Tuesday, 29 June 2010

No to Travellers

The three weekly Town Council planning meeting was held tonight and we had the travellers site on the Old Wells Road, I was very clear this was a planning issue.

I objected on the basis, that this planning process had to be open and transparent, the Town Council had to ask for it's consultation and asked for it to be decided at a public planning meeting.

I believe this travellers site is outside the development limits of Shepton, no permanent homes would be allowed, so to be just permanent travellers pitches should not be permitted either. The site at the paradise quarry was rejected some years ago. The new government has jettisoned the spatial strategy, so Councils policy has more freedom..

Old Wells Road is a fast road, I know this as I have done Speedwatch, this coupled with a poor access to the site, it is an accident waiting to happen.

Fortunately the Town Council unanimously voted against the travellers site.

The Tesco store has submitted an application to allow food sales from unit 5, I supported this application, if there is a better food choice in the store this will have benefits to shoppers, we asked for a longer free parking period.

Monday, 28 June 2010

The finishing straight

We've entered the last week of the campaign in the Shepton West by-election, it really has been good to talk to so many residents, sadly I will not get to every door, they are well over 2000 homes and it is impossible for me to do that in 3.5 weeks.

However the messages are clear, this re-inforcing my view most council discussions are not included on the residents most wanted, the process drives the discussion, highly reactive, it is a carousal easy to get on harder to break away from, a bit of a circus.

Today, Mr Hunt MP, secretary of state for culture, made a gaffe in regard to the Hillsborough disaster, linking the disaster to football hooliganism, this of course was wholly wrong as the excellent Taylor Report made clear, he obviously then made a statement of a kind of apology, but the pain he caused the 96 families by his ignorant slip was unnecessary, Justice for the 96, Mr Hunt, Justice!

Whilst on Football matters, what a terrible performance by England, 4-1 flattered us, but did anyone see the FIFA press conference, where the spokesman was left speechless at the wrongly disallowed goal, FIFA are fools, they will one day allow technology, pity it wasn't yesterday.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

The Good news just keeps on rolling

The new CONDEM coalition government announces that the rising retirement age will be brought forward so anyone six years away from retirement at sixty five will have to work for another year for their state retirement pension.

This tremendous news for low paid manual workers (sarcasm), will be met with despair. Those in the public sector will enjoy higher pension contributions for less pension and will work longer for them.

In the private sector the occupational pension are too often been ended and replaced by less well performing equity linked schemes, I can quote an employee that occupational pension was paid at 5% of his income with his company paid 10% and he got a final salary pension, this replaced with an equity scheme where the employer pays 3.5% and the employee pays 7%, so this news of extending his working life is tremendous news, another couple of years to pay into a less well performing equity based scheme.

Why do low paid manual worker die before white collar professionals?

I heard Nick Clegg argue that it was only fair to erode the public sector pension provision in line with the private sector.

One last thought the on ConDems, the bank levy will collect £2billion a year £8billion in 4 years whilst the corporation tax cuts on the banks will amount to £28billion, gee that sounds really fair, the banks helped cause the financial problems today, yet they get a financial reward of £20billion whilst low paid workers face cuts in services and higher taxes.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Too Good

Well done England, come on! Looking forward to Sunday afternoon.

This evening I encountered some Conservative canvassers, but there candidate was no where to be seen.

The weather is fantastic with most people out tonight, but some good conversations, these included sports development in Shepton, condition of our roads and the VAT rise, I did say Mendip didn't collect this tax! A couple of unhappy Lib Dem voters, said they were returning to Labour.

Anyway, short and to the point tonight.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010


Firstly can I apologies for an inaccuracy in my entry last night, I said that the CONDEMs wanted to cut public spending by 20%, unfortunately it will be 25%, so even more cuts.

I spoke to two local public sector workers this evening, they are desperately worried about their jobs, they have had meetings with their respected employers and are aware of the savings that mean cuts of service to the people of Shepton.

