News from British and Canadian Conservatives

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Monday, December 18, 2006

Government rejects Stack Solution

The Government has once again blocked plans to alleviate local transport problems caused by Operation Stack. The £13 million plan fo a moveable barrier has been blocked by the Highways Agency, which wishes to continue talking to Kent County Council instead.

KCC Cabinet member for transport Cllr Keith Ferrin (Conservative) has written to the Transport Minister Dr Stephen Ladyman MP (Thanet South, Labour) urging that a solution to the continued debacle caused by the scheme should be a top priority.

Cllr Ferrin said: "In addition to the many lorries caught up in it, Operation Stack continues to cause immense suffering to Kent residents, business people and visitors alike. The Government must find an alternative now."

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Threat to Folkestone's health services

The Eask Kent Hospitals NHS Trust has revealed what many of us already feared - Folkestone's Royal Victoria Hospital could close. The move is designed to save £1.2 million a year, in a bid to reduce the massive local deficit in NHS budgets. Under the plans, the bulk of Folkestone's hospital would be sold off as offices.

Some of the buildings previously used by the trust have already been closed in preparation for their sale, and senior medical staff are struggling to find rooms to see patients. The closure of the Royal Victoria would be a serious blow to Folkestone. Recently, I was out in the Town Centre along with other Conservative councillors and campaigners including our Prospective Parliamentary Spokesman Damian Collins. We were collecting signatures against the appalling mismanagement and cuts to services in the NHS. You can sign the petition online by clicking here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

We're Engaged!


Corissa and I are now engaged, and plan to marry in October of next year. I proposed to her at Canterbury Cathedral on 25th November. We are already making wedding plans, which are inevitably complicated by the fact that our families live on opposite sides of the Atlantic, Corissa being a Canadian from Calgary. I'm sure that we will work things out in the end, and we plan to hold celebrations in both countries so that we can include as many of our friends and relatives as possible.

PS Sorry for the recent lack of posts - the period coincides with the immediate flurry of activity after Corissa said yes!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

November Party Political Broadcast


The Conservative Party's November Party Political Broadcast is now available to view online. It focuses on the NHS in particular, and public services in general. You can view the broadcast on www.conservatives.tv

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Budget Meeting

Tonight's first round of budget negotiations saw a majority eventually agree to a proposed 4.7% increase in our council tax contributions. The main sticking point of the evening was the proposal that we employ a "Clean Environment Warden". Like many others, I remain unconvinced of the likely impact that this one person could have on the town, but others seem to think that some kind of superhuman being will come forward to clean up Folkestone. No doubt he will fly in to the trouble spots on his broomstick! The problem is that the legislation allowing Towns and Parishes to take on such people is brand new, so we would be in the first wave of authorities experimenting with the untried scheme. I'm concerned that we could take someone on (at 5% of our budget) and see nothing for the money, and then find it almost impossible to lay him or her off again. I would rather wait a year, so that we can see how other authorities do it and learn from their mistakes and successes.

The Lib Dems showed themselves up as the same opportunistic bunch that we have come to know and love (perhaps not!). They proposed that the increase in spending be approved, but that taxes should not be increased to pay for it. Apparently, they know better than the auditor, who urged that we should increase our uncommitted reserves for improved financial governance. Quite how they would pay for the aftermath of any future landslip is questionable - perhaps the Clean Environment Warden will be sent in with his broom and clipboard!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Remembrance Sunday

The Remembrance Service at the war memorial at the top of Folkestone's Road of Remembrance was well attended as usual this year. Most town councillors joined the procession, along with Michael and Sandra Howard, Damien and Sarah Collins and a selection of District and County Councillors as well. The public were out on mass once again too, keeping the annual service remembering those who gave so much to save this country from an unspeakable outcome. It seemed that there were more wreaths laid than ever.

The site of the memorial, at the top of the slope road that so many British, Commonwealth and Allied troops marched down, and decidedly fewer marched back up all those years ago. It is difficult to imagine what life must have been like then, but our lives would not have been the same without the unthinking sacrifice in the name of our country by those dedicated men and women.

Unfortunately, there were no representatives from Etaples with us this year, as Remembrance Day on 11th November is an important event there as well. Next year, the two dates will actually clash, so I hope that the link between the two towns can survive. I'm sure that Folkestone representatives will still make the return trip to Etaples next summer.

After the service and inspection of troops, we held the annual Folkestone Etaples dinner even though there were no Etaples representatives. It was another good lunch and afternoon, despite the many absent friends.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

New Tontine facility welcomed

A new performing arts and business centre, proposed by the Creative Foundation for the Robson Dunk site in Tontine Street has today been given the thumbs up by Folkestone Town Council. Despite some concern about the appearance of the new building, approval was given as most councillors considered that the benefits of the facility outweighed those concerns.

Councillors were less pleased with the proposals for the Benham building. I was disapppointed that the final proposals fell well short of the suggestions which had previously been displayed by the foundation at last year's Christmas party. The new cladding would have done nothing to reduce the ugliness of the building, but would have made it much more visually intrusive. The fact that it is in the middle of the road mean that it needs to either be a visually attractive focal point which complements the regency buildings in the conservation area to the south, or blend in somehow so that it is not the centre of attention. Unfortunately, these proposals fell well short of the mark, and reminded me of the great planning failure that is the block of flats in Clifton Crescent, on the Leas.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

US votes in mid term election

Today, Americans are heading to the polls to elect a third of their Senate and all members of the House of Representatives. There will also be various local and state-wide elections, including Gubernatorial races in states including Florida and California, where Arnie looks set to buck the swing to the Democrats.

Despite Bush's poor ratings, the elections are considered too close to call. The reasons given for that are the twofold. Firstly, the electorate is able to separate Bush's record from that of other Republicans, who may be held in high personal regard. In this respect, it's notable that Republicans in Congress have not always backed their president. On some issues, such as international trade, the Republicans are more liberal than the Democrats, supporting freer trade. The second reason is that the GOP is renowned for its excellent GOTV (get out the vote) programme known as its 72 hour team. The Republicans have harnessed the internet through blogging and other means in a much more effective manner than their rivals. Over here, it is the right that dominates the blogosphere as well, but the internet does not yet play the same role that it does in the states. That could all change over the next few years, and we could see the edge in the GOTV battle shifting from Lib Dem to Tory at last!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Christmas light swich on - 24/11/06

The Chrismas Lights in Cheriton will be switched on from 4pm on Friday 24th November, with the lights in the town centre lights turned on later that night. The programme of events is being organised in association with John Barber, Folkestone's hard working town centre manager.

Cheriton Traders will also be running a late night shopping event in 14th December. There will be entertainment for children and parents alike, along with a good dose of festive cheer.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Garden of Remembrance Dedication

Today was the Annual Dedication of the Garden of Remembrance. The weather was much better than at last year's windy affair or at this year's Battle of Britain Memorial service, which brought out a bigger crowd as well.

Next weekend will see the big remembrance services. On Saturday, there will be the Machine Gun Corp service at 11am, at the memorial in the Cheriton Road cemetary. Unfortunately, I won't be able to be there, as that clashes with my School Governor Training day in Dover. On the Sunday, the main remembrance service will be held at the war memorial at the top of the Road of Remembrance. The day will include the annual visit from Etaples' veterans, dignatories and others.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Kent Association of Parish Councils AGM

Today Rodica Wheeler and I attended the KAPC AGM. It was an all day event in Ditton, near Maidstone. The day provided a lot of useful information about the new Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act, which grants additional powers to Town and Parish councils to deal with litter, graffiti, dogs' mess and such like. Folkestone Town Council is one of the very few in Kent which is already actively considering adopting these powers in an effort to make our town a cleaner and more pleasant place to live, work and visit.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Christmas Coming in Cheriton & Morehall

The Christmas lights have started to go up in Cheriton Road and Cheriton High Street, as well as in the centre of Folkestone. I tis the first time in many years that Cheriton has seen Christmas decorations, which are being installed by the Town Centre Management and are funded by Folkestone Town Council, which has also provided grants towards Christment events in Cheriton and across the town.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Lib Dem MP admits party is "dishonest"

Lib Dem MP, Sandra Gidley has admitted that the Lib Dem manifesto for the last election was "dishonest". She has highlighted the difference between the rhetoric and the costed plans when it comes to personal care for the elderly and the disabled. The pledge was for "free care", but the details, which were not published, reveal that people would have to pay to get it!

