Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Deepings rises from the ashes...

Builders moved in to the old BP filling station site on the riverside at Deeping St James this morning. Offhand, I can't recall what's planned - but next door, I see from the Free Pressthat bike shop supremo Terry Wright is planning to rebuild the parade of shops destroyed last August in the worst fire in Deeping for at least a generation..

I broke news of the blaze with photos within minutes of the fire fighters arrivingHERE and posted updates HERE, HERE and HERE.

When I came to DSJ some 25 years ago, the site next to the BP filling station was Todd's Garage.

Both sites are central to Deeping St James and it's good to see them rising from the ashes.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Lincs toddler dies in mini-moto crash with truck...

A three-year-old girl died this afternoon after the 'mini-moto' machine on which she was a passenger crashed with a truck in Louth, north Lincs. A man has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

It seems from this report from the Lincolnshire Echo website that the mini-moto was being ridden on a path when the accident happened.

I don't know whether the arrested person is the truck-driver or the rider of the machine, which I take to be a scaled down motor-cycle.

Either way, a terrible tragedy.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Speechley 'whistle-blower' oversees healthy surplus for Lincs hospitals...

Good to see that Lincolnshire's hospitals have achieved financial surplus for the first time - and that one of the key figures behind the success is David Bowles who played a crucial role in the jailing of Jim Speechley, former Conservative Leader of Lincolnshire County Council.

The Tories who ran the council never forgave Chief Executive David Bowles for insisting on high standards and eventually calling in the police to investigate Speechley's abuse of power.

Bowles should have been awarded a medal for the public service he performed as whistle-blower in exposing the Speechley scandal.

Instead, following the jailing of Speechley for abuse of office, his Tory mates took their vengeance out on Bowles - disgracefully forcing him out of his job - at a cost to Lincolnshire taxpayers of a huge £400,000 payoff and a massive pay hike to attract a new Chief Executive.

David Bowles could easily have retired into obscurity - but he was determined to continue his career in public service and is now chairman of United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust which I'm please to report has just achieved a £12.5 million surplus.

The Trust has been heavily in debt for years, but under David's chairmanship, is now on course to achieve break-even over five years which will allow it to become a foundation trust free from direct government control.

As well as financial achievements, the Trust has also recently made medical advances: Clostridium difficile infections are down 41 per cent, MRSA infections down 37 per cent and waiting times for treatment, diagnosis and A&E all reduced.

It's good to see David's skills and decency appreciated rather more than they were by the Tories who run Lincolnshire County Council, as reported at the time by The Guardian.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hillary Clinton refuses to step down in case Barack Obama is assassinated... ?

I was sent a clip of Hillary Clinton's latest gaffe today, which seems to suggest that it's worth her hanging in there in case the front runner Barack Obama is gunned down, as Bobby Kennedy was 40 years ago.

I understand the New York Senator has already apologised to the Kennedy clan for any offence caused by her remarks...

But hopefully the story will contribute to bringing the race for the Democratic nomination to a conclusion.

The Clinton-Obama duel has already gone on far too long.

Over the past week or so, with Hillary looking increasingly desperate and now the clear underdog in the contest, she has been flagging up the possibility of running on the ticket as VP to Barack Obama.

But even that now seems less likely with some reports saying that the Super Delegates at the Democratic Convention which she is relying on are turning away from her in favour of Barack Obama...

The way that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have been tearing pieces out of each other in recent weeks, makes the prospect of a John McCain victory and another Republican in the White House a distinct possibility - whereas a year ago the idea would have been laughed out of court...

LibDems can still win Crewe and Nantwich

A bad result in Crewe and Nantwich for Labour and a good one for the Tories...but I had to smile at the tactics of the by-election machine that is the LibDems...which produced this BBC headline two days before polls opened.

True, the Crewe result was not as bad for the LDs as for Labour, and they were coming from third place.

But despite the LibDems hype and spin, the actual result was the worst LibDem by election performance in a Labour for many years, and certainly since 1997...

Were you still up for Portillo's comment on Crewe and Nantwich...?

With the BBC's John Pienaar taking a punt on a Tory by-election majority in Crewe and Nantwich of 7,800, it was left to Michael Portillo to put things in perspective...

On tonight's Politics Show, the former Conservative Cabinet Minister recalled how in the 1980s and early 1990s, Labour in Opposition won 'by election after by election' but failed to win the trust of the country in General Election after General Election...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Dennis Skinner on the case...

Dennis Skinner was on top form at Wednesday's Prime Minister's Questions, highlighting donations to help run the offices of the Tory Shadow Cabinet.

The veteran Labour MP for Bolsover (I refuse to call him a Beast!) pointed out Her Majesty's Opposition receives £4.7 million a year in public money to run their offices. But he reminded MPs that a Government enquiry had caught the Tories receiving extra donations.

