Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Death of Busby Babe who signed for Lincoln

Sad to hear news on Sky of the death of Albert Scanlon who was something of a hero of mine when I was a young lad growing up in Lincoln.

Scanlon was one of the original 'busby babes' who survived the terrible 1958 Munich air crash which destroyed so many stars of Matt Busby's Manchester United football team including Duncan Edwards.

By the early 1960s, Scanlon was playing at Sincil Bank for Lincoln City where I have fond memories of watching his skills from the terrace.

Sky say he was 74 when he died earlier today.

Hard to believe that the Munich Air Crash was over half a century ago.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sh*tbucks comes to Peterborough...

Snow-slow drive to Peterborough this morning after digging my car out of the drive, so miss my usual London bound train, and watch the next one pull out while I queue for a ticket.

At least the trains seem to be running pretty much to time despite the first snow and cold snap of winter...whatever happened to Global Warming..?

Info board says next train due in 20 minutes, but updates say it's going to be 8 minutes late, then 20 minutes late and eventually over half any hour late...so have any overall wait of any hour trying to keep warm.

Fancy a hot drink to fend off the cold, and keep my hands warm. Decide to give 'Pumpkins' coffee a miss and plum instead for the new outlet on Platform 2.

Should be a treat. It's Starbucks. Order a 'hot' choc and hand over my dosh. First sip reveals it's only mildly warm, and so down it in one.

Yuk.

It's stone cold and hasn't even been stirred.

Nasty after-taste.

It's easy for anyone to make a mistake when you're new and busy and, like the choc drink, er...cold.

What's amazing is the reaction of Starbucks staff when I politely point out that their 'hot' choc is anything but.

No reaction at all!! Not a word of apology, refund or fresh drink. Just blank faces..

Astonishing.

My reaction to being blanked is to start loudly advising others in the queue that the 'hot' choc isn't.

Still no reaction.

Someone at Starbucks clearly missed the 'have a nice day' training course in customer relations.

Surely the American coffee giants Starbucks would appreciate knowing they are getting it wrong in Peterborough.

Faith restored somewhat when I ring Starbucks in London and I am able to regale my story to a pleasant young? Lady with a warm American drawl who apologises for my bad experience with Starbucks, promises refund in the post and wishes I have a nice day.

Get the late train which has just come to a juddering halt after a few miles. Guard just announced a pipe has broken.

Ah, that old excuse.

Must be the wrong kind of snow...

Maybe i should have stayed in bed...hope to be inching towards London soon and hope to get there in time to come back...

UPDATE 11.52 Just passing Knebworth, Guard says pipe fixed but slow now because there's congestion ahead and snow blown onto signals means Driver having difficulty seeing them.

I need a hot drink, but now feeling rather sick after my Starbucks Experience...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Local woman dies in crash with ambulance...

A 39-year-old local woman walking near The Deepings this morning has died after a collision with an ambulance which was on its way to deal with a road accident in Langtoft.

Deepings Comprehensive goes top of the class...

Deepings Comprehensive School has just been awarded an 'Outstanding' grade during Ofsted's latest inspection.

Anyone who knows Deepings Comp won't be surprised that it's achievements put it in the top 15% of all schools in the country.

As a Governor for eight years until a few months ago - and as proud father of two daughters who were given a great start at Deepings Comp - I know we are blessed with a fantastic local school.

The Business and Enterprise specialist school is a fine example of what can be achieved by a true Comprehensive. Unlike some other local schools, no child is turned away because of their perceived academic ability. At Deepings Comp, every student gets the chance to develop to their full potential.

Chris Beckett who was promoted to Head Teacher five years ago provides first-rate leadership and has strengthened a great team of staff which, together with the students, fully deserve the thanks and praise of our local community.

Here's some of the highlights from the Ofsted report which has just been published.

Outstanding quality of education
Innovative and dynamic leadership
Standards have risen year on year since the last inspection
Students of all abilities make exceptional progress
Students, parents and carers are very pleased with the quality of education provided
Good quality teaching
The school's Business and Enterprise specialist status makes a significant contribution to students learning
The school's capacity for continued improvement is outstanding
Students enjoy school and feel safe
The curriculum provision is outstanding at all levels
Care, guidance and support is outstanding
Links with partners and other schools are outstanding
Sixth form provision, leadership, management and outcomes are outstanding.

Hope the Stamford Mercury, Local, ET, and Free Press pick up a good story about achievement...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Have I missed something, or what...?

Has anyone seen any media coverage in the nationals - or even the regional press - on the latest Tory Leader in Lincolnshire to resign after facing questions over his involvement in planning issues...?

I'm fairly certain that if Bernard Theobald were a Labour Leader forced out of office in similar circumstances, it would have been all over the Daily Mail and other choice publications by now...

Am I getting cynical in my old age, or have I missed something...?

Fighters and Believers

It's all about values...

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

South Lincs rail hub could create 4,400 local jobs

Great news as plans unveiled for a £20 million investment in a new rail hub in the Spalding area which could provide a massive boost to the local jobs market - as splashed on the front page of this week's Lincs Free Press.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Sad loss of a good friend...

Shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden and unexpected death of my friend John Hurst, a former colleague on Lincolnshire County Council - and a true champion of Grantham Hospital.

A thoughtful, highly intelligent man, life-long socialist with a wicked bone-dry sense of humour, John's cerebral contributions in county council debates were always top quality.

A sad loss and sincere condolences to his widow Fereshteh.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Another Tory Leader steps down after planning questions...

The Conservative Leader of a Lincolnshire Council has been forced to step down after a newspaper investigation into a planning matters.

Bernard Theobald is facing questions over a planning application to develop land he jointly purchased with another elected member of his controlling group.

The previous owner claims that before he sold the land, planning officers at West Lindsey District Council advised him that he wouldn't get planning permission for a development.

I knew Bernard some years ago when we were on opposing sides at Lincolnshire County Council.

He was one of the Conservatives who worked behind the scenes to remove Jim Speechley as Leader after he was accused of abusing his power by attempting to divert a bypass to improve the value of a parcel of land he owned.

Speechley ended up in prison of course.

When shamed Speechley was finally forced from the Leadership, Bernard attempted to take over but couldn't muster enough support among his Tory colleagues. They preferred someone close to Speechley as their new Leader - Bourne councillor Ian Croft.

Croft himself was eventually banned from office following a Standards Board inquiry and Bernard went on to lose his county seat at the next local electons!

A third Conservative member of Cllr Theobald's Conservative Group has reportedly admitted that he has met a West Lindsey planning officer who has been suspended pending an inquiry.

The final straw for Bernard seems to have been his own Deputy demanding his resignation!

You couldn't make it up.

UPDATE: A personal statement from Bernard Theobald appears on West Lindsey Council's website in which he denies any wrong-doing, blames the Lincolnshire Echo, and says he's passed their reports to his lawyers.

UPDATE 2: Just googled Bernard Theobald and the first page to appear on my screen is this from West Lindsey Council's own site which shows that as well as being Conservative Leader, Cllr Theobald was also chairman of a committee.

Yes, you've guessed it...the planning committee.

Watch this space...!

UPDATE 3: Cllr Theobald has been accused of being present at a secret meeting with a West Lindsey planning officer who was suspended at the time, pending an investigation.

How do we know...? The secret meeting has been reported by Cllr Theobald's Deputy Leader who was also at the meeting - which took place at his home.

That's the Deputy Leader who later called for Cllr Theobald to stand down and has since taken over the Leadership of the Council.

The plot thickens...

End of the journey for Deepings Travel...

Feeling a tad guilty that I booked my recent holiday to Kenya on t'internet, rather than supporting our local high street travel agency, which closed down yesterday after declaring insolvency.

I hope the friendly staff at Deepings Travel who face redundancy quickly find new jobs.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Top Tory says Cameron's team not up to the job...

Who says David Cameron's team couldn't run the proverbial piss-up in a brewery, let alone run the country...?

Er, one of the Conservative Leader's best mates, Stephen Greenhalgh, right-wing Leader of the flagship Tory Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham...

Same old, eh?

Former MP Helen Clark wins appeal against conviction...

Former Peterborough MP Helen Clark behaved 'shamefully' in a city hotel, but not criminally, an appeal judge has ruled.

As I posted at the time of her conviction, I guess you could still see the video of the incident if you want to judge for yourself. It was mysteriously leaked to utube - and then pulled following representations from Helen.