With that kind of doublespeak, it's no wonder that even their own supporters don't believe them on tax. Shepway residents still haven't forgotten the 39% council tax increase, accompanied by massive service cuts, which our local Lib Dems introduced after winning the local council in 2003. This will serve as a timely reminder, coming only 6 months before we next go to the polls to elect councillors in Shepway, and a warning to people up and down the country who may be considering voting Lib Dem in their council elections.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Parking Strategy

Tonight I attended Shepway District Council's Parking Strategy Meeting. The council is currently developing a parking strategy, which it intends to adopt by the end of next month ready for full public consultation. The scope covers a wide range of options, including removing unnecessary yellow lines, seeking more parking spaces, parking charges, enforcement, parking restrictions and resident parking permits.

Most of Morehall is within the area that the strategy will affect, and I have asked that the area be extended to include Shearway, which was not originally. I also asked that Lucy Avenue should be included, so that parking around the new Folkestone Academy could be considered for the benefit of residents in Broadmead Village.

The meeting was for all District Councillors in Folkestone and Sandgate, along with representatives from businesses, Folkestone Town Council and Sandgate Parish Council. Sadly, neither of Morehall's District Councillors were there, but that's to be expected.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Shearway's still a mess

This evening I counted eight lorries parking without authorisation at Shearway. The signs requesting that they do not park there have been removed, presumably by lorry drivers, as well. In addition to that, most of the street lights in Shearway Road are out. I will ask SEEDA, the owners of the site, to take action. It is likely that Kent Highways will require that these problems be fixed before they will adopt the roads, and until the roads are adopted nothing can be done to prevent the lorries parking there.

Lighting in Cherry Garden Lane

I have reported the faulty street light and the missing lights on the Give Way signs and weight limit signs in Cherry Garden Lane today.

More graffiti busting

Today I have reported the new graffiti that appeared in Beachborough Road over the weekend. It's on the railway bridge that was only cleaned a few weeks ago. Some more has also appeared on the other railway bridge in Risborough Lane, so I will try to get that cleaned up too.

Monday, October 23, 2006

More controversy over postal voting scams

The Metropolitan Police have launched 30 investigations into alleged postal vote rigging in May's London elections. Most of the incidents relate to ethnic minorities with English as a second language who are unable to understand the complicated forms. Tower Hamlets seems to be the source of many of the allegations.

Howard called as witness in cash for peerages

In a statement tonight, Mr Howard said: "In response to a request from the police, I agreed to be interviewed by them in connection with their inquiries into nominations for peerages.

"The police emphasised that they wanted to interview me as a witness and that I was not under suspicion of having committed any criminal offence.

"The interview was not conducted under caution. It took place this morning at my home in London."

The move has heightened speculation that Tony Blair will also be interviewed. So far there have been three arrests made in relation to Labour's alleged sale of peerages for party funds, with aides close to the Prime Minister amongst those questioned under caution.

Invicta earn home draw in Trophy

Folkestone Invicta have been drawn at home for the 2nd Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy on Saturday 4th Novvember. We will have to wait a little longer before we find out who our opponents will be though. Billericay and Aylesbury drew 2-2 on Saturday, and were due to meet again for the replay this evening. However, the game was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch and will now be played on Monday 30th October.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Staines 0 - Invicta 1

Folkestone Invicta continued their run of good results tonight, defeating Staines in the FA Trophy 1st Qualifying Round.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Shepway Youth Forum success

This evening's Shepway Youth Forum Question Time was a resounding success. Congratulations go to the Co Chairs for their success. I know that Jack Devine has been working hard to get things moving, and today that work paid off.

There must have been more than 60 11-19 year olds in the audience asking some very good questions of local politicians. Unfortunately, the Labour Minister who was due to give a keynote speech at the event was required to vote in Parliament. Labour were instead represented by Cllr Adrian Cirket of St Mary's Parish Council. Our own Damian Collins was also detained by an accident on the M20. Until he arrived I fielded questions on behalf of the Conservative - a daunting task with no preparation!

The Young Conservatives had a good night. We almost ran out of literature, with 39 expressions of interest and some firm applications to join on the night.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Coolinge House to be developed

Tonight, Shepway's Development Control Committee rejected my case against the development of 11 houses in the grounds of Coolinge House. Officers eventually had to concede my point that two of the houses had no parking, which they had previously denied repeatedly. Councillors picked up on that, but ultimately decided to allow the plans to go ahead. The result was 11 for (including Morehall Councillor, ex-Lib Dem Tony Baker) and 2 abstentions.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Prison Woes for Dover

It is looking increasingly likely that Dover will be lumbered with an open prison at the former army barracks. The Labour Government is desparately searching for any accommodation that it can find in a bid to deal with the looming prisons capacity crisis. Worse yet for Dover, it looks likely that the Government will also decide to use Open Prisons for Category C prisoners. Previously only Category D prisoners were considered to be of little enough threat to society that they could be reintegrated in this way.

The moved demonstrates the contempt which Labour feels for Kent, which already has 2 open prisons, a shortage of land for housing and suffers from some of the country's most deprived areas. This isn't exactly going to help.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

70 years of Bliss

Robert Bliss, leader of Shepway District Council and Conservative representative for Folkestone West on Kent County Council, turned 70 today. He celebrated with a gathering in Hythe to mark "70 years of Bliss". A popular figure across the political spectrum, Robert took the opportunity to flag up the way in which Shepway District Council has been turned around since the dark days of 2004, when the Lib Dems were raising our taxed 39%, closing our toilets and not cutting the grass.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Folkestone Invicta 4 - Walton & Hersham 3

Folkestone Invicta recorded their 3rd successive league victory, beating Surrey's Walton & Hersham 4-3 this afternoon. Invicta's steady climb up the table continues apace...

Friday, October 06, 2006

IYDU Committee comes to England

The International Young Deomcrat Union Committee will this year be held in London between 29th November - 3rd December, 2006. The international centre right youth organisation, with representatives from 80 organisations based in 50 countries, held its spring event at Ronald Reagan's ranch, so we can expect a highly prestigious event.

Speakers at the conference will include David Cameron with venues including the houses of Parliament, with no charge for attendance by members of the Young Conservatives. A group of us from Folkestone & Hythe will be going, so why not join us? Please feel free to contact me using my details in the sidebar if you'd like to travel up with us or arrange to meet up in London.

Kent Young Conservative Chairman post advertised

Applications are invited for the post of Chairman of Kent Young Conservatives, as part of the national Conservative Future heirarchy. The successful applicant, who will be co-opted by the national executive on 9th October, will be responsible for acting as a link between local constituency branches and the national body. He or she will also be involved in delivering Mark Clarke's pledge to create branches in the key targets seats, so many of which are in Kent.

Nick, the current chairman, has always been great to work with, and I hope that he will stand again. He is also running for Swale Borough Council though, so may not feel that he has the time. I look forward to working with the new area chairman whoever it may be!

Sandra on Question Time

Today Sandra Howard has made her long awaited debut on Question Time. It is something that she has long avoided as she is not confident in the media spotlight, much like most normal people. She performed well in tacking a task that would have made her most uncomfortable.

Her new book, Glass Houses, is performing very will with critics and the general public strongly endorsing her first foray into the world of literature. I look forward to reading it and hope that she will be part of this year's Folkestone Literary Festival.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Conference Roundup

It's hard to do this year's conference justice in one short article, but I will give it my best shot.

This year's trip to Bournemouth was notable for its much younger demographic than in previous years. I didn't feel out of place with dark hair, and most of us had our own teeth. Students have been a well represented group in recent years, but I'd say that there may have been a few more around this time. The biggest increase in attendence came with those in my age group though - late twenties, thirties and forties. A generation previously missing from the Conservative Party, but now very much at home with David Cameron's brand of Toryism. As a body of people, conference looked like the next generation preparing to take the reigns of our country, rather than the last generation looking back at the last time we ran the country.