As Dennis put it, in the way only Dennis could, the Tories had been caught claiming benefits from the state while making money on the side!

Dennis didn't mention that some of the 'cash on the side' came from
vested interests.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown confirmed that the Tories received £4.7 million a year to run their Shadow Cabinet offices and suggested that it might be time to question whether it was money well spent!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Red Arrows to stay based in Lincs...

Great news to hear that the Red Arrows are to remain based in Lincolnshire.

The Labour Government has confirmed that the world-famous aerobatics team are be based at RAF Waddington, a couple of miles south of Lincoln, rather than at Scampton as at present, but still use the airspace around Scampton north of the city.

The Lincolnshire Echo has 'revealed' the news today.

In fact it was announced at a meeting of Lincolnshire County Council last week when Leader Martin Hill said he had received the news from the Ministry of Defence that day.

I took the opportunity to welcome the news that the Red Arrows are staying in Lincolnshire, the home of the Royal Air Force.

Why does it take nearly a week for the Echo to report the good news?

Unfortunately, the 'county newspaper' doesn't always cover even full council meetings.

UPDATE: The BBC has now caught up with the news...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Tories who gave you 78.9% police tax rise vote to gag debate on their actions...

The same Tories who forced through the highest council tax hike in the country today voted to prevent a debate on their actions.

The Tories pulled a show-stopping stunt to block any discussion on the eye-watering 78.9per cent rise in precept passed by Lincolnshire Police Authority. (see my original post HERE).

Labour Leader Rob Parker had tabled a motion condemning the decision to increase the police precept by 78.9 per cent and specifically criticising the actions of the six Conservative County Councillors in voting for such a massive increase for Linco0lnshire tax payers.

The LibDems had also tabled a motion recognising a shortfall in formulae grant for Lincolnshire, but attacking the increase as excessive.

Both motions were published in the Order of Proceedings.

Five hours into the meeting, the debate was called and newly elected council chairman Ian Cartwright outlined how he proposed to proceed.

At this point vice-chairman of the Police Authority, Tory Cllr Barry Young intervened, pleading for the debate to be adjourned. He claimed negotiations between Ministers and the Authority as part of the capping process were at a delicate stage and any debate prejudice the final outcome...

Then, up popped Cllr Martin Trollope-Bellew, the Tory Chief Whip, to support Barry Young, quoting Chapter 13 Paragraph 11 sub section brackets 'd' brackets of the Council's Constitution.

When Rob Parker asked him to kindly explain what he was talking about, Martin T-B was clearly gobsmacked and was unable to quote the actual words in Paragraph 11 etc...

It was left to legal officers to explain that there was indeed an obscure procedural rule that few had ever heard of which allows the chairman to decide whether to allow a vote to prevent any motion from being discussed.

Cllr Ian Cartwright, himself a Tory councillor, instantly ruled that such a vote should take place - and then voted himself to block the discussion.

No opportunity was given for councillors to argue why a debate on the police precept should - or should not - be allowed.

Some might have argued that Barry Young's argument that the matter was being decided by Government Ministers was the very reason to hold an open debate.

But they weren't given that opportunity.

Despite claiming the whole stunt was Barry Young's own personal idea and not a Tory organised hi-jack, every Tory in the Chamber - except one - voted to prevent a discussion on the precept

The Tory exception was maverick Mark Horn of Bourne who is known to be outraged at the Authority for setting such a high precept and has called for Government intervention to prevent the increase taking place.

I believe two of the six Tory county councillors who forced through the 78.9% increase were absent from the Chamber when the vote took place.

The other four who were criticised in Rob Parker's motion - including Barry Young - all voted to prevent today's scheduled debate from taking place.

Same Old Tories, or what?

Exposed: Vested interests who secretly bankroll Cameron team...

David Cameron's front bench team has been exposed after attempting to cover-up potential conflicts of interests over donations.

Grant Shapps, Tory housing spokesman has received tens of thousands of pounds of cash to run his office from five different companies - all with vested interests in, er...housing.

Two online mortgage brokers, an estate agent, a commercial property developer and solicitors specialising in conveyancing and remortgaging all give money to fund the office of David Cameron's housing spokesman.

Andrew Lansley, Cameron's health spokesman has taken funds to run his office from a company that runs two secure children's homes as well as the owner of the largest manufacturer of NHS beds.

Jeremy Hunt, Cameron's spokesman on tourism, has received funds for his office from the chairman of the Conservative Tourism Taskforce and former chairman of the British Tourist Authority.

And Rutland MP Alan Duncan, Cameron's spokesman on business, enterprise and regulatory reform, gets cash for his office from the president and chief executive of an oil company!

