Friday, 25 July 2008

Labour's Bin Tax Scheme are reporting that no councils have signed up to Labour's proposed trials of the 'bin tax'.

This would be exactly the kind of scheme that the 'chips in bins' were designed for.  I've been opposing the use of this technology and the proposals for this kind of taxation since I was first elected to Bournemouth Council back in 2005.  

The removal of refuse from the home is one of the fundamental services provided by local councils.  It's one of the services that's been consistently provided by local authorities and it is exactly for this kind of service that local taxation (be it rates, community charge or council tax) has been paid by residents.

If your council doesn't take away your rubbish as part of your local tax, then why have a local tax in the first place?

Good on those councils who have refused to join in the scheme.  Let's hope the refusal of local authorities to cooperate with the Government over this will kill the idea for good.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Lib Dem councillor defects to Conservatives

Lib Dem Councillor Ian James has defected to the Conservatives on Weymouth and Portland Borough Council.

This is the third defection from the Lib Dems to the Conservatives in Dorset in recent times.  

Welcome to the party Ian, and well done to South Dorset Conservatives for showing the leadership in Weymouth that has inspired Ian to cross the floor.

The full story is here.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Future 3000 in trouble

Apparently the Wednesday edition of the Daily Echo sold out.  This is largely due to the fact that Richard Carr was on the front page of the paper here.  

There appears to be a good deal of schadenfreude around Bournemouth and Poole at this news.

I don't share in it.  I know from bitter experience how hard anyone in business for themselves has to work in economic times like these.  I also know how difficult the decision to take the company in to administration must have been for its directors.  

I disagree with Richard Carr about very many things.  That's no reason to revel in his troubles, as some are doing.  He faces a difficult enough few months ahead attempting to keep his businesses afloat in such uncertain times.  As do we all.  He deserves our respect for creating a profitable business and our sympathy now that it has run in to problems.

I wish him and all his staff all the best.  Let's hope there is a way out of this situation for them.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Regional Spatial Strategy

The Regional Spatial Strategy announcment we were expeciting has been published this morning.

I always thought the Government would be cynical in their timing.  There's an article on about Ministers 'clearing out the trash', in other words how the Government is getting rid of a number of relatively contentious issues today, the day before the Parliamentary recess.  

The consultation period that now begins will last for 12 weeks.  The Parliamentary Recess lasts for 11 weeks.  That's a coincidence isn't it!

As I've said in my previous posts, these proposals will be disastrous for the whole of South East Dorset.  We'll do all we can to make sure everyone is aware of them and that everyone has a chance to make their point of view heard.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Annette becomes a grannie

I've heard on the grapevine that our MP, Annette Brooke, is due to become a grandmother for the first time this week.

Congratulations to Annette, Mike and their family. I hope everything goes well.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Susan Jefferies, the RSS and Me

Susan Jefferies is the Lib Dem County Councillor for Corfe Mullen and I appear to have upset her.

Now, I've never actually met Susan.  I have, of course, heard about her and most of what I have heard has been positive.  She represents her community on both the Parish and County councils and she's been consistent in her opposition to the RSS proposals for her area.

Susan has a web site, and she's a bit upset about last month's meeting to coordinate opposition to the RSS across SE Dorset.

Aparently the guest list 'read like a Tory cocktail party'.  Despite the fact that there were councillors there from each of the political parties on Bournemouth Borough Council, two Liberal Democrat Councillors and our own Liberal Democrat MP.  

Unfortunately for Susan, there were quite a number of Conservatives, but that simply reflects that each of the authorities in South East Dorset are Conservative controlled.  Therefore it's hardly surprising that a meeting to which the leaders of each of the councils were invited should include quite a number of Conservatives.

Susan goes on:

"At this meeting all sorts of protest actions were discussed and agreed and Nick King seems to be hailing himself the lead protester for the RSS.

May we remind the Tories that when the response to the original RSS was debated in March 2006, ...... the Tory administration in Bournemouth ..... supported the proposals for urban extensions into the Green Belt."

What Susan has conveniently forgotten is that the administration in Bournemouth at that time was a Liberal Democrat one.  The did indeed support development of the Green Belt and continued to do so up until the elections in May 2007.  

I was elected to Bournemouth Council in December 2005 on a clear platform of opposing Green Belt development.  Indeed it was the main issue in the by election as the Liberal Democrats were supporting then and continued to support development on green belt sites in my ward.   I think it goes some way to explaining how I won the by election, gaining the seat from the Lib Dems, with almost two thirds of the vote and how that majority was increased further in the elections last year.

Everyone has now come on board with opposition to the RSS plans.  Some have altered positions they previously held, including Bournemouth's Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives on Dorset County Council.

It's absolutely shameful that Susan is trying to make a party political points out of this.  We are all working together to oppose these dreadful plans that threaten to change the character of our area for ever.  

Stop playing politics Susan and work with everyone to fight the proposals when the Secretary of State announces them next week.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Post Office Closures Announced

The Daily Echo have obtained an advance list of the post offices proposed for closure in Dorset.

We seem to have gotten off very lightly here in Mid Dorset and North Poole. The only post office proposed for closure within the constituency is Sandford. I have been told that the owners of the post office there were not going to be greatly opposed to their being on the list for closure were it to happen.

Ensuring that the local community gets an outreach service will now be all important. Jane Thomas and I will be working with our colleagues on Purbeck District Council to lobby the Post Office for this.

Of more concern are the proposed closures of post offices in East Dorset. There are none in the East Dorset part of the constituency, however there are a number of closures proposed in the rest of the district, around the periphery of Wimborne. The proposed loss of Holt, Stapehill and Longham post offices is a blow to the area as a whole.

Longham is a particular concern. I visited the post office with Bob Walter MP last month.

The Post Master there has only recently rebuilt the post office after a fire damaged the building. They offer a particularly good service to local businesses and are likely to see even more trade as a consequence of the closure of the post offices in Stapehill and Wimborne Road, Ferndown. Let's hope that Bob and his district and county council colleagues for the area can wage a successful campaign to oppose the closure.

Friday, 4 July 2008

David Cameron and the Regional Spatial Strategy

David Cameron was in Bournemouth today, to speak at the Local Government Association Conference at the BIC.

I had to pick him up from Bournemouth Airport and take him to the conference centre. I therefore managed to get 20 minutes with him to talk to him about how important the Regional Spatial Strategy is to our area. He was horrified to hear about the proposals from the Examination in Public which would result in enormous incursions on to the Green Belt in East Dorset, Purbeck and Bournemouth.

He agreed entirely with our campaign to ensure that local people, through their local councils decide where, how many, of what type and for whom this housing should take place. He also agreed to confirm that a Conservative Government would overturn these plans if we were elected in time to stop the planning permissions being granted.

When we reached the BIC demonstrators from Lytchett Minster and Lytchett Matravers were already outside the building. I had a chance to talk to them while David Cameron went in to do his speech. It was great to see both Conservative and Liberal Democrat Councillors from Purbeck and the County Councils there demonstrating side by side. They were joined after a little while by people from Bournemouth, Christchurch and East Dorset.

David gave an interview to the Daily Echo, which I understand is going to be front page news tomorrow. He confirmed our position over the RSS in the interview. Good for him.

More importantly he also took a few minutes to meet and speak with the demonstrators outside. Again he emphasised the party's opposition and told the demonstration that if we're elected in time we would over turn the plans. He also confirmed that a Conservative Government would do away with all regional bodies, handing responsibility back to local councils to decide what kind of development should take place in their own areas.