Businesses and organisations had already detected this switch, with many more stands at the conference, and more events sponsored by the big names of business, including the likes of Tesco, Anderson and Next.

Many comentators have pointed to the limited number of policies. It is true that there's a long way to go on that front. We are however clear that we oppose ID cards and would use the money saved to strengthen border controls. We want to focus on social responsibility, which has been ignored by the Liberal-Left alliance running our country at present. To that end we will abolish the Human Rights Act to replace it with a new Bill of Rights. We will focus on the NHS, which is now better funded than almost any other, including the excellent German service, yet continues to under perform. We want lower taxes, but can't commit to them as the budget defecit is so high and national debt is spiraling out of control. We won't deal with overcrowded prisons by freeing criminals on the Early Release scheme; we'll build more prisons. We believe that Equality doesn't mean treating diverse people the same; it means giving everyone opportunities.

There will be more detailed plans built upon this basis of social responsibility and economic competitiveness as the policy groups come forward with more plans. These reported on their work at Conference and opened up the debate to the party membership and anyone else willing to help to build a better Britain. I will be making my submissions over the coming days, and hope that I will be able to influence policy as I have in the past. The Conservative Party's listening, so now's the time to speak your mind.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Welling 3 -1 Invicta (FA Cup)

Folkestone Invicta were knocked out of the FA Cup by Welling after last night second qualifying round replay at Park View Road. It's the 3rd time in 6 seasons that we've been knocked out by the Wings now - surely one day our chance for revenge has to come!

Dickie Murrill's full match report is online at www.folkestoneinvicta.co.uk.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Speeches from Day One

Yesterday saw some stunning speeches by the prime movers of the Conservative Leadership. David Davis speech was stirring, and it is easy to see how the leadership election could have gone very differently had he delivered such a speech in Blackpool last year. William Hague was up to his usual fantstic standard, bringing the conference hall to its feet and providing a high point for David Cameron to enter the hall.

Senator John McCain was also impressive. He was not a politician with whom I was previously aware of, given that I pay much more attention to local politics than the international scene since becoming a councillor. He would certainly make a fine President and leader of the Free World, as David Cameron said. Certainly a marked improvement on Bush and Clinton!

Finally, Tory leader David Cameron made his opening speech, which built up as it progressed. I'm certainly looking forward to the crescendo on Wednesday after that!

Blogging from Bournemouth

David Cameron has launched his web cameron online at www.webcameron.org.uk

This morning I will be attending the Conservative Councillors' Association policy briefing session, then straight on to the main hall to see David Davis speak about crime. This afternoon I will be joining Conservative Future at a local deconsecrated church, which we will be turning into a community centre serving a deprived area of Bournemouth.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Shepway to take over street cleaning

Shepway District Council has announced that it will be taking street cleaning and grounds maintenance back in house at the end of the 2 year contract with Kent County Council next year. The services were originally contracted out back in 2004 in order to cut costs following the disastrous year of Lib Dem rule. Shepway had been capped, the grass was not being cut and the toilets were all shut.

Shepway Council Leader, Robert Bliss, thanked KCC for its assistance. “The arrangement came at a time when Shepway’s budget was under a lot of pressure, public toilets were being closed and the grass o­n highway verges was being left to grow. It was a disaster.

"It is true that we faced problems in the early days following the transfer to Kent but I am fully confident that Shepway Council will be bringing an improving service back in house.”

Cllr Bliss said Shepway Council was now in a more stable position and was seeking to bring street cleaning and grounds maintenance back under the council’s wing in autumn 2007.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Forthcoming Civic Events







Sunday

15 October 10.15am

Trafalgar Day

Saturday

4 November 9.00am

Garden of Remembrance Layout

(Town Mayor only)

Sunday

5 November 3.00pm

Garden of Remembrance

Saturday

11 November 11.00am

Machine Gun Corp

Sunday

12 November 10.15am

Remembrance Sunday

Thursday

7 December 10.20am

Schoolchildren Xmas Concert

Thursday

January 2007 7.00pm

Town Mayor Xmas Fund Meeting

(Town Mayor only)

Friday

26 January 2007 tbc

Holocaust Day

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Mayoral Quiz

The Mayor's Quiz will be held in Cheriton this year. It starts at 7pm on Friday 6th August at the Shorncliffe Community Centre, Mackenzie Drive, Cheriton, Folkestone. Tickets are £5 each or £25 for a table of 6. Bring your own food and drink. Proceeds will go to the Mayor's Charities which are the local Cadet units of the Armed Forces and the Folkestone Youth Project.

For tickets or more information, please call Carol Saunders, Folkestone Town Council Civic Events Officer, on 01303 257946

Other forthcoming charity events:
6th October 2006 Charity Quiz Night 7.00pm Shorncliffe Community Centre, Mackenzie Drive, Cheriton, Folkestone

4th November HMS Pickle Dinner at the East Cliff Pavilion

16th December Murder Mystery Dinner, The Grand, The Leas

Master Plan for Folkestone

Kent County Council is currently working on a new master plan and transport plan for Folkestone, as part of its efforts to regenerate coastal towns in East Kent. I have asked that they come along to speak with us at an early stage in the process so that we can have some meaningful input and ensure that the Town Plan which we are starting to produce and the County's plans complement one another, rather than conflicting.

Invicta on a roll

Folkestone Invicta continued their recent run of good form this evening, beating East Thurrock Utd 3-0 away from home. After a poor start to the season, recent changes to the side are now paying off, with three successive wins, and two successive clean sheets. The improved form augurs well for this Saturday's home FA Cup tie against Welling Utd.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Brown Makes Leadership Pitch

Gerald Kaufman MP described Gordon Browns conference
speech as the longest job application in history
today. Apparently he got a generally warm reception,
although reporters claim that Cherie walked out
calling him a liar. So the pantomime continues!


Dan
danhassett@yahoo.com
Folkestone, England



___________________________________________________________
The all-new Yahoo! Mail goes wherever you go - free your email address from your Internet provider. http://uk.docs.yahoo.com/nowyoucan.html

Lib Dem sentenced to 2 years

Michael Brown, the Liberal Democrats' biggest backer, has been sentenced to 2 years in prison after being called "dishonest" by the judge. He had given £2.4 million to fund the Lib Dems' election campaign last year under controversial circumstances. As a Spainish resident, he was not allowed to fund political campaigning in the UK. Instead, he formed a business (5th Avenue) with a PO Box address in London and donated to the party through that vehicle. The move is under separate investigation for breaching electoral law, which requires that donations only be accepted from businesses that actively trade in the UK, which 5th Avenue never did.

In a further twist, several businessmen who claim that the money given to the Lib Dems was actually taken from them by Brown fraudulently have threatened to sue the Lib Dems for the return of the money.

Two years for giving money to the Lib Dems seems is a bargain. Residents electing a Lib Dem Council are typically sentenced to 4 years of failure and incompetence.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Slough 0 - Invicta 2

Folkestone Invicta have secured their first league win of the season, beating Slough 2 - 0 away. The goals came from Flannagan and Watson, who also scored Invicta's winning penalty in last weekend's FA Cup tie against Whytleafe. The victory takes Folkestone off the bottom of the Ryman Premier and up to 18th place, above Walton & Hersham, who now prop up the table, Worthing, Hendon and Slough.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Fire Hits Parish Church

Folkestone's Parish Church of St Mary and St Eanswythe has been damaged by a fire over night. The church is the oldest building in Folkestone, mostly dating from 1217 with some alterations to the Nave in the late 19th century following storm damage. Parts of the church are much older. It was the site of the first convent in England, founded by St Eanswythe, granddaughter of King Ethelbert, Bretwalda of England, and daughter of King Eadbald of Kent, in the 7th century.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Lions Supported by Folkestone Town Council

Folkestone Town Council has agreed to provide Folkestone Lions with £1000 to help with the costs of organising the annual Boxing Day Dip, which raises funds for local good causes and brings the TV cameras to the town. The annual event is usually funded by the local Lions Club. However, this year's Donkey Derby, which is the Lions' main fundraising event, was rained off for the first time ever, leaving the organisation with the bills still to pay.