But I'm sure it's out there somewhere.

Memories of the Moscow-St Pete journey...

Shocking to hear of the apparent bomb attack on the Moscow-St. Petersburg train last night which has left more than two dozen passengers dead.

The news sparked memories of a journey I made on the same line some years ago. I had the privilege of travelling the Moscow-St Pete sleeper with a party of Americans and a couple of Russians - and can testify that it is one of the world's great journeys.

As we boarded our carriage at the Moscow 'Vauxhall' - or station - early on a Friday evening, ina burly guard handed us each a dinner box and as well as the tinned caviar, I recall it contained toothbrush, soap and other goodies and we settled down to demolish a bottle of the finest Vodka (which had cost all of £2) and put the world to rights as we pulled out of the Russian capital.

I believe the ticket cost 25 American dollars, including the box of goodies - somewhat better value than the £87 my journey from Peterborough to London cost yesterday!

We woke at breakfast the next morning as the train pulled into St Pete - the wonderful city built by Peter the Great and known as Venice of the North.

I believe the ticket for the entire journey cost 25 American dollars - including the box of goodies - somewhat better value than the £87 that my journey from Peterborough to King's Cross cost yesterday...

Hope normal service is resumed soon.

By the way, I was reliably informed that Vauxhall (said with a Russian accent) has been the word for railway station in Russia ever since Victorian times when a Russian engineer visiting one of London's rail stations to see how to build a railway asked a local what they called the station...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tornado hits East Mids...

After the 'once in a millenium' floods in the north-west over the weekend, a tornado hits the East Midlands...

Damage report on BBC

Tory wolf in sheep's clothing...?

Had to laugh when I heard 'Cameron's Caring Conservatives' on yesterday's BBC Politics Show promising to improve rights to a fairer split of money and property when non-married couple split up.

So who's trying to persuade us this time that the Tories are no longer the nasty party...?

Stand up Peter Bone, Conservative MP for Wellingborough, Northants.

Surely not the same Peter Bone who bragged to the 1995 Tory Party Conference that he only paid staff in his travel agency a paltry 87-pence-an-hour...

His attempt to ridicule Labour's plan for the first ever national minium wage earned rapturous applause from the Tory rank and file - and the label 'meannest boss in Britain' from the media.

Yes, the very same Mr Bone...

The Tories fought tooth and nail to prevent Labour's national minium wage which put the first ever floor under wages in Britain.

They claimed it would destroy a million jobs...in fact a million more people are in work after the minimum wage was brought in.

Despite a Tory rearguard action to scrap the minimum wage led by people like Peter Bone, last month it was raised to £5.80 an hour.

Isn't that more than six times the sweat-shop wages Mr Bone paid his staff...?

It's another example of the two faces of Cameron's Conservatives - the face of change and the real one...

I know which one I believe.

How about you?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cameron's spin can't hide the Conservative's Nasty Face...

Anyone who thinks there is not two faces to the Conservatives under David Cameron should read this. There's the face David Cameron wants you to believe - and there's the hidden face which shows that at grassroots the Tories are still the Nasty Party.

Lincs headteacher named as Mistress of Tory MP...

Governors at a south Lincs School have jumped to the defence of their head teacher after she was named by a national newspaper as the former Mistress of Conservative MP David Curry who has been caught up in the parliamentary expenses scandal.

Parents of children at Bourne Abbey Church of England school must have choked over their cornflakes when they saw the photo of head teacher Cherry Edwards splashed across the front page of this morning'sDaily Telegraph.

The Lincs Free Press website was quick off the mark to follow up the story - and publish a strong defence of Miss Edwards by the school's Governing body.

The Daily Telegraph alleged Tory MP David Curry claimed nearly £30,000 for a second home that his French born wife had barred him from using after discovering he had an affair with the Bourne head teacher.

Mr Curry, former Conservative agriculture minister, was appointed only a few weeks ago as chairman of the all-powerful standards and privileges committee.

His job was to police Commons expense claims and make judgements on his parliamentary colleagues.

It's all a huge embarrassment for David Cameron to see his 'expenses policeman' forced to step down pending an inquiry into his own expenses so soon after his appointment.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Can you name the few...?

The madness of David Cameron's top priority to give £200,000 to the richest 3,000 people in the country by cutting inheritance tax was highlighted this afternoon by Gordon Brown when he said so few people would benefit that some Tory MPs would personally know almost every one of them by name.

Mr Brown ridiculed the Tory plan which would widen the gap between rich and poor.
He said an estate of £1 million would benefit by £120,000. An estate of £1.5 million by £320,000 and an estate of £2 million by £520,000.

He described it was "the most regressive policy you can imagine where 99% of the benefit goes to the richest few in our country. The typical constituency will have only five people who benefit."

"The biggest group of beneficiaries are in one area of the country, Kensington and Chelsea, which of course includes Notting Hill...(er, home to David Cameron and George Osborne)...

The House erupted when Mr Brown added: "This must be the only tax change in history when the people proposing it, the leader of the opposition and the shadow chancellor, will know by name almost all of the potential beneficiaries..."

Female top gun is from Stamford...

When I first posted in May on the first female Red Arrow pilot, I knew Flt Lt Kirsty Moore was from Lincolnshire, but didn't know if she hailed from our part of the county...

Now the Stamford Mercury has revealed that the top gun is a former pupil of Stamford High School...

So which sensible measures will the Tories vote against...?

Just back from two weeks holiday in Kenya, no internet, no telly, no papers!

First news I hear on arrival back in UK is Tory Michael Gove complaining that the list of bills in the Queen's Speech - the Government's legislative programme is political and designed to ensure Labour wins the next General Election...

Politicians being political...? Heaven forbid!

After hearing the Speech live, I'm interested to see which bills Mr Gove and the Tories actually object too...

Will they vote against new measures announced to crack down on bankers’ pay in the Financial Services Bill...?

Most sensible people are rightly angry at the way bankers who almost brought down our economy have now been rewarded for their poor decisions with fat cat bonuses.

Will the Tories be mad enough to vote against Labour's new measures to ban cluster munitions - or will they vote to continue the horror these weapons can cause.

Labour led the way in banning landmines, and for my money, banning cluster bombs is the next sensible move on this front.

Maybe the Tories will vote against the new measures on green energy which are needed to cut carbon emissions and encourage new, greener forms of energy...

Tories in the Lords have already threatened to block Labour's measures on fuel poverty announced in the Energy Bill to help pensioners and families struggling on low incomes.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Farmers to blame for worse pollution in Lincs than London...?

Wonder how our county council will respond to this damning indictment of farming in Lincolnshire.

Many of the controlling group of councillors are themselves farmers of course - including the Conservative Leader Martin Hill, so I'll be watching with fascination...

Monday, October 26, 2009

An American view on how Cameron would marginalise UK...

Tory lunacy on Europe would marginalise UK's influence, according to a New York Times op-ed spotted by Alex Smith and posted on LabourList

Friday, October 23, 2009

U-turn on bus passes by SKDC...?

South Kesteven may finally be dragged into the twentieth century with the same travel concessions for elderly and disabled people as have been enjoyed for years in every other part of Lincolnshire. The Conservatives who run the Grantham based South Kesteven District Council have finally been persuaded that they can afford to offer free concessionary travel on local buses before 9.30 in the morning. Every other council in our county of all political persuasions snapped up the Labour Government's generous cash handout to give elderly and disabled people a better deal a couple of years ago.

The change of heart is a victory for the long running campaign by local people - and supported by the Stamford Mercury.

Today's Mercury reports that a decision will be made next week to go for a 'consultation' before possibly making the changes in six months time.

If you see Deeping St James Conservative district councillors Ray Auger or Brian Hellyar - or any of their Tory mates - ask them why they are delaying doing the decent thing for another six months...

WHY NOT NOW...?

BNP's Nick Griffin and Ku Klux Klan

Here's the video evidence of right-wing extremist Nick Griffin appearing with Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

Racist Griffin is seen talking about his plans to change his language to sell his policies until he gets control the British media before revealing his true agenda.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tory revolt as another Londoner parachuted into Lincs...

Local Conservatives are outraged at a decision by their Party to parachute another Londoner into a Lincolnshire parliamentary seat.

Some are threatening to quit Cameron's Conservatives after learning that all local applicants to replace disgraced North Hykeham and Sleaford MP Douglas Hogg have been excluded from the selection process - without even reaching the interview stage.

