Friday 12th January 2007

11:49 pm

Would you like to be Chancellor, Darling?

Gravatar The Scotsman thinks it knows something important about Gordon Brown's plans for his first Cabinet: Alistair Darling will next week lead Britain's biggest ever trade mission to India where he will link up with Gordon Brown. The three-day trip to Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore will boost speculation at Westminster that he is set to become Chancellor when Mr Brown takes over from Tony Blair as Prime Minister."When Mr Brown takes over from Tony Blair as Prime Minister"? Does anyone know the Scots for "hubris"?
11:25 pm

Big Brother - thank goodness I haven't watched it

Gravatar It's that time of year again. My wife is buying the Sun everyday for the "HOLS FROM £9.50" vouchers. I give it a quick flick-through to keep in touch with what the biggest readership in the country is reading. I stumbled across what I thought was an example of half-decent writing from Ally Ross today on the subject of Celebrity Big Brother:"No big dimella...just turn off CBB": One of the great
11:14 pm

Lembit will always be Lembit

Gravatar I just wanted to make a comment which is supportive of Lembit Opik. He got a bit of stick for his quips at Northern Ireland and Prime Minister's questions this week. Of course, if Lembit was any good at stand-up humour, he'd be a stand-up comedian. He isn't. But you can't knock him for being consistent. He has always been like that. A very model of chutzpah if not, altogether, wit. In fact, I
11:13 pm

Philippa Pearce: Minnow on the Say

Gravatar It seems I am not alone in preferring Minnow on the Say to Tom's Midnight Garden amongst the works of the late Philippa Pearce. Daria Donnelly writes: Philippa Pearce's 1958 Tom's Midnight Garden ... is considered one of the finest novels written for children, "as near as any book I know to being perfect in its construction and writing" according to critic John Rowe Townsend. But I think Pearce's recently republished first novel, Minnow on the Say ... is even better. Yes, Tom's Midnight Garden is terrific. It tells the story of a boy whose loneliness is both expressed ...
11:06 pm

Welcome news about Steve Irwin video

Gravatar I welcome the news from Steve Irwin's widow that the video of Irwin's death has been "destroyed". Even though they may be kept under lock and key, these sorts of records have a habit of cropping up years later. For example, there were the "confidential" recordings that the late Princess of Wales made to her speech coach. And there are some tapes somewhere of Linda McCartney, which are the
10:48 pm

Mediterranean blues

Gravatar This post from Dizzy has left me open-mouthed. I certainly did not know that ex-Pats living in the Mediterranean were still entitled to winter fuel payments. Dizzy reports that according to figures from the DWP Minister, James Purnell, in 2005/06, his Department paid £4,215,000 in Winter Fuel Payments to claimants in Greece, Spain, Italy, Malta, Cyprus and Portugal. The view of one of his commenters that this is a loophole that needs to be closed is absolutely right.
10:43 pm

Offending overseas and the PNC

Gravatar There's been a big fuss about people who have been convicted of things overseas not being put onto the Police National Computer in a timely fashion. And the Sex Offenders Register. And something worries me about the almost inevitable media and Westminster village feeding frenzy on this. I read a couple of weeks ago a story about a seventeen year old boy in Georgia, admittedly a US citizen but there's no telling who else it might happen to, who has been given a ten year prison term with no possibility of parole and a life time's entry on ...
10:22 pm

Broadband at The Stiperstones Inn

Gravatar One of my favourite pubs in Shropshire is The Stiperstones Inn. Now it has something else to recommend it: a wireless network installed as part of the Switch on Shropshire project. There is more on this innovative project to bring broadband to remote rural areas in, of course, the Shropshire Star . Charming water colour borrowed from the pub's website.
9:14 pm

The House That Jack Built

Gravatar Did you celebrate The Avengers’ birthday week by watching it last night? No? Luckily, the same episode’s on again on BBC4 at 11.30, and it’s as good as they get. Normally I’d recommend this series for the dialogue between the leads as they swan about having fun, but this is different: Mrs Peel is alone; it’s more tense psychological drama than amusingly witty; but what’s really outstanding is the visual style. Brilliantly filmed, designed in sharp mod monochrome, Emma trapped in a psychedelic maze like an evil TARDIS may make it just about the most ’60s-looking of all ’60s television. ...
9:00 pm

Save Rural Post Offices..