The Lions have been major fundraisers in the town for years, and have provided immense financial support to local good causes. It seems fitting that the town has been able to repay that debt of gratitude by providing the Lions with this grant. I hope that it will help to ensure that the Donkey Derby and Boxing Day Dip continue to thrive as local events.

Farmers, Fishermans and Arts Market Coming to the Harbour

Folkestone Town Council's Finance & General Purposes Committee has this evening agreed to make a loan of £10,000 to a new Community Interest Company which has been set up to set up a Sunday market for farmers, fishermen and artists. The loan is conditional upon the remaining funding being in place, confirmation that no planning permission is required being produced and pending the results of consultation with potential competing traders throughout the town.

Going Green in Morehall

Folkestone Town Council's Finance & General Purposes Committee this evening agreed to release funding for 6 trees to replace missing and dead ones in Cheriton Road and Morehall Avenue. Cllr Richard Wallace, my fellow Morehall Councillor, used £400 from his ward grant to fund the move. Unfortunately, Kent County Council is not taking Folkestone's trees terribly seriously at present, and the number of dead ones around the town is growing almost by the day.

Litter Louts Face Crackdown

Dealing with litter on our streets has been declared the number 1 priority by local Conservatives. You'd think that would be something that all parties could agree on. Alas, Shepway Lib Dem leader Cllr "Bandwagon" Beaumont has criticised local Conservative leader Cllr Robert Bliss for prosecuting those who drop litter in the district.

Cllr Bliss lamented, "We clear a street and before we get to the end more litter has been dropped at the beginning."

I can relate to that problem, having cleared the cliff path down from the Road of Remebrance last year. By the time we got to the bottom of the cliff, several items had been dropped at the top, not 10 yards from a litter bin. I'm quite certain that the vast majority of residents will welcome the crack down

Congratulations Cheriton!

Congratulations to the ladies of Cheriton Bowls Club, who have won the Shepway Ladies' league for the first time this year. Not only that - they went though the season unbeaten and scored a record 64 points!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Government can't afford own taxes

Caledonian MacBrayne, the state-owned ferry operator of services between the Scottish mainland and its many islands, is to be moved to Guernsey. The move is bizarre, given that the Government effectively pays the tax to itself, so this is merely a case of moving the money from one pot to another.

The managers' reasoning behind the move lies in the need to become competitive when tendering to operate the services, with contracts up for renewal imminently. It seems beyond the Lib-Lab coalition running Scotland that if the taxes make them uncompetitive on the open market, the same must be true for all businesses based in Britain. Clearly, there is an urgent need to address this real issue, before we find ourselves unable to compete in the world and our businesses either move overseas themselves, or go bankrupt.

Lib Dem education policy - survival of the weakest

The Lib Dem Education & Skills spokesman, Sarah Teather MP, has today proposed that schools should be bribed to take failing pupils. Such a policy is shear insanity, and nothing less than I would expect from the Lib Dems. It amounts to punishing those who are most successful. In Kent, the most able are rightly given the opportunity to attend Grammar Schools, where they can be stretched to their full abilities. If the Lib Dems' proposals were to come into force (which fortunately they won't, of course) our brightest would be held back as the teachers' time is concentrated on those who are not able to keep up with the pace of learning.

Moreover, often (although by no means always) those who are least able are so because they are disruptive and elect not to learn. We would be able to look forward to our entire education system grinding to a halt if this potty plan was enforced.

A better solution would be to remove those who are most disruptive from mainstream classes, allowing the teachers to teach those who are willing to learn, rather than ignoring them while trying to babysit those who are not. The disruptive pupils would also benefit from the greater attention and strict sense of discipline which their teachers would be free to instil into them. That wouldn't suit the Lib Dems, for whom failure is a tradition.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

PM overthrown in coup

It's not only our PM who needs to watch his back at the moment. The Thai government has been overthrown by the military in association with the police. They blame his autocratic style and widespread reported corruption. They could almost be talking about Britain.

Here, it would not be the military or the police who would launch a coup of course - they're too busy fighting Blair's war in Iraq and issuing ASBOs - but Gordon Brown has already been flexing his muscles for the fight. Thailand hasn't had a coup in 15 years. Britain's lasted 17 since Margaret Thatcher was toppled in 1990. The Lib Dems have done their best to fill this void in recent months, but somehow it's just not the same when the toppled leader has no power.

Bandwagon Beaumont's at it again

Today, Shepway Lib Dem leader Cllr "Bandwagon" Beaumont is spinning to her usual standard. Apparently Conservative Council Leader Robert Bliss is personally responsible for creating all of Shepway's rubbish. Apparently no one drops the litter in the first place - which begs the question, where does she think it comes from? Sensible councils up and down the country are cracking down on people caught littering, an act which Cllr Beaumont reckons "insults" local people. Surely it's those who drop the litter who insult us all.

The please of spin doctoring is capped off with an old picture of litter in a town centre car park. I checked it out myself today and was hard pushed to find one plastic bottle, which I'm pretty sure Robert Bliss didn't drop. In fact, the town centre looked remarkably clean and tidy, and was testament to how far Shepway has come since the Lib Dems abandoned the district barely 2 years ago.

Ming's gaping hole in the tax layer

Today, Lib Dems approved Ming Campbell's plans to move away from a 50p top rate, which has been the staple Lib Dem policy for years, and replace it with environmental taxes. These would see an average family car like a 1.6l Ford Mondeo taxed at a rate of £850 per year.

Despite this outrageous increase, the plans still don't add up. Lib Dems claim that the aim of the high taxes will be to reduce pollution - but if that admirable aim is actually achieved, they won't get anything like the £7.2bn that their budget requires. So, either they know that the plans won't do anything to improve the environment, but are using the Green issues as a cover for their stealth tax, or they are planning to raise taxes from other areas, yet to be announced.

Either way, it's the usual story of Britain's third party being Liberal with the truth and safe in the knowledge that our Democratic system of government will never give them the opportunity to bring their plans to fruition any way.

Monday, September 18, 2006

No Coronation for Ming the Merciless

Following dire opinion polls showing that 51% of Lib Dems believe they made a mistake in choosing their leader, Ming Campbell is doing his best to appear in touch with the real world. The Times reports that he's had a wardrobe makeover, and today he declared himself a huge Corrie fan on BBC Radio 5 Live. Unfortunately, he was unable to name any current character of the Soap, referring instead to his love of Bet Lynch, who left the Street 12 years ago. I understand that senility causes the short term memory to go, while the long term memory remains in tact.

Now things have gone from bad to worse as the Sun reports:

BUMBLING Sir Menzies Campbell's favourite Corrie character last night declared she had never heard of him.

When told that the former Olympian had taken over from Charles Kennedy she asked: "Sir Ming who? What nationality is he? He sounds Chinese."

A Street source said:"The Lib Dems have never been a big political force in Weatherfield - which makes it a fair reflection of the real world as Sir Ming mentioned in his interview."

Ouch!


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Guide to Political Blogging Released

Iain Dale has officially launched his guide to political blogging today. Copies can be downloaded here, and will be distributed at party conferences over the coming weeks. The book contains articles by Adam Boulton, Francis Maude, Ben Brogan, Kevin Maguire, Guido Fawkes, Lynne Featherstone and Tim Montgomerie and contains top 100 lists of political blogs. My thanks go to Iain who, rather amazingly, listed my blog at number 88 in the top 100 Conservative Blogs!

Shearway's Lorry Drivers creating a stink

Once again, Shearway Business Park is experiencing problems with lorry drivers dumping their rubbish all over the site. It's not just food wrappers and such like - it's carrier bags and jars full of human excrement and urine. I have taken up the matter once again. SEEDA, the government agency which owns the land, have previously been of no assistance, but I have tried them once again. I have also reported the matter to Shepway's Environmental Health team and been in touch with Cllr Keith Ferrin, Kent County Council Cabinet member for the Environment and Transport, about dealing with the root of the problem by providing more official lorry parking. Previously, Kent Highways were highly dismissive of Town Councillors' concerns, so I hope that my complaints will be taken more seriously this time around. I understand that KCC is lobbying the government to authorise more parking facilities, but the time has really come where they all have to stop arguing about it and actually do something.

