passing deer to kill.

Which reminds me of my favourite election button badge to date, which takes a pop at gun-toting Sarah Palin.

It's picture of a moose with the words: Alaskan Wildlife for Obama.

Quality.

Apart from that, an incredible day on the campaign trail...of which more when I've caught up on a few zeds...

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Go Lewis...

With Massa on pole and Lewis only fourth, it's all to play for in Brazil...

Saturday, November 01, 2008

From Glenrothes to Miami...

Sorry it's been too quiet here. Been busy up in Scotland having a look at the Glenrothes by election, but couldn't resist getting over to America to soak up the the last 72 hours in the race for the most powerful office on earth...

At the start of the Glenrothes campaign, the bookies were offering 1-4 against a Labour win, but with the shine coming off the SNP and Gordon Brown bouncing back over his handling of the world economic crisis, Labour are fighting hard for every vote.

With only five days of campaigning in Fife left, I feel the gap closing fast - Labour's candidate Lindsay Roy is a solid, well respected local head teacher, not a failed politician.

Meanwhile, the SNP have shown arrogance in selecting the Leader of Fife Council as their candidate - after he personally pushed through a pacakage of cuts and increases to home care charges from four pounds a week to eleven pounds an hour.

In addition, the SNP's nonsense about an independent Scotland joining a non existent so-called 'Arc of Prosperity' has been exposed as nonsense following the meltdown of the Icelandic economy - and the bailout of the Royal Bank of Scotland and Halifax Bank of Scotland by the UK Government, proving that the UK is stronger together and would be weaker apart.

Glenrothes really could go down to the wire.

Over here in the States, it looks just possible that Barack Obama could win big and become the first black President - just been watched TV coverage of Republican John McCain's rallying call in Virginia, and it has to be said, he looks his age, and very tired. His last roll of the dice seems to be a direct attempt to label Obama 'socialist'and 'hard left'.

Desperate times.

Eight years ago, I went to the swing state of Ohio and saw the Democrats fail to win, four years ago I managed to get to Philadelphia, only to see George Dubya re-elected.

This time, I'm in the sunshine state of Miami, hoping to see history made on Tuesday with a win for Barack Obama.

Will keep you posted...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Is Alaskan Senator's conviction the final nail for McCain's campaign...?

Longest serving US Senator - a Republican - faces prison after being found guilty of corruption.

To make matters worse for McCain, convicted Ted Stevens, 84, is from the great state of Alaska, home of 'hockey mom' and McCain's running mate Sarah Palin...

Earlier today, the biggest paper in Alaska endorsed Obama, saying Palin was a novice and it was unthinkable that their own state Governor could become a heart-beat away from becoming President.

It ain't over til it's over, and a week's a long time in politics. But can anything now stop Barack Obama becoming the first black President of the most powerful nation on earth...?

I hope not.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Another dodgy donation story piles pressure on Cameron and Osborne...

Wee Georgie Osborne faces fresh questions about his lack of judgement after details of a donation to the Conservative Party came to light this afternoon.

The revelations on the Daily Telegraph's website pile the pressure on David Cameron and his Shadow Chancellor following allegations earlier in the week that wee Georgie attempted to tap a Russian billionaire for a potentially illegal donation to the Conservative Party.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The wonderful Dennis Skinner hits his target...

Wee Georgie Osborne looked like the naughty boy caught stealing the dinner money as he squirmed throughout today's Prime Minister's Questions.

David Cameron's hapless sidekick faces serious issues over his lack of judgement in talking on a Russian oligarch's yacht in Corfu about potentially illegal donations to the Tory Party.

David Cameron's reference to 'dodgy accountants' brought the House down, as MPs made the unspoken link to 'Corfugate'. But despite the big questions about Mr Osborne's fitness to run the economy (or rather lack of it) splashed all over today's front pages, 'Corfugate' appeared to be the elephant in the room and was not raised for the first 29 and a half minutes of Prime Minister's Questions.

Just when Cameron and wee Georgie thought they had survived the session, the wonderful Dennis Skinner was called by Mr Speaker to ask the final question:

The former Derbyshire miner and so-called 'Beast of Bolsover' - seen here with yours truly on the campaign trail a couple of years ago - rose. And in his unique passionate style, order paper waving in hand, eyes focused sharply on Mr Osborne, Dennis asked:

"Will the Prime Minister promise that whatever he has to do to solve the nation's finances, he will never ever resort to boarding the luxury yacht of a Russian oligarch to ask for money...?"

House erupts. Even bigger squirms from Georgie...and this time the man sitting next to him - Tory Leader David Cameron who has publicly backed the boy Georgie over the Russian oligarch affair.

Gordon Brown replied: "This is a serious issue and I trust it will be properly investigated by the authorities..."

Quality Dennis. Top Quality.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Two Lincs MPs named in Government reshuffle...

More congrats are in order...this time to two Lincs MPs who have taken up new posts in the Labour Government.

Quentin Davies (Stamford and Grantham) has joined the Government as a Defence Minister.Mr Davies has been appointed by Gordon Brown to be Minister for Defence Equipment and Support. He will be part of a department which has a budget of £13 billion.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has appointed Gillian Merron (Lincoln) to be a Minister in the Foreign Office.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Our Rev. Mark gets a new calling...