These are just examples of a secret web of Tory donors uncovered in the official investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner into complaints against George Osborne, Cameron's Shadow Chancellor which I reported on HERE.

The Commissioner ruled that Osborne himself failed to declare almost half a million pounds from donors to run his office which had been channelled through general Conservative party funds but earmarked for his use.

Finding that Osborne broke the rules, the Commissioner has ordered every member of the Tory frontbench to disclose who funds their offices.

David Cameron talks a good game on transparency in politics, but the actions of his would-be Cabinet tell a different story.

Now the hypocrisy of Cameron's team has been officially exposed, he must come clean and publish without delay a full list of exactly is buying influence in his Party...

Breath-taking Quote of the Day came from George Osborne, Cameron's Shadow Chancellor. After being found guilty of breaking the rules he had the brass neck to say:

'I am glad that the rules have now been clarified and I will of course continue to adhere to them.'
Same Old Tories, eh?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Tory methods of hiding donations exposed...

A complaint that Tory Shadow Chancellor George Osborne failed to declare almost £500,000 in donations has been upheld by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner.

Despite promises of transparency by Tory Leader David Cameron, the Tories secret method of hiding donations has been exposed.

Wee Georgie - and other shadow cabinet members - failed to declare donations.

Parliamentary Standards Commissioner John Lyon ruled today that funding channelled to Tory Shadow Cabinet members through Conservative Central Office should be made public. He is taking no further action providing the the Tories correct the official register within four weeks.

The official investigation was launched after it emerged that the Conservatives gave Mr Osborne almost half a million pounds to help run his office - at the specific request of the donors of the cash - but this was not reported, as it should have been, in the Register of Members' Interests.

Labour MP for Bassetlaw (Notts) John Mann said: 'The report shows that there is clearly a methodical system that has been put in place to hide donations.'

'The Tories are being dragged kicking and screaming into revealing their donors. What is really astonishing is that this has continued despite Cameron's promise of transparency.'

Needless to say, George Osborne has responded by claiming he has been cleared of all wrong-doing...

Same old Tories, eh?

Full report now on BBC

A bit of a bombshell reveals ambitious leisure plans for DSJ...

Ambitious plans for an arts centre, a rugby clubhouse, and a nursing home in Deeping St James have been unveiled.

I understand that Larkfleet Homes are about to apply for outline planning permission for the site known locally as Charity's Orchard on Spalding Road.

Martin Adkins of Deepings Festival described the plans as "a bit of a bombshell" when he showed drawings last week at the annual parish local councillors looked on rather gobsmacked!

Martin talked about a purpose built "leisure and culture centre" with seating for 300 and which would be available for hire.

If the plans prove viable - and affordable to all the parties involved - the scheme could solve a number of problems.

The rugby club has been looking for a new home for some years now having seriously outgrown its rather ramshackle club-house on the school field which it rents from South Kesteven District Council.

The new clubhouse shown on Larkfleet's plans would give the Rugby Club direct access on to the current sports field.

Sounds good, but I'm sure the club will want to secure tenure of pitches before going ahead.

That could pose a problem, as long term plans show a possible new Deepings School to be built under the Government's Building Schools for the Future programme which will see every secondary school in the country modernised or rebuilt.

And the site earmarked for the new school is the current Linchfield Road sports field, with the current school eventually demolished and the site possible reverting to sports fields

Lincolnshire County Council will want to keep all options open on how much of the site it may need for a new school, but I hope there is scope to do a deal to keep the thriving rugby club in our village.

The scheme is highly imaginative and I hope it is not dismissed as pie-in-the-sky before it is given a chance.

For the past 30 years and more, development in The Deepings has simply meant building more houses on the next field, with no thought for the services and facilities needed by the increased population.

So in principle, I welcome the plans and hope the negotiations with various parties prove successful.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Two die on local roads...

Two people died on Lincolnshire roads last night - one of them a pedestrian walking near Crowland.

The collision happened on Whip Chicken Road, just off the B1166, near Crowland, at about 11.25 last night. The body of a man was later found in a nearby ditch.

He is believed to be a 33-year-old local man. The driver of the car was shocked but not injured.

The other fatal accident happened four hours earlier when a car left the A17 Heckington bypass, near Sleaford and hit a tree. The driver, a 47-year-old local man, was died at the scene.

So far 15 people have died on Lincolnshire's roads this year, compared with 28 at the same time last year.

Death of Lincs County Councillor...

Sad to hear news of the death of a colleague on Lincolnshire County Council. I understand that Cllr Mrs Sheila Roy passed away yesterday.

Sheila was elected to Lincolnshire County Council in 1997 for the Conservatives in the Louth Wolds Division.