Mr Hogg hit the national headlines over his expense claims for cleaning his moat at his country pile.

The local would-be candidates include Christine Talbot, my old sparring partner at Lincolnshire County Council, who has broken cover to tell the Lincolnshire Echo to say even non-Tories are upset with the process.

Christine was Conservative candidate in Lincoln in the 2001 general election when she was beaten by Labour's Gilly Merron, now a Government Minister.

The Tory parachute row follows a similar row over their selection in Grantham and Stamford where Christine was also one of the hopefuls.

Another, then Tory county councillor Mark Horn for Bourne went public and attacked the shortlist which he said was made up of
wealthy, metropolitan, privileged, bright young things...totally out of touch with ordinary folk with no local connections...simply careerists looking for a safe seat.
The result was the selection of Londoner Nick Boles.

With many more MPs expected to resign of the parliamentary expenses scandal, I'm sure we haven't heard the last of Christine!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Wee Georgie's £3 billion mistake...

Seems wee Georgie has been reading his Ladybird book of Economics again. Today's Guardian reports that his reputation as would-be Tory chancellor is unravelling after his claimed savings by making us all work longer are some £3 BILLION short, and will take five years longer than he estimated!

Doh...

Friday, October 09, 2009

Public forced to pay for Waltzing Matilda...

A council leader standing as a Conservative MP at the next election has fiercely defended one of his councillors who has claimed over £2,000 from the public purse while on an Australian walkabout for the past three months....

He's the same leader of Barnet council in north London who was hailed by wee Georgie Osborne recently for facing the "age of austerity and showing the Conservative Party how its done..."

Now we know exactly what wee Georgie meant...

He'll be telling us next that "We're all in this together..."

Same old, eh?

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Tory Monkees...

Tories playing the Monkees as Cameron finishes his Conference speech...

Id we're "all in it together" as he's have us believe, how come his first priority is still a tax break for a few of the richest estates in the country by cutting inheritance tax for millionaires...?

back soon...

Sorry for the longest gap since last post...Conference season hugely busy and now up in Glasgow for a few days...back soon!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Amazon book 170 local jobs...

Things looking up on the jobs front

Vote Labour or the fox gets it...

Cameron pledge to reinstate hunting with dogs.

Private Eye focus on Lincs Leader's expense claims...

Today's Private Eye has revelations about the expenses claimed by Tory Leader of Lincolnshire County Council who apparently booked into the Intercontinental Hotel on London's Park Lane and expected us us council taxpayers to pick up the tab.

Looking forward to Councillor Martin Hill's explanation, as he made his name when in Opposition as a rottweiller who went through the Council's accounts with a fine toothcomb looking for half a chance to attack any spending by the then Labour-LibDem administration as 'extravagant'.

Wonder what the Taxpayers Alliance would say about his stay at the Intercontinental?

No doubt the Private Eye story is embarrassing for Cllr Hill, particuylarly if the local media actually follow it up.

Of course, it's not exactly in the same league as Martin's Conservative predessessor 'Honest' Jim Speechley, who you may recall, went to prison convicted of abuse of public office...

PS - sorry, no link to the Private Eye story as don't put their articles online...

You'll have to buy one!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hit and run driver shouts 'sorry'...

Local police are appealing for information after an 11-year-old boy was run over yesterday by a woman in a car who shouted 'Sorry' but then drove off.

The incident happened at about 5pm Wednesday, on the zebra crossing near the Tesco supermarket, in Godsey Lane, Market Deeping.

The car that hit the boy is thought to be a black Ford driven by a woman in her 40s with dark hair. The boy was left with injuries to his face, ankle and knee. The woman shouted 'Sorry' out of her window before driving off.

Anyone with any information on the vehicle or driver is urged to contact Stamford Police Station (01780) 752222, quoting incident number 271 of September 16.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cameron panders to Euro-extremists...again!

David Cameron today caved in to Tory hard-right - again. Yesterday, Lord Norman Tebbit urged the Conservative Leader to promise a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty if he were to win the next General Election - even if it were already ratified by all 27 members including UK.

Instead of telling Tebbit and the Euro-extremists get on their bikes, David Cameron gave them exactly what they want: he made clear that a Conservative Government would hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty - even if it were already ratified by the rest of Europe.

The Irish people vote on the Lisbon Treaty next month - three days before the Conservative Confererence. If the Irish vote 'yes', it is expected that the Treaty will be ratified before the UK General Election.

At his monthly press conference today, David Cameron said:
...the Conservative party will be absolutely clear that we want to have that referendum, we want to recommend a no vote in that referendum, we want to withdraw the British articles of ratification as a result of a no vote in that referendum and change Europe in that way. That is our position and the Irish referendum doesn’t change that.

A retrospective referendum held in UK after all 27 countries in the EU had ratified the treaty would cause chaos - and I suspect instability which would damage our economic recovery.

I believe the only way the treaty could be renegotiated once it was ratified would be to repudiate an international treaty and to renegotiate Britain’s entire relationship with the EU - exactly what the Euro-extremists want of course.

Sad that David Cameron seems to think that pandering to the hard-right in his own party is more important than jobs and the wider British interest.

His latest cave-in to the hard-right follows Cameron's recent promotion of Dan Hannan to a plum job - just days after describing him as 'eccentic' after he blasted the NHS as 'a 60 year mistake' on American telly.

A couple of months ago, under pressure from the Euro-nuts, David Cameron pulled his MEPs out of the centre-right EPP party of Merkle and Sarkozi to get into bed with a rag-bag of no-hopers.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Marathon Eddie's fantastic achievement...

I've often contemplated attempting to run a marathon, but never quite got around to it...ran a few half marathons when I was younger, enjoyed the experience but gave up with a niggling knee injury and decided that I wasn't made for running...

So huge admiration to comedian Eddie Izzard who hopes to arrive in Trafalgar Square today after completing not one, but 43 marathons in just 52 days - followed by an ice-cream van handing out free cornets - and all for charity.

Before he started is marathon - or rather his 43 marathons - Eddie had never run more than five miles in a go, and only trained for five weeks!

Good to see part of his motivation was to celebrate our country hosting the Olympics in 2012.

Pure Quality Eddie!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Lincolnshire show how the Tories would run the country...

What was David Cameron's side-kick wee Georgie Osborne thinking of when he said a future Conservative government could learn lessons from Tory councils like Lincolnshire...?

Was it Lincolnshire Tories record of running the only education authority in the country to spend millions of public money to send selected children to public school - by top-slicing the budget of every state school in the county...?

Or was it the cavalier way Lincolnshire Tories trebled home care charges for some of Lincolnshire's most vulnerable people - from £40 to an staggering £120 a week in one hike - (a saga on which I posted on HERE and HERE...?

Maybe it was the back-of-a-fag-packet scheme to close all infant schools that showed what Lincolnshire Conservatives really feel about 'choice' despite their rhetoric...?

Surely wee Georgie wasn't thinking about the way Lincolnshire Tories' forced through the biggest council tax demand for policing in the county - an eye-watering 78.9 per cent that had to be capped by the Labour Government with a welcome rebate for every council tax payer...?

Ironically, wee Georgie was talking in his speech about value for money when he highlighted Lincolnshire as a flagship to follow...

Wonder if he realises that Lincolnshire Tories insisted on hiking up council tax bills this year - voting down Labour's sensible plan for a council tax freeze...(despite his promise that Conservatives would deliver a freeze on council tax).

No, wee-Georgie was talking about Lincolnshire's record on public-private partnerships. While I believe private firms might sometimes deliver a better job than local councils, in eight years as a county councillor in Lincolnshire, I was far from impressed with the way county services were run by private companies.

I believe the system wee Georgie was so impressed with was brought in by former Tory Leader of the county council, Jim Speechley...

Wee Georgie will remember Jim well...Speechley of course was sent to jail for corruption.

So now we know how the Tories would run the country if we were ever daft enough to give them a chance...

Same old Tories, or what...?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hope fades for Englands Ladies...

Trying to follow the European Ladies final on my blackberry on train home from London. Not bad for a technophobe eh?? But with England 6-2 down to Germany, time is running out

Blow for Tory 'flagship' accused of racism and sexual discrimination...

So George Osborne thinks the Tories should learn lessons on how to run the country from Conservative-run local councils...

In his speech today, wee Georgie cites Tory Wandsworth in London as a flagship authority whose example should be followed.