News just received: "The Bishop of Lincoln is pleased to announce that the Revd Mark Warrick, who is currently Vicar in the parish of Deeping St James in the Aveland & Ness Deanery, has been appointed Priest in Charge of the benefice of All Saints and St John´s Stamford, subject to CRB Disclosure.

"Mark, his wife Alison and their family hope to move to the parish in January and Mark is due to be licensed on 28th January 2009."

Congratulations to Mark, who I've had the pleasure of knowing since he arrived in Deeping St James some ten or so years ago.

I've served with Mark on Deeping St James Parish Council for a number of years and we are currently both trustees of the United Charities Trust.

I've also enjoyed supping an occasional pint or two with Mark down at the Waterton Arms while we put the world to rights.

Mark's undoubted compassion, wit, and valued contribution to our communuty will be greatly missed. Hope he forgives me for the rather cheeky snap I took of him at the Rose and Sweet Pea Show on the vicarage lawn a year or two ago.

Hopefully the Warrick family link with DSJ will continue through Alison's role in a senior teaching post at the Deepings Comprehensive School.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Republican tells us why Obama should win...

Heard the best reason this morning why Americans should vote Obama for President - from a hard-line conservative.

Iowa Republican Steve King was ranting on Radio 4's Today programme why he would never vote for the economic rescue package currently before politicians on Capitol Hill, suggesting that it would bring socialism to America through the back door.

Bizarre enough. But then he switched his fire to blast Barack Obama again - King hit the headlines earlier this year by disgracefully claiming that radical Islamists would declare victory in the war on terror and dance in the streets if Obama was elected to the White House...

This time it was Obama's brand of socialism for health care that was in King's sights...

King had this warning:

"He (Obama) wants everyone in America to have a health insurance plan..."
Bring it on Barack!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Tory hypocrisy over Police Commissioner...

So, the Tories have finally managed to force Sir Ian Blair out of his job as Britain's top cop.

The Tories demanded his scalp some months ago after the Met was criticised for breaking Health and Safety rules - but today Mayor Boris Johnson finally forced him to quit.

Remember what David Cameron was calling for just yesterday in his speech to Tory Conference...

Yep, that's right: he wants Health and Safety rules to be scrapped...!

Same old Tories eh?

UPDATE: David Cameron is under fire from the Health and Safety Executive who say Cameron's claims in his speech are a 'myth'.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

More Tory hypocrisy...

Just watched Tory hopeful for Grantham and Stamford Nick Boles on Sky accusing Gordon Brown of using the Armed Services for political purposes...

As Boles expressed his outrage, the backdrop was live coverage of a video of British soldiers serving in Afghanistan being shown at the Conservative Party's Conference.

Same old Tories eh?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Time for David Cameron to come clean on donations...

Tonight's Channel Four expose put David Cameron under serious scrutiny over the secrecy and sources of millions of pounds in donations which bankroll his bid to become Prime Minister.

Despite Cameron's spin and withering claims that he promotes 'openness and transparency', Cameron stands accused of blatant hypocrisy and repeatedly refusing to answer legitimate questions surrounding Lord Ashcroft's status.

For example, Lord Ashcroft made a clear pledge to return to live permanently in Britain when he was made a Conservative Life Peer eight years ago. But is the man who is pouring literally millions into key marginal seats for the purposes of influencing voters resident in the UK. Is he even on the electoral register in this country and if he is, how long has he been so?

The Dispatches investigation raised concerns about where Lord Ashcroft's Bearwood Corporate Services makes its money.

For example, does Bearwood generate all the revenue it uses in the UK to fund the Tories? Or are foreign profits being channelled to the Tories via Bearwood through a string of 'shell' companies?

Another Tory peer, Lord Laidlaw gave firm undertakings to normalise his tax status within the UK before he was awarded his peerage. He has failed to do so and now lives in Monaco...but Cameron's Tories still take donations from him.

Same Old Tories eh...?

UPDATE: If you missed tonight's Dispatches investigation - or want to see it again -you can catch it HERE at the C4 site where it will be posted for the next month.

Who's bankrolling Cameron's bid to be PM...?

Interested in how David Cameron's Conservative Party is bankrolled by city slickers who stand accused of disgraceful practices which helped spark the world banking...?

Tune into Channel Four's Dispatches programme, tonight at eight...

Tory Spin and the Small Print: Spot the Difference...

Wee Georgie Osborne showed once again why he can't be trusted to run the economy in his speech at the Tory Party Conference today. With no answers on the world banking crisis, he went for a headline grabbing announcement .

These were his exact words now running across the airwaves:
I can tell you today that the next Conservative Government will freeze your Council Tax for at least two years.
A good splash for tomorrow's Daily Mail. But the boy Osborne - and the media who took the spoon fed headline entirely at face value - failed to mention the small print of the Tory Press Notice released at the same time. Titled 'A Two Year Council Tax Freeze' it reveals the following:

Each council will be completely free to accept or reject the contract. Councils that reject the contract will be free to set their own council tax levels.
So not exactly a freeze at all then Georgie?

And no mention either that councils would only be able to buy into his pledge if they made huge cuts to vital public services.

In other words, another Con.

Same Old Tories eh...?