Gravatar     Press Release Date: SAVE OUR POST OFFICES Mark Young, Lib Dem Assembly Candidate for the Vale Of Clwyd, has called on the Government to safeguard the future of the local Post Office network."Under the last Conservative Government 3,500 local offices closed.Under Labour a further 4,000 have so far closed . Last  month Labour have now announced plans to close a further 2,500 post offices.""Neither the Tories nor Labour have any plan to safeguard the future of our vital Post Office network", says CLLR Young. "The future for many local Post Offices looks bleak."The Government has announced that it will ...
8:56 pm

UPDATE - What is going on in Breckland ?

Gravatar The ongoing saga of behind closed doors meetings and a perceived unwillingness to tell the whole story in Breckland is still continuing. Read the latest HERE. I've written about this before HERE, but this all makes fascinating reading. Now local people are saying they will not pay there council tax until Breckland Council owns up to what is going on. There are always rumours about council cover up in which ever council area you live and under what ever party runs a council, but this one seems to be going on and on. The best way to ...
8:41 pm

First Stalham, next stop Diss. Which Norfolk town will be next for the Tesco ghost town experience ?

Gravatar The EDP reports on the ongoing saga in Diss, in South Norfolk, and Tesco's plans for total domination of the town. A battle royal has been going on for some time since Tesco bough the old Co-op site and took on Morrisons. Anyone who drives through Diss will know that what was already a difficult road to drive through town on is now often a log jammed traffic jam. But the biggest problem is that there is now the real danger of a second Tesco superstore just a few hundred yard away, which many feel will cause the collapse ...
8:31 pm

Leaving school at 18 - A call for real skills training

Gravatar The government have said that they would like to raise the school leaving age to 18 today. There has been a large amount of general agreement on this issue, but any change will require a massive change in the way schools are focussed. Coming hot on the heels of the government changin the way GCSE results are measured for the purpose of school league tables, where vocational GCSE's no longer help boost a schools rating, the idea of keeping a further 20% of pupils at school, usually the 20% who get the least from school, those who struggle the ...
8:21 pm

Former Tory councillor joins Liberal Democrats

Gravatar John Yaxley, elected as a Conservative councillor in Caradon District Council in 2003, has (after a period as an independent) now joined the Liberal Democrats: “I believe that they now clearly offer the only credible voice for the people of South East Cornwall.” caradon council conservatives
7:04 pm

Back soon....

Gravatar It’s Friday, I’ve had a hard week at work, I’m off out for a drink. So for those Divine Comedy fans out there (and I know the Lib Dem blogosphere is teeming with them) here’s La Blogotheque’s video of ‘A Lady of a Certain Age’ (from Victory for the Comic Muse).
6:34 pm

FACTS NOT FICTION [Responce Letter]..

Gravatar             Dear Ed,   I write with reference to the letter from Cllr GlynJones – It pays to be in touch……   While I have the utmost respect for Cllr Jones, I find myself needing to put my friend straight with his facts!   He states that I said the residents want   850 houses in St Asaph.  Actually what I did say was “one of the biggest concerns locally is the availability and affordability of local housing!” He also states that I said Denbigh needed a businessforum.   Not only do I know there is a business ...
6:26 pm

Post Office closures Letters.

Gravatar     Dear Ed   > Post Office Closures a false economy: > > Vale of clwyd Lib Dem Assembly candidate has slammed the announcement that the > Government plan to close thousands more post offices. > > “Ministers’ claims that post offices must close in their thousands are > simply wrong. > > “These closures have been Government driven as ministers have taken away > businesses like pensions, TV licences and passports. > > “Post offices can be viable if they are set free from Royal Mail > restrictions on who they can trade with and given ...
6:20 pm

A level standards set to fall

Gravatar Of course we would like more young people to stay in education. Further education was particularly valuable in my experience because by then all the troublecausers and time-wasters had left. Those of us who remained actually wanted to learn something. It was a revelation. It was so great, perhaps everybody should have to do it. Groan. It is a serious problem that many school leavers lack basic
6:20 pm

Talking about Prestatyn Action Groups.

