News from British and Canadian Conservatives

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

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.