Friday, April 30, 2010

Election 2010

Cameron on the stump- a picture I took in the Romsey & Southampton North constituency

Well we are in the last week of the 2010 general election campaign and I have to say, I have been surprised
  • Surprised at the effect and interest of the three Leaders debates.

  • Surprised at the national 'Cleggestacy' bounce- because I really don't seem to have personally detected it at all in Southampton, despite Clegg visiting the city and

  • Surprised at Labour's low key, almost defeatist campaign locally that has been almost exclusively negative and reflects very badly on them.

So what gives? There is certainly a lot of good will for the Conservatives in Southampton at the moment- more than I can ever remember in nearly 20 years of being a resident in this city. Is it enough to win? Well in terms of the local elections, my feeling now is yes, almost certainly.

And in terms of the two parliamentary seats of Southampton Itchen and Southampton Test? I honestly think that there is everything to play for- it will be a sprint to the line in what I know a year ago Labour were arrogant enough to brand 2 safe Labour seats. The next 7 days will be fascinating.

Monday, April 19, 2010

No Prez-ence !!!

Hot news from the campaign trail from the ward I happen to represent; Shirley in no less an august journal than The Sun! To quote directly
"BOOMING Labour heavyweight John Prescott cuts a lonely figure on the campaign trail yesterday - talking to a near-deserted street watched only by a man in a mobility scooter. Read more:
Prezza, 71, was trying to fire up support in Shirley, Southampton, for local MP Alan Whitehead, who joined him standing on a stone bench. Read more:
Very funny!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Tragedy in Shirley

Shirley Towers, picture taken today.

I was shocked and saddened when I heard yesterday morning of the death of brave firefighters James Shears and Alan Bannon while they had been tackling a fire in Shirley Towers. This council owned tower block is in the heart of the ward which I represent. The deaths of these two brave men is a terrible tragedy and while they may be the first serving firefighters who have perished on active service in Southampton since the war, the incident is a poignant reminder of how the emergency services daily put themselves in harms way to keep us safe. From a local councillor perspective, I would like to say how grateful residents have told me they are and I am personally for all the emergency services did. I offer my sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of James Shears & Alan Bannon.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Osbourne wins the debate...on points

three of a kind...?
This evening I watched the first of the election's televised debates which focused on the potential Chancellors from the three main parties and I was...quite impressed by all of the candidates(am I exhibiting Lib-Dem tendencies?!!!)
I've met Osbourne and unsurprisingly he is much better than his press so I wasn't surprised that their were no car crash moments from him; in fact he scored a few hits on Labour, attacking their failed regulatory system and saying Labour won't rule out their so called 'death tax' (which Darling, rattled, appeared to do).
Cable was good but maybe didn't perform to his reputation although his points that Labour's efficiency savings were bogus and that the Lib Dems are not beholden to either the unions or the super rich went down well with the audience.
Darling played to his strengths as a dependable, unflappable bank manager attacking the Tories in the 'more in sorrow than anger' style he has cultivated-that was quite effective.
So who won?- well actually because Osbourne had the luck of the last word and despite him occassionally tripping up over his words or repeating the odd one, I think he won it on points and at the very least, enhanced his reputation.

A lot of people at CCHQ will be pleased- and maybe even a little surprised.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Whats up with Ed Balls?

Strange things were afoot at the Local Government Chronicle awards held on the Wednesday at the Grosvenor House Hotel.
I spotted Ed Balls (in a suit rather than black tie), glass of champagne in hand early in the evening and assumed he was one of the guest speakers. However just minutes later when I was leaving the bar he rushed into the front reception area, bag carrier in tow looking extremely agitated and a few minutes later he was pacing up and down looking for a taxi. Looking like he was about to have a heart attack, I watched transfixed as he duly flagged one down and left before the dinner proper started. I wonder why? It was budget day and it had gone relatively smoothly if not well for Labour so it was unlikely that the whips were summoning him back to the Commons.
He probably was having to calm Gordon down about something back at the bunker or maybe it was that New Statesman article saying Mr Balls could be heading for a Portillo moment...