UPDATE: Channel Four News have just picked up on the difference between the spin and the small print and put George Osborne through the wringer. Thanks Jon Snow!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ex Labour MP to face trial...

Former Labour MP Helen Clark is to stand trial on charges of drunken and abusive behaviour, according to the Peterborough Evening Telegraph.

I don't know if the charges relate to the same incident which appeared on u-tube a couple of months ago.

The ex-MP for Peterborough who lost her seat in the 2005 General Election - and days later announced she was defecting to the Tories - threatened legal action against U-tube and the video was removed after a couple of days.

If you're determined, you can still find it on the internet...

Why the Tories want less regulation in the City ...?

Today's Sunday Times reveals that city 'short sellers' bankroll David Cameron's Conservative Party.

Same old Tories, eh?

UPDATE: True to form, Boris Johnson today attacked Labour's sensible plans to regulate the greedy city slickers who have caused so much misery with their disgraceful practices.

Boris called on the Government to 'go easy' on those he described as 'the Masters of the Universe'.

He says his actions as Mayor of London show what would happen if the Tories were to win the next General Election.

Quite so.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Callous thieves steal from wheelchair...

Just before eight on Monday morning, a mother was getting her severely disabled son ready for school at their home on Eastgate, Deeping St James. She set his wheelchair up at the end of their driveway and went inside to get him ready.

But while she was inside, a car pulled up. A young man, probably aged between 17 and 19, then emerged from the car, removed the rucksack, wrapped it in his jacket, and returned to the car which was driven off towards Market Deeping.

The vehicle is thought to be dark grey in colour and possibly an estate car.

The rucksack contained the child’s ‘Communications Passport’, which gives personal details and information on his disability.

Anyone with any information, please call Stamford Police Station on: 01780 752222, quoting incident number 61 of September 15.

UPDATE: Stamford Mercury has an update, an interview with the boy's mother - and this photo.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Neil comes home to Lincolnshire as top police officer...

Lincolnshire Police Authority has today appointed 49-year-old Neil Rhodes, presently Assistant Chief Constable of Cumbria, to the post of Deputy Chief Constable of Lincolnshire.

Neil was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, and joined Lincolnshire Police as a constable in 1986.

He later served with Humberside Police and was appointed Assistant Chief Constable (Territorial Policing) for Cumbria in 2005.

A Lincolnshire resident for the past 29 years, Neil is married with three children. Away from work he is a keen fell walker and village cricketer.

Welcome home Neil.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Deeping lad strıkes gold...

Congratulations to 21 year old Market Deepıng lad Rob Welbourn who has won a gold at the Paralympics in Beijing.

Rob was part of Team GB in the 4x100m freestyle relay team which smashed the world record by seven seconds.

The Stamford Mercury reports that Rob had already broken the European record in his heat of the 100m freestyle (S10) on Tuesday morning after swimming 54.57sec.

Speeding bikers in court...

Nine bikers face magistrates today charged wıth speedıng at up to 136 mıles per hour after a crack down by Lincolnshire Police.

The nine were booked on the county's roads in one day of a high profile operation aimed at reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured on motorbikes on the county's roads.

Operation Evidens, along with the related Stealth campaign, targets red routes and known motorcycle routes, with the aim of improving the safety of these roads.

The nine in court thıs afternoon are alleged to have been doıng between 90mph and 136mph.

Lincolnshire Police are keen to convey the message that any motorist who exceeds the speed limits in the county, particularly the high end offenders, will be targeted on their red routes in particular, caught and prosecuted.

Sound like some of them at least will be walkıng home!

Watch out there's a thıef about...

A house has been burgled ın Brıdge Street, Deepıng St James and a laptop and wallet stolen.

Poılce say the theft happened on eıther September 4 and September 5 when the burglar sneaked into the house through an unlocked door.

Anyone with any information should call Stamford police on 01780 752222, quoting incident number 172 of September 8.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Robbers beat up shop assistant...

Two young thugs beat up a female shop assistant in her fifties last night in a robbery at our local newsagents, Sam's on Rycroft Avenue, Deeping St James...

Info released this morning by Lincolnshire Police:

This incident was reported at about 2210hrs on Monday 1st September 2008. At about 2155hrs two men ran from the corner of Broadgate Lane and pushed the 53-year-old woman shop assistant back into the above newsagents shop as she put the unsold newspapers out for collection. She was threatened with a knife and assaulted before the men escaped after snatching cash from a cash register.

The offenders ran off down Broadgate Lane and then towards Spalding Road.

Descriptions

1. Male, 20-25 years, 5'6" to 5'8" tall, slim build, with a white cloth covering his face. This offender had a knife.

2. Male, very short with a cloth covering his face.

The victim suffered leg and arm injuries and was very shaken by the attack. She was treated at Peterborough and District Hospital and released.

A 17-year-old youth was later arrested and will be interviewed later today.
Police appealling for witnesses.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Millions more Government cash for learning disabilities in Lincs...

The Government has announced an extra £4.3m for Lincolnshire County Council to improve services for those with learning disabilities.

I hear from county hall that there will be an extra £636,000 for this year, an extra £1.4m in 2009/10 and an extra £2.3m in 2010/11.

Good news.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Quote of the Day...

