Thursday, December 24, 2009

Fire Plan Ploy

Last week the Conservative Council Cabinet announced delays to the decision to close Warwickshire Fire Stations. With a General Election only months away my fear is this is only a ploy to delay the decision until after the election.

Local people deserve better than an open ended plan to bring proposals back 'some time in the future'. I would like to see these ill thought through plans scrapped altogether. The closures have proved deeply unpopular. Even our own fire fighters and neighbouring fire services have criticised the plan.

Plans put forward by the Conservative cabinet at the county council, would mean the closure of both Warwick and Kenilworth fire stations leaving just the station in Leamington to cover all three towns and surrounding areas.

With consultation on the proposals having closed on 8th December it was intended that the Cabinet would consider the proposals in January and then a final decision on changes would be made at a County Council meeting in February.

That timetable has now been abandoned, but despite pressure from Liberal Democrat councillors at the meeting to scrap the plans altogether no indication was given by the ruling Conservatives as to when plans would be brought back to the Council.

Damning Report from Neighbouring Fire Service.

As promised I have now had time to read the damning report from neighbouring Hereford & Worcester fire service on the plans to close fire stations across Warwickshire, including Warwick.

Its simply not good enough to postpone the decision, possibly until after the General Election. (do the Tories think we are stupid!) Its time to put an end to these plans altogether.

Here are some extracts from the report.

Page 57 - points 12 and 17 their Chief Fire Officer, Paul Hayden summarises his concerns.

Our evaluation suggests that the scale of reductions being proposed will leave Warwickshire without sufficient resilience to deal with routine operations without a significant increase in requests for over the border mutual aid from neighbouring Authorities such as ourselves. Our concern is not simply in relation to the reduction in resources proposed along our immediate border area, but that the reductions proposed across Warwickshire would adversely impact their ability to resource day-to-day activity.

On the basis of evidence Warwickshire has provided, and in light of the above issues, I have grave concerns that proposals to reduce front-line resources across Warwickshire would have a directly adverse impact on communities in Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

You can read this report in full here.
Go to section 10 page 55.
I welcome your comments.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fire Service Review Plans Delayed.

It looks as though the County Council have delayed the review of the Fire and Rescue Service. In spite of calls for clarification from our Lib-Dem councilors no indication has been given by the ruling
Conservatives as to when plans would be brought back to the Council.

Now the cynical amongst us might conclude that plans will be delayed until after the General Election, as the Tory councils plans have been very unpopular with the Tory MPs and Candidates and they have been doing everything they can to distance themselves from it.

We will just have to see.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Warwick Fire Service March

Many of us in Warwick attended the Demonstration against the planned closure of Warwick Fire Station today. The proposals are part of a county wide review of the Fire Service. If they go ahead will mean the closure of Warwick and Kenilworth fire stations leaving just Leamington to cover all three towns and surrounding areas. This will impact all three towns.

Everyone I spoke to on the march today are deeply suspicious of the response times between Leamington and Warwick that we were given in the consultation documents. We have every reason to be. Documents unearthed by Lib-Dem councilors across the county, who all oppose these closures show that the risk will actually go up.

You can find links to these documents in my previous posting. Have a read of the risk assessment which paints a very different picture to that given in the documents we were given as part of the consultation.

Given the massive support today I hope the Conservative Councillors on the County Council will see sense, read their own risk report and put an end to these risky plans and keep our fire stations open.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Warwick Fire Station Facts.

On Sunday the 6th December independent councilor Karen Scarrott will be organising a march to save Warwick Fire Station. Karen has kindly invited all of the Parliamentary Candidates for Warwick.

During the public meeting we attended in September we were told our response to the consultation should be based on Fact rather than Emotion. Yet we left the meeting with many questions unanswered.

That is why l have been working with my Lib-Dem colleagues across Warwickshire to dig out the facts using ‘Freedom of Information Requests’.

Below I have posted links to all of these documents - I hope you find them as useful as I have.

The Risk Review report in particular contains a lot of important information which we are entitled to see, so we can make a considered and informed response to the consultation process.

Documents you should see.

