News from British and Canadian Conservatives

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



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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.