Saturday, April 28, 2007

Proposed Gypsy transit site recieves over 100 objections in its first week

Jane; Campaigning in Monks Brook

Most right-thinking people are disgusted at the proposal to turn the charming Monks Brook into a temporary 'Gypsy and Traveller Transit Site' as Southampton City Council describe it.
(You can view the application HERE).
After much show debate, the Lib-Dem 'cabinet' that runs Southampton City Council (hopefully not after Thursday), voted to concrete the site over and turn it into a sort of managed ghetto for travellers. Objectors to the proposals have been patronised and ignored, even branded as pseudo-racists for not backing the development. It was good to hear of a real demonstration of people power as apparently over 100 local residents have so far objected to the scheme being considered by the planning authorities. The site is so manifestly unsuitable, I am confident they will be able to stop it. (the Newts may have a small part to play here!)
In another twist to the saga, Jane Odgers was so incensed at the way she and other residents were treated, she is standing as a Conservative candidate in Swaythling, the ward in which Monks Brook is situated.
Good. I hope she wins.

Speaking for England

'Speak for England Arthur!'

I never seem to get time to do any serious reading these days (or anything else for that matter!) but...
I have just finished reading 'Speaking for England' by David Faber and I have to say it is one of the best books I have read for years. The book centres on the true story of a very English political tragedy: it is the tale of how the son of a member of Churchill's Cabinet was hanged for treason and the life and pressures of being born into a political dynasty (something the author knows only too well, being related himself to Harold Macmillan).
I know David a little as he was my MP in Westbury & West Wilts and I did a little campaigning for him in the 1992 general election. Perhaps unfairly characterised as a political 'wet', David was Stephen Dorrell's PPS and an assiduous constituency member. He was always very kind to me; one night he got me a pass into the lower gallery of the House when he happened to see me in the Commons and he always made a point of buying me dinner at Party Conference.
The book describes how the Amerys were born into something of a life of privilege with father Leo a prominent Conservative MP and minister, his son Julian a successful politician but how John was different. Perhaps for the same reasons as his near contemporary Randolph Churchill, John Amery grew into a difficult and tortured adult. It was John's warped sense of patriotism that led him to become a German propagandist on the airwaves during the war and his ill-fated attempt to recruit a 'Legion of St George' to take up arms against the communist Russians, leading to charges of treason and his subsequent execution. The book goes on to describe how his father and brother were affected by all this in fascinating detail as well as Leo's role in the Munich crisis and bringing down Chamberlain as Prime Minister (You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go! ).
It is a great book.
David was a young man when he stepped down from politics; I suspect he was dismayed at the rightward drift of the Conservative Party at that time and the realisation that with it, he was unlikely to be a minister. I don't think he failed politics, in fact it probably failed him. As an author and historian, in his first work I think he has excelled. It is perhaps a career for which he feels far more suited.
I am hoping David will be able to speak at my literary book club later in the year.

Alan Ball MBE, rest in peace.

Alan Ball, pictured in his Saints kit
pic copyright Southern Daily Echo

I was very sad indeed to hear of the death of Alan Ball who died earlier in the week of a heart attack. I first met him over dinner with some mutual friends in Radley's in Southampton late last year and found him, his partner and son charming company. We had a really great night, Alan being full of fun and of course a great sport. He was the perfect gent putting his guests at ease and the eight of us had a great time. I was to meet him again at a social even organised by Bournmouth Football club a couple of months later where he was the guest of honour. I wondered how he would perform and he was a revelation. He spoke for nearly an hour about his life without ever being repetitive or self-indulgent using the event to showcase his own brand of humour. As he talked about his childhood and the run up to the 1966 cup final, I was struck by what a fighter he was; Alan became a professional footballer with a quiet determination that was humbling and deeply motivating. He was also a man who was very generous and in his own modest, unassuming way did a tremendous amount for charity in recent years as well as looking after his friends and family.
He was a great man; a real credit to his sport and his country.
My deepest condolences to his family who I know will be shattered by their loss.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Hard work and the battle for hearts and minds!

Peter on the campaign trail...
I've been slightly surprised at the level of work that Labour are doing in Southampton campaigning although I'm told it has largely been paid for by Union money. Their sitting councillors are supremely confident (indeed arogant) about the results- I think some of them think they are genuinly going to actually make gains and take control of Southampton in May. In Shirley they have started delivering their fourth newletter as welling as dragging Peter Hain down from London (although cynics might argue that his visit was more about him trying to gain the support of Labour activists in the forthcoming deputy Leadership Election).
However, I have been working incredibly hard and I am confident that I can win if my voters turn out on the day. Labour's record in the city is poor and they know it- for them it is just about getting their core die-hard vote out whereas for us (and even to some extent the Lib-Dems), we have to win the battle for hearts and minds if we are to win seats.