DNV Risk Review - Full Report
This is the Det Norske Veritias risk report commissioned by the county council dealing with the proposed changes to our fire service. This report is the most vital report for us to read about these plans to our fire service.

Operational Assessment Peer Review (I&DeA)
Cabinet Report - Chief Fire Officer

Martin Turner's Comparison Report
Martin Turner is my colleague in Stratford upon Avon. He has produced an excellent report examining the information provided in the Det Norske Veritias risk report and the information provided to us as part of the consultation.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Warwick District Council Savings - Reduce Councillors Costs.

I've just been completing the survey many of us have been sent on the services provided by Warwick District Council.

One question looks at the proportion of our council tax spent on various services and asks us how we would like to apportion the money.

It is not surprising that there is no option to reduce the cost of Councilors Allowances so that we can spend it on something useful such as travel for elderly or disabled for example.

Since the council has been controlled by the Conservatives there has been a marked increase in the number of councilors who receive additional allowances.

Now I have no issue with Councilors receiving reasonable allowances, after all many do a lot of work on our behalf and many take reduced hours and pay cuts from their day jobs. Yet the number of Conservative Councilors who have additional allowances for 'extra responsibilities', in cabinet or chairing committees for example has increased.

I would certainly like to see more of our money spent on services to us in Warwick District and less on putting more snouts in the trough.

It appears to me that this is jobs for the boys. (or girls)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Finally the Council Fire Service documents are made public!

Following sustained pressure from the Liberal Democrats success was achieved today, with the posting on the Warwickshire web site of the Cabinet report and two background reports.

At the Warwick consultation we were told our response must be based on fact rather than emotion and yet the Conservative cabinet were withholding this very information. Too much of the information has had to dragged out by requests from the Lib Dems.

You can find a link to these documents on the Local Lib Dem website.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Secret Tory Report on Fire Service Proposals

After sustained pressure from my Lib Dem colleagues on the County Council, the management summary of a report presented to the Conservative Cabinet in July, based on which it decided to consult on the closure plan have been made public.

The Tory Cabinet initially refused to make this document public in spite of freedom of information requests by Lib-Dems.

Yesterday however following sustained pressure from Lib-Dem county councillors, Warwickshire County Council agreed to release the Executive Summary of the consultants' report on which the recommendations to Cabinet had been based, and today they have gone further and agreed to release a version of the full report in the near future.

When I attended the public meeting on Monday we all felt we were not being given the full picture. The information given to us was sketchy. We were also told that our responses to the consultation needed to be based on fact rather than emotion. Difficult when the facts were being kept from us.

The report can be found on the Kenilworth & Southam Lib-Dem website where they are fighting the same campaign to stop the Tories from closing Kenilworth Fire Station. It is important that these campaigns run together as closing Warwick and Kenilworth will place a huge strain on the remaining Leamington Fire Station leaving all three towns dependant upon just one fire station.

I am gravely concerned about response times, at the meeting Fire Chiefs admitted that activity for incidents peaked around 6pm. This is the same time as roads between Warwick and Leamington are heavily congested.

The management summary admits in the section marked 'uncertainties' that it "makes use of national calculations of the effects of response time, whereas local models would be preferable".

We cannot make decisions to close fire stations in two of our largest towns in the county on uncertainties. It is time to scrap these plans. If we do need to review our fire service then the conservative council need to do their homework.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

3 Things you can do to Save Warwick Fire Station

The Conservative County Council want to close Warwick Fire Station. Liberal Democrats Councillors are opposing this closure.

There are 3 things you can do to keep up the pressure to Save our Fire Station.

Complete the consultation
Complete the consultation form and return it to the Fire and Rescue Service Deadline for return is 8th December 2009 - we strongly urge you to wait until after the meeting on November 10th to complete the form. You can download a copy of the form from and follow the Fire Service web site.

Write a Letter
Write a letter to go with the form The fire service want to use computer modelling to analyse the results - there is no guarantee any extra comments will be read in detail. We suggest you send a hard copy form with a covering letter to ensure that your views are recorded.