Just 24-hours earlier, a leading councillor in Wandsworth tore up her Conservative membership card, quit the party and accused the Conservative Council Leader, his deputy and others of

"years of (sexual) discrimination, racism and belittling"

Same old Tories, eh?

England Expects...

Get De Beers In screams this morning's Sun in a classic currant bun splash after England's stylish entry last night into the World Cup Finals in South Africa next summer.

I'm by no means an expert or a football fanatic. But I am a patriot - so was disappointed only to catch the last five minutes of the game on ITV.

Unfortunately, the Croatia clash at the fabulous new Wembley stadium overlapped with a meeting of the Trustees of United Charities of Deeping St James at the DSJ Institute which didn't finish until 9.30...

England's 5-1 victory which propelled England to the finals had the headline writers working overtime. The Mirror cleverly went for: Bok of the Net.

I rather like the Sun's simple online version: 3 Lions off on Safari...

Good Luck to England's Ladies team today who could top the lads' performance by becoming European Champions if they beat Germany in Helsinki.

The Ladies European final is on BBC 2 from 5pm, but there's an early evening meeting of the parish council's youth committee, so looks like I'll be catching up with the highlights later.

And of course, I'm looking forward to tomorrow's crop of post Ladies Final headlines...

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Hannan's so eccentric, he's now on Cameron's side...

The Tory MEP who claimed on American TV that the NHS has been a 60 year mistake was dismissed by David Cameron as an eccentric.

So eccentric in fact that Mr Cameron has rewarded the hard-right Hannan with a plum job in the Conservative team!

After Hannan told Americans last month that 'I wouldn't wish the NHS on anyone', commentators on this side of the pond were split on whether he was a lonely eccentric maverick as Cameron would have us believe, or the voice of many on the extreme right of Cameron's Conservative Party.

Andrew Grice in the Independent suggested that Cameron could control Hannan if he were a loose cannon but concluded: unfortunately for Cameron, he is not.

Telegraph sage Jame Kirkup proved less accurate!

Under the headline Cameron chooses Obama over Hannan, Kirkup asserted Hannan was not popular with the Tory Leadership.

Hannan was later said to anger Cameron even further, by pouring praise on Enoch 'rivers of blood' Powell.

Mr Cameron was clearly angry that Dan Hannan had let the cat out of the bag that the Tories still hate the NHS and tried to kid us on that Hannan didn't speak for the Tory Party.

Well, he does now!

Same old eccentric Tories, eh?

Monday, September 07, 2009

Breathtaking Tory double standards exposed...

The Tory frontbencher campaigning to stop people building in their back gardens is trying to defend plans for an extra room - in her own back garden!

Last week Caroline Spelman was arrogantly telling Tory councils to block plans for housing schemes as long as Gordon Brown was in Downing Street.

She apparently wants to stop 'garden grabbing developers' by making it more difficult for people to build in their own back garden - but only of course after she's built her new garden room!

Same old Tories, eh?

Friday, September 04, 2009

Top Tory tells councils to block housing plans...

With breathtaking arrogance, David Cameron's team have urged Tory councils like our own at South Kesteven to block the building of new homes while Gordon Brown is in Downing Street.

I first saw this story in a local paper, the Enfield Independent a couple of days ago.

The story claimed to expose a letter apparently sent by Caroline Spelman advising councils to stall major home projects until they win power!

I could hardly believe that a party that aspires to govern could actually use political dogma to prevent councils getting people off housing waiting lists, so thought I'd check out the facts before posting.

Under the headline Tory Leaders told to delay property developments, the reputable Local Government Chronicle confirms that the letter was in fact sent by Ms Spelman:

It seems the Mirror has also been checking out the story before saying today that the arrogant letter shows the tories are not fit to govern.

Same old Tories, eh?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Hannan at it again...

The Tory who attacked the NHS on American TV is at it again...

Now Conservative MEP Dan Hannan - who helped Cameron's Tories break their alliance with the EPP and instead join a ragbag of right-wing nutters - has admitted that he wants to get Britain out of Europe.

As Labour’s Denis MacShane MP says:

The dangerous thing for Britain is that far from being a lone, dissenting voice, Daniel Hannan increasingly seems to be setting the agenda for David Cameron - particularly when it comes to Europe.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

MPs expenses back in the news...

Stewart Jackson, the Peterborough MP who claimed £66,000 for his second home and was forced to pay back money he took for his swimming pool, is back in the news over expenses.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Tory plan to scrap the Minimum Wage...

Sad to hear on BBC radio last night about a Tory plan to scrap one of Labour's greatest achievements - the successful establishment of a national minimum wage.

When Labour brought in the UK's first national floor under wages a dozen years ago, the Tory front bench fought it tooth and nail.

It took a historic all-night session of Parliament for the Blair Government to get the legislation through the House of Commons to protect millions of low-paid workers exploitation by unscrupulous employers.

Since then, the National Minimum Wage has steadily risen, lifting millions out of poverty pay.

A minimum wage was one of the headline demands of the founders of the Labour Party almost a century earlier. It was an idea even supported by Winston Churchill - but of course opposed by today's hard-right Conservatives.

I well remember one Peter Bone bragging to the 1995 Tory Party Conference that he paid his travel agency staff a paltry 87 pence an hour and that if a minimum wage would mean they wouldn't have a job at all.

And I recall being sickened to the core by the thunderous applause Mr Bone received for his speech from the Tory faithful.

Mr Bone was supporting the official Tory line that Labour's minimum wage would destroy a million jobs. Like much Tory doctrine, that proved to be total nonsense of course.

Today, Mr Bone is Tory MP for Wellingborough in Northamptonshire - and he's still fighting the minimum wage.

Even the main employers organisation, the CBI, now accepts the success of the National Minimum Wage.

Last night BBC Radio Four focused their series 'Where did it all go right?' on the National Minimum Wage. The CBI spokesperson put the Minimum Wage in perspective with the following words:

With 12 years good experience, just as the National Minimum wage has been successful for the Labour Party, it has also been successful for the Labour movement and has not cost jobs. I don't see any appetite to withdraw the Minimum wage...

But it wasn't difficult for the BBC to find the old guard of Cameron's Conservative Party calling for the National Minimum Wage to be scrapped, as a luxury that cannot be afforded, particularly in a recession.

My personal view is that the Minimum Wage is one of the most positive changes for good brought in by Labour. It's needed more in a recession even than in the good times.

The charge to wreck the Minimum Wage is being led by Christopher Chope, Conservative MP for Christchurch, whose previous claim to fame is that he gave us the Poll Tax (and supported by Peter Bone).

Mr Chope is known as Chope the Chopper.

Mr Bone was named by The Daily Mirror as 'the meanest boss in Britain.'

Same old Tories, eh?

Friday, August 21, 2009

A tree like Ringo...?

They say that August is 'silly season' as the media scratches around for stories to fill their columns during the holidays.

This piece of journalism in today's Spalding Guardian about a tree in Holbeach that is said to resemble Beatles drummer Ringo Starr shows that south Lincs is far from exempt from the silliness...

But then again...

Care for elderly under threat again...?

The Tory council which trebled home care charges for some of the most vulnerable people in Lincolnshire are now considering cutting wardens at sheltered accommodation according to a report in this morning's Stamford Mercury.

Same old Tories, eh?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What planet does 'moat-man' inhabit...?

The Lincolnshire Tory grandee famous for having his moat cleaned at public expense has backed calls by one of his Conservative colleagues for MPs pay to be doubled to £130,000.

Douglas Hogg, MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham, and his wife "Lady" Hogg have both been embroiled in the expenses scandal, but Mr Hogg has joined Tory calls for MPs to receive a massive pay increase at public expense.

The Hoggs and fellow Tory grandee Sir Patrick Cormack clearly belong to the Alan Duncan club who are so out of touch that they believe anyone who has to live on £60k a year is existing on rations.

It's the same club whose members label those claiming benefits as 'scroungers'.

What planet do they inhabit?

London Paper folds...

Sorry to hear of the demise of the Murdoch owned freebie The London Paper which was launched a few years ago to rival the London Standard's Lite free paper.

Tory's election was illegal...

A Conservative has been forced to resign from Lincolnshire County Council after just eight weeks after it was revealed her nomination broke election law.

Now a by-election is to be held in Boston.

And guess who's paying...?

Er, you and me!

Men in white coats to target Alan Duncan...?

