News from British and Canadian Conservatives

Monday, April 30, 2007

Vote Monk-Wheeler for Morehall

Vote Conservative on 3rd May for a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Shepway and for stable finances.


Peter MONK

Your only local team of candidates for Shepway District Council

For the Town Council, Vote Richard WALLACE, Independent.

After 20 years of Lib Dem failure in Morehall, it's time to consign them to history.

Folkestone Town Council's support for the quake victims

Folkestone Town Council has used its disaster recovery powers for the first time. All councillors have been asked, by email, to comment in advance of a final decision to release £1,000 to the Salvation Army. It seems that Janet and I (as Mayor and Chairman of Finance respectively) have the final say and are empowered to release the funds without the need for a meeting. I'm glad to see that the Town Council can actually do something for a change, rather than having to give the usual one week's notice before going round and round in circles in a discussion and taking a vote around 11pm, just to come to the same decision!

The Salvation Army did an excellent job in housing and feeding the unfortunate victims of the earthquake. Many of them will have been forced to leave the house with few possessions, unable to return due to unsafe structures. This money will help the Salvation Army to keep up the good work in case another disaster should strike in the future.

Cllr Greenwall proves that he's no Conservative

I've just read Cllr Greenwall's letter to the Folkestone Herald. How can anyone who stands on a ticket of taking politics out of the local council write such garbage in a desparate attempt to get elected?!

The letter is inaccurate on so many levels, and the policy which he seems to be promoting is wreckless with other peoples' money. He reckons that the Town Council shouldn't have any reserves, and should have spent the entire April-September budget by now. I can see why he was not selected as the Conservative candidate for Sandgate and am most relieved that he jumped ship as a consequence. Would Cllr Greenwall run his personal or business accounts so recklessly? If not, why does he think that it's acceptable to be reckless with everyone else's money.

Sandgate Conservatives found the red under the bed and flushed him out. Now he's standing for the "political landfill" known as Shepway Independents. Let us hope that the good people of Sandgate consign him to the great dustbin in the sky.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Election week has arrived!

Well it's only 4 days until polling day now. The Morehall Conservative team will be continuing the hard work to get as many of our supporters as possible to vote as possible. I'm pretty convinced that we would win if everyone went out and voted. Unfortunately, most do not vote in local elections, so it's down to which set of electors votes. If you don't want to return to the dismal days of Lib Dem rule in Shepway, with 39% tax hikes, closed public toilets, grass that never gets cut, empty flower beds and uncontrolled graffiti, then please make sure that you got out on polling day and vote for your Conservative candidates.

For Folkestone Morehall, that means voting for Rodica Wheeler and Peter Monk to represent us as District Councillors. The Lib Dems rea trying to present themselves as a new alternative after years of this ward being poorly represented by its District Councillors. What they're less keen for you to know is that Morehall has been elected Lib Dems continuously for 20 years!

For the past 3 years, Shepway has been deeply divided. The split in the ruling Lib Dem group left the small minority group of 18 Tory councillors (out of 46) with the difficult task of picking up the pieces. The Lib Dems refused to join a unity coalition aimed at delivering for the people of Shepway, preferring to play party politics, as we see day in an day out from the ridiculous leaflets they pump out. If given the chance to rule as a majority, Shepway Conservatives will concentrate on prividing a greener and safer district, with the focus on cleaning our streets, tackling crime and anti-social behaviour and keeping a tight control of the taxpayers' money - something that the Lib Dems have prooved themselves incapable of!

For Folkestone Town Council, the best candidate for Morehall is the Independent Richard Wallace. Unlike the Lib Dems, he lives in the ward, and both Rodica and I have worked with him in the past and will continue to do so in the future. One of the Liberal candidates doesn't even live in Folkestone (so he won't have to pay the high taxes or suffer the poor services).

Surveying the damage

Well it seems that the worst affected parts of town were in the Pavilion Road area. Morehall Conservative candidate Peter Monk lives in Broadmead Road, and his chimney is unsafe, as are most of the others in the road. Some have even fallen down. Apparently 73 homes have been declared unsafe, and many people are relying on the Salvation Army for food and shelter. The Worshipful Town Mayor of Folkesone Cllr Janet Andrews has spent some considerable time helping out there along with some others like Cllrs Pat West and Lynne Smith. Morehall Lib Dems meanwhile decided to continue campaigning on Saturday, which I found rather disrespectful. I suppose that we shouldn't be surprised though.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Earthquake hits Folkestone!

Well we had a rude awakening this morning. At 0818 BST, the town was hit by the biggest earthquake to hit England in 5 years. Depending whether you take US or EU figures, it was either 4.7 or 5 on the richter scale and the epicentre was just outside Folkestone, althouth the exact location is also disputed.

We're all ok, with only minor damage to the plaster on a couple of ceilings. Some have fared less well though, with people trapped in buildings, fires and chimneys and masonry falling off properties. We lost electricity for a couple of hours and the phone lines are still down - BT are working but Virgin are not, it would seem.

Of course, it wouldn't really be appropriate to canvass today. I'm going to a wedding this afternoon, so it's a day that they won't be forgetting for more reasons than one!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Folkestone Post Office threatened with closure

The Tepegraph has revealed that 70 Crown Post Offices, including the main Folkestone branch, are set to be closed and relocated as franchises in nearby WH Smith branches. A consultation will be held - although past consultations I have attended have not seemed particularly meaningful. I really can't see how it could work. The current post office isn't big enough to handle the demand - which has increased dramatically since the closure of many sub branches. That said, it's possible that WH Smith would run the service better than the Royal Mail manage. Anyone who, like me, has ever had to nip in to Folkestone Post Office at lunchtime will know that the queue can often be so long that you lose a whole lunch hour. I think that it's wise to see exactly what is proposed before jumping to any conclusions, but I'll be engaging in the consultation with a healthy dose of cynicism. The two main things that we need to know from the process are:

1. How will the service work within WH Smith? How will staffing levels compare and what services will be removed from WH Smith to make room for them?