Lobby the Councillors
Lobby the Conservative County Councillors - Help them see sense.
Lib-Dem councillors on the county council have already decided to opposing the closure of Warwick Fire Station, so the decision will be down to the Conservatives who are proposing the closure.

Please write to the Conservative Fire and Rescue Portfolio Holder, Cllr R Hobbs (Conservative), Warwickshire County Council, Shire Hall, Warwick CV34 4SA.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Warwick Fire Station Consultation

I’ve just got back from a consultation on the proposed closure of Warwick Fire Station at Myton School this evening. The meeting was very well supported by my estimate over 100 people all against the proposed closure.

The key argument against the closure made by residents is that we do not believe response times can be maintained if Warwick Fire Station is closed. The information provided with the consultation does not appear to stack up. There are only two roads between Leamington and Warwick and these get clogged up during peak times, especially from the end of school in the afternoon through to the evening rush hour.

During the consultation the Fire Officer admitted that the peak activity time was between 2pm and 10pm. He described this as a bell curve, which would place the actual peak at 6pm, right around the evening rush hour.

I have asked for more information on this along with a revised map showing the response rates plotted at this time of day, taking into consideration the traffic at 6pm with and without Warwick Fire Station included.

I will let you know when I get this information.

In the meantime you can take part in the consultation from the County Council Website.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Independant Safeguarding Authority - Lets apply a bit of common sense.

I have just had an email from a local arts group that is considering excluding children and young people from their organisation because they are unable to cope with the Beaurcracy involved in the new Independant Safeguarding Authority.

This is the new Government quango set up as a knee jerk reaction to child protection by assuming we are all Paedophiles unless we can prove otherwise.

I have always felt that one of the great things about living in Warwick and Leamington are the wide range of activities and groups available to people of all ages. This helps build a cohesive community that makes this area a great place to live and grow up.

Now I am all in favour of protecting our children, however I feel the latest government knee jerk reaction to the issue, simply throwing more beaurocracy at a problem will end up having the opposite effect.

Children benefit from having constructive interaction with people of all ages such as membership and involvement sports and arts groups. Otherwise we are creating a society in which: all adults are feared as potential paedophiles; children are left with nothing else to do but hang out on street corners getting into trouble and alienated from the rest of society; and adults fear having anything to do with children in case they are seen as abusers.

This does not paint a picture of a Britain I want to live in.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bath Place Community Centre Fire

I have just heard there has been a fire at Bath Place Community Centre in Leamington this afternoon. This is a real shame as the centre provided a fantastic space for a wide and diverse range of community events in that part of town. I have attended a number of musical and artistic events there over the years.

I hope this does not spell the end of this valuable facility and something of equal value can be created in its place.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Britain needs to invest in our Digital Economy to remain a world leader in the 21st Century Knowledge Based Economy

Yesterday I chaired a fringe event at the Lib-Dem conference on the Digital Economy.

Investing in the Digital Economy is vital to Warwick & Leamington where there are a significant number of Jobs, from global corporations such as IBM and Accenture to the computer games industry and high tech automotive research.

There is a lot talk about cuts in expenditure, yet at the same time investment in infrastructure, skills and enterprise is vitally needed in areas of our economy. Whatever comes out of the current economic crisis it is clear that information technology will play a large part. Britain is currently a world leader in IT. Yet Britain risks falling behind if we do not make investment, part of a clear strategy for economic recovery.

Fellow Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidates took part in a Dragon’s Den to grill industry representatives on information society topics. The workshop addressed important issues such as child protection, jobs of the future and delivering public services at lower cost.

Philip Virgo, Secretary General of the Parliamentary Group on the information Society organising the event said, that most other issues would be irrelevant unless the UK can create, attract and retain the wealth-creating jobs of the future.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Shameless Fringe Plug - IT and the Internet

I am posting a shameless plug for a conference fringe I am involved with as this event will be of particular interest to our on-line community.

IT and the Internet - Turning challenges into opportunities

Westbourne Suite Bournemouth International Centre Mon 21st Sept 1300-1400

Following the recent publication of the Governments ‘Digital Britain Report’, a Dragon's Den of Parliamentary Candidates grilling industry representatives on political priorities for the on-line world.