So my message to the electorate is if you want change- you have to vote for it.

Don't leave it to someone else- they might be leaving it to you!!!

Matt & Dave show rolls up in Southampton!

The Matt & Dave show...note wide staring eyes of rabid candidate...

David Cameron's visit to Southampton went quite well with press interest from the BBC, the Daily Echo and The Daily Mail. After cycling down Roman Road in support of the Conservative candidate in Bassett and meeting local candidates, giving a press interview to local BBC TV and then radio, he then went to a reception for Conservative activists in Romsey.
I was quite impressed by his speech which in style was more conversational than barnstorming. He took a few questions including one from me on how to keep traditional Conservatives on-board while appealing to the centre ground. His reply to this is that the ideas he is expounding are actually profoundly Conservative in the one nation tradition and ideals such as fighting grime and crime were the sort of non-ideological issues that Conservatives embrace and implement effectively at local government level. Good point!

Foremer Who drummer Kenny Jones to visit Southampton!

Who are you? Kenny Jones pictured in 1979

Kenny Jones, the former Who, Faces and Small Faces drummer is coming to Southampton! Kenny is a great musician (even drummers can be musicians!) but perhaps what is less well known is that he is an active Conservative supporter! With his new band The Jones Gang he has even recorded a song entitled Mr Brown, noting the chancellors tax policies!
tickets can be obtained for his gig at The Brook on Sat 5th May. I'll be there but probably won't be jumping around much, not least due to the local election blisters on my feet!!!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Big guns in Southampton tommorow!!!

Bush takes a swing at the perma-tanned one...

I'm not sure that you would quite describe it as election fever but apparently the big guns are visiting Southampton tommorow!
Peter Hain's oppo probably won't be there tho!!!!

A small success in Shirley!


I really feel I achieved something today or at least helped stop something happening that would have been damaging where I lived.

Long-time readers of this blog will recall how I have been fighting the re-development of Shirley Post Office ( they want to pull down the 1920s single story building and replace it with a block of flats with a supermarket at the bottom).

I spoke at the planning meeting today as a member of the public and got a fair hearing. The Officer for the council was of course incredibly biased and totally in favour of the application. In his 10 minute presentation to the committee he managed to give the impression that the area was all retail (it is late Victorian residential) and managed not to even mention the s word once (supermarket...), his only concession that the structure would obscure natural light to the terrace houses at the rear of the proposed flats. I spoke pointing out the lack of parking, the size and scale of the development, the likely consequences with associated anti-social behaviour of 24 hour opening and all the rest and... won the day!

I was strongly supported by the Conservatives and the Lib-Dems and even the Labour Chairman voted against the proposal leaving just one Labour Councillor Sue Blatchford to support the proposal.
What a result!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Ikea moves a step nearer Southampton

Ikea seem increasingly likely to come to Southampton it would appear.
I have never shopped in the Scandinavian wonder myself but the store seems to be wildly popular with potential customers in the city. The traffic issues seem to be at least partially resolved, the change of site (down to John Prescott) and the promise of inward investment bodes well for a city that Southampton that increasingly has lagged behind some of our near neighbours.
Blogging from Ikea fanatics can be read here and here
I wonder if they realise IKEA embodies the principles of design reform begun by William Morris and John Ruskin, insofar as the company seeks to elevate public taste by providing quality goods at affordable prices, laudable aims in these drab days!
Fingers crossed the development comes off...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Redbridge appliance was reaching the end of its service...
"Never trust a word they say", an old friend of mine used to say about the Lib-Dems. Maybe he knows the chaps who are running the Lib-Dem campaign in Millbrook in Southampton?
They have just put out a leaflet for the local elections campaigning to stop "Tory Cuts" to the fire service and to "Save" the local Post Office in Regents Park, both claims of which are completely untrue!!!
Redbridge Fire Station
They say that Tories are axing a fire engine from Redbridge Fire Station. In fact the plan is to move an existing fire engine from Redbridge to St Mary's. The Fire Authority then have agreed to buy a smaller faster 'rapid response vehicle which will run out of Redbridge. The main reason for this is that most of the fires they have to deal with there are the sort in bins, burning rubbish, amandonened cars and the like. Small fires. Often the large appliances can't get there quickly or even at all if the fire is in an area with narrow road access or across difficult terrain. What the fire service want is a smaller faster new vehicle with four wheel drive. All this was decided by the Fire Authority has representation by all 3 political parties. No party objected to the set up described above. A consultation meeting was held at Bellemoor school. No Millbrook Lib Dems turned up of course. The Lib Dem representative on the Fire Authority, Peter Galton, did not object or comment and voted for the proposal!!!
Those with the time and inclination can read about it HERE.
Next up is...
Closure of Regents Park Post Office
This is operated by a local businessman who runs three other post offices in Southampton. It is a highly successful business as it has a large catchment area and includes a general store. As you can imagine he is far from impressed at the Lib-Dems saying his business is about to close which catergorically is not the case!