Gravatar     Dear Ed,   While I congratulate and fully support the Scala project and all the groupsinvolved, can I play the devils advocate and ask the following of allTown&County Councillors before they fully commit to any depth for theCommunity of Prestatyn.Has they been a robust look at the projects bugetcosting of £3.5 million and risks associated to this, because now is thetime to do this before they commit, then they can agree to a final projectCost. I ask this because of two things one a number of locals think theexisting figure is too high and the lack ...
6:06 pm

Graham's blog entry for 12th January 2007

6:04 pm

Send In The Clones

Gravatar A very busy Friday driving up to Exeter and back in the morning to meet with the Mental Health Care Trust Chief Executive and Senior Consultant to discuss the transition arrangements for patients at a...
5:53 pm

Westerleigh Road Houses to be renovated

Gravatar Combe Road is now likely to be closed until June or July, so I asked whether these houses in Westerleigh Road can be given a clean bill of health before this time - it was thought that Westerleigh Road would need to be closed for the infill to be checked and obviously this would have created great problems with Combe Road closed too. I have today received the following positive reply from Jess Bowden of the Stone Mines Project Team: "I have spoken to the project managers about the topping up in Westerleigh Road and have been advised that ...
5:25 pm

The power of symbols

Gravatar I meant to comment earlier on the decision in Estonia to equate the symbolism of the Soviets with that of the Nazis and ban both. The reaction from Russia- the usual offensive bluster- just reminds us that they still do not understand the scale of evil that these symbols represent. All the Estonians I know- and I know many- had family members who were taken. Many never returned. Those that did were often broken in health and spirit. These were innocent victims of an inhuman ideology. Of course the Estonians take it personally. Russia still does ...
4:20 pm

We can cut crime

Gravatar     {Liberal Democrat logo}     On Monday 22nd January, Sir Menzies Campbell will launch the party's "We can cut crime" campaign, and to follow up on the launch a "we can cut crime" action week is scheduled for February 3rd-11th. The main activity in this week will be to carry out a huge 'knock and drop' crime survey on doorsteps across the country. Like our Green Tax Switch campaign, extensive campaign materials are being produced to help every local party and every individual supporter take ...
3:59 pm

Conservative Euro-Leader in €16 million "diversion of funds" investigation

Gravatar It might just be time for David Cameron to regret his broken promise about leaving the EPP.
3:53 pm

Quality, not quantity, is what we need in education

Gravatar Ministers appear to be considering raising the compulsory school age to 18. It is hard not to sympathise with their motivation for this. Alan Johnson (one of the few Labour ministers that retains some credibility) told The Times that “It should be as unacceptable to see a 16-year- old working, with no training, no education, as it is now to see a 14-year-old… We should find it … repellent that a youngster of 16 is not getting any training.” Coming from a man who left school at 15 with no qualifications, it is hard not argue. This raises a ...
2:46 pm

Celebrity Big Brother breaking news - Leo leaves

Gravatar My friend Miranda has just rung me to tell me Leo Sayer has escaped from the Celebrity Big Brother House.
2:09 pm

LibDem Blogger makes BBC 7 days quiz

Gravatar So who got question 4 of the BBC 7 Days 7 Question Quiz right then? Paul by any chance?
2:07 pm

Blackness Avenue

Gravatar Back in September (click on headline to view) I complained to the Planning & Transportation Department about a damaged street sign in Blackness Avenue (half of it missing actually!) Send a reminder about this recently as it was still not sorted. Please to advise of following feedback today: "Thank you for your email regarding the broken street name plate on Blackness Avenue at Hyndford Street. Unfortunately, this defect has been overlooked. Apologies for this but please be assured that it will now be forwarded to the contractor for repair."
1:56 pm

A novel solution to policing in Northern Ireland

Gravatar As part of the peace process, the new Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) is required to recruit equally from the Protestant and Catholic communities. Even though the Catholics remain in a minority within the province, the PSNI is required to recruit on a 50-50 basis. In practice, this is proving hard, as many Catholics remain suspicious of the police. When it was the Royal Ulster Constabulary it was largely Protestant and many considered it to be partisan. Thus even now only 21 per cent of its officers are Catholic and PNSI has struggled to recruit sufficient numbers of ...
1:51 pm

What is in a logo?

Gravatar Today's Western Mail reports that Welsh Language Channel S4C has spent £606,972 re-branding itself. To be precise it has turned its distinctive logo (pictured) into S4/C. This must be the most expensive slash in history. S4C's audience consists of the 600,000 Welsh speakers in Wales and it commands a monopoly position as the only TV channel catering for them. It has a huge name recognition amongst its viewer base. Quite how the channel can justify this sort of expenditure on this sort of marketing is difficult to understand. The Chief Executive claims that the new brand reflects S4C's ...
1:42 pm

Last night, tonight and tomorrow

Gravatar Last night the rain held off, thankfully, and we just had to contend with the darkness, wind and cold. Still, we were successful, and shipped 300 leaflets before 21.00. We (and by “we” I mean “Team Baum” of my mum and me) did all of Hilton Lane, Spring Vale, a couple of side streets off Hilton, Kersal Road, and then drove up to Prestwich Hills and did there as well. Mum has remarkable stamina
1:34 pm

