Sunday, 31 January 2010

Oh dear, more muddle

Over the weekend the Conservative opinion poll lead has been cut again Con 40% to Labour 32%.

After the confusion on the married tax allowance policy, with Dave Cameron policy only seemingly to help 6% of couples would benefit at a cost of £800 million.

Clearly this didn't prove to help the Conservatives, like when George Osbourne said he would cut working tax credits to people earning £50,000 a year this would save £400 million, in fact it would barely save £60 million, so if the Conservatives are banking a a £400 million saving then people on average earnings will lose there tax credits, if they don't where is the £340 million coming from?

I see today Dave Cameron on the beeb is now back tracking on swingeing cuts from day one if the country was daft enough to election him, his side kick Georgie Osbourne has said he would early action on the national deficit, and the Conservatives have stated that the governments policy of halving the deficit in four years is too slow, so once again muddle from the Conservatives in a panic from the opinion polls closing.

To quote Peter Mandelson " Dave Cameron is coming up with a nice flow of soundbites, rather than concrete policies". Mr Vince Cable has said "George Osbourne and Dave Cameron are sixes and sevens on the crucial question of how the deficit should be addressed".

Sadly, the Conservatives need to understand that you need coherent policies and not just depend on the government sinking.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

The High Street

Shepton Mallet is a small market town, in our High Street we have many good shops.

The real advantage of such shops is there expertise.

Today having a problem with my computer, I visited Microchipz, 7 Town Street Shepton Mallet, to seek advice, within minutes, the problem was solved.

What a relief, face to face, good advice, help and support. No premium rate call centres.

There are many gems such as these on our High Streets, I find them better than the glitzy national chains, but if we do not use them, how can they survive?

Internet shopping does have it's benefits, but they lack the back up support.

For me, local is best. It sad so often there is no local choice.

Friday, 29 January 2010


The public Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war took central stage with the former prime minister Tony Blair giving evidence today.

Tony Blair was steadfast in his defence of the policy that took Britain to war seven years ago.

The more I hear of this public inquiry, the more I think that it unneccesary, the information is in the public domain, those who believe Tony Blair is a war criminal won't be happy, those who support Tony Blair will agree with him.

The 24/7 media are working every angle, but nothing new is coming.

The scrutiny of the government that went to war, will be collated, a report will be written which the most informed could write before the Chilcot inquiry.

The Conservatives will try to exploit Gordon Brown evidence to Chilcot for political reasons.

Iraq like Suez will be remembered in Britain, but only time will prove whether Tony Blair was right or wrong.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

AGM time

The Shepton Mallet Labour Party met this evening for it's AGM, as ever it was a well attended meeting.

Councillor John Gilham addressed the meeting, he said there was a choice between Labour who are investing in families and the economy and the Conservatives want to end the tax credits for many families and making savage cuts in public expenditure that will cause a further downturn.

John also thought locally the Conservatives were going to make further cuts at Mendip and County Councils.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Planning news

The Town Councils planning meeting met this evening, there was a couple of interesting plans to be considered.

The first was at the old redundant factory at Cowl street/Silk close.

The proposal was to demolish the old factory and the erection of 9 new dwellings, with associated landscaping and car parking.

This site has had a number of plans submitted and have been refused.

In some ways the previous plans were more appealing than these latest plans, however the dwellings were of the same design as Silk Close, with the main entrance through Silk Close, I would have liked the buildings facing Cowl Street to replicate the stone buildings, and close attention should be given to entrances from this new development.

I seconded the proposal for Mendip Council to recommend approval of this application, on the basis that a redundant site will come back into life and the nine homes are affordable, supplied by South Western Coop housing.

The other application was erection of a terrace of three houses on land adjacent to 6 Stevens Close, for me this application was premature as the land by this site is pending a planning application and the access to this site is not yet up to standard.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Not so Broken

In the wake of the terrible case that occurred in Edlington, South Yorkshire, where two boys sadistically attacked and tortured two other children, every decent person will be appalled at the details of this case.

These isolated incidents seem to happen, thankfully not to often, but of course it is proper to examine the role of governmental departments and how they can work better to avoid such tragedies in the future.

I read and see much of what is said about "broken Britain", but i'm not sure that is particularly fair, if you look at Shepton for example, Whitstone students achieved the best educational results the school has ever achieved, with every student leaving with at least one qualification. Shepton has a new sure start and family centre helping young families. In terms of the health service we have a health centre doing routine operations and our big hospitals are functioning very well.

In terms of crime, as I reported earlier crime and anti social behavior has both fallen this year and over years.