A hot buffet lunch and drinks will be provided.

As the UK becomes increasingly reliant on computers and the internet, the Parliamentary cross party alliance on the information society, EURIM brings together a panel of prospective parliamentary candidates to assess the importance of information society issues to their target voters.

Society is critically dependent on services delivered over the Internet. Those without good access risk becoming a new underclass. At the same time there are issues of child protection, fraud and other abuse.

Politicians need to look towards delivering better public services at less cost by reducing waste. Can a more practical approach to online systems help them achieve this goal?

Representatives from Nominet, who look after the .uk domain and run the UK "Internet Governance Best Practice" awards; global technology corporation IBM; and engineering and design consultants Atkins will present key information society issues including internet governance, employer mobility and delivering value for money in public services.

The panel will then assess importance of the issues raised for their own upcoming election campaigns.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why dont we just use real trees?

Engineers say a forest of 100,000 "artificial trees" could be deployed within 10 to 20 years to help soak up the world's carbon emissions. According to the BBC Website.

These are huge grey things about the size of shipping containers that could line our motorways.

My question is... Why dont we just use real trees.!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Real Women

I've just read the 'Real Women' policy document from the Liberal Democrats. This is really good stuff aimed at 'real women' and the challenges they face.

"Women face pressure from all directions these days. Hit hard by the recession, trying to juggle family commitments with work and home life, it’s easy to feel like you’re running just to stand still. The media screams out an endless list of things still to do: get a bikini body in 20 days, plan the perfect children’s party, how to look 10 years younger. Despite great strides forward in equality, women still get paid less than men, and generally still end up taking more responsibility for childcare and looking after elderly relatives. This can be hugely rewarding, but combining this with a job can seem almost impossible."

To read more go to, Oh and I will be debating this issue at the Lib Dem conference next month and am interested to know what you think.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Swine Flu

I have been watching the swine flu outbreak since it started. The rate of cases were doubling every seven days until figures stopped being published a week ago. There are now around 9,700 cases in the UK with the West Midlands being one of the highest affected.

I prepared a briefing for work recently as I am running a large IT programme. This does not look like being the mass killer similar to 1918 spanish flu that some feared. However it could debilitate 60% of the working population if it peaks all in one go, due to infection and those looking after family. Some estimates suggest it could impact economic recovery by 2 years. Of course that assumes there is a recovery, but that is another discussion.

I do know that the NHS in Warwickshire are very prepared for this

There is some good advice on the NHS website.
This will help you diagnose your symptoms and tell you what to do.
You should then phone your doctor who will be able to confirm your symptoms and tell you what to do. There are centres around the county that can distribute medication if needed.

I don't think there is cause for panic. Though I have already stocked up on Lemsip and Chicken Soup just in case.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

UK Digital Road to Recovery - Good for Warwick & Leamington

Last Thursday I attended a meeting in Parliament organised by Eurim, a cross party group on the information society.We were discussing the recently published Digital Britain paper.

Anyone interested in IT and involved in the industry should read the management summary of this document, as it lays out the governments strategy for building our digital infrastructure. Why?

Isn't this just a collossal waste of tax payers money?

Well no. It will create jobs that will help stimulate the economy and it will leave us with the infrastructure Britain needs to compete in the 21st century economy and by applying IT to the delivery of public services we can get a better services, such as when we renew our tax disk and as tax payers we can make savings in public expenditure.

Warwick and Leamington are set to benefit from this. We have several large IT organisations & creative industries within our towns. We have the kind of towns that attract the skills to take advantage of this new economy.

Of course the interesting debate is, who will pay for all of this. My view is that private enterprise should be encouraged to build as much of this as possible. After all the internet has evolved soley through the private sector with little government involvement. Though where government needs to assist is with training the skills needed and investing in difficult to reach parts of the network.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Leamington Allotments Safe.

Just catching up on some of the local news. It seems Leamington Allotments are safe from development. Concern was raised when the 'options for growth' consultation placed one of the options for 10,800 new homes right across some of Leamington's fantastic allotments.