2. What will happen to the Post Office itself? At the building houses a lot of offices. It has never been clear to me what they are used for, but Folkestone Town Council was informed that there is no vacant space. Will those jobs be secure, or with the Royal Mail be withdrawing from Folkestone completely?

This certainly sounds like bad news and I really can't see how they'll be able to provide satisfactory answers to those two questions. No doubt, we will soon be told about the amazing "enhancement" to services that we can expect from the move. We've heard that all before and will take it with the large pinch of salt it deserves.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

CCTV appeal over £15,000 Cheriton High Street fraud

If you recognise this man, contact police on 01303 850055

POLICE are hunting for a man who went into a Kent bank to arrange a £15,000 loan using another man's identity.

This CCTV image has been released of a person officers would like to speak to in connection with the incident, which took place at Lloyds Bank in Cheriton High Street, Folkestone, on Thursday, March 8.

Anyone with information is asked to contact DC Mikaela Stevens on 01303 850055.

Monday, April 16, 2007

M20 chaos

Yesterday wasn't a great one for the many motorists stuck in the 8 mile tailbacks on the M20. Clearly, maintenance is sometime needed, and occasionally the will mean closing a section of motorway. However, the Highways Agency's handling of yesterday's fiasco was ridiculous.

1) Why plan roadworks that mean closing the main motorway from the UK's main ports and Channel Tunnel on the last weekend of Easter, one of the busiest of the year?
2) How did the work overrun so long? It was supposed to be an overnight closure, yet the road didn't reopen until 6pm!
3) Why was the exended closure not publicised more widely? The planned closure was only mentioned on signs immediately around Ashford, and the first place that there were signs mentioning that there may be trouble ahead was after the previous junction. There should have been signs warning of the chaos ahead at the preceding junctions. I would not have even bothered getting on to the motorway at Junction 12 if I had know that my birthday trip to Rochester Castle was going to turn into a 4 hour visit to the M20!

From a government that's been all talk and no action for a decade, it's mind boggling that they can't even manage to tell us something useful - like that the road isn't there!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Wilkinsons coming to Folkestone

This evening Folkestone Town Council's planning committee raised no objections to Wilkinson's plans for the old M&S in Sandgate Road. It looks like the biggest empty shop in town will soon be open for business again.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Publication of candidates

The list of candidates standing for Shepway District Council, Folkestone Town Council and the other Towns and Parishes of Shepway has now been published. In Morehall, our candidates are Rodica Wheeler and Peter Monk. I've worked with both in recent years. Rodica was my running mate in Morehall in 2003 and Peter was part of the YC committee when I was chairman, and I wish them both all the best. I certainly believe they are the best candidates for Morehall. There will be no Conservative candidates for Folkestone Town Council's Morehall ward. The Town Council should never be as politicised as other levels of government, and I wish Richard Wallace, who is an Independent, the best of luck in that race.

I'm finding it quite hard not being a candidate, but know that it's the right thing to do. I've worked hard for Folkestone, and especially Morehall, for the past 3 years and would love to have been able to carry on. Sadly, sometimes life just gets in the way of what we want to do. Balancing work life and private life can often be challenging, and the addition of public life to the mix can be too much at times. I've reached such a time, as work has become busier and I have wedding plans to make. In due course, Corissa and I will have a family, so I really wouldn't have time to represent the people of Morehall at the same time.

In addition to that, Corissa and I plan to emigrate to Canada sometime in the not too distant future, so I can't be sure that I will be around for the full 4 year term. That doesn't mean to say that I'll disappear overnight. I'll continue to do whatever I can for Cheriton and Morehall regardless of the outcome of the election. It's not necessarily the end of my stint in politics - I hope that I will be able to get involved at some level in Canada as well.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Candidate Lists published

The lists of Candidates for the District, Town and Parish council elections on 3rd May have now been published. I'm surprised to see that Labour are fielding two candidates for Morehall in the District Election. Rodica Wheeler and Peter Monk are the Conservative Candidates, and I wish them the best of luck. I'll be doing all that I can to help them and the whole Conservative team win for Shepway.

The other surprise is the lack of Green candidates, given Wendy Harris' position in Hythe. There are a few UKIP candidates around as well as two BNP contenders in Harbour ward (district council only) as well as a number of independents at Town and District level, as well as a couple of Conservative and Lib Dem candidates for Parish Councils. Most Parishes will not see contested elections as usual, although some have managed to attract enough candidates for a ballot to be required. That includes Folkestone and Hythe, of course. In Folkestone, there are not many Conservative candidates, with the Lib Dems and People First putting up virtually the same set of candidates as are standing for the District. There are some Independent candidates - all formerly Go Folkestone, which is not officially contesting the election. In Hythe, by contrast, there are not many Lib Dems, and some seats there and in Sandgate are guaranteed to return at least some Conservatives.

Cambridge win the boat race

We went up to London to see the boat race today. Thankfully Cambridge won. I've been meaning to go up and see the race for some time, but this was my first time. Corissa and I took Gwen (my mother-in-law to be) as she is over from Canada to help with the wedding plans and Mum and Dad joined us in London.

On Good Friday we had been to Cambridge with Gwen and my Grandmother. I took them punting along the backs. It's the first time I had punted since I graduated in 2001, but I hadn't forgotten how punt! I'm still no expert and it was hard work heading back to the Scudamore's Mill Lane dock, as that was upstream, but I made it and did so with more style than most on the river, which was crowded given the fantastic bank holiday weather.