If...you were putting your country first, would you put an untested small-town mayor a heartbeat from the presidency?
No, not an envious Democrat in the Barack Obama camp, but no less than David Frum, former speech writer to President George Dubya Bush, commenting on John McCain's surprise choice as running mate for the White House (from today's Sunday Times).

As the less-than-impressed Frum and other senior Republicans have pointed out, having an relative unknown as VP candidate rather undermines the Republican's own campaign slogan: ‘Country First’.

Few outside Alaska knew Sarah Palin before McCain unveiled her on Friday - including it seems Mr McCain himself!

McCain reportedly met the former beauty queen just once before choosing her as his candidate for Vice-President, in what is arguably the most important judgement call he has ever made.

Whether Sarah proves to be an inspired choice or a costly mistake will be a matter for the voters in November.

But, if 72-year-old McCain becomes President and dies in office, it would be Sarah Palin who would take over the most powerful office on earth and become Commander-in-Chief of US Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it would be Sarah's finger on the nuclear button.

Is that why they call America the land of opportunity...?

more later...if we're still here!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Senior Tory attacks our Olympic heroes...

While the rest of Britain celebrates our greatest Olympic medal haul for a century, a senior Tory in Boris Johnson's Mayoral team has launched a disgraceful attack on our athletes, claiming they have 'blood on their hands'.

Controversial Boris appointed the even bigger loose cannon Coleman to run London's fire and rescue service - despite being fully aware of his less than impressive record of gaffes.

Coleman hit the headlines earlier this year after claiming a massive £600-plus in one day for taxi fares - and racking up an expenses claim for taxi that was bigger than all the rest of the members of the Greater London Authority put together - including the Mayor.

Coleman's huge taxi-bill on the rates was despite being given a free pass on London Transport.

Cabbie Coleman, an openly gay Tory, also recently claimed that he has been passed over for high office within Tory ranks because of homophobia in the highest echelons of Cameron's Conservative Party.

He further shocked senior Tories by 'outing' former Tory Prime Minister, the late Sir Edward Heath who he accused of the rather unsavoury practice of 'cottaging'.

Coleman's latest outrageous comments stand in direct contrast to Boris Johnson's lavish praise for our Olympic heroes and is further evidence of the internal squabbling and outright chaos since Boris became Mayor of London.

Let's not forget Boris's helpful assertion - in writing - a couple of weeks ago that it was 'piffle' to talk about Britain being a 'broken society' - as David Cameron does at every opportunity.

Boris has of course had a chaotic start in his first 100 days as Mayor of London, losing a string of his high-profile appointments in controversy.

Still, at least the chaos under ex-Bullingdon-club member B-J, serves as a warning as what to expect if ex-Bullington-club member D-C ever got the keys to Downing Street.

But the more pressing question is can Boris afford to sack another gaffe-prone member of his inner cabinet...?

Watch this space...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Baby's body dumped with the waste...

Peterborough police have this afternoon appealed to a mother to come forward after a baby's body was discovered at the waste recycling centre on Fengate.

What a tragic end to such a short life.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Peterborough coach in fatal crash...

The driver of the coach involved in today's fatal coach crash in Staffordshire is from Peterborough.

It was taking 71 fruit and veg pickers from Lutton Farm, Oundle for a day out to Alton Towers Leisure Park in Staffordshire. Police have confirmed that a Polish man was killed in the crash and three others are believed to be critically injured.

Boris's 'right hand' quits...

Boris Johnson has already lost two of the deputies he appointed in a hail of publicity after becoming Mayor of London in May - and today the man appointed as his right hand at City Hall just last month has resigned.

According to the London Mayor's website, Tim Parker was appointed from July 7th for a four-year term but he has barely lasted four weeks working with Boris.

Boris says he's not going to risk another appointment as First Deputy.

So now, as well as being Mayor, Boris intends Chairing the Metropolitan Police Authority, Transport for London and the new London Waste Authority.

On top of that he recently delegated his planning powers as Mayor, but then flip-flopped and took them back.

Chaos or what?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Olympian Julie does us proud...

Deepings Olympic athlete Julie Hollman says her Beijing heptathlon may be her last.

While 31-year-old Julie may not have been in the medals over the weekend, she can be justly proud of her achievement in competing on the Olympic stage, despite injuries which hampered her training.

What a fantastic athlete.

Her Dad John was sadly unable to be with Julie in Beijing after he was diagnosed with lung cancer. But the TV coverage of Julie's progress through the seven events on Saturday and Sunday was excellent and the commentators spoke very highly of the Deepings lass.

Well done Julie.

The Ugley women of Oz and Herts...

This rather bizarre story about ugly women running on the wires today makes me pleased I don't live in Mount Isa...

It reminds me of a tale I first heard in the early 1970s from my old friend, the late John Knight, who was Chief Sub-Editor on the Welwyn and Hatfield Times.

He had me in fits of laughter when he told about a story run in the Times about the Women's Institute in the village of Ugley near Bishops Stortford, who had grown so tired of the obvious jokes that they changed their name from Ugley Women's Institute to the Women's Institute of Ugley...

But now the Ugley Vicar disputes the authenticity of the tale.

So who do you believe...?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Will you still be up tonight for our Julie in Beijing...?

In the early hours of Friday morning British time, Deepings Olympic athlete Julie Hollman will be on the starting blocks at Beijing .