More Grafitti clean ups

I have requested that the grafitti buster team makes another visit to Morehall to focus on a few more areas in need of cleaning up. The include a number of telecoms boxes in Audley Road, Shorncliffe Road, Croft Lane and Limes Road. I have also asked them to clean up the tunnel under the M20 from Shearway Business Park to the countryside

Saturday, September 16, 2006

FA Cup: Whyteleafe 1 - Invicta 2

Folkestone Invicta racked up their first win of the season today, defeating Whyteleafe in Surrey in the First Qualifying Match of the FA Cup. Let's hope that this is a sign of better things to come and may lead to a cup run to match last years record breaking 1st round encounter, as well as some better leagure results.

Conservatives save local schools

Cllr John Simmonds, Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Education, has blocked plans to merge Morehall and Harcourt Primaries and close Selsted Primary. The decision is a victory for local parents, who had fought against the plans and the possible disruption to their childrens' learning.

The decision confirms the unanimous recommendation of the Schools Advisory Board that Harcourt and Morehall should not be merged and overturns the recommendation of the same board to close Selsted. Both proposals had drawn a scathing response from our local Conservative MP, Michael Howard.

Interestingly, despite "campaigning" to keep the schools open, the only Lib Dem on the committee voted to close Selsted!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Conservatives recognise importance of blogging

Conservatives have been setting the standard for political blogging, and the 2006 conference will feature blogging facilities, as well as our first ever Blog Surgery: the chance to meet and be trained by some of the leading lights of the political blogosphere.

wi-fi

The BIC will be offering wireless internet throughout the conference, and technical support will be available.

Blog Surgery

As well as blogging from the conference, Tim Montgomerie (editor of ConservativeHome), Iain Dale, Jonathan Sheppard (of Tory Radio) and James Cleverly will be offering free advice on how to set up and run a blog. If you would like to learn about how to use a blog as a powerful political communications tool from four of the best, please find them at the stands. Alternatively you can email them at tim@conservativehome.com, iain@iaindale.com , editor@toryradio.com and james@jamescleverly.com to arrange a time.

The main blog stand is in Solent Hall dressing room 3 (off the side lobby of the Exhibition Hall) and there is also a stand in the Bourne Corridor (at the top of the main foyer escalators).

Francis Maude will be joining Tim, Iain and James at 10:30 on Monday 2 October at the Bourne Corridor stand - please come along.

The Conservative Party will also be blogging: watch this space for more details!

And it's not only nationally that the Conservatives are leading the way - this is the hundredth post on my blog! It has taken just over 2 years since its creation back in August 2004, when I became the first Councillor in Folkestone & Hythe with a blog or, indeed, any other individual presence on the internet.

At the rate that I update the site now, the 200th post could arrive within months, rather than years.

14 More A Listers revealed

Conservative Home has revealed a further 14 names which have been added to the A List. Eleven of them are from London, including three Kensington & Chelsea Councillors and the Deputy Chairman of Kensington and Chelsea Conservatives. This brings to eight the number of A List candidates from Kensington and Chelsea. Cynics are pointing to the co-incidence that the Chairman of the panel selecting members of the A List happens to be Shireen Ritchie, Madonna's mother-in-law and the Chairman of Kensington and Chelsea Conservatives. It should also be added that the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has a large population, and is well located to attract the country's finest to jobs in both politics and the city, which may be the real reason for the high concentration of top ranked candidates in the area.

Conservative Conference Agenda published - interactivity promised

This morning I received my paperwork and Conference Pass to this year's Conservative Conference in Bournemouth. It's notable how much more there is going on that this time two years ago, with more organisations holding fringe events, and many more exhibitors that on my last visit. It's all a sure sign that businesses and organisations are waking up to the revived Conservative Party and preparing for us to re-enter Government.

Discussion will be focussed on the six big challenges affecting Britain and the world in the 21st century:
  • Economic Competitiveness
  • Social Justice
  • Public Services
  • The Environment and our Quality of Life
  • National and International Security
  • Globalisation and Global Poverty
But identifying the problems is only the first step. Conference this year will be the first opportunity for the mass membership of the Conservative Party to influence the agenda of the policy groups, established by David Cameron earlier this year. The aim will be to find Conservative solutions to the problems we all face. The direction is already clear - Conservative policy will be more green, more local, more family-friendly, less arrogant about politicians' ability to solve every problem. It's about our instinctive belief in trusting people and sharing responsibility, and bringing an end to the Centralised New Labour Bureaucracy which is failing Britain as we speak.

Flexible working is good for families, businesses and society

The Conservative Party is continuing in its campaign to develop a better work/life balance and recognising the part played by families in society. For too long, the family has been neglected, with the Nanny State taking control. The next Conservative government will set about rolling back the state, as and Conservative government should, allowing families, individuals and the voluntary sector to bloom once more.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Government show contempt for lorry nuisance

Cllr Roland Tolputt has released his annual report to his electors in Folkestone. He has taken the opportunity to highlight the continuing Conservative Campaign for action to deal with the problems of lorries parking at inappropriate sites:


Despite continual lobbying by Kent County Council over the problems of foreign lorries, no progress has been made.

'The Government’s view is that lorry parks are an issue for the private sector,' said Kent County Councillor Roland Tolputt (pictured) in his Summer Report.

Kent originally suggested that all lorries entering the UK should have to purchase a BRITDISK, but this proposal was rejected on the grounds that the EU might not like it!! (The Swiss have a very efficient disk system but are fortunately outside the EU.) More recently, KCC suggested a £20 entry fee with £10 going to the Government and £10 to KCC to finance the provision of lorry parks – but this was also turned down.

The noise of generators, filthy mess at Capel-le-Ferne and Cheriton lay bys and unroadworthy lorries are infuriating for us all , and I long for the day when we are allowed to control our own affairs!

Conservatives back Synthetic Phonics

The Conservative Shadow Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, has emphasised the need to concentrate on teaching synthetic phonics to our children. On the day that figures revealed that English SATs results are in decline the Conservative reiterated calls for all Primary Schools to adopt the synthetic phonics method of teaching reading, as recommended by the Rose Review.

I well remember the disaster of "word recognition" methods used to teach reading when I was at Primary School. Even as a five year old I argued against that method, and I remain unconvinced that reading the book "Look", which contained fourteen pages with Look written in the top left corner of each spread, served any useful purpose in our schools.

Vinnie to be Tory MP?

Conservative Home reports news of the latest celebrity to throw his weight behind David Cameron's Conservatives. In an interview with Contact Music, football's hardman turned Hollywood actor Vinnie Jones declares that he fancies another career switch - joining the ranks of Tory MPs in Westminster.

Arnie made the switch from sportsman (body builder) to actor to Governor of California, Seb Coe and Menzies Campbell went from athletes to MPs, and Ronal Reagan went from Hollywood to the White House, so the move would be far from unprecedented!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Pensions - one of Labour's great achievements

Today, Tony Blair had a Rocky Ride at his last TUC conference. Against a backdrop of heckling and protest banner waving, the Prime Minister spoke about the Labour government's achievements since winning the 1997 election. In particular, he highlighted Education, the NHS and Pensions.

Anyone wishing to show the government's failure would probably have done the same - although crime and disorder and immigration would also have been high on the list, alongside global agreements on the environment. But just what "progress" has the Blair Administration made on his chosen 3 topics:

  • Tuition fees and top up fees mean that students now graduate with record debts.
  • A Levels have been so discredited that many students opt to take the IB, and universities are launching their own exams.
  • Employers' organisations complain that many graduates lack basic skills in literacy, numeracy and computing.
  • Hospitals across the country are laying of medical staff due to record budget deficits.
  • NHS Dentists have walked out on mass. Cheriton is quite normal in having no NHS dentist.
  • The State Pension age looks set to rise to reduce the Government's crippling pensions deficit.
  • Gordon Brown's £5bn a year smash and grab on pension funds has left many employees with no chance of saving for a decent retirement. Most businesses, like my own employer Saga, have abandoned Final Salary pension schemes for less generous Career Average schemes, exposing the average man and women in the street to the risks posed by rising inflation.