City Cycle lanes

Cameron cycling at the top of
The Avenue in Southampton (yes really!)

One of my big frustrations is how cycle unfriendly Southampton is in the City (despite there being great areas to cycle) - and the recent huge public realm works that were carried out in Shirley High Street and at the Portswood Broadway by my Lib-Dem predecessors were in my view, a missed opportunity as they didn't include the provision of cycle lanes. I resolved that if I was ever elected and had the opportunity, I would try to do something about this.
Well, the Council has made a serious start first with the Bike Guide and now with the planned works in Thornhill.
Southampton City Council is dramatically expanding its cycle network in the Thornhill area. We are determined to provide residents in this are with the facilities they deserve and I am delighted with the work being undertaken. The Council, with TPY, are providing cycle routes which will provide key links across the area. At the centre of this work will be the route across Hinkler Green from the Hinkler Public House to Ellwood Avenue. From here there will be extensions to Bursledon Road and East to Heywood Green. A further section will be the installation from Linacre Road up to Warburton Road (alongside of Lydgate Road). The existing cycle route from Thornhill Park Road to Byron Road through the park will also be extended alongside Farringford Road between Pepys Avenue and Burke drive. These will add 1300metres to the existing city’s cycle network. Signs will be designed with route information providing an opportunity for leisure walking and cycling – these routes will link homes to the green open spaces, play areas and shops.
This is just one part of the city which is benefiting from the council’s goal of improving Southampton’s cycling experience.
Heavens knows we need to- and Connect 2 is next...

Earth Hour cometh...

Cometh the hour, cometh the man and so at 8.30pm this evening Earth Hour takes place and people will have an opportunity to show they care about climate change and the threat of peak oil.
In terms of Southampton, I would urge the city to take part in this great initiative. Everyone needs to be thinking of reducing their energy consumption and I will always back anything that gives people the inspiration to act.

Winners of the award for best Council & Community invovement!

Every one a winner!

On Wednesday I went to the Local Government Chronicle awards in London with representatives from the Council's Waste Management Team, Solent University and Southampton Central Baptist Church. Probably the most important and prestigious awards for those involved in local government, the awards were held in Park Lane. We knew from the organisers that we had been shortlisted to the last 6 entrants and as the only entrant from the Hampshire area, we thought we had done pretty well to get that far.
We had entered an award for Council's with the best example of Community Involvement which after the award for best Council is probably the one award to win after 'Best Overall Council' and...we won!
Devised by the Head of Waste, Andy Trayer after I challenged him at a Scrutiny meeting to really address the issue of rubbish being left by students, especially in the Polygon at the end of term time, the scheme was ingeniously simple in theory but as ever, it required a lot of hard work and determination to make it happen.
For those interesd, the detail of how we cleaned up the Polygon and recycled its rubbish can be read HERE.

Welcome back...

Gordon Comstock, the fictional hero of George Orwell's 'Keep The Aspidistra Flying' would have sympathised with me; I haven't updated my blog for ages; a result of being busy moving, working at the Council on the Environment portfolio, campaigning for the forthcoming elections and yes, like Gordon, perhaps even writer's block.
Anyway with a few, hopefully good stories to tell and the election shortly to get into full swing, I have resolved to be a little more active in the blogosphere.
Thanks for all you who visit these pages.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Sorry Gordon- wish you were here!

fight the good fight...

The Daily Echo reports that the Prime Minister has had to cancel a trip to Southampton yesterday (Thursday) as a result of the snow. I have to say, inclement weather not withstanding, Southampton appeared to manage without him OK...
The interesting thing is that on Wednesday John Denham MP appears to have been out of the country when the Snow Storm Plotters Hoon & Hewitt went public and this appears to be his defence of why he didn't rally to the flag of Gordon sooner*. One thing that I certainly concede is that Denham is fulsome of his praise for Brown, far more so that some of his Cabinet colleagues so the new message is presumably clear- Denham is a Brownite now and is content to stand at the next election on Brown's record. I have to say I am rather surprised.
(* NB although quite why John Denham, the Secretary of State with responsibility for Housing and Local government should be abroad meeting the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh I'm not quite sure...)