Allotment holders across Leamington mounted a solid campaign to oppose this option and it looks as though, in spite of the conservative led District Councils 'gagging order' forbidding local councillors who have suported the campaign from speaking and voting on the issue the allotment holders in Leamington have managed to protect their plots.

That is great news.

Lib-Dems push Labour into third place in Warwick & Leamington.

A momentous local election count at Stoneleigh today has left Labour floundering in Third place in the newly formed Warwick & Leamington constituency.

Labours support fell to 7% behind the Liberal Democrats close at the heels of the Conservatives who managed only a 3.6% lead on their Lib-Dem rivals.

I am delighted by the result. People have been telling me on the doorsteps that the state of the economy and the collapse of the government over the expenses scandal have played a major part in today’s result.

Vince Cable’s commentary on the economy and Nick Clegg’s call for a total reform of Westminster has shown that the Liberal Democrats are taking the lead on the serious issues we face in our country.

Friday, May 29, 2009

UKIP Myth about UK's £40M per day - They are simply making most of this up.

UKIP claims that EU membership costs the UK £40m per day. This is total rubbish. I took part in a debate at a local school in Coventry a few months back and the UKIP representative made many wild claims that I could not even find supported in their own literature. I suspect they are double accounting or simply making the figures up!

Here are the facts backed up by various public sources of information.

The UK does make a net contribution to the EU, which varies year on year, but this year each person in the UK contributes £67 a year, or £1.29 per week, or 18p a day to the EU budget.

Britain pays similar amounts into the budget as do other countries of Britain’s size and wealth. It is only right that Britain makes a budget contribution, as we take all the benefits of EU membership, such as the 3 million British jobs linked to trade with other EU countries.[1]

Government Spending and net EU budget contributions:

Government spending 2008-09: £623bn, net EU contribution: £3bn[2] Government spending 2009/10: £671bn[3], net EU contribution: £4.1bn[4] (i.e. 0.6% of total government spending)

[2] Chart 1.1, 'Pre-Budget Report 2008'
[3] Chart 1.1, (page 12) 'Budget 2009: Building Britain's Future'
[4] Footnote 3 of Table C9 (page 238) ) 'Budget 2009: Building Britain's Future'

Monday, May 25, 2009

Democracy should not be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Its not just expenses, the whole thing needs reforming. Let’s just remind ourselves what has happened in Parliament in very recent years.

Allegedly members of the House of Lords have been taking cash in order to influence legislation.

It appears as though Political parties have been taking donations in exchange for political favours and honours. (Cash for Honours)

MPs have allegedly been taking money to ask questions in parliament. (Cash for Questions)

Now Parliament is supposed to be where decisions and legislation is made on OUR behalf. Democracy is something we give to our elected representatives at the ballot box, a bond of trust. It is not to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

It has been suggested that MPs with the safer seats are more likely to have been caught up in expenses scandals.

So here are some reforms I would like to see.

- Reform of the House of Lords. No more cash for honours.
- Electoral Reform. No more cosy safe seats, every vote counts anywhere in the country.
- We should be able to sack our MPs for breaching the trust we put in them. No more shuffling off to the back benches (on £64K salary) only to come back a few years later when we have all forgotten.
- Yes MPs can incur and be reimbursed for their expenses, reasonable second homes and running constituency offices. However these rules should be industrial strength, like the rules I have in the company I work for and those most people in industry and the civil service work under. No more stately homes, helipads and duck islands.
- MPs should not set the rules for benefit of their own exclusive little club. There should be an independent body that sets the rules and standards for OUR benefit.

After all we give Parliament their power at the ballot box and we are the ones paying for it.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Its only because we are Jealous of MPs large houses it seems.

Tory grandee Anthony Steen claimed yesterday that he was the victim of "jealousy" among his Devon constituents who were envious of his large house. He said: "What right does the public have to interfere with my private life? None. You know what it's about? Jealousy. I've got a very, very large house."
Steen is clearly so out of touch with the constituents in his ‘safe’ seat, he may as well be living in a second home on Mars.
The public couldn’t care less about the size of his house…. It’s our having to pay for it and the 500 trees we had planted for him in its parkland we mind.