What a legacy Britain's first 2 term Labour government will leave behind.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Kedra's on the A List

Former Folkestone & Hythe Young Conservative Chairman, Kedra Goodall, has been revealed as part of the second batch of A List candidates by Conservative Home.

Kedra, of Aldington, near Lympne has previously worked for the party on the Target Seats campaign in the South East at the last General Election. We've known each other for most of our lives, since our fathers bowled together at Cheriton Bowls Club in Weymouth Road.

Congratulations Kedra!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Bobby for Cheriton & Morehall

The Cheriton and Morehall Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) has announced that he is to emigrate. Over the past couple of years he has worked alongside local Community Warden David Harmer and Folkestone Police to tackle anti-social behaviour and local nuisance issues.

However, the good news is that Kent Police look set to not only replace him, but take on a second PCSO and a bobby specifically for Cheriton and Morehall, giving us a team of 4 dedicated crime fighters for our area. Things have come a long way since I first requested that Cheriton and Morehall be given a Community Warden by Kent County Council, soon after I was elected in June 2004. It shows the remarkable effect of people power, following the fantastic attendence at the Cheriton Policing Consultation meeting in Autumn 2004.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Local Schools Saved

This morning's meeting of the Kent County Council Schools Organisation and Administration Board has unanimously turned down officers' proposals to merge Harcourt and Morehall Primary Schools. The recommendation will now pass to KCC's Cabinet for final approval, which now appears almost certain to reject the merger.

Michael Howard spoke in support of the school, along with County Councillor Roland Tolputt, speaking on behalf of our local representative, Robert Bliss, who is still recovering from major heart surgery. The result is a vindication for all of the work by them, the Governors of the two schools, and local parents, teachers, councillors and interested residents, who objected to the merger in overwhelming numbers.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Beachborough cleaned up

Following my request, Beachborough Road has been cleaned up to get rid of the mess left by pigeons using the railway bridge. At the same time, Shepway District Council's graffiti busters removed the graffiti from the railway wall in Beachborough Road and Station Road.

Coolinge House D-day due

The decision on whether or not to allow the currently proposed redevelopment of Coolinge House will be made at the Development Control meeting of Shepway District Council on 19th September. Some last minute considerations have prevented the plans from coming before the committee at the 5th September meeting.

I understand that it is likely that officers will be recommending approval, but the final decision will lie with District Councillors - who ignored similar advice last time around.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Conservatives fight to defend back gardens

The Conservative Party has launched a national campaign to save back gardens from Prescott's bulldozers. Under Government Planning Guidance, all gardens are classed as previously developed "brownfield sites". Brownfield sites are the preferred sites for building, making it difficult for councils to refuse permission to build there. Clearly, gardens are not previously developed, and should be protected as virgin land.

The national fight has one very local battlefield in Morehall - the Grade II Listed Coolinge House, which I am campaigning to save from the bulldozers.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Christmas comes early for Cheriton

Last night's Finance and General Purposes committee approved ward grants to the Cheriton and Morehall Traders Association towards the costs of providing Christmas festivities. I hope that these funds will help to lure in additional resources from other bodies, such as the lottery, to provide a much more merry Morehall this year around. The plans include Christmas lighting and events to entertain local residents and visitors alike.

Protecting our local traders

Last night's Finance and General Purposes meeting agreed to defer the decision on whether to award a grant to the proposed Folkestone Fish and Farmers market. The project is exciting and I would certainly like to see it succeed. However, I have deep reservations about the morality of using council tax payers' money to subsidise a business which will be competing with existing traders in the town, many of whom offer the same service without subsidy all week long, not just on Sundays. I'm also concerned that the finances in the business plan simply don't stack up.

A representative of the company will be invited to speak to our next meeting, where we will reconsider the application.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Graffiti busted!

The new graffiti busters, operated by local criminals on community service, have been out and about in Morehall. The graffiti at the junction of Shorncliffe Road and Audley Road was removed, after I requested urgent action to tackle the unsightly mess.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Tackling school congestion

Last night I attended an extremely interesting presentation by Action for Communities in Rural Kent's Transport Officer. Despite the organisation's name, his responsibilities now include urban areas like Folkestone, as funding has been transferred from the Countryside Agency to the South Eastern Economic Development Agency - two hopeless and bureaucratic government QUANGOs (Quasi Autonomous Non Governmental Organisations also known as jobs for the boys).

Of particular interest to residents in the area around Morehall Primary and Pent Valley Technology College, was the information I obtained about school transport. All schools are now required to produce transport plans, and I will be doing my best to involve myself in this decision process, with the aim of bringing more walking buses to our area. There seems little point in hundreds of parents driving across the road to take their children to school, and walking buses offer advantages to parents, children and local residents all at once.

Kent County Council is also introducing free bus travel for teenagers, which may help to reduce the number of longer journeys to and from Pent Valley, which will be a welcome relief for residents around Surrenden Road and Harcourt Road, in particular.

Kent Association of Parish Councils

Last night's KAPC Shepway area committee elected Cllr Rodica Wheeler of Folkestone Town Council as one of the representatives on the Shepway Liaison Committee. I hope that this will help to strengthen Folkestone's influence and also help us to work more effectively with neighbouring parishes to create a better working relationship between the Parish and District councils.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Tontine Street Performing Arts Centre

This evening I attended the Creative Foundation exhibition of the proposed Performing Arts and Business facility at the Dunk site in Tontine Street. The design of the building is very modern, and not particularly to my taste, but there is little architectural merit in the building that would be lost either. The potential benefits of such a facility could be enormous - it will be sound proofed, offering a much more suitable entertainment environment than many of the existing facilities in Tontine Street, providing entertainment space for the arts, cinema and even club nights. It will also offer conference facilities, offering the opportunity to really link Tontine Street in to the town centre business community, providing a renewed connection between the town and its seafront.

These conflicting thoughts will need to be weighed up during the planning process, to ensure that Folkestone maintains its unique charm but doesn't miss out on such a fantastic facility.

Empty Homes named and shamed

Empty homes in Folkestone have been named and shamed as part of the No Use Empty joint initiative between Shepway District Council and Kent County Council. The initiative aims to bring hundreds of empty and often dilapidated homes back into use, with the double benefits of providing much needed homes and improving the built environment. The councils are working with local landlords to provide advice on getting the homes back into use, and also have a budget to buy, refurbish and resell homes on the open market.

One house which has already been brought back in to use is in Broomfield Road, Morehall. If you want to report an empty home or are looking for advice, call the No Use Empty hotline on 0845 8247605, or visit www.no-use-empty.org

Monday, July 17, 2006

Morehall - Harcourt Merger update

The first consultation period on plans to merge Morehall and Harcourt primary schools has now closed. The Kent Education Board will consider the findings on 18th September, and will pass a recommendation to the Cabinet Member for Education.

Like many parents and residents of Chart Road and Surrenden Road, I am deeply concerned about the possible impact of the merger, both on the children and the locality of the schools. My letter of objection is copied below:


Dear Mr Adams,


The proposed amalgamation of Morehall Primary School with Harcourt Primary School raised a number of concerns, and I would urge reconsideration, given the potential for such actions to backfire. My concerns are outlined below:

1. Figures produced by the Area Education Office in July 2005 suggested that at no point over the next 4 years would all the pupils are Morehall and Harcourt fit into the Morehall School (see attached). In fact, around 480 pupils would be squeezed into a site designed for a maximum of 420.

2. In order that no class exceeds 30 pupils, as at present, 3 classes per year would be required for most years at time of merger. That would require roughly 18-20 classes, depending whether amalgamation takes place in 2007 or 2008. The Morehall site has 14 classes at present.

3. The roads around Morehall Primary are currently extremely congested and dangerous at the beginning and end of each day. Adding an extra 150 children to the school, many from further afield, will clearly lead to an increase in car journeys, worsening the situation for pupils, parents and residents alike. The school would house 60 more children than have ever been planned for the site, placing the already inadequate infrastructure under unsustainable pressure.