Coalition or bust

Gravatar Conservative AM, Glyn Davies, is in the Western Mail again this morning, hammering away at the idea of a rainbow coalition. For goodness sake, Glyn, give it a rest. We are not really interested in your little project. In fact you are starting to sound a bit desperate: "I think it's absolutely essential that we as a Conservative Party are in the frame to be part of a coalition. We've got to say to the people of Wales that we're a Welsh party, we want to be involved in the government of Wales. That inevitably leads us into a ...
1:33 pm

Government websites

Gravatar I was shocked to see that the UK Government has nearly 1000 websites. I wasn’t suprised just a little shocked. I’ve worked on Government websites in my previous life as an interactive designed and have had to deal with various levels Civil Servants using a website as another mark of success in their career. However things [...]
1:32 pm

76% say London mayoral candidate should be from grassroots

Gravatar Should our next candidate for mayor of London be an MP? Yes: 24% (80) No: 76% (248) Total Votes : 328 So the next logical poll is to ask ‘which grassroots member’? Please submit suggestions below. Names that will definitely appear, as they were suggested when I asked this question a while ago: Ben Abbotts Navnit Dholakia Steve Hitchins  Chris Maines John Stevens I’ve included Lord [...]
1:23 pm

Libraries host recycling surgeries

Gravatar Redcar and Cleveland Council will be using its 13 branch libraries for a new awareness-raising campaign on recycling, starting at Saltburn on Monday, January 15. The Council's Community Waste Liaison Officer Barbara Webster will be joined by assistants Chris Orr and Ryan Williams on a programme of visits, which plans three stops at each library from now until the end of March. The sessions, funded through the Government's WRAP - Waste and Resource Action Programme - initiative is geared to offer advice and information to residents on all recycling issues. Barbara explained: "This will be the third ...
1:19 pm

New Federal Executive drops key financial figure

Gravatar The newly elected Federal Executive (the Lib Dems’ sort-of-equivalent to Labour’s NEC) has voted to replace David Griffiths as chair of the Federal Finance and Administration Committee. Now, this is really only of interest to navel gazing Lib Dems but it is interesting to note that David Griffiths was the man tasked with standing up at [...]
1:11 pm

Candidate news: Chelmsford

Gravatar Congrats to Stephen Robinson who was selected to run in Chelmsford last month, The Westminster list has been updated. PPC news selections
12:40 pm

Football Pitch at Kensington Meadows - A Step Closer!

Gravatar Young footballers are celebrating after receiving a grant to bring the sport back to a green space near London Road. Kensington Meadows was once a popular spot for informal sporting contests, with friends gathering for kick-abouts and others regularly setting up cricket wickets. For many years the area has been ignored by all but dog walkers. But trails have been taking place in the meadows' nature reserve during recent months, boosting awareness of the green space. Now a 14-strong group of youngsters have started to gather to play football on Sunday afternoons, with jumpers for goalposts. But last night a ...
12:37 pm

Water Buffalo at Play - Pictures only

12:26 pm

So is 18 years old the age when people become an Adults

Gravatar About a week and a half ago I wrote about at which age someone becomes an adult - the Government had just announced it was raising the age at which people could buy cigarettes to 18. Now the Government looks set to raise the age that compulsory education (or training) ends to 18. At the same time I have been, and still am, running a poll on the issue.
12:15 pm

Respect refuse to vote for Troops out of Iraq

Gravatar At Tuesday's Council meeting the Lib Dems put a motion down calling for the troops in Iraq to be withdrawn as soon as possible. The response from Respect was to walk out and refuse to vote on it. They basically went in with Labour on the issue of Troops out of Iraq. Quite surprising.
11:51 am

Laws and Presidents

Gravatar The latest Judge Dredd story Origins has been perfectly competent but a little underwhelming for a story that purports to finally reveal the secret history of the Judge Dredd universe. So far, that history has revealed little that we didn’t know before, albeit with some nice touches such as revealing “Bad Bob” Booth - [...]
11:49 am

Empty new homes scandal - a solution?