At 2.08am British time (9.08am in Beijing), Julie will line up for the second heat of the 100 metres hurdles, the first of the seven heptathlon events which take place over Friday and Saturday.

Less than 90 minutes later, Julie will be for the high jump, followed by the shot putt at noon British time, 7pm in Beijing.

She is due to complete day one of the event with the 200 metres heat at 2.36 Friday afternoon - 9.36pm Beijing time. Then on Saturday, she is scheduled to take part in the long jump, javelin and 800 metres events.

You can all Julie's start times at the official Beijing site which will carry a running total of the scores. There's also further background info at the
IAAF site.

I've already printed off all Julie's start times, together with her personal best performances in each discipline and those of the althletes she is competing against.

So get the telly warmed up and get cheering...

Go Julie, Go.

Another star year for 'A' levels...

Just seen a senior teacher from our local school beaming from ear-to-ear after seeing this year's "A" level results.

I've not seen the official results yet, but it looks to me like The Deepings Comprehensive has done the business yet again.

More later, but meantime, congratulations to all the students and staff led by Head Teacher Chris Beckett.

And don't believe a word of the poppycock from the ejits who claim that year-on-year improvements in results are because the exams have become easier.

The simple reason results are consistently getting better is that standards of teaching have improved vastly since I went to school. Education today is much more focussed on individual needs - and resources have been increased out of all recognition to even a couple of decades ago.

As a result, I believe children work far harder than in my day and have much better chances of being pushed to achieve their potential.

That has to be worth celebrating, doesn't it?

Friday, August 08, 2008

Deeping Athlete's leap into the Olympics...

Best of British to Julie Hollman from Deeping St James who has made it to the Beijing Olympics.

Julie's mum Carole and her sister Anne will be in Beijing to support her in the heptathlon event which is due to start next Friday.

Sadly, Julie's dad John has been diagnosed with lung cancer and is too ill to travel to China. He will be following events on the telly from the family home here on Church Street, DSJ.

Fantastic achievement to be representing your country at the Olympics. I'm sure we'll all be cheering Julie on to a personal best performance.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Local crime down by almost a quarter...

Contrary to the scaremongering headlines that would have you believe you'll be mugged every time you step out of your front door, the chances of becoming a victim of crime are actually falling year on year...

I almost missed this headline from the Stamford Mercury last month which highlights a massive 23.8 per cent drop in one year in local crime figures for the Deepings, Stamford and Bourne.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Having fun in Edinburgh...

Up in Edinburgh for a few days for the Festival, or rather the Fringe to be more accurate. Saw Tim Vine last night, in his very funny 'Pun-Slinger' one-man show. Tim, brother of Newsnight presenter Jeremy, holds the world record for delivering most gags in an hour - 499 apparently!

He more than lived up to expectations. Much more than a laugh a minute.

This afternoon, I'm hoping to see my old mucker Matt Forde in his off-the-wall comedy panel show 'On Heat'.

Get up here. Fantastic atmosphere.

Millions collected by Lincs speed cameras...

Lincolnshire's speed cameras have raised more than £7 million since 2003, according to statistics published by the Lincolnshire Echo thanks to the Freedom of Information Act.

Entrapment by a cash-cow or sensible measures which cut death on our roads...?

Cost of cutting bill for policing...

The cost of sending out new bills after the Government stopped Lincolnshire Police Authority imposing a record 78.9% increase is back in the local news...

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Ay Up Mi-duck, who's afraid of being a Yellow-Belly...?

Don't care what others say mi-duck, I'm proud to be a Lincolnshire Yellow Belly (albeit an adopted one).

I was born a Steelback (in Kettering, Northants), but grew up in Lincolnshire after the RAF posted my father here in 1958.

Apart from a five year break in the 1970s working in Bermuda, I've chosen to live in Lincolnshire ever since.

I don't think I speak with a particular Lincolnshire accent, but I have to confess that I usually give away my roots by addressing strangers with a friendly 'Mi-Duck'.

And I'm not changing now.

Not for Nowt Mi-Duck.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Dead men can't walk free...

The clearing of Barry George of the murder of Gill Dando demonstrates clearly why the death penalty should not be re-introduced.

I trust those who wanting to bring back hanging will reflect on today's verdict which sees Barry George walk free an innocent man after spending eight years in jail.

Maverick Mark quits council...

Just heard that Mark Horn has resigned from with immediate effect as county councillor for Bourne.

Maverick Mark was elected as a Conservative but went Independent last month after a series of fall-outs with the controlling group - and Council Leader Martin Hill in particular.

Notably, he was the only Tory councillor to have the balls to oppose the 78.9 per cent increase in council tax for policing which was pushed through by the Conservative county councillors on the police authority and later capped by Government.

He claimed that the record increase demonstrated arrogance and was totally unjustified - and no doubt incensed Martin Hill when he was the only Tory in the chamber who refused to back moves to prevent the county council debating why the Conservative members of the Authority had supported the eye-watering increase.

Mark had even publicly called for capping - which of course added to internal Conservative party problems and pressure within the controlling group.

Last year, Mark strongly criticised Grantham and Stamford Conservatives choice of candidate at the next general election, describing all those shortlisted as:

wealthy, metropolitan, priviliged, bright young things...totally out of touch with ordinary folk...None of these ‘A-listers’ have any local connections. They are simply careerists looking for a safe seat.
He also stood up strongly for gypsy and traveller rights - and refused to take a populist stance over.