Economically, unemployment has fallen this month, it looks like were come out of recession, although times are going to be tough, without action to save the banks, the governments stimulus and the bank of England printing £200 billion to keep the economy running, times would have been more difficult.

For those who say we need deep cuts to public services, who would cut working families tax credits, those how would cut sure starts scheme, I say no, don't remove support from struggling families, help them don't brake them.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010


Joy unconfined!

Liverpool 2 - 0 Tottenham

Maybe not the greatest football match, but did Liverpool fight, passion and drive.

onwards to Wolves.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Lets Council

Tonight we held the first Town Council of 2010, I think it reasonable to tell people the issues raised, how I voted and the result of the decision.

We discussed the icy and snow of the previous period, Shepton being particular hilly, it was decided to look to invest in several salt/grit bins this would allow residents to apply in the snow.

I supported this proposal, a working party is to be formed, a delegated budget has been agreed, so if the winter comes back, residents should have access to salt.

We discussed the Cenotaph enhancement, we have now an approximated budget, it was decided that a golden stone would be used, the approx budget is £42K of which we have £35K and have to find the shortfall, we agreed to submit a planning application, this I supported, however I voted to apply for s106 monies from Mendip Council, but the majority of councillors wanted to discuss money later.

Collett Park fitness equipment was discussed, we were asked the concept and agree in principal for new equipment, I wanted to see the fitness equipment in a rank by the old railway line, the majority of councillors want the fitness equipment to be dotted around the park, so I voted against.

Monday, 18 January 2010


Money talks ultimately.

It looks like Cadbury the British confectionery company, is going to lose it's independence. It appears Kraft the American company is in friendly talks about a takeover.

I remember back in the late 1980's when a man called Elliot from Oz tried to take over Allied Lyons, then a great British company, Mr Elliot's attempt ultimately failed, he walked away with a huge profit from share activity, Allied Lyons then rationalised into premium brands, even higher profitable brands and Showerings and Vine Products were sold off, with Allied leaving Shepton.

The morale of this tale, if Kraft is successful they will want to recoup the billions of investments, how many British jobs will go, working conditions changed for American profits.

Even if Cadbury's do not sell out, rationalisation will take place, to make the balance sheet stronger, to reward shareholders.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

2010 The International Year of Biodiversity

The United Nations has 2010 as the year of biodiversity , in Shepton we planted the community woodland at Gold Hill two years ago, in the coming year, I will be looking for the opportunity for more environmental schemes.

The defence of our biodiversity is a matter of thinking global and acting local.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Obama style

Has the president of the United States of America shown the Chancellor they way to tax banking activity in this country?

The Chancellor, Alistair Darling introduced a one of tax levy of 50% on bank bonuses this year, to individuals, this a populous measure to tackle what the public would see as the benefits of the stimulus or the bank of England's £200 billion quantitative easing or the huge bailout funds rather than their own banking efforts.

What Barak Obama is offering is something rather different.

The tax will be 0.15% point fee of covered liabilities, to banks with more than $50 billion in assets.

This new tax is structured to tackle the most riskiest activities, targeting activity in the wholesale money markets, rather than the insured deposits in the retailed banks.

The Deputy of Bank of England flagged up this policy in Tokyo last May, where he stated "governments could claim back the costs (financial costs of bailout), if any, from an increased 'insurance' levy on the banking system over a period of years after the crisis had clearly passed."
He went on "(the) cost of the banking system failures could fall on the banks shareholders than on the public purse".

Governments are very timid when it comes to taxing the banking sector, they are very weary of banks moving to countries to where there is a less declaratory approach, what President Obama has done, is to say, the investment arm of the banking system should be treated the same as insured deposit banks, this approach will allow other western governments to follow suit.

For me, the principal should be, the tax payer saved the banking system, now the banks must pay back every penny.

We cannot go back to business as usual for the banks, the banks have proved they cannot be trusted, the banks know that government as the lender of last resort, so shareholders need to insure their futures and not the pockets of the tax payer.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010


Fed up, doom gloom.

Liverpool losing in the FA Cup.

No more to say.

Good night.


Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Crime and Anti Social behaviour

Today I received the 3rd quarters crime and Anti Social Behaviour (ASB)report for the Mendip District.

They reported a 1% reduction in crime and a 6% reduction in ASB.

More good news, in Shepton west ASB was down 14% mainly due to action on vehicle nuisance, this has been the focus of the PACT.

In Shepton east crime was down by 8%.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Who's Voting

Now we are in the pre election period, it would appear all the three major parties are looking for seriously to make deep cuts in public spending.

We know the Conservatives sees no problem in cutting £400 million from child tax credits, removal of children trust funds, ending sure start for deprived children, to name a few.

