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!