Alan Duncan could be challenged as MP for Rutland and Melton by the likes of Martin Bell or even Terry Waite after his ill-judged comments to the man who dug up his lawn that MPs are forced to 'live on rations' following the expenses scandal...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Prescott tells Americans: Don't listen to Tory right wing on NHS

Attack the NHS and incur the wrath of Labour...

Never forget that the doctors and the Tories opposed the introduction of the NHS over 60 years ago - just as the hard-right in America are fighting Obama's health care reforms today.

But Prescott has told America not to listen to the misrepresentations of British MEP Dan Hannan who fuelled the anti-reform debate with an ourtargeous attack on the NHS.

Same old Tories eh?

Bet some of his best friends are gay...

So Tory MEP for the East Midlands Roger Helmer believes that homophobia does not exist...

I wonder what Nick Boles has to say about his colleague's latest outrage. Boles of course is reported to be openly gay - and Tory parliamentary candidate for Stamford and Grantham.

More to the point, I suppose, what's David Cameron's response to this latest challenge from the hard-right of the Conservative Party...

You'll remember of course that Dave wants us to think that the Tories have changed and are no longer the anti-gay Nasty Party.

Dave's reaction to Helmer?

Er, not a squeak.

Same old Tories eh?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Senior Tory's whinge after expenses scandal...

So Alan Duncan thinks MPs are 'treated like sh**' and have to 'live on rations'...

The Tory MP for Rutland and Melton been forced to apologise after being caught on camera giving his private views on the expenses scandal - in which he was well and truly embroiled but refused to apologise for claiming a large wodge of public money for repairs to his ride-on lawnmower!

Who says the Tories are no longer the Nasty Party?

UPDATE: The BBC carries more of Mr. Duncan's comments when he was being secretly recorded in which he appears to justify claiming £1,000 a year to maintain his garden by saying the actual cost was £2,000 and he could have 'claimed the bloody lot'.

What's that saying about when in a hole...?

Monday, August 10, 2009

What a way to run a railway...

Chaos on the East Coast Main Line this morning.

Some sort of breakdown north of Peterborough blocked the line, meaning no London-bound National Express trains after the 8.04.

As the platforms backed up with people, First Capital Connect added to the misery with further delays.

The station announcer seemed to have an endless resource in excuses as first a train was cancelled due to "earlier signalling problems", then another was delayed due to "awaiting a crew" and a third late due to "lack of availability of carriages".

Was I naive to think there was a simple solution to FCC's apparent dilemma of a train crew without a train as well as a train without a crew...surely it didn't need the brains of an Arch Bishop to get at least something moving?

When it looked like the earliest train to get to London would be the 9.15 FCC service which "only" stops at Huntingdon, St Neots, Biggleswade and Stevenage before Kings Cross, everyone gravitated to Platform 3A to patiently wait...

(One commuter on Platform 2 lost his rag, which provided a few minutes entertainment as he remonstrated with a gaggle of rather self-important station staff, one of whom arrogantly warned him: "Don't push it!"

Which of course, would be rather sensible advice, for railway staff to have followed in the circumstances...)

Needless to say, the 9.15 was also seriously late. And with no indication of when it might actually turn up, passengers started moving back to Platform 2 where the even slower 9.23 was waiting with the prospect of SEVEN station stops before KX...

What a way to run a railway...

Senior Tory attacks Tory NHS plans...

Mad. Naive. Dangeorus. Hazardous. All words used to describe Conservative plans for the NHS. All chosen by senior Tory David Davis in an article he penned for a Sunday paper!

With friends like that...

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Local councillor says she is victim of BBC 'sting'...

A leading south Lincs councillor has been defending her actions after a BBC undercover investigation into alleged discrimination against migrant workers trying to rent accomodation in Spalding.

Angela Newton (Independent), Leader of the Opposition Group on South Holland District Council, who works as an estate agent, has strongly denied any suggestion of racism and says she was 'brainwashed' and has told the Lincs Free Press that she was the victim of heavy editing by the BBC programme which was broadcast earlier this week.

Strong stuff.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Look who's a Twitter now...!

I have to chuckle: Lincolnshire County Council has finally joined the modern world of Twitter...

When I joined Twitter some months ago, the Stamford Mercury (one of the first local papers to join Twitter) ran an article allowing me to explain why, as a county councillor, I thought it was a useful way of communicating with electors.

A barrage of wry comments of derision - mainly from the dinosaurs on the Tory benches - was aimed my way, largely dismissing the very idea of Twitter. Many of the old-timers are of course fully signed up members of the Flat Earth Society who think that the internet is a passing phase that will never replace the quill pen!

I stopped being a county councillor a couple of months ago. But let me warmly welcome Lincolnshire County Council to the 21st Century...!

PS: Good to see that our Conservative-run County Council has joined Twitter despite David Cameron's attempt at being 'cool' by swearing about it on a radio programme aimed at a younger audience the other day when he was asked if he was a twitter...

Monday, August 03, 2009

Who's holding our council to account...?

This week's Stamford Mercury has run South Kesteven District Council's press release on the appointment of the new Chief Executive word for word.

What, no questions...?

Saturday, August 01, 2009

What on earth is going on at South Kesteven District Council...?

Tory Leader of SKDC Linda Neal is trying to justify banning anyone who doesn't already work for the council from applying for the £105k a year top job.

At the same time, she refuses to confirm reports that she authorised a £100,000 pay-off to get rid of the biking Duncan Kerr who mysteriously and suddenly quit the job a couple of months ago - the Grantham Journal says he was sacked.

The Council insists that their deal with Duncan Kerr to quietly pedal all the way to the bank is "confidential" and nothing to do with us - local taxpayers who are forced to stump up the money!

Congratulations of course to Beverly Agass, whose appointment as new Chief Exec was rubber-stamped at a meeting of SKDC. I don't know if anyone else even applied for the job, but I'm sure we all wish her well.

And congratulations to the Grantham Journal for asking the right questions.

The Journal reports that the council voted to get rid off former boss Duncan Kerr and

The position of chief executive was only open to internal candidates already working within the council.

Council leader Linda Neal defended the appointment process.

She said: "I would like to state emphatically, Mrs Agass actually got the job - we did not give it to her.

"There was nothing about the whole process that gave any leeway to Mrs Agass because she was already working here."
Except of course, that if she wasn't "already working here", she wouldn't have been allowed to even apply for the job!

For the record, I've posted on the debacle HERE, HERE, and HERE
mysterious departure of Duncan-the-bike-Kerr.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Three arrested after local burglaries...

Good to hear from local police that they arrested three young men last night after a spate of burglaries in the Deepings.

Police were called to an address in Clover Road, Market Deeping, shortly before midnight last night after a garage was broken into and an electric scooter taken.

The offenders were apparently disturbed by the occupants and ran off. Police attended the scene, made searches and stopped a vehicle a short time later.

Three men, all in their early twenties and all believed to be from the local area, were arrested on suspicion of burglary.

The trio are currently 'helping police with their enquiries' at Spalding Police Station where they being questioned in relation to a number of other recent offences in the area.

A true British hero from Lincolnshire...

Respects to bomb disposal officer Captain Dan Shepherd from Lincoln who has been killed in Afghanistan while trying to defuse an improvised explosive device.

I never met Captain Shepherd, but I understand we had at least two things in common - we went to the same primary school - All Saints in North Hykeham, (albeit separated by some 30 years!).

The Echo reports that Captain Shepherd is from Doddington Road, which is a stone's throw from where I grew up.

We also both served with the Royal Logistics Corps - Captain Shepherd as a professional soldier and myself only briefly after Peterborough-based 5 Royal Anglian were re-badged RLC towards the end of my 20 years in the Territorial Army.

Unlike Captain Shepherd, I was never called up for active service.

He has made the ultimate sacrifice doing what he was trained to do - putting himself in danger to try to save his comrades from yet another lethal roadside bomb planted by the Taleban.

That takes balls of steel.

A true British hero.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Whistle-blower Bowles in Lincs hospitals row...

The whistle-blower whose actions led to the Tory Leader of Lincolnshire County Council being jailed for abuse of office is back in the news.

David Bowles was Chief Exec at County Hall but was forced out by the Tories - at huge public expense after he called in the police to expose the criminality of Jim Speechley.

I'm on record as saying his reward should have been a medal - not the sack. I was a member of the "Appointments Committee" and saw first-hand the disgraceful way he was hounded out of office.