4. The two schools serve distinct communities. The consultation report demonstrates that clearly, showing the comparative levels of free meals in the two school, signifying considerable social differences. Merging such disparate communities could prove difficult and would be detrimental to the childrens’ education.

5. Part of the accommodation stock at Morehall Primary consists of temporary classrooms which are 30 years old. Surely eradication of such inappropriate buildings should be a key aim of the LEA, and the forecast reduction in pupil numbers presents a rare opportunity to achieve this. The amalgamation of these schools would do the opposite, prolonging the life of already out-dated “temporary” buildings for the foreseeable future.

6. The need for additional temporary accommodation at Morehall Primary was accepted by officers at the public consultation meetings. How long will these classrooms be

required? Given that the last temporary classrooms have lasted 30 years, I am particularly concerned that they may not turn out to be that temporary, and I don’t believe that anyone could definitively say that they won’t remain in situ for some considerable time. I draw on my own experience as a pupil and now Governor at Sandgate Primary School, which was amalgamated with the Sir John Moore School in 1988. A mobile classroom was required at the time, and mobiles have been on site ever since.

7. Harcourt Primary is a purpose built school. It seems inappropriate to replace such a building with temporary classrooms.

8. The forecasts of school rolls are, as stated at the public meeting, not reliable for individual schools. That is evident from the wild fluctuations between forecast rolls in the July 2005 statistics compared to the June 2006 statistics in this consultation. It is, therefore, unrealistic and bad management to base a schools strategy one just one set of figures. There is not statistical consensus to justify the proposed amalgamation and its associated reduction in school places in the Cheriton area.

9. The public consultation document contained no reference to the possible influx of Gurkhas, following the recent relaxation of rules regarding accompanying families. This is despite the original document to committee which pointed out that it may be necessary to abandon the amalgamation, as up to 400 places could be required locally. Given that the number of places required for the Nepalese children is still an unknown quantity, no reduction in places should be agreed until it is certain whether there are, in fact, surplus places to be removed.

I would ask that the committee rejects proposals to close Harcourt Primary. The school is needed and there is no consensus of school role forecasts to suggest that it will not be needed in the foreseeable future. The Morehall site is not suitable for expansion, and it is fundamentally wrong to close a purpose built school when the alternative is mobile classrooms.


Yours sincerely


Cllr Dan Hassett

Folkestone Town Council Conservatives

Kent Local Board

Tonight's local board meeting, which I attended, included a presentation and questions on the KCC Towards 2010 strategy, which is a very general document which tends to ignore the "how" to deal with problems.

That was followed by a presentation about efforts to help those in need to help themselves. This presentation was most informative. It's amazing to know that 45% of the working-age population in central Folkestone are on living off unemployment, disability or incapacity benefits. The aim is to address this shocking fact and bring people back into the workplace.

Finally, in the open questions section, I asked the County Councillors to take steps to remove Folkestone Harbour from the list of ports protected for the import of aggregates. It's use for shipping building materials was only ever intended as a temporary measure, to cease when the seafront regeneration (which port owner, Roger de Haan, is heavily involved in) became a reality. The land at the harbour is supposed to be available for a passenger ferry service, marina, university lecture hall and up market housing and leisure. Protecting the port for importing stones would scupper these plans and not be in the best interests of Folkestone. Excellent Conservative County Councillor Dick Pascoe (who preceded me as a Morehall Councillor when he was a Lib Dem) promised to urgently investigate and tackle the issue.

Cleaning up

The pigeons have, once again, made a terrible mess of the roads under the railway bridges in Risborough Lane and Beachborough Road. There is a thick layer of birds' mess mixed with feathers, and even a dead pigeon in the road. Man has played his/her part in making the mess too though - both sites are littered with food wrappers and graffiti. I have reported the matter and asked that they be cleaned up as soon as possible.

Sound Waves III

Free local music festival Sound Waves returns to Folkestone sea front on Saturday (22nd July), starting at 4.30pm. Following the success of last year's event in the amphitheatre, this year's event is to be held on the beach nearby. Now in its third year, organiser Cllr Lynne Smith hopes to extend the event further next year.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Charivari Success

Yesterday's Charivari Day event in Folkestone was a great success, with large crowds enjoying the spectacle in Folkestone Town Centre and on the Leas. The event, organised by Strange Cargo and part funded by Folkestone Town Council and Shepway District Council, included a parade of the East Kent Giants. After the event, bands played the crowd on the Leas, with a number of side shows also lining the promenade.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

King of the Litter Louts

Summer is upon us, and hand in hand comes the annual problem of empty Burger King food cartons littering Cherry Garden Lane and Morehall Rec. Legislation now permits that businesses responsible for producing the litter can be required to clean it up - so how about it Shepway?

While their about it, perhaps they could take McDonald's to task over the amount of their product strewn down the cliff adjacent to the Road of Remembrance.

Invicta 3 - 'Fleet 1

In today's second friendly of the close season, Folkestone Invicta overcame rivals Gravesend and Northfleet 3-1. This is an excellent achievement, as the 'Fleet play 2 divisions higher in the Conference. Invicta's scorers were Jone, Watson and Rainbow. Richard Murrill's match report is available on www.folkestoneinvicta.co.uk

Friday, July 14, 2006

Graffiti busting in Audley Road and Shorncliffe Road

Overnight, a large amount of particularly obtrusive graffiti has appeared on the walls and street furniture at the junction of Audley Road and Shorncliffe Road. Fortunately, Conservative Shepway District Council, Ashford Borough Council and Kent County have jointly purchased a graffiti and chewing gum buster machine. I have reported the graffiti and hope it will be removed swiftly, and will keep up the pressure to ensure that it is removed.

The machine, which is operated by offenders ordered to perform community service, is working its way around the district, dealing with the backlog of graffiti cases which have followed years of neglect, and I will be fighting hard to get the whole of Morehall cleaned up. Graffiti can be cleaned off any surface, including those in private ownership, so long as they can be safely accessed.

If you know of any graffiti which needs to be cleaned up, please let me know. Alternatively, you can contact the graffiti busters directly on 01303 858660 or streetscene@shepway.gov.uk

Damian Collins Selected

Tonight, the extraordinary general meeting of Folkestone & Hythe Conservative Association resolved that Damian Collins be selected as the Conservative Candidate for the constituency. He has committed himself to immediately move to Folkestone - initially he will be living in Sandgate, whilst looking for a property to buy in the area.

Damian is 32 and married. Their first baby is on its way.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Invicta 0 - Gills 2

Folkestone Invicta's first friendly match of the season saw the team succumb to local League One opponents Gillingham 2-0. Richard Murrill's match report is available at www.folkestoneinvicta.co.uk

Friday, July 07, 2006

Shorncliffe Road bus shelter

I have spoken with the director of services at Shepway District Council responsible for the maintenance of Bus Shelters about the over grown state of the bus shelter at the junction of Shorncliffe Road and Audley Road, who called me back today to arrange for maintenance workers to cut back the overgrowth. As a regular user of local bus services and resident of Shorncliffe Road, I am aware of the inconveniece caused by its inaccessibility and will keep working to ensure that it is properly maintained.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

And then there were 3

Following last night's Conservative Executive Meeting, a shortlist of 3 candidates has been drawn up for Michael's successor. All three of them performed very well in a strong field of candidates, and more than three of them were certainly up to the job! The names of the candidates have not been announced. I do wonder why the association doesn't just announce the candidates officially - we all know that the information will leak, and surely the candidates to be our future MP are of interest broader than just the membership of the local party? The final selection takes place on Thursday 13th July, with all paid up members entitled to vote.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Six set for Executive Selection on Friday

Six candidates will be put forward for consideration by the Folkestone & Hythe Conservative Executive on Friday. All 6 have been drawn from the A List, their names can be found at Conservative Home. Chris Heaton-Harris has since been selected as the PPC for Daventry, so has been replaced on the list by the first reserve, who is also an A-Lister.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Beachborough Road

Following on from my campaign to improve the safety of the junction of Beachborough Road, Cheriton Road and Cherry Garden Avenue, featured in the Folkestone Herald, the Town Council has now backed my concerns unanamously. A further letter to Kent Highways, from the Planning Committee (which has delegated powers over transport issues) has been agreed upon. I await their response.