We know the Lib Dems have abandoned there commitment to enhance child care, students loans and pension provision.

We know the chancellor has said Labour will make the deepest cuts in public spending for 20 years.

It is also clear that public expenditure cuts will effect the poorest in the country the most, the poor depend on public services.

Political parties talk about efficiency savings and cutting costs, I was the recipient of the public expenditure cuts made in 1976, where the schools never had sufficient resources and students shared a book between three of us.

Again, in the the 1980s we saw our schools falling apart, hospitals at breaking point, with people waiting for years for operations, with mass unemployment.

I believe the coming election could result in a generational shift, towards less government spending and back to the voodoo economics of the 1980s, the prescription, of charity rather than of entitlement, a belief of the wealthy unburdened.

Voting will be important, the poorest should see voting as a way of defending there entitlement.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Do you need Relief from the cold?

I attended a meeting of Town Councillors and church leaders to discuss the big freeze, and how it was effecting the towns residents.

The Church leaders told us that there is a good community spirit with isolated people being contacted to make sure these people have provisions, and not in need.

The meeting decided that if any members of the community needed help, then the councillors would try to help, it was agreed that Will Dunscombe, 01749 344298 would coordinate, with other councillors there if help was required.

So, if you live in Shepton and need help, help could be at hand.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

even more out in the cold

The current cold snap has seen our roads turn into ice rinks, pavements very slippery. All the schools in the town are closed for children.

So I hear on the news the Sainsburys supermarket chain are refusing to pay those employees who cannot get to work, but there generousity holds no bounds, employees have a month to make up the hours, to secure the employees massive incomes.

These Cathedrals to Consumerism are paying low wage to their employees, new employees are expected to work on Sundays for basic wage. At the same time supermarkets are making huge profits.

I do not believe it good practice for employers to dock workers pay, especially in such trying times, certainly, as night follows day, employers need employees to go the extra mile occasionally, employers cannot have it both ways.

Flexibility goes both ways.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

out in the cold

Today we had some proper snow here in Shepton, the sort we do not get regularly, a regular winter wonderland.

I took the opportunity to sort out my mountains of council and political paperwork, with it in bags ready for recycling.

Then at lunchtime a couple of recycled politicians, namely Mrs Hewitt and Mr Hoon tried to start a coup against the prime minister, but a very British coup, before the day was out it failed.

Back in 2007 the Labour Party elected Gordon Brown unopposed, MPs decided that the wider Labour movement need not be consulted in this process, they wanted a seamless coronation, my experience is that if you are given a position without a fight, you lose authority, and so it's turned out.

'Unity is Strength' an old fashioned labour idea, so, we can have no time for diversion, Labours narrative must be fairness with economic growth, sharing the ups and downs but as a country united in building a fairer and decent society.

Politically, we should draw our fire on those who seek to reward high earners above the rest, who would make savage cuts in government spending that hurt the majority, risking the recovery and those who believe they have a right to govern without having coherent ideas for the successful development of modern Britain.

If one thing is certain is that a house divided won't stand, Labour must be committed to winning and everything else is nothing. So, I conclude Mrs Hewitt and Mr Hoon are out in the cold.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Change, maybe not

So the year has begun with the political temperature starting to rise, with the general election less than six months away.

I have always believed to quote Bill Clinton 'it's the economy stupid' that decides elections.

So, in this first week of the new year, we have seen houses prices rising by 5.9%, we have seen a slight fall in those claiming job seeker allowance, unemployment has not risen as fast and as high as expected. Confidence in the stock market has returned with a 20% increase in the last year. Manufacturers are showing signs of improved order books.

Government policy has been aggressive in trying to reduce unemployment, it has invested in Jobcentre Plus, it has targetted support on the younger unemployed, with the £1 billion Futures Jobs Fund, this giving training or a job after six months claiming job seekers allowance.

The governments stimulus packages boosted the economy this with the Bank of England printing £200 billion to shore up the failing banking sector.

Now we know the conservative party are highly critical of the government, claiming that even in the deepest recession since the twenties, the government should immediately cut the government borrowing.

If we look across the Irish Sea, we can see the Irish government have cut child benefit by ten per cent, the British Tories want to cut £480 from the working families tax credits.

The Irish government are cutting unemployment benefit by 4% and more for under 25 year olds.

The Irish public sector workers are having wages cut by between 5 - 8%.

The Irish are to increase health charges, with 50% increases on prescription charges.

The Irish government are cutting 960 million euros from there investment proposals.

I believe at this stage of the economic cycle it would be madness to make savage cuts to necessary government spending, so no thanks on change, when markets fail, government must act to defend the interests of the hard working people, I'm glad our government did respond at home and on the international stage.