We will have to wait for the details of where the 25% axe will fall. I worry about my schools funding, real gains has happened in the last few years, I fear these will be undone by the CONDEMs.

In terms of who needs public services the most, it is the poorest, so better public services are the best for low earners.
The ConDems will give £28billion corporation tax cuts to British banks, they will levy £2billion on their bank tax, that seems fair....not!

The VAT is the most regressive tax, this tax effects the poorest the hardest, the Conservatives before the election said they had no plans to raise VAT, the Lib Dems campaigned against what they said was conservative plans, their support for the VAT rise was endorsed by Nick Clegg nodding at Georgie Osbourne.
Another major shift in policy from the Lib Dems, like any chameleon their colour has changed from a yellow to blue in 6 weeks, they have become indistinguishable from the Conservatives

Monday, 21 June 2010

More Campaign

A good evening on the doorstep, many positive discussions and promises of support.

More issues raised including poor ground maintenance, lack of activities for young people and the poor conditions of the pavements in the town centre.

Tomorrow will be an important day for this country, the ConDem budget will announced.

The Office of Budget Responsibility has said that although growth in the economy may be lower than first thought, the deficit will be about where Labour had predicted, so there will be no financial meltdown.

If the ConDems does slash spending and this heavily effects the growth rate this could make the deficit worse, which will cause higher unemployment, more home repossessions less economic activity.

We know the Conservatives want to reduce the state spending by 20%.

The Lib Dems position before the election was different, Nick Clegg said the decision who governs the country should not be in fear of what the markets might do, imagine a Conservative government who announces they want to slash public services in an early tough action, people in his constituents of Sheffield of which more people work in the public sector as a proportion of the workforce than anywhere else in the country, who are these people who want to slash the public services, when referring to the Conservatives plans to slash the public services, Nick Clegg said who are these people to take our jobs away, what mandate do they have, with no Conservative MPs or councillors as far as the eye could see.

Indeed Mr Clegg, the Office of Budget Responsibility confirmed Labours level of borrowing was about right, your policy at the election was for no slashing of the spending this year, your mandate was for growth this year, after all, as you said by slashing spending could lead to social and industrial unrest, this would be the way to go about it.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Free Schools

Having been lectured by local Lib Dems over the years for the new Academy schools and trusts for the corrosive effect that they had on comprehensive education, I see another white flag of Lib Dem policy with the new Free School policy, these free schools will opt out of local authority working, will compete for children, this particularly important as we have falling roles as here in Somerset.

It looks like the building the schools for the future will be raided, the additional individual tuition fees to pay for struggling children in maths and english will be scrapped.

Now I read in the Guardian newspaper that Michael Gove is considering raiding the funding for the poorest children to receive free school meals this transferring £35million to the free schools policy, this on top of scrapping Labours plans to fund 500,000 additional free school meals that were to be provided in September. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/jun/18/school-plan-takes-money-from-poor

The price of power for the Lib Dems is ditching everything they advocated for years, frankly who cares about their abject humiliation, but even to consider stealing free meals from the poorest children for a policy that their voters had rejected, shows the levels the Lib Dems will sink, the simple message, Vote Lib Dem, get Tory and your COMDEMned

Thursday, 17 June 2010


Sometimes you can look at the same problem from different ends and it looks exactly the same.

As a local councillor, I am deeply depressed about how dysfunctional local government is and how the structure is designed to fail.

When out having conversations on the doorsteps peoples frustrations comes through, we know as councillors three tiers of local government is silly.

The parish/Town council is largely a talking shop, partly of their own making partly legal, 16 councillors sitting around discussing Shepton issues with few resources.

Mendip District Council is a small district council with a small tax base, highly dependant on central government grant, a disporportionently small cut in grant from government will either cause disporporationately large cuts in services or big tax increases, but as the CONDEMs have ruled out tax rises, this could seriously challenge Mendips viability.