Sheila chaired the Waste Policy Development Group and was active in promoting tourism and economic development of the Wolds.

She will be missed by the entire Council - as well as by the people of the Wolds who I know she worked hard to represent.

Tory quitter changes his mind...

Tory candidate who failed to unseat Labour's Sally Keeble in Northampton North at the last election earlier announced he would quit - but now he's decided he wants to have another go after all.

Does he have difficulty in making decisions....well, yes and er, no.

Northampton Chronicle&Echo.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tory quits saying Tories have 'elevated egos...'

The Tories who run South Holland District Council have been accused of having 'elevated egos' who make decisions without 'real consultation'.

Wayne Seaborn has resigned from the Tory Group, according to today's Lincs Free Press alleging that being a member of the ruling Conservative group on the council was stifling his ability to represent his electors.

Same old Tories eh?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Tory who didn't have the balls to tell the truth...

A newly elected Tory councillor has been forced to resign today after his past as a liar and a cheat was exposed by the Daily Mirror.

He took time off his job at Tesco's, claiming he was suffering from testicular cancer. But within days of his election to a council in Hatfield, Herts, it's been revealed that he made the whole story up.

This morning, after the story appeared in the Mirror, he fell on his sword and resigned. No doubt he now feels the pain of a kick in the ballots.

I know where I'd send the bill for the costs of the by-election that will now be needed.

Same Old Tories eh?

UPDATE: The Welwyn and Hatfield Times has now confirmed that Tesco Tory boy has resigned his seat on the council - exactly a week after winning it - and a by-election will be held.

Farmer guilty after Deeping student Katie dies...

A speeding farmer has been found guilty of causing the death by dangerous driving of Deepings student Katie Shields.

According to today's Stamford Mercury, the farmer was involved in another fatal road accident some years ago when the Mercedes car he was driving plunged into the River Glen. He survived, but his wife died.

I reported here on the tragedy of Katie's death just over a year ago.

It appears 18-year-old Katie was waiting to turn right into Hop Pole, Deeping St Nicholas, when the car she was driving was hit by the farmer's 4x4
Grand Jeep Cherokee. Experts estimated the 4x4 was being driving at over 70mph in a 50mph area and its high speed had attracted the attention of witnesses before the collision.

Local man appears in Ken Livingstone's biography...

Intrigued to learn from last week's Local newspaper that Brynley Heaven who now lives in a village near Bourne worked closely with Ken Livingstone some three decades ago.

Brynley, one-time prolific commenter on this blog, even gets a mention in the latest biography on Ken, which came out during the recent Mayoral campaign...

More recently, Brynley has been an active campaigner against data chips in wheelie bins, which he believe SKDC will inevitably use to collect information on the amount of material we throw away.

Isn't it amazing what you learn in The Local...more HERE.

Portillo says Boris's campaign was insulting...

'Boris's election campaign was an insult to my intelligence...'

Not my words. Not Ken Livingstone who Boris beat to become Mayor of London last week, but the judgement of former Tory Cabinet Minister and ex-London MP MICHAEL PORTILLO, speaking earlier tonight (Thursday) on BBC One's 'This Week' programme.

It's not the first time in the past few days that Portillo has put the boot into Boris.

On election night, there was little to cheer for Labour activists as the bad news after bad news came in from around the country...

But round about 3am, (yes, i know i'm an anorak!!), I found myself agreeing with Michael Portillo on his assessment of Boris.

He was asked whether he thought Boris had managed to re-launch himself as a serious politician in the Mayoral campaign.

Michael laughed, expressing doubt that Boris would ever be serious...Then, Michael Portillo paid a much warmer tribute to the Tory's bogeyman 'Red' Ken Livingstone, who he described as "a remarkable politician" who had achieved many positive things as Mayor - including introducing the highly popular Oyster travel card.

So as Boris hands out City Hall jobs to his mates, I wouldn't put any money on seeing Michael Portillo in the frame...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

U-turn phone trucker jailed after biker dies...

As a born-again biker - and an Army-trained HGV driver - I have no sympathy for the irresponsible trucker who went to jail for seven years today for doing a u-turn while on his mobile phone on the A512 near Loughborough - right into the path of an oncoming motor cyclist who died as a result of his injuries.

BBC East Midlands has a video report HERE.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Surely it was just a dream...

Sorry no posts for over a week...Just woke after a terrible dream: Tories win 300 council seats and Boris becomes Mayor of London. OK, more a nightmare than a dream.

Seriously, i was so busy working on the local elections, that my blogging had to take a back seat: I worked in London, and after seeing Ken defeated, I went into hibernation, and managed to get through the holiday weekend refusing to read a single newspaper, or the internet...

But I'm back...hope you are all well.

Clearly a lot to catch up on, so, as they say...

Watch this space...