Gravatar ALTER (the Lib Dems' Land Value Tax and Economic Reform group) have spent the time over the holidays preparing arguments for the "Tax Commission II" which will focus, amongst other things on that bit of tax policy that was left hanging at Conference - the details of how to implement Land Value Tax. One thing I noticed just before Christmas which didn't seem to be picked up anywhere else was some research from "Inside Housing" magazine, also reported in the Telegraph, that in some places up to 50% of new build housing is standing empty, bought up, often ...
11:40 am

Speeding issues and NCR latest

Gravatar Firstly, my colleague Cllr Helen Dick & I are (along with elected representatives across the political spectrum) meeting Nicol Stephen MSP, the Enterprise Minister, on Monday about the NCR situation - read more by clicking the headline above.I have today been advised about initial results with regard to the speed survey I had asked for on City Road (south of Cleghorn Street) following residents' concerns about speeding vehicles. The results are not yet fully complete and the radar detection equipment is back on site so I hope to update residents on the full findings soon.At the start of December, I ...
10:41 am

It doesn't make much sense, there ought to be a law against

Gravatar This Friday the music video is Happy Birthday by Stevie Wonder. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, next Monday is Martin Luther King Day in the United States. This song played a very influential momentum building role in the campaign to have the day recognised as a public holiday. A petition was raised and presented to Congress in 1981, carrying an unbelievable six million signatures. The overwhelming majority with which the MLK Day Bill eventually passed Congress meant that Reagan couldn’t veto it, and the holiday was officially established in 1983. Unlike other holidays, people are encouraged to give ...
9:24 am

Janet Yatak attacks Library spin

Gravatar There's a very insightful letter about spin the Newington Library Campaign in yesterday's Southwark News from community campaigner Janet Yatak. It deserves reproducing in full: "I have kept out of the public debate about the Newington Reference Library so far because I did not want to waste my time with unreasonable activists who have no mandate to speak for anyone, but when I read Julie Speechley's (Letters, Jan 4) I was incensed enough to write to express my view. The whole campaign has done nothing but target wheelchair users, and the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) covers ALL disabilities. ...
8:54 am

Pot Hole Regulations

Gravatar Remember the pothole in Ralph Allen Drive that Cherry and I took our lives in our hands to get a photograph of last year - it's in the blog archive for October? I asked the Council's Highways department about how deep potholes had to be before they were treated as urgent, because the Ralph Allen Drive potholes had been around for some time and I considered that they were especially dangerous for two wheeled vehicles and for cyclists. The reply I received from Steve Jones is reproduced below - thank you Steve for the information. "A dangerous pothole ...
8:36 am

Wolverhampton South West update - Tettenhall Regis

Gravatar Earlier in the week we had the Wolverhampton South West Liberal Democrats meeting. It was our first of 2007 so a much of it revolved around the 2007 Local Elections. I gave a report on Tettenhall Regis and the progress we are having there.
7:55 am

Day 2200: Silent Night, Holy Night; Torch-wielding Mob loses right to Burn Heretics

Gravatar Tuesday: I should like to say a big fluffy THANK YOU to those of my chums inside the House of Lords Club, out in the real world, here in the blogophere and (fluffy help me!) even Friday morning's Fart for the Day on the The Today Programme(!) who have supported the Fair Play for Gay Daddies Regulations (Northern Ireland) and seen off the demands of a small group of people who want to dress up UNFAIRNESS in a religious frock. Despite having their objections thrown out of court already, they were determined to have another go, but in the ...
7:29 am

GMC does not protect patients - inquiry

Gravatar I would like a copy of the report rather than just The Independent story about the report. However, the independent story is worth reading. Serious flaws in Britain's system for disciplining doctors have been uncovered by an independent inquiry that raises doubts about its fairness to doctors and its protection of patients.
6:20 am

New Year blues

Gravatar There is a lot of speculation about the supposed imminent collapse of the most successful multi-cultural and multi-ethnic state in modern history. No, not Iraq. The UK. Strong polls for the SNP, and carefully-fanned English resentment of the higher levels of public spending in Scotland mean that political commentators are talking seriously about Scottish independence. Or as seriously as political commentators who have a regular deadline to fill with the latest breathless crisis can do. But this is hugely irresponsible. For 300 years the Anglo-Scottish Union has created an immensely successful dynamic that has benefited both nations. ...
12:12 am

John Reid

Gravatar John Reid may well be right that the Home Office is “not fit for purpose”, but now he’s stretching things a bit.  Regardless of the fact that the argument is dubious when Labour has been in power for nearly ten years.  But John Reid decided this week that his reaction to the latest Home Office [...]

Previous days:

Thursday 11th January 2007, Wednesday 10th January 2007, Tuesday 9th January 2007, Monday 8th January 2007, Sunday 7th January 2007, Saturday 6th January 2007