Somerset County Council behaves in a remote fashion, one of the major complaints I hear, time and time again is the lack of youth provision in Shepton, this is a County function. We are continually promised pedestrian crossings outside our schools, they are never delivered, some may say this is cynical politics by previous Lib Dem and current Conservative county councillors, what ever the reason, people are not happy.

Bus services from Bristol do not come through Shepton onwards to Yeovil or Bridgwater, why does Shepton not have a direct bus service to either Bath or Bristol?

The pavements and surfaces in the town centre are simply unacceptable, yet inaction by the county council.

There are examples of how councils work together, the best example is Somerset waste partnership, this is where district and county form services, but both councils need not exist for somerset waste partnership to operate.

For me we need a strategic tier of local government and a civic tier, Town Councils need to concerned with all aspects of civic pride, grass cutting, street cleaning, town promotion, simply how the town looks.

Largely people don't care about this detail, they know there has been extensive housing growth in the town in the last 20 years, the rational for this is, this growth will lead to new services.

Sadly for too long these new services have never materialised and provision of existing services has got worse, no wonder people are concerned, more tax for less service.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Another night

Four more tactical lib Dems voters pledge there return to vote for me and Labour, they promise not to be taken in by the lib dems again.

I had more really good conversations this evening, concerns about the performance of the district council was raised, grass cutting, tree management and other grounds maintenance.

How services for young people needs to be developed in the town.

The vast majority of people are unhappy about another by-election, people cannot believe the Conservatives have caused this election.

I look forward to more conversations tomorrow evening.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Glorious evening on the doorstep

I had an enjoyable evening on the doorstep this evening, had several discussion on issues that matters to local people.

Canvassing always is excellent, as a local councillor you understand what your constituents are concerned with, from overgrown trees to how councils include peoples views.

From my point of view my returns are higher than last year and the mood more positive, just 17 days to go until polling day.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

The new politics

Whilst trawling through a few websites I found this http://www.leftfootforward.org/2010/06/special-expediency/ , it is always easy politics to make cheap political points in opposition, and Nick Clegg used to say special political advisers should be paid for by political parties and not the tax payer. I read the same Nick Clegg is charging the tax payer £165,000 for two such advisers.

I read in the Observer newspaper that there is extreme concern about the CONDEM coalitions plans for housing especially affordable housing. This due to financial cut backs and changes to the planning system. The best part of 1500 new affordable homes have been axed after axing the National affordable housing programme.

The Lib Dems were committed to more affordable housing, this seems to have changed now in government.

Then I read in the Telegragh that the CONDEM government are likely to raise the university tution fees, allowing greater freedom of the top universities, the Lib Dems campaigned against such a policy and won many seats in university constituencies, so if the CONDEMs do carry out this policy, another u-turn.

I was talking to a Labour voter who tactically voted Lib Dem to defeat the Tory here in Wells, he told me he felt betrayed by the Lib Dems, by the next election his motivation will be to give the Lib Dems the boot.

Saturday, 12 June 2010


Same old England, a painful watch, Stevie Gerrard had a good game, width was a problem, up side, we never lost, down side let a lead slip, no damage.

Collett Day

Just got home from working at Collett Day, the weather was brilliant and I think everyone seemed to enjoy it.

The 'mallet' was official unlocked, this is at the Tesco site by the Bus Station.

It was a pleasure to meet and talk to people about Shepton and the various issues. I spent a couple of quid but not to much on stalls.

I met the Lib Dem candidate for the Shepton West by-election, quite a political chap, had quite a robust discussion on why the lib Dems will lose out in their CONDEM coalition government, in the short term they are sunning in the CONDEM honeymoon, but in the long term I look forward to their huge defeats, the electoral truth is if the CONDEM are successful then the Conservatives will get the credit so the Lib Dems lose and if the CONDEMS fail then Labour will gain and the Lib Dems lose.