A couple of months ago he accused the Conservatives of losing control of the budget on care homes for elderly people.

I understand that he was recently referred to the Standards Board by Cllr Hill over an exchange of emails with my colleague on the Labour group Chris Burke.

I've 'locked horns' with Mark on numerous occasions in the council chamber - but I respected his outspoken views (most of the time!!) despite them usually being very different to my own. On occasion I've enjoyed a quiet beer or two with Mark when between us we put the world to rights...

Born in South Africa, Mark is a trained London barrister who was clearly too radical and too much of a handful for Lincolnshire Tories who never quite knew how to handle him.

Every time he stood up in a Council debate, it was always entertaining watching the faces of the all-Tory Executive who never knew what was coming next. They tried - but clearly failed - to contain him.

But Mark is also a real character who brought much-needed colour to council debates.

He stood up for what he believed to be right, refused to be 'whipped' by his own political group, and he will be missed by all sides.

I wish him well for the future.

(more later...)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Blaze-hit bridal business goes bust...?

The wedding dress business destroyed in the Great Fire of Deeping St James last year - which relaunched in Stamford in January - has sadly shut up shop.

According to the Stamford Mercury, The Bridal Centre is facing bankruptcy.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The cost of getting out of Lincolnshire...

One more day to have your say on Humber Bridge tolls...

I blame Gordon Brown...

A temperature of 28.6 Centigrade at Cranwell was a UK record for this year, according to the Lincs Echo.

For us oldies, in real money 28.6 translates to somewhere in the mid-eighties.

I knew Lincolnshire's hot, but that's boiling!

The Prime Minister is of course on holiday in neighbouring Norfolk: And as he seems to be getting slated for everything under the sun, he's no doubt also to blame for the weather!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Why politicians who kiss animals should let sleeping dogs lie...

When an MP chooses to promote himself by posing for the media while kissing a dog, he should expect a bit of ribbing...

But Andrew Rosindell, Tory MP for Romford, clearly failed see the pitfalls of dressing up his Staffordshire bull-terrier in a Union Flag costume, and demonstrating his clever trick with a chocolate biscuit...

(For the avoidance of doubt, that's Buster-the-Staffie who's clearly the clever one.)

One of the leading political bloggers, Guido Fawkes thought the resulting snap was amusing and decided to publish it as a caption contest under the headline: Man's Best Friend...

Guido's post attracted 85 entries from his readers, almost all posted within a few hours. Predictably, and of course tongue-in-cheek, some focused on the close relationship between the MP and his mutt.

That was on 24th April, 2007. That's right. The 24th of April.2007.

Everything went quiet for over a year and would no doubt have remained so, were it not for Mr Rosindell's actions. Last week, 15 months after Guido's original post, the MP seemingly stumbled across the long-forgotten caption competition while surfing in the early hours.

He had an immediate sense of humour failure and fired off an email to Guido demanding removal of the more offensive comments.

Not surprisingly, instead, Guido promptly posted the MP's demands in full together with his reply, telling him that if he will

go round kissing dogs for publicity photos, people are entitled to laugh and make jokes.
Guido's new post attracted 147 comments, rather more than the original posting that most people had forgotten. It also attracted the attention of Mr Rosindell's local paper the Romford Recorder.

The Recorder suggests that MP perhaps should have 'let sleeping dogs lie'...and highlights the fact that some of the postings refer to 'romantic insinuations about Mr Rosindell and his dog, as well as negative suggestions about his political capabilities...'

As the Recorder dutifully points out, Guido says no-one is suggesting that the MP and his dog are lovers...!!

Mr Rosindell's explanation of the photo is that he was doing what the media asked.

He's not the first politician to to be held up to ridicule for failing to see how an apparently innocent pose might be mischievously interpreted.

But resurrecting a long-forgotten piss-take from well over a year ago surely confirms an appalling lack of judgement.

Until he went barking to Guido, most of his constituents in Romford would have remained blissfully unaware of how daft he'd been with Buster and the chocolate biscuit.

After such a self-inflicted shot-in-the-foot, he needs to brace himself for a whole lot more 'fun' at his expense.

For example: Determined to have the last word - and laugh - Guido has now responded to the Romford Recorder coverage with a new photo of Rosindell, this time with a goat, suitably captioned:
Tory MP intimately embracing Nanny
So far this latest salvo has attracted 185 comments.

Your move Mr Rosindell...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A cut in your council tax bill - but at a cost...

Council taxpayer across Lincolnshire are to get their council tax bills cut by an average £70 - thanks to the Government stopping the county's Police Authority from imposing an eye-watering increase of almost 80 per cent.

I've always believed that the Authority took a wrong decision to demand that Lincolnshire council tax payers fork out an extra 78.9%. In my view, it made 'capping' by Government almost inevitable.

Yesterday, the Authority voted for new reduced bills to be sent out, but to continue to lobby for more Government cash for policing in Lincolnshire.

As previously posted, I was one of six members of the Police Authority who voted against such an excessive increase in February and was disappointed that it was forced through by the six Conservative members.