Picture - Steen's house and some of the trees we bought for him.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bring back the Chartists.

These past few weeks has seen a bloodbath in Westminster over the MP’s expenses issue. What started off as the subject of office jokes with Labour MP’s claims for bath plugs and porn films has turned to anger as we saw elaborate ‘flipping’ of second homes to maximise claims. The Tories have taken this to a whole new level with claims for chandeliers and moat cleaning for their stately homes.

As tax payers we have a right to be angry. I have never had an issue with MPs claiming reasonable expenses. When I travel on business I do the same, some of my colleagues live in rented accommodation in Worcester during the week. Industry has managed to cope with the issue in a manner that reimburses employees for reasonable expenses whilst ensuring no one makes a profit. For a start the inland revenue would never allow it.

In Westminster there has developed a culture of expenses being the right of many MPs. A system has developed that is so lax that it was simply asking to be abused.

A couple of years ago I challenged James Plaskitt MP, in the Courier over his support to MPs exemption to the freedom of information act. James claimed this was to protect the privacy of constituents, a weak claim as constituents privacy was catered for in other ways. I suggested at the time that this was more to protect MPs from scrutiny over their expenses.

I sense this is part of a deeper malaise in British Politics. Since being closer to politics over the past few years as a Parliamentary Candidate I have seen a system that is rotten to the core. Where dodgy funding can buy political favours. Dirty politics to undermine the opposition. Spin and carefully managed leaks, sexed up dossiers to influence public opinion.

Our elected representatives at any level of government should not forget that they are simply that, elected by us, to represent us so that they can take decisions on our behalf, for the smooth running of our towns, areas and country. It is a position of trust and privilege. Recent behaviour shows many treat this with contempt, no wonder Politicians are held in such low esteem.

It is easy to feel disillusioned with all politics, yet British history shows a long tradition of reformers who have successfully challenged the system and corruption from the Magna Carter to the Anti War demonstrations a few years ago.

My Great-Great-Great Grandfather, Thomas Attwood, was one of the founders of the Birmingham Political Union which was foremost among Chartist groups lobbying the government for the passage of the Reform Bill.

Like today Politics in the 1830’s had become corrupt. The aim of the movement was to, "take effectual measures for correcting diverse abuses that have long prevailed..."

Talking to people over the past few weeks, campaigning for the county elections it is clear, people are so disillusioned with politics in this country that we need a radical new Reform Bill to clear out the rot and build a parliament fit to govern this country in the 21st Century.
Picture - Alan Beddow with the statue of his Great-Great-Great Grandfather, Thomas Attwood MP in Chamberlin Square, Birmingham.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Douglas Hogg MP - Moat Cleaning Expenses

I had thought I had heard it all about MP's expenses, but this week has plumbed new depths. Douglas Hogg, (who has his snout firmly in the trough) the former agriculture secretary, submitted a claim form for more than £2,000 for the moat around his country estate to be cleared. At tax payers expense.

What has become the subject of office jokes this week has turned into a farce. People I have spoken to over the past few weeks are angry that OUR tax payers money is being embezzled in this way, when schools are struggling for funding and there is a shortage of hospital beds.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Longbridge Roadworks Warwick

Each day as I go to work I drive past the new Longbridge Bypass roadworks on the A46 M40 junction. I am not sure whether this will make my journey to work any easier when it is finished. There can often be huge queues on the bypass, especially at rush hour.

I found this website this lunchtime with lots of information on the work, pictures, plans and views of what it will be like when it is finished.

Friday, February 27, 2009

What the Liberal Democrats stand for.

For the Debate at North Leamington school this morning, I had a little homework to do. I was asked to speak for 3 minutes outlining what the Liberal Democrats stand for.

How do I describe what the Liberal Democrats stand for in just 3 minutes.

Well I would like to start by reading what it says on the back of my party card.

"The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of Liberty, equality and community and in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity"

These are the principles which underpin all of our policies.

We believe in Free Market Economics,
Tempered by a sustainable outlook on the environment, financial security and sound social policies.