But the real truth is Vote Lib Dem get Tory!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Labour leadership

With the nominations for the Labour leadership now closed, I think party members will have a good opportunity to discuss the qualities they want for the new leader.

I do not support Diane Abbott, I do not agree with MPs whom do not agree with her supporting her, just to get her nominated, this is wrong and I hope the Labour Party does not regret this decision.

I am minded to support David Milliband for the Labour leadership, he is extremely intelligent and thoughtful, and he can articulate the Labour case, he has experience of high office as the Foreign secretary.

On another note, my serious campaign for the by-election starts tomorrow, so I hope to meet many local people as possible on my campaign.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Planning news

The three weekly planning meeting was held tonight.

The issues tonight were, replacement shop frontages in 3 Town Street, this was recommended for refusal on the basis that there were too many new shop fronts looking the same and lacked diversity of design, although the address is in Town Street effectively the shop fronts are in the Market Place. However all councillors supported the idea of new shop fronts.

Conversion of first and second floor to self contained flats in 47 and 49 High Street, these were recommended for approval, but concern about the flats not having wheely bins storage provision.

The last item was from Flourish homes at the Hillmead area to demolish car barns, three bin store and refurbish seven bin stores and create two new play areas. This was recommended for approval, although concern was expressed that the new play areas were small and we suggested removal of a block of flats to allow a decent play area, concerns were expressed about loss of car parking.

I was keen to express my view that a lot of money had been spent on the flats over the years, the old play area was lost for housing and significant investment was made in the flats years ago, now the housing company are spending more on the flats, but most people want houses and a garden, this should be a long term aim.

Cllr Dunscombe tried to raise the new MOT bays workshop in Pauls Street, he was concerned that the new workshops distracted from listed buildings, sadly members who agreed the workshop were not keen to hear him. The Town Council recommended approval for this development on the 17 March 2009, sadly I was not a member on the Planning Committee at the time, I would of thought Mendip planners could have agreed better materials for this workshop.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Shepton West By-election

I am standing for the vacant Shepton West District Council seat, Mr Taylor was expelled for six months nonattendance, this will be the fourth by-election by Conservatives resigning or being expelled in the last thirteen months.

You will be aware that I have been a vocal critic of the district council, especially as Mendip is failing, the Audit Commission reckon they do not meet minimum standards in the use of resources; managing the finances and governing the business. There is very clear criticism that Mendip Council has not done enough to help our community through the recession and more remarkable they do not seem clear on what they are trying to achieve.

We have seen this in last weeks Shepton Journal, Mendip criticised for the way the organised the last Town Council by-election and the way they implemented the reduction in service for the grassing cutting, it is clear Mendip needs to work differently.

I believe the district council has to do more on affordable housing, as is clear Mendip residents has lower income than nationally and higher house prices, this makes it more important to act on housing.

There is no doubt that local government is faces huge reductions in central government grants, this will require Mendip Council to work differently, working with other agencies and voluntary sectors and of course the Town Council. This will require open and transparent government, it will require the conversations with the public, it certainly cannot behave like Mendip Council has for the previous years.

In Shepton, Market Place and Town Street needs upgrading and a plan to increase footfall.

I will update this site on regular occasions during the campaign, I hope to have many conservations on the doorsteps and the more entertaining will no doubt be of interest.

Sunday, 6 June 2010


The Sunday Mirror are saying the new Tory lib Dem coalition government are planning to end the previous governments policy of using the planning process to achieve 25% of new housing development for affordable rent or ownership.

We know that the Tory Lib Dem coalition have removed £230million from new build affordable housing from this years budget, this announced by the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

The average income in Mendip is around £17K and average house prices are abour £220K around 12 times average income, with Shelter, the housing charity, says there are 1.8 million nationally on waiting lists and here in Mendip nearly 1400 on the waiting list, these reductions already stated will only increase those waiting lists.