Without the six Conservatives, there was always majority against 78.9 per cent among the 11 independents, magistrates, Labour and LibDem members of the Authority.

In my view such a massive increase - the highest in the country - made Government intervention a racing certainty.

While the good news is that the bills will be cut, the bad news is that we are stuck with rebilling costs of at least half-a-million pounds.


(more later...)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Part-time soldier, full-time hero...

Delighted to hear that a TA soldier is to be awarded the prestigious George Cross after hurling himself on a grenade in Afghanistan to save his comrades.

As a former range conducting officer in the Territorial Army, responsible for training soldiers on live grenades, I've seen the horrendous damage that such weapons can inflict.

More to the point, Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher would have also known that as he felt the pressure of a trip-wire on his shin which pulled the pin from a lethal Taliban grenade, he had less than four seconds to access the dire situation, weigh up his options, and take decisive action.

He instinctively shouted 'GRENADE' to warn his comrades and dived on the grenade. Then had the presence of mind to realise that the backpack of kit he was wearing might absorb some of the impact. So flipped over on his back and waited to meet his maker.

His bravery almost certainly saved his own life - and the lives of three other Royal Marines he was patrolling with in Helmand Province at a suspected Taliban bomb factory.

Amazingly, Lance Corporal Croucher survived with a nose-bleed, temporary deafness and bruising. But he refused medical assistance, and turned what could have been catastrophe to advantage, setting an ambush for the Taliban who would come to investigate the the explosion, instigating a firefight which saw a Taliban fighter taken out.

For me, the professionalism of Lance Corporal Croucher demonstrates the extraordinary value of the Territorial Army, which celebrates 100 years of distinguished service to the nation this year.

Since 2003, some 15,000 British reservist soldiers have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, fighting shoulder-to shoulder with our regular soldiers in some of the most ferocious close-quarter action since the Second World War.

Lance Corporal Croucher's action is also a tribute to the training of the Royal Marines - in my opinion the finest soldiers in the British Army and arguably anywhere in the world.

Fittingly, Lance Corporal Croucher's civilian job when not serving with 40 Commando Royal Marines, is running a risk assessment company.

His story had Radio 2 presenter Sarah Kennedy overcome with tears as she highlighted the bravery of Lance Corporal Croucher.

Sadly, as news of the medal was released, we were again reminded of the ferocity of the fighting in Afghanistan with the death of another British soldier.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Race abuse earns local soccer star 3-year ban...

The campaign to kick racism out of soccer - at every level of the game - scored a huge local victory this week when a semi-pro South Lincs footballer was banned from matches for three years for hurling a torrent of racial abuse at another player.

The 22-year-old 'star' from Spalding had already been fined and banned for eight months by Cambs FA. But most of their fine and 182 days of the ban was for assaulting the referee who gave him a red card for a bad tackle in the same match.

Tom Gosling's racial abuse had earned him a further 42-day ban and a £50 fine from Cambs FA and he was confidently predicting he'd be back playing for Wisbech Town in October.

But the victim of his racism called in the police. Now the Spalding lad who previously played for Lincoln City's youth side has had his semi-professional career effectively ended by magistrates.

He pleaded guilty to racially aggravated harrassment and was ordered to pay his victim £100 compensation, fined £100 and ordered to pay £105 costs.

He must also attend a police station and surrender his passport when the England national team play abroad.

Of course, it's sad that a youngster has been so misguided and wasted his god-given talent.

But it seems young Mr Gosling already had a reputation as thebad boy of local football after a record of being sent off.

But despite admitting his offence of racial abuse, the former Lincoln City youth player told the Lincolnshire Echo
'I was getting paid to play football and it was fine. Everything was going smoothly...I can say I have not got a racist bone in my body...'
That's what they all say, usually just before telling us that some of their best friends are, er, black...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Just when you think you know all the answers...

Love the story of the bug that baffled the world's experts - it wasn't discovered in some faraway arid desert or tropical rain forest. It turned up
in the back garden of the biggest insect museum on earth.

Apparently, it thrives under London Plane trees.

My favourite tree in the world is the majestic London Plane next door to my house.

Must check it for bugs...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

More disappointment for fans of the last flying Vulcan...

Five more dates revealed in tonight's Lincs Echo following last Sunday's disappointing failure to get off the ground at the RAF Waddington air show.

UPDATE: Sadly, no sooner had the new dates been published than the first them - this weekend at RAF Fairford - wascontroversially called off due to heavy rain.

More disappointment for fans of the Vulcan...

Friday, July 11, 2008

Now Tebbit supports Labour not Davis on 42-days...

I seldom find myself in agreement with Norman Tebbit, the so called Chingford Skinhead, but the views on 42-days and yesterday's bizarre by-election he expressed tonight on Radio 4's Any Questions are right on the button.

First, he said it would be difficult to agree with David Davis that yesterday's by-election was a victory for civil liberties.

Then the former Tory Cabinet Minister who famously advised the jobless to 'get on their bikes' revealed that he supported the Labour Government in increasing the maximum pre-charge detention for suspected terrorists from 28 to 42 days.

Lord Tebbit sensibly suggested that contrary to what some believe, our police are not actually waiting to pounce on terror suspects to lock them up for 42-days without reasonable cause and that in fact the measure would be rarely used, but may be necessary in some cases, for instance to give security forces time to uncover evidence held in seized computers.

