Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Decriminalisation of Parking Enforcement

A busy evening last night, I attended the Warwick area committee where they were discussing changes to the way parking is managed across our towns. This is where Parking Enforcement moves from the Police to the Council. This will involve residents parking zones, new road markings and enforcement.

I have been interested in this for some time and am pleased to see that some of the comments residents made to me have been considered in the proposals.

Of course whilst everyone involved has made every effort to ensure the changes take place smoothly, once people are deprived of their illegal spaces and the free for all we currently have, chaos will ensue for a while until it all settles down. There will then be a review to iron out the knock on effects. These changes are set to be introduced in August 2007.

Details of the plans can be found on the Warwickshire County Councils Website.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Restorative Justice - Warwickshire VIP

I visited the Victim and Witness Information Partnership (VIP) this afternoon and had a very encouraging discussion on how we can make more use of Restorative Justice. This is something that has captured my imagination for years and seems total common sense.

For non-violent crime's rather than just slapping on an ASBO, the offender can face a Community Justice Panel where they are made to explain and apologise for their actions.
I heard how this can have a positive effect on the victim in terms of getting closure or understanding why this happened to them and for the offender it makes them confront the consequences of their actions. Part of the sentence can include a program of reparation to make amends for example repairing damage, community work and education.

The Warwickshire VIP is a ground breaking organisation pulling together many agencies within the justice system and has been used as a model elsewhere in the country.

The benefits of employing this type of justice are clear and I plan to spend some time with the Youth Offending Team to see how we can provide more support to the work they do in our county.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth.

Last Night I joined some of our local party members at the home of Alun Wyburn-Powell and his son Christopher for a screening of Al Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth".
Al Gore you remember came a very close second in the last US presidential election. Al has been a passionate campaigner for environmental awareness since college, difficult yet essential in a country where many live in a state of denial. This is a film that everyone should see.
The evidence that Al Gore clearly presents is overwhelming, yet he closes by telling us that we do not need to go from denial to despair without going through the stage of actually doing something about it.
All it needs is personal and political will.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Bedworth Patriot

As I mentioned in my previous post, whilst canvassing in Bedworth I came across a BNP leaflet 'The Bedworth Patriot' which I liberated to add to my collection. (sad I know)

The lead story caught my eye as it features Leamington. It seems that the BNP are livid that Lib-Dem Warwick District Council allowed the Sikh community to put up Diwali lights along with the Christmas lights in Leamington. "It is a disgrace. Only the BNP stands up for our culture and traditions".

Leamington Spa is proud of its diversity and any part of our community who wishes to celebrate their traditions and customs are welcome to do so.

Bedworth by-election

I spent yesterday morning campaigning with Alice Field who is standing in a by-election in Bedworth. I believe Alice would be a superb councillor for Bedworth and would help address what local people see as the neglect of their town by the borough.

In this seven way election many people told us that they had voted Labour in the past yet they were unsure now.

As Colin Ross experienced the day before, we often found ourselves working the same roads as the BNP whilst in one road Labour were delivering.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tunecast.. !!!

My Tunecast has arrived. This is a little box made by Belkin that you plug into your MP3 player and it transmits your tunes to your car stereo... FANTASTIC!!! does exactly what it says on the tin. I can now play my eclectic collection of music, including tunes I have harvested from MySpace, Demo's I am working on and sadly you may think 'Political Podcasts' on my travels without all that tedious burning them down onto CD.

Up until recently these devices that only transmit a few feet were illegal we have my friend Don Foster, Liberal Democrat MP for Bath & Shadow Culture Spokesperson to thank for changing this, he felt that the Wireless & Telegraphy act needed amending to move with the times.... Nice one Don!!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Warwick Hospital - not as bleak as the Tories make out.

I attended the Warwickshire NHS PCT Board meeting in Warwick yesterday and found this to be an informative meeting. The new Chairman Bryan Stoten was very clear in his criticism of what he termed 'hysteria' surrounding the future of the hospital. He said that there were no plans to close A&E or Maternity. Bryan went on to say that he had been concerned that for about 3-4 months there had been almost a delight by certain groups in spreading doom and gloom about the hospital and making claims that were simply untrue.

I have watched the Tories marching around Warwick & Leamington for some months now under the banner of 'Save Warwick Hospital' when clearly the Hospital is not under threat. Bryan Stoten's comments along with recent local newspaper headlines confirm what I have suspected for some months now, that the Tories are marching under an empty banner.

Now 'Save the Hospital' is a great banner to march under even when there is no threat to the hospital and a cynic might question the motives of the local Tories, I fear they may have shot themselves in the foot over this one when the local paper comes out with headlines such as "Hospital pours scorn on Conservative claims that A&E might be closed."

Sunday, January 07, 2007

UK Rubbish Mountain the size of Warwick

A friend and former Parliamentary Spokesperson for Warwick & Leamington, Linda Forbes sent me an interesting news story this weekend. It seems that the UK's Landfill is now the size of Warwick.

I was discussing only this morning how by garden composting and recycling my newspapers and bottles my weekly rubbish has reduced significantly, yet I am concerned with the amount of plastic packaging we get from our supermarkets each week. The UK throws away more rubbish than any other European country.

We clearly have to do a LOT more to reduce the volume of rubbish we throw away each week. I would like to see our supermarkets using less packaging and more ways of reusing the packaging we do get.

You can read the full story from the Local Government Association on the Warwick & Leamington Lib-Dem website.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Saddam's Death

Whilst I am not a big fan of the death penalty, considering Saddam ordered the indiscriminate deaths of thousands of innocent people I did not loose much sleep worrying about it. I did find the way he was executed distasteful and detracted from the seriousness of the crime and the sentence. It was an indignity for the rule of law.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Shopping Choices can make a difference.

My first shopping trip of the new year has reminded me of one of my new years resolutions. I want to be more aware of the choices I make while shopping.

Recently I had my Carbon Footprint measured and was surprised to find that around 50% of my personal contribution to the destruction of our environment comes from food. The majority of this is down to transport costs and as more of our food is flown across the world small choices we make in our shops can make a significant difference.

Another way we can make a difference is by choosing FairTrade products. It only costs a few pence more to buy FairTrade coffee and sugar for example, yet by doing so we are supporting thriving communities in developing countries, not through hand outs but by paying them a fair price for the crops they grow.

I really believe that many of problems in the world can be solved by lots of small solutions. As consumers we have the greatest power in the choices we make and simple things like thinking about where our food has come from sends a powerful message to the industry that supplies it.