It was an absolute disgrace which piled further shame on Lincolnshire after Speechley went to jail and eventually saw Speechley's Conservative successor - Ian Croft from Bourne - banned from holding office.

I wasn't surprised when Bowles was snapped up to run Lincolnshire Hospitals - which he went on to lead into a financial surplus.

But now he's 'between jobs' again. And there's a dispute over whether he resigned or was suspended by the United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust.

Lock up your sheds and garages...

local thefts.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Second class service for Deeping...?

How long does it take Grantham-based South Kesteven District Council to deal with fly-tipping...?

Apparently, it depends where you live.

Weeks ago, a resident of Deeping St James contacted SK over some dumped tyres at the corner of Outgang Road and Hall Meadow Road.

Nothing happened. So he emailed SK, and also passed on the information to DSJ Parish Council.

Over the next few weeks, he tells me he reported the fly-tipping TEN times to SK before anything happened.

With no action from SK, our parish council clerk told SK that unless they dealt with the problem, she would pick up the tyres herself.

Then an apology from SK to our resident for an email going astray and finally, this week, the tyres were removed.

Overall, a poor service.

In contrast, I understand that the latest issue of SK Today, the Council's own newsletter, has an article bragging about picking up fly-tipping in Grantham within 24 hours of it being reported.

So why does Grantham get a service within hours while we have to wait weeks before anyone takes any notice...?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hats off to Vets...

Respect to all serving and ex-servicemen and women on Veterans Day - even Conservative ones!!

Spending your BBC licence fee...

Revelations this week that more than two dozen BBC executives are paid more than the Prime Minister seem to put the parliamentary expenses scandal into some sort of perspective...

A Deeping good time was had by all...

Cracking day at the annual Deeping St James Rose and Sweet Pea Show in the Vicarage grounds today, with the weather just about holding off - as it does for us most years.

As I recall, there's only been one year in the past 25 or so that the event organised by Priory Church has been rained off.

It's a real highlight in the calendar of our community, with almost a feeling of entering a time-warp at the Vicarage gates.

DSJ Parish Council was there today in numbers including councillors Ashley Baxter, Kim Parr, Judy Stevens, Stuart Wallis, and Gerd Windsor manning the Council's stand and display illustrating our work for the local community.

We invited parishioners to write comments on what's good and what's not so good about our village on 'post-it' notes.

Good response, from 'thanks for keeping the riverbank nicely mown' to 'why no litter bins on Broadgate Lane?'.

All will be considered and appropriate action taken.

As chairman, yours truly had the honour of announcing the winners of the trophies given by the parish council for the first time, which were then presented by the newly crowned Rose Queen.

Cath Henderson won the prize for plant in an unusual container and parish councillor John Broughton took the best exhibit produced on the council's allotments.

John clearly has green fingers, coming up with a fine display of fragrant sweet peas (in contrast to my own efforts which seem unlikely to produce flowers, fragrant or not, for another few weeks).

John also grows raspberries on his allotment - which he generously shared with councillors at our meeting on Thursday. They were totally delicious and vindication for those of us who worked to open new allotments just a few years ago.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Anyone seen my teddy bear...?

Back from a few glorious days camping in Norfolk in time to chair last night's Deeping St James Parish Council meeting - on my 32nd wedding anniversary.

Looking forward to meal out tonight with my wife Gill at the Packhorse in Northborough - we hear the chef has transferred from the White Hart at Ufford where our daughter Claire was married at Christmas. Wedding fare was first rate so hoping for good things...

Tomorrow morning, I'll be at a meeting of United Charities Finance Committee at 9.30 followed by helping to put up the parish council stand at the Rose and Sweet Pea Show at the Vicarage.

And Sunday, I'll be digging out my old teddy bear for the Picnic and walk in the afternoon at the DSJ nature reserve - organised by the parish council. Not sure if my five month old grandson Jack will appreciate it, but hope it's a good family event.

So, a busy weekend in St James. Hope the weather is kind to us...

Openness and transparency...er, no!

The Peterborough MP who took public money for repairs to his swimming pool and gardening at his second home is to pay back more parliamentary expenses - but this time he is refusing to say what he claimed the money for in the first place!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

What our South Lincs MPs claimed...

Links to full parliamentary expenses claims for South Lincs MPs for the past five years now at the Spalding Guardian website.

Haven't had a chance to have a look yet at the claims by John Hayes, Quentin Davies and Mark Simmonds, but I'm sure there's some interesting reading - and lots of tittle-tattle.

Would-be Chancellor and 'value-for-money': you couldn't make it up...

The resignation of a Treasury Minister after revelations about tax and parliamentary expenses surely piles more pressure on would-be Chancellor Georgie Osborne to do the decent thing.

He stands accused of avoiding paying £55,000 in capital gains tax.

This afternoon, Tory Leader David Cameron agreed to pay back almost £1,000 he has admitted wrongly claiming - that's on top of the hundreds of pounds he had to pay back a couple of weeks ago.

(UPDATE: Thanks to Matt for pointing out that the total the two re-payments Cameron is making add up to almost £1,000. sorry, my mishtake).

Wee Georgie is refusing to budge despite growing pressure. He claims, as the departed Minister did, that he has done nothing wrong.

But the overall prize for the most ironic of parliamentary claim of all surely goes to the aforementioned Mr Osborne...

It emerged this afternoon that the MP for Tatton actually claimed £40 from the public purse for two DVDs of himself talking about, er, 'value for taxpayers money'.

You couldn't make it up.

Monday, June 15, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: Wee Georgie Osborne's mortgage and expenses...

Wee Georgie Osborne is the latest MP to face questions over his claims for parliamentary expenses.

It seems Cameron's sidekick took out a mortgage for more than he actually paid for his house - and then billed the taxpayer!.

The would-be Chancellor is also having to explain why he paid no Capital Gains Tax on the £700,000 profit he made on the sale of his London property - a house which he had designated to the Fees Office as his second home but designated to the tax authorities as his main home.

He is arguing that the expenses he claimed on his London property were actually intended for his Cheshire home - and that the Fees Office had agreed to this arrangement

In fact, the record shows that wee Georgie billed the taxpayer for a mortgage on the Cheshire
home worth more than he had actually paid for the house in cash two years before!

And - in the two years between buying his house for cash and taking out a new mortgage - George Osborne billed the taxpayer for £36,067 which he now says went to pay for that property.

Under this arangement, the taxpayer will eventually end up paying George Osborne £4,995 more than he paid for the house and £36,067 in expenses before he even had a mortgage.

I'm sure it's all within the rules...!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Did MP ride his lawnmower to Parliament...?

Defiant Rutland MP Alan Duncan faced angry questions over why he claimed £4,000 from the public purse for gardening bills and repairs to his ride-on lawnmower. But he refused to apologise!

Friday, June 12, 2009

What 'Mr Ten Per Cent' would mean in Lincolnshire...

Local Tories endlessly try to kid us that the Labour Government doesn't give Lincolnshire enough money for services like police, schools, health and social services.

Of course, they never mention the year-on-year-on-year real cuts we suffered under the last Conservative Government.

And they won't tell you the truth that in contrast to the Thatcher-Major era, in every year of the Labour Government, Lincolnshire County Council has received an inflation busting rise in grant for local services. In the past two years alone, we have received a 15 per cent increase in grant from Whitehall. That's fifteen per cent.

In addition, Labour has given Lincolnshire £30 million to set up and run 36 SureStart childrens centres helping to give youngsters the best possible start in life - including one right here in the Deepings which my daughter Claire and baby Jack attended just this afternoon.

(When I alluded to this figure in the council chamber, a Tory 'grandee' attempted to correct me by saying: 'surely Councillor Dilks, you mean £30 million for the whole country, not just for Lincolnshire...' Er, no, check it out: £30 million just for Lincolnshire!

And while we'd all like more of course, the fact is that millions of pounds more have flowed into our county over the past decade to improve local services - which ironically, local Tories then take credit for.

Despite the Tory hype, Home Office funding for policing in Lincolnshire has gone up from under £50 million a year under the Tories to over £70 million this year.

So what would a change of Government mean for Lincolnshire...?

Thanks to David Cameron's health spokesman Andrew Lansley letting the cat out of the bag yesterday, we now know that if the Tories were ever in charge again, we'd return to eye-watering cuts in vital public services.