Lord Tebbit's show-stopper was to remind us that his own wife had been 'locked up in a wheelchair for the past 24 years' after the IRA terrorist attack on the 1984 Conservative Party Conference.

Audience members pointed out that David Davis makes himself out to be a champion of civil liberties, yet has previously voted for hanging. More recently of course, in the Commons, he voted to increase the maximum pre-charge detention period for suspected terrorists from 14 to 28 days.

So he's for doubling the period to 28 days, but is against 42 days 'on principle'...

As predicted HERE...!, Mr Davis managed to beat off all looney all-comers, with most excitement before the result was announced being a recount between the Greens and the English National Party for a distant second place.

And of course, David Davis instantly claimed a 'stunning victory' - despite the fact that thousands fewer people voted for him yesterday than in 2005...

And despite the other fact that his party leader David Cameron let it be known that there's no place in the Tory Shadow Cabinet for the man who fought him for the Leadership .

For me, what David Davis achieved in his daft stunt, is to highlight that not only are the Tories against locking up suspected terrorists for a maximum of 42-days without charge, but they are also against CCTV and the DNA database - both of which protect the innocent majority - and which have both helped bring criminals to justice.

Once of the reasons the prisons are now full, despite provision of extra places, is DNA evidence which has helped lock up perpetrators of hundreds of serious crimes - years after they thought they had escaped justice...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Lifeline scrapped for Deepings, but not for Grantham!

Dial-a-ride, a lifeline for elderly housebound people, is to be scrapped in The Deepings, Stamford and Bourne. But not in Grantham.

The Stamford Mercury report that Lincolnshire County Council will only continue to fund Dial-a-Ride in partnership with district councils.

Just a month after Grantham-based South Kesteven District Council was shamed as the only district in Lincolnshire to refuse to support extending bus passes for over-60s and disabled people, they - and Spalding-based South Holland are the only two districts refusing to back Dial-a-Ride.

The fact that South Kesteven will continue to fund Dial-a-Ride for Grantham only adds insult to injury.

A total disgrace.

UPDATE: I see there is a partial Call Connect service to be launched as a partial replacement for Dial-a-Ride where there are no local buses.

UPDATE 2: As of Friday morning, still no news on SKDC's own information website about the scrapping of Dial-a-Ride in The Deepings, Bourne and Stamford. SKDC's website has some info on the scheme, but says the last update on info on Dial-a-Ride was made in September last year...

More important, no information at all on the Call Connect 'service', which the Mercury says will not be provided on bus routes...The whole point of Dial-a-Ride was that it was specifically aimed at people who were unable to use local buses!

BREAKING NEWS: Boris's disgraced Deputy faces new accusations...

Tonight's London Standard reveals that Boris Johnson's disgraced Deputy Mayor Ray Lewis faces new accusations of sexual misconduct.

Who pays for by-election stunt....er, it's you.

Imagine what you could do with £200,000...That's the cost to the taxpayer of David Davis's daft by-election stunt as estimated by The Daily Torygraph.

Polls opened earlier this morning in what is surely the most meaningless and needless by-election in the history of British politics.

David Cameron's rival for the leadership of the Conservative Party comfortably won the Howden and Haltemprice seat in the 2005 General Election. But after a democratic vote in the house of Commons went against him, he threw his toys out of his pram, causing an unnecessary and costly by-election...in which he is standing as a candidate.

Bizarre.

With neither of the mainstream parties getting sucked into the daftest Tory trick, voters today face a daunting choice of 26 candidates on the longest voting paper in history all hoping to cash in on Davis's publicity stunt.

As well as 13 candidates claiming to be 'Independent', the residents of Howden and Haltemprice also have the chance to vote for the so-called Mad-Cow Girl who is standing for the Official Monster Raving Loony Party.

There's also the Make Politicians History Party, the National Front Britain for the British Party, the Miss Great Britain Party, the Christian Party, the Freedom 4 Choice Party, the Green Party, the New Party, the English Democrats: Putting England First party, and of course, the Socialist Equality Party.

But the favourite has to be the Church of the Militant Elvis Party.

Then there's the original David: ie, the man who once claimed to be a re-incarnation of God, who's so well known, he's standing in his own name with no party label.

(That's David Icke of course, not David Davis).

Then there's the ego himself, David Michael Davis, the Conservative Candidate.
They're all totally bonkers, of course.

Don't bother staying up for the result. I can confidently predict that David Michael Davis will fight off the other nutters and comfortably be declared the winner with a massively increased majority...and he will then declare a great victory for freedom and democracy without even mentioning the word 'hollow' or who picks up the tab.

So will Mr Davis have to pay for his stunt and have £200,000 docked from his MP's wages to be paid back the taxpayers of Britain...?

Nope. Didn't think so.

UPDATE: I see that even the local paper the Hull Daily Mail is having difficulty taking the by-election seriously - and who can blame them with one candidate campaiging for 'nil votes' so he can get in the Guinness Book of Records...

The Mail predicts that the winner will be the Willerby Manor Hotel, unofficial headquarters for press conferences, campaign launches, events and late-night plotting over a few drinks.

The paper reports:

As one staff member told me the other day: “I'm all for these kind of by-elections, business is booming.”