It is clear that if we have a society, with excellent schools and hospitals.
Good housing and facilities.

A world class transport system and infrastructure.
People will achieve the best from their skills and talents.

People will flourish within the framework of a free market
Which will generate wealth
And a fair system of taxation will pay for the social policies that create this climate of opportunity.

Our party and our policies are all about creating this balance.

We believe that government should start at the doorstep and work upwards
Rather than a nanny state looking down on us
Power should reside at the lowest possible level.

We are internationalist in our outlook
And believe institutions such as the UN and the European Union are essential in tackling the challenges we face in the 21st Century
Such as Climate Change, International Crime, third world poverty and the challenges of globalisation.
Though we would be the first to criticise these institutions and campaign for their reform.

We believe it is vital that we defend the rights and freedoms
That British people have fought for
and that have been held up as a model across the globe
rather than allow them to be eroded by a climate of fear.

We believe that by building a Free, Fair and sustainable society

We can ensure a prosperous future
Fit for the 21st Century
Respected by our neighbours
And built on the very best of British Traditions.

Question Time - North Leamington & Myton Schools. - Free Travel for Students?

I spent this morning taking part in a question time style debate with sixth formers from North Leamington and Myton Schools.

I enjoy taking part in these events and there was a broad range of questions covering subjects such as the Environment, the Economy, the 3rd Runway at Heathrow to Reform of the House of Lords.

One question that resonated with the audience was Free Bus Travel for Students. Ben Wesson who was previously the member of the Youth Parliament said that it cost £5.40 to get from Southam to Leamington. I wonder why we can have free bus travel for pensioners, yet students who often have less money do not in most parts of the country and yet it would make such a difference to their lives in terms of access to work, study and leisure.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Low Carbon Event at Wolseley - Its part in rebuilding the Economy.

I attended the Low Carbon Event this morning run by one of the areas leading employers, Wolseley and Lib-Dem run Leamington Town Council.

The event was held at Wolseley’s Sustainable Building Centre at Spa Park, which showcases the latest sustainable products and renewable technologies.

It is encouraging that we have a local employer developing and promoting these products. This is vital not only for the environment but also for economic recovery.

It is clear that we must invest our way out of the current economic crisis. There is a growing consensus amongst Political and Business leaders across the world that investment must put in place the infrastructure for the 21st Century economy. This will mean investment in digital infrastructure, transport and efficient use of sustainable energy.

The products I saw on display at Wolseley demonstrate how we can save energy in our own homes and how buildings can be constructed with significantly lower energy needs. It is certain that the economy of this century will be based around better use of energy. We can be proud that we have one of the leading suppliers of these products based here in Leamington.

Leamington Town Council is working towards transition town status, to reduce the carbon footprint of the town. Working with businesses such as Wolseley is good for our town, it is good for employment and it is good for our environment.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Why cant the Banks lend the £37 Billion to British Businesses that tax payers have already given them.

I am astounded that the Government is planning on risking more tax payers money to get banks to lend to British businesses. A disturbing number of small businesses are shutting down because the banks have pulled the rug from under their feet by withdrawing overdraft facilities that are essential to maintain their cashflow. Many of these businesses have solid order books and are needed if we are to rebuild our economy.

Haven't we already sunk £37 billion into our banks to get them lending again, what has happened to all of that! So why on earth should we risk a further £10 billion, just to get the banks to do what they promised to do in the first place. Surely the answer is to force them to keep lending the huge stake the Government already has in these banks to our healthy businesses and keep people in work.

More on Eco Towns

I spotted this in the Independent earlier in the week. It looks like the battle for the Eco towns is still on going. The article makes a good point about the true environmental impact on some of the planned towns due to their distance from employment and transport systems.

In principle I am in favour of eco towns, however the plans for the site near Stratford, stuck in the middle of the Warwickshire countryside and no plans to link up the transport system, would mean residents would have to jump in their cars to take their children to school and attend work.

What would make more of an impact would be Eco Developments in cities linked to public transport systems and close to all the services. Otherwise its nothing more than an excuse to build more houses in the greenbelt.