We already knew that Cameron's cuts already revealed would mean one in five SureStarts would have to close and Labour's plan to rebuild every Lincolnshire secondary school would have to be scrapped.

But the 10-per-cent across the board cuts that Mr Lansley has now disclosed would mean at least 180 fewer police in Lincolnshire.

That's just the start of it.

I'm not an economist, but it seems right to me that Labour are continuing to invest in public services through difficult times. It seems sensible that taking action now to invest in services - and jobs - and keep people in their homes, will help our country recover quicker and come out of the world downturn stronger. History surely tells us that Tory cuts now would make the recession deeper and last longer.

The fact that Mr Ten Per Cent Cameron's top priority for the economy is tax cuts for a few millionaires tells me all I need to know: Mr Cameron is a slick salesman, but behind the gloss and spin, they're not on the side of ordinary people like me.

But then, they never have been!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

DVLA clamping down our street...

A car parked outside my neighbour's house here on Church Street was clamped this morning by DVLA officials. The driver was a local student who had borrowed his sister's car to take a bunch of mates back to Manchester Uni, but he'd not realised the tax had run out at the end of March. It cost him a whopping £260 to get it released.

The clamping team appeared to be employed by National Car Parks, working on contract to the DVLA.

Expensive lesson...

busy evening...

Governors meeting at Deeping School at six tonight to hear the case for federation. i'll take a lot of convincing that it's good for our school. Can't stay long, as I'm supposed to be leading a walk at 6.30 organised by the parish council...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Progress on new Rugby Club

Our thriving local Rugby Club is still trying to establish a permanent home.

despite the fantastic youth work they do, the club has received almost no help either from South Kesteven district or Lincolnshire County Council in helping find a new home within our community.

Lock all doors..!

Unlocked patio doors made easy pickings for burglars in Deeping St James. Residents in Swallow Walk woke yesterday morning to find they no longer had a 42-in Sony TV, a Nikon camera or a Grey Honda Accord, registration DU09DJJ taken from their driveway.

Anyone with any information should call Stamford Police Station on 01780 752222, quoting incident 43 of June 8, or call Crime Stoppers on: (0800) 555111.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Our MP claims for overnights at the Carlton Club...

John Hayes, MP for the Deepings, claimed for overnight stays at the Carlton Club from the public purse,
according to the Daily Telegraph.

But he says the Telegraph has it wrong, not him. And he promises to publish all his expense claims in full in next week's Lincolnshire Free Press

No bills for moat-cleaning, duck-islands or phantom mortgages as claimed by some of his parliamentary colleagues, but there may be at least a few eyebrows raised in Moulton Chapel that the public has been picking up his tab for his stays at the Carlton Club!

Stamford man to represent DSJ...

Congrats to Conservative candidate Mike Exton, who has been elected as our new county councillor for Deeping St James.

I'm not sure whether I'm more disappointed to be replaced by a Conservative, or by someone who doesn't even live in our community.

Still, I wish him well and hope that he puts Deeping St James first, as I have tried to do for the past eight years.

A bit difficult as he lives in Stamford, is a district councillor for Market Deeping and now county councillor for Deeping St James...

But since I didn't stand, I can't complain at the result!

Wonder if I should send Mike a map of how to get to DSJ...?

Full result for the Deeping St James Division:

EXTON, Mike (Conservative) 846

HAMMERSLEY, Philip Edward (Liberal Democrat) 596

BOSSINGHAM, Michael Edward (Green Party) 464

UPDATE: Stamford Mercury has more results from our part of Lincolnshire.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Deepings Ducks and Rafts back in the race...

Good to hear that Deepings Raft Race is back this year. I hear Deepings Lions are bringing back the Duck Race too!

Things are clearly on the up in the Deepings!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tory Attack Dog says protester was pretending to be blind...

Astonishing attack on one of the most respected charities in the country from a Tory council who claims that a protester carrying a white stick and wearing shades was pretending to be blind...

Guide Dogs for the Blind are incensed by the attack.

The Deputy Leader of Kensington and Chelsea who claims the protest was a scam would surely not make such a bizarre claim without the evidence to back it up.

Or is he just barking...?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cameron's flip-flop on fixed-term parliaments...

David Cameron managed to call for an immediate general election - and fixed term parliaments - all in the same speech today!

But Paul Waugh of the London Standard quickly spotted what can only be described as a Cameron flip-flop.

As well as pointing out that David Cameron's deputy William Hague is less than convinced about fixed-term parliaments, he recalls a senior Tory speaking of the real drawbacks of fixed-term parliaments...

So who was warning against the idea when interviewed a few months ago by Andrew Marr?

Er, step forward David Cameron!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Now Quentin's in the frame over expenses...

Stamford MP Quentin Davies has become the second Lincolnshire MP facing questions over his parliamentary expenses after apparently claiming more than £10,000 for window repairs at his "second home", an 18th Century Manor House here in Lincolnshire.

It follows revelations about Douglas Hogg's claims for moat-cleaning at public expense at his "second home" - a 13th Century country pile also in Lincolnshire.

Earlier this week, on the day there were further revelations about claims by his wife, "Lady" Hogg, the Sleaford MP announced he will step down at the next General Election.

Both Mr Hogg and Mr Davies apparently claimed that their "first home" was a London flat...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Moat man and his 'Lady' keep it in the family...

The unfortunately named Douglas Hogg, the Lincolnshire MP apparently caught with his snout in the trough has announced he will step down at the next General Election.

So-called Grandee Mr Hogg is MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham where I grew up. When the scandal was first exposed, former Agriculture Minister Mr Hogg, or Viscount Hailsham to give him his proper title, claimed he'd done nothing wrong and refused to pay back a penny of his outrageous claim for £2,000 to clean the moat at his 13th Century country estate in Lincolnshire.

Today, several days later, the Right Honourable member Mr Hogg says he now entirely understands the public anger over disgraceful excesses in expense claims allegedly made by MPs of all parties - including Labour.

Mr Hogg claimed his main residence wasn't his country pile in Lincolnshire at all - but a flat in London. He then apparently claimed £20,000 a year in public funds to clean his moat, repair the stables, tune the piano and employ a lady to look after his second home in Lincolnshire.

Presumably the lady looking after the family home is not Lady Hogg, his wife, who is facing an under investigation investigation herself, it was revealed today.

The so-called Lady Hogg is said to have attempted to justified a claim for £5,594 overnight expenses by saying her main home was, unlike her husband's...OUTSIDE London!

What a stench.

Must the manure.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Upside down justice...?

A Deepings teenager who fractured a man's skull and left him permanently deaf in one ear in a vicious unprovoked attack has escaped going to prison.

It seems the Judge accepted that the 19-year-old lad from Thackers Way acted 'out of character' after a row with his girlfriend by attacking the 45-year-old man.

Apparently, he's an achiever who wants to go to University and has a great future ahead of him.

That's the teenager, you understand, not the victim.

UPDATE: So, no prison for causing long term suffering to a man. In contrast, in another court case, a Lincolnshire has - no doubt quite rightly - been given a jail sentence for causing suffering...to a dog.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

First female top gun is a yellow-belly...

Good to see that the first female jet pilot to join the Red Arrows in their 44-year history hails from our great land of Lincolnshire, home of the Royal Air Force.

Not sure exactly where in our county Flt. Lt. Kirsty Moore calls home, but I'm sure she's proud to be a Yellow Belly!

SKDC keeps up their wall of silence...

Just received South Kesteven District Council's reply to my Freedom of Information request about the costs of the sudden mysterious departure of their Chief Exec who quit and cleared his desk on the same day...

I asked if reports in the Grantham Journal were true that Duncan Kerr had walked (or cycled) away with a year's salary for doing nothing. At £2,000 a week, that adds up to well over £100,000 - from a council that says it can't afford to allow local pensioners to use their bus passes before 9.30am.

The legal language in SKDC's reply can be summed up in a sentence:

How we spend your money is nothing to do with you.
So much for Freedom of Information!

Why I'm not standing...

I've cocked-up bigtime. I had intended to defend my seat at Lincolnshire County Council in the local elections next month.

But due to a simple mix-up, I didn't make the deadline to get correctly completed nomination forms delivered to SKDC's offices in Grantham. The mix-up was entirely my fault, and I apologise to everyone who has supported me.

It's no consolation that I wasn't the only one to get it so wrong. At least one other would-be candidate - who shall remain nameless - from another party - was turned away a few minutes before the deadline because three of those who had signed his forms nominating him were not resident in the ward in which he wanted to stand.