Getting nomination papers signed recalls a gentler age

nasty stain on your jacket...

I see that Francis Maude has called on the Liberal Democrats to prove their anti-racist credentials by sacking a local councillor in Darlington who nominated a BNP member as a candidate for the May elections.

In fact the Lib-Dems suspended Steve Jones according to The Times and the BBC. Leaving aside the poor sap's breathtaking lack of judgement, I am amazed the BNP needed to ask him. This year I completed three sets of nomination papers for the Conservative Party in different wards. I must say that I am amazed how easy it is to get them completed; strangers who had never met me before literally signed nomination papers without reading them or even really listening to my explanation of what they were or why I was asking them to sign them. I could be asking them to sign over the deeds of their property or anything else come to that!

A number of people, especially elderly, invited me into their houses which while I found touching and was grateful for their hospitality, I found very worrying. Sadly there are just too many conmen and the like around for the infirm to be so welcoming.
On a positive note, thank-you to everyone who signed nomination papers- you are doing your bit for democracy!

Shirley Post Office

Shirley Post Office is up for demolition and rebuilding as a block of flats with the Post Office situated on the ground floor. In itself this is no bad thing I guess as it helps preserve the Post Office but the scheme is pretty unsuitable;

  • It is out of keeping with the area.

  • There is no off road parking for shoppers.

  • The propietors will want to keep the convience store open 'till 11pm at night with the possible effects of noise this will create.

  • Such stores with late-night opening tend to be a magnet for anti-social behaviour.

  • The development will overshadow and block sunlight from ajoining residential properties.

As a first step and partly due to my intervention, the application has now been removed from being an Officers only decision and will be heard by the full Planning Panel on Tuesday at the Civic Centre at 9am.

I have written to everyone in the road and of course the public are welcome to make their reprsentations on Tuesday- I hope they do!

I'll be there!

Talking rubbish to get votes!

new broom sweeps clean!
David Cameron launched the Conservatives "Fighting Crime and Grime" local election campaign last Wednesday by shovelling dirt and picking up litter. The Conservative leader according to The Times was "sweeping away Labour" as he picked up chairs, bottles and bricks at a fly-tipping site.
Funnily enough rubbish is an issue too in Southampton but not fly-tipping; rather the decision to keep the weekly refuse collection. Suggested by officers in 2002, the idea to go to weekly refuse collection was embraced by Labour until they lost control of the council and the Lib-Dems took over. Labour then joined the Conservatives (who had always opposed the proposal) and forced the Lib-Dems to empty the bins weekly as they had been since Victorian times. Incredibly the Lib-Dems have tried to re-introduce the scheme several times since but have been blocked by the other two parties.
My manifesto; Should I be lucky enough to be elected, I would like to see the following;
  • Retain the weekly bin collection service
  • Promote glass re-cyling by piloting the free doorstep collection of glass/ bottles
  • Continue the free green waste collection service including the free second bag
  • Introduce a commercial waste re-cycling collection on Saturdays
  • Increase the rates of re-cycling from flats and houses of multiple occupation

None of this is ground-breaking stuff but would go some way toward developing a cleaner, greener Southampton.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

New Huhne blog launched!

Longtime readers of this blog know that in the past I have been a little critical of Chris Huhne, the Lib-Dem MP for Eastleigh. Perhaps I have been a little unfair on the Germanic sounding one, even if he has been a little confused about his expenses, where he lives or even how to use all that EU money he used to collect!I see that he now has a website dedicated to him at
I don't know who is behind it (not me!!!) but I can guess!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Humiliating. Inept. And only one man is to blame.

I thought the article by Michael Heseltine in today's Daily Mail was thoughtful well argued damning critique of the whole Iran Hostages affair.
Personally I find the whole sorry story a national embarrassment and doubtless we will never have the enquiry Hesiltine calls for. What a depressing mess...