County Councillor Roland Tolputt has kindly offered to take up the issue with officers at County Hall. He continues to work tirelessly for the town, and is a credit to both the people who elected him and, of course, the Conservative Party who selected him!

Coolinge House

Two further applications for redevelopment at Coolinge House have been received this week. Folkestone Town Council will be discussing our response on Thursday. The proposals certainly represent an improvement, but are they good enough?

Restoration of Coolinge House:
Y06/0794/SH

11 new homes in the grounds of Coolinge House:
Y06/0795/SH

Selecting a new Michael Howard!

I suspect that we will never be able to find another Michael, as much as we would like too! However, the process of selecting his successor is continuing apace. I understand that there were 45 applicants for the candidacy, which has been whittled down to 20 by senior members of the Folkestone & Hythe Conservative Association. The list is said to include local councillor Susan Carey, and A Listers Julie Rook (Deal Councillor and purveyor of fine meats) and Priti Patel, amongst others.

Proposed Primary School Merger

Kent County Council is proposing to merge Morehall Primary School with Harcourt Primary School, on the site of Morehall Primary in Chart Road. At present, Harcourt is a single form entry school and Morehall is a 2 form entry school.

Parental protests are being led by the Governing Bodies of the two schools, with the support of Michael Howard, local Conservative MP. I too, along with other councillors, voiced some of my concerns at a recent public consultation meeting, and will be writing to confirm my objections. Folkestone Town Council will also be discussing the issue on 13th July.

It seems to make little sense to merge the schools, when the LEA's figures show that the Morehall buildings are not large enough to take the combined total of students. The propsal will require temporary mobile classrooms at the school, so demolishing the purpose-built Harcourt cannot be justified. These will supplement the existing temporary classrooms, which have been in place since 1976! In addition, Chart Road and Surrenden Road are unable to cope with the current traffic - more traffic is not an option.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Happy Tax Freedom Day!

Up until this point of the year, we have all been working to pay for Gordon Brown's over inflated public sector. Hundreds of Thousands of extra pen pushes, countless extra layers of bureaucracy in "Regional Assemblies" and such like. This year, Tax Freedom Day falls a full ten days later than it did under the last Conservative administration. In return we have a health service on its knees, police and immigration services which are "not fit for purpose" according the the Home Secretary, and an education system which can't even provide a final grade to university students.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Blood Donor Service in Town

Tuesday 16th May

GRAND HOTEL
FOLKESTONE

1.30pm - 4.00pm and 5.00pm - 7.30pm

Thursday 18th May

ST JOHN'S AMBULANCE HALL
ALBERT LANE
HYTHE

1.30pm - 4.00pm and 5.00pm - 7.30pm

Monday 22nd May

ST MARY'S PARISH CENTRE
TOWN CENTRE
DOVER

1.30pm - 4.00pm and 5.00pm - 7.30pm

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Creatives kept in check

The Creative Foundation's plans for the Old High Street were kept in check by the Development Control Committee of Shepway District Council this evening, as proposals to install banner signs on 52 the Old High Street were deferred, pending details of signage. The Foundation had wanted permission to be granted prior to the agreement of details, thus giving Carte Blanche in their choice of designs in the Conservation Area. Folkestone Town Council had already succeeded in reducing the number of signs from three to one, and getting the proposed internally illuminated plastic sign removed from the proposals altogether.

Shepway's councillors were in the mood for a fight this evening, also rejecting proposals in Harbour Way, Hythe and on Romney Marsh, as well as arguing with officers and Kent Highways officials over parking and site accessibility.

Town Meeting

Folkestone's annual Town Meeting will be held on Thursday, 4th May, 2006. The meeting will be chaired by the Worshipful Town Mayor Cllr George Bunting, and the guest speaker will be a representative of GoVia, the new franchise holder for SouthEastern Trains.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Lib Dems plunge new depths in Cheriton

The Lib Dems will, no doubt, do their best to put a positive spin on last night's by election result. They won a seat on Folkestone Town Council - but is it really the local resurgence they had promised? Their candidate, with 504 votes, won with fewer votes than any other Cheriton councillor in my lifetime. Even during the toilets and tax crisis of 2004, the Lib Dems managed 598 votes. In fact, this ward is the safest and longest standing Lib Dem ward in Folkestone. In 2003 they polled an incredible 84% of the vote. Cllr Prater's mere 41% will be miserable viewing for the local Lib Dem elite. Faced with being reduced to a rump of less than a dozen councillors at the next election, even their leader Lynne "Bonker" Beaumont must fear for the safety of her traditionally marginal seat.

Cheriton By Election Result

The results of the Cheriton By-election are as follows:-

People First - 262 - 21.69%

Roy Edey - Impeach Blair, Troops out of Iraq - 18 - 1.49%

David Johnson - Conservative - 294 - 24.34%

Liberal Democrat - 504 - 41.72% - Elected

Go Folkestone - 126 - 10.43%

Spoilt papers 4

Percentage Turnout 28.6%

Commenting on the result, Bob Davidson the local Conservative Party Agent said, "I would like to thank David Johnson and the many members who worked on the campaign.

"At first glance you would have thought the Shepway Liberal Democrats did quite well until you think back to 2003, the last time the Liberal Democrats won anything other than the odd Town Council seat, when the Liberal Democrats got 84% of the vote in this seat. This time they only got half that figure - hardly something they can be proud of."

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Michael to resign

Michael Howard announced at last night's AGM that he intends to stand down as the MP for Folkestone & Hythe at the next general election. This was, of course, sad news to local Conservative Party members, as we have grown extremely fond of both Michael and Sandra over the last 23 years that they have represented us. Michael has been an excellent MP, flighting tirelessly for local residents. Whoever replaces Michael will have a tough act to follow.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Yet another Takeaway for Cheriton?

An application has been submitted to convert yet another shop in Cheriton into a Chinese Takeaway. I am totally opposed to this further reduction of retail space in Cheriton, which is the most vibrant local shopping centre in the area. Local traders have fought to overcome adverse conditions and competition from supermarkets, and remain a crucial part of the local community.

I have objected to the Planning Department, pointing out that the local plan limits the amount of space permitted for use by Takeaways and Restaurants and protects the viability of Cheriton as a shopping sub-centre.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Conservative Candidate Selected

The Prospective Conservative Candidate for the Cheriton By-Election on Folkestone Town Council was selected at the recent Executive Meeting. David Johnson lives in Folkestone and is married with a family. He owns a haulage business based in nearby Lympne, and is Director of the Candle Shop which his wife runs in Folkestone Town Centre.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Cheriton By-Election

The date for the Cheriton By-Election to elect a representative on the Town Council has been set for 23rd March. The vacancy arose as a result of Cllr Richard Jenner (Conservative) moving away from the area to care for his mother. It seems likely that there will be at least 4 candidates for the seat.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Bandstand's Back

Quotes for the work required to restore Folkestone bandstand have been received by Shepway Council, who expect work to be completed later this year. Once the venue is up to scratch, Folkestone Town Council will operate a series of events, which could start before the end of the summer, subjec to work being completed on time. Other ideas include a Christmas Carol concert. In future years it is anticipated that bands will play from Easter until the end of the summer, with a mixture of local bands and occasional larger performances. I will be part of the working group which puts together the programme events, and hope that there will be something for everyone living in or visiting Folkestone to enjoy!

Lib Dems lose Hythe

The people of Hythe North dealt yet another blow to Shepway Lib Dems last night, by electing Conservative candidate Alan Ewart-James over his Lib Dem challenger, who was defeated for the 3rd time in under a year. The resounding victory gave Cllr Ewart-James 70% of the vote, following the resignation of Lib Dem councillor Jackie Gandy.

The balance on Hythe Town Council now stands at 8 Lib Dems (down 6), 7 Conservatives (up 5) and one Green (up one).