No complaints of course. The deadline is a legal requirement and I missed it!

So my eight years serving as county councillor for Deeping St James end in three weeks time. It's been a real privilege to have been given the opportunity to represent my local community on Lincolnshire County Council and Lincolnshire Police Authority.

On June 4th, DSJ people have a choice between a local Green candidate, a local LibDem candidate and a Tory district councillor who lives in Stamford.

I trust local people will support the candidate most likely to stand up for the needs of DSJ people as I have tried to do for the past eight years.

I look forward to continuing to serve my community in other roles - tonight, for example as a trustee on United Charities, helping to distribute funds to those most in need.

Tomorrow night, it's the annual meeting of the parish council where I'll be presenting awards to people who make a difference to our community.

I won't stop campaigning on local issues - such as achieving a permanent home for Deepings Rugby Club, and supporting home grown, value-for-money recycling.

And of course, I won't stop the campaign I started almost ten years ago - fighting for bus pass justice for Deepings pensioners from South Kesteven District Council.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Conway lectures MPs on expenses...

Derek Conway, the Tory MP exposed for caught wrongly paying his sons public money has just had the bare-faced cheek to speak in the House of Commons...in the debate on MPs expenses...!!

Brass neck or what?

Meetings...

Busy evening of meetings last night: rushed home from London in time for Trustees meeting of United Charities, followed by Deeping School Governors which didn't finish until well past ten o'clock. Long day for me, but I suspect not as long as Head Teacher Chris Beckett's. Monthly parish council tonight...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Three sacked in council fraud probe...

Three council employees sacked and another three reported to the police in an anti-fraud investigation at Lincolnshire County Council.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

BBC picks up story on Chief Exec's departure

Our local Council seems to think how they spend our money has nothing to do with us taxpayers. Isn't that what the following statement means...?

"For reasons of confidentiality we can't discuss the specific details of Duncan Kerr's departure from SKDC."

That was SKDC's response to BBC Radio Lincolnshire who ran an interview with me on Drivetime this evening. The interview followed my official challenge to South Kesteven District Council to reveal the facts that will establish whether reports are true that they have handed their Chief Exec more than £100,000 to quit his job.

In days gone by, a council might have got away with hiding behind an anonymous statement which basically says 'mind your own business'. But now we have the Freedom of Information Act which will force some answers and hopefully prise out the real costs of Duncan Kerr's sudden departure last week.

I'm very disappointed there's still no word on this affair from any of those who were elected to the Grantham-based Council to stand up for residents of Deeping St James.

Holding the Executive accountable is a key role of any councillor and I would urge my colleagues on SKDC to end their wall of silence and come clean with the residents they are supposed to represent.

Certainly, I won't be taking 'mind your own business' for an answer.

After running the interview with me this evening, and SK's bland response, BBC Lincolnshire reported that both they and the Grantham Journal have also put in Freedom of Information requests about the affair.

Hopefully, between us, we'll get to the truth and the real costs.

Keep watching!

Has Chief Exec been handed £100k to go...?

With unconfirmed reports that the Chief Exec of SKDC has trousered more than £100,000 to clear his desk - and with a wall of silence from the Conservatives who run the council - I've today lodged Freedom of Information questions today to try to get to the truth of the affair.

I had hoped the Council would come clean by now and reveal the costs to the public purse. But it seems not even the report in the Grantham Journal that he has collected over £100k has flushed them out.

I'm not a member of SKDC - but as a county councillor I saw first hand the disgraceful behaviour that went on to get rid of the Chief Exec of Lincolnshire County Council following the jailing of Conservative Leader Jim Speechley.

That scandal cost local taxpayers £400,000 in the payoff alone.

This time, with no word either from those elected to stand up for the Deepings in Grantham, more than a week after the Chief Exec of SKDC went, the FOI route seems the only way...

Duncan Kerr apparently cleared his desk last Monday after a secret meeting of elected councillors.

I posted HERE and HERE.

Watch this space!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Could you rescue a St Bernard...?

If you loved 101 Dalmatians, you may like the tale of the 100 St Bernards, who Peterborough RSPCA are trying to find homes for.

It may seem ironic, but 100 of the famous giant mountain rescue dogs are themselves in need of help after being found starving at a local kennels.

Wonder if they're still bred for their brandy?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Determined to ask the awkward questions...

Surprised that I seem to be the only local councillor calling for more information about the cost of the mysterious sudden departure of the Chief Executive of South Kesteven District Council.

I was interviewed for the Oakham-based Oak FM last night and quoted in today's Stamford Mercury trying to get the Conservatives who run SKDC to come clean and reveal what deal has been agreed - and at what expense to the public purse.

Linda Neal, the Conservative Leader of SKDC is denying that Duncan's departure is sudden, claiming she's been speaking with him all year about him going!

But she hasn't explained why the man we paid £105,000 a year to run our district council cleared his desk on the day of a secret meeting of councillors earlier this week, and apparently biked into the sunset.

Given that I'd been hearing rumours that the Tories wanted rid of him, I find it hard to accept that he's walked - or biked - from his £105k a year job without negotiating a generous severance deal.

I'm surprised no other local councillor else seems to be speaking out in the local media - specially as the Tories in Lincolnshire have form on getting rid of chief execs (after Tory Leader of the county council Jim Speechley was jailed for abuse of office, they launched a witch-hunt to sack David Bowles. He agreed to go for a payoff of £400,000- and we're all still paying the price of Speechley...)

Given what I know about the Speechley scandal and the cover-up antics at County Hall which followed his imprisonment, I'm determined to get the the bottom of the cost of Duncan Kerr's departure.

Someone has to speak up on behalf of local taxpayers and get answers about how much Duncan's departure is costing us all...and I full intend to keep asking the awkward questions.

Watch this space.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

What cost the Chief Exec's sudden departure?

Serious questions need to be asked following the sudden departure of Duncan Kerr from his £105,000 a year job as Chief Exec of our district council.

He was no friend of the Deepings. But in the interests of taxpayers, someone surely needs to ask how much it's costing us to see him 'get on his bike'.

A couple of weeks ago, I was tipped off by a usually reliable source that the Tories who run the Grantham-based South Kesteven District Council were planning to 'get rid' of their chief officer Duncan Kerr by staging a 'vote of no confidence'.

Sure enough, earlier this week, an 'extraordinary' secret meeting of the Council was held, followed by an official press release saying Duncan Kerr he was leaving that very day.

Not even a day's notice?

In fact, it seems he'd already cleared his desk and was no more.

A press release was issued after the meeting saying that Duncan Kerr would be leaving that very day. The only comment was from the dearly departed himself saying what a swell time he's had as boss of SKDC.

What wasn't in the press release spoke volumes. No comment from anyone other than the dearly departed himself, who claims he's decided to 'take his life in another direction'. Answers on a postcard, if anyone knows what that means.
A second press release appeared on SKDC's website at the same time to announce the appointment of an interim chief executive.

In contrast to the first release, Council Leader Linda Neal says the Council's strategic director has 'the council's full confidence and support' and she's 'delighted' that she's accepted the role of interim boss.

In other words, Duncan Kerr doesn't enjoy the council's confidence or support!

I don't know what's led to Mr Kerr's departure. Certainly, eyebrows were raised last year when he was given three months (unpaid) off for a biking holiday when it seems that the council realised they could manage without Mr Kerr.

This time, it seems, he's been told to get on bike and don't bother coming back!

Lincolnshire Tories of course have form in 'getting rid' of Chief Execs.

At the county council, the Chief Exec David Bowles called in the police leading their Leader Jim Speechley going to prison for abuse of office.

The Tories vowed to 'get rid' of David Bowles for his 'treachery'.

The price to the public purse was a massive £400,000 pay-off to Mr Bowles which the Tories tried to keep secret.

After that disgraceful episode, the county council was forced to pay a massive premium to attract top officers to work in Lincolnshire.

Much has changed since then. But every taxpayer in Lincolnshire is still paying the price of Speechley.

So isn't it reasonable to now ask what's the price of Mr Kerr's departure?

It seems that, like Mr Bowles, the Tories wanted Mr Kerr to go.

Are we expected to believe that he just decided to simply walk (or cycle!) away from his £105,000 a year salary without giving any notice?

Or has he done a deal?

If so, what's it costing us?

We deserve to be told.