Saturday, 30 April 2011

Politics is a murky business - but it needn't be

There is nothing more noble, nothing more selfless than serving your neighbours and your community - and doing it with humility, integrity and not seeking anything for yourself.   If only all our politicians were like this.  Unfortunately the murky side is emerging in Frodsham East.

I'm receiving telephone calls from local residents telling me what apparently is being said about me and the Frodsham First campaign by those we oppose in the election for Frodsham Town Council.  I'm sure those calling me are recounting faithfully what they are hearing.  What they are reporting to be can at best be described as nonesense or simply lies.  If any of my opponents want to state in writing what they are saying on the doorstep they will find themselves either in court, or referred to the Returing Officer.

I suppose I can take comfort from the fact that our opponents have been reduced to telling lies about me as an individual - no doubt recognising that what we stand for in the Frodsham First campaign is compelling.

If anyone wants to see the work that I do and have done - simply read my blogs - which I have kept since 2007 when I was first elected.  I report on the meetings I've attended and things I have done and have been trying to do.  I'm not aware of any other Councillor reporting so comprehesively on his work either at CWaC or at FTC.   But then, never let the truth get in the way of a good story?

Friday, 29 April 2011

The last charge of the old guard... hopefully

Well, we've had our last FTC meeting of the old Council and what a surreal affair it was.
We had the Mayor, the retiring Labour Councillor Brian Lloyd telling us that we should not confuse him with someone who 'gave a monkeys'... but then we also heard him peddling lines that appeared days later in a leaflet from the old guard Councillors seeking to defend their records. Is this the same Brian Lloyd who was so piously telling us that he left politics at the door of the Council chamber?  Absolute nonesense Brian - it doesn't wash.

Nor did it wash when old stager Cllr Hinkins attacked CWaC's record when the rules governing conduct in the run up to an election preclude such conduct.

The challenge we made to Labour Councillor John Maddock to be open and tell the voters that he is a member of the Labour party has worked - in his leaflet he finally admits it - even though you still won't see it on the ballot paper.  Better late than never John - you just shouldn't have tried to con the voters.

Funny thing - Cllr Graham Bondi suggested to me on Wednesday evening that the Frodsham First campaign is a Conservative coalition.  It isn't Graham - it is a group of 12 people, 9 of whom have no party political affiliations and 3 of whom are Conservatives all of whom want a better, more accountable, more effective Town Council.  As 2 of those 3 Conservatives are standing for election to CWaC as Conservatives we told the electorate from the start that they are Conservatives but are happy to work with the common manifesto that was open to all to sign.  Not something anything of the Labour candidates had the integrity to do.

Using Graham's logic should we call his joint campaign with Tony Hinkins and John Maddock as a Labour coalition? 

I well remember the farce when FTC had to co-opt two Councillors a couple of years ago.  The Labour dominated Council refused to co-opt Cllr Mark Ingram one of our Borough Councillors who with Les Ford and I had been elected with 54% of the popular vote to CWaC in 2008.  Tony Hinkins described Mark as a 'man of talent' - but then didn't vote for him.  And instead FTC co-opted two Labour party members - the nearly always silent and/or absent resident of Helsby Cllr Alec Robertson and the then student at Aberdeen University Cllr Kyle McGregor.  They were both preferred to the 'man of talent'.  Graham Bondi also voted with the Labour group. 

On the Tuesday night at the end of the Town Council meeting we saw a tight group of Labour Councillors and those ostensibly independent Councillors who have worked with them group together in yet another private meeting excluding others.  Amongst other things we learnt they were working out who they want to be Mayor and Deputy Mayor next year - exactly the sort of behaviour we are determined to stop.  If you want to discuss things - do it in the open - don't exclude others.

If ever you needed evidence as to way change is so desperately needed - this is it!  Please, let us all put Frodsham First and bring an end to this way of behaving.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Frodsham First Leaflet

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Get on your bike ...

Well this weekend all of us - that is my wife, three children and I cycled around 25 miles on the marvellous greenways running from Guilden Sutton to Connah's Quay and then back via the cycle ways along the River Dee and the Shropshire Union Canal.  Apart from around 100 yards the entirety of the journey was on segregated routes away from cars and other road traffic.  It was good to see pedestrians and cyclists happily sharing the same space - even on the Shropshire Union Canal towpath where it can be quite narrow.  More importantly it meant that any budding cyclist can concentrate on their technique and not worry about hitting or being struck by a car.

Now I've already pressed for the extension of our cycle route network both to and through Frodsham.  I know we have National Cycle Route 5 (to name but one) but this route is either on the A56 or on the Marshes where the road surface is far from ideal.  Surely we can do more.  Wouldn't it be great if we could link up all our long distance cycle routes?  Wouldn't it be great if we could have more routes away from traffic to places like Delamere Forest or Chester Zoo... and then how about a safe route to Helsby High School for cyclists?

So all this has got me thinking ...
How about we ask Frodsham Town Council to commit to assisting in making Frodsham a cycle friendly place ... and whilst we are at it, get CWaC to do the same.

Then why don't we get FTC and CWaC to identify which of our footpaths could properly and sensibly be made to suite both cyclists and pedestrians where the surface can be shared safely?

What about identifying minor rural roads with little traffic where cyclists could be encouraged? ... I can think of three local roads where we could limit vehicle traffic to 'access only' so no resident or business is affected by the changes and then actively encourage cycling on them... Do you think this would be a good idea?

Incidentally the roads I'm thinking about are Watery Lane,  Godscroft Lane and Hately Lane ... is this a good idea?

Friday, 22 April 2011

Farewell Brian

So, farewell Brian.

Of all the politicians, in all political parties nationally and locally that I have met and known you have stood out for me amongst them all.  You are the class warrior par excellence, the one who would stick to the Labour party line, or seek party political advantage at every turn.

I have to say I don't share your politics, I don't share your approach to politics, I don't share your philosphy of 'my party right or wrong' but I recognise that you have represented Frodsham for many years and all of us must thank you for your service.

But Brian - a final plea, before your final Town Council meeting - try hard, try really, really hard - leave the politics at the door. 

Oh and by the way - to your colleagues seeking election to the Town Council on 5 May - leaving politics at the door doesn't mean hiding your party allegience on the ballot paper.  If you are Labour, and proud of it tell people - don't hide, don't give the impression you could be independents ...

Monday, 11 April 2011

Labour lies on the doorstep

I've just been telephone by a local resident telling me what Labour are saying on the doorstep about winter gritting in Frodsham - apparently everything that is wrong about the gritting is down to CWaC.

Now this sort of thing makes me very cross - I don't mind a fair fight, I don't mind discussion about choices and options but I get very cross about lies, and ignorance.

First CWaC Council has a legal duty to keep open the principal routes.  If you go to CWaC's website you can call up the gritting routes - go to http://www.maps.cheshire.gov.uk/ and tick the Winter Gritting routes and you can see them.  CWaC does not have a duty or a responsibility to keep residential or estate roads clear.  If it did the costs of winter gritting would soar not only as it would more than double the number or route miles involved, but more and different equipment able to navigate the narrower roads would need to be used.  CWaC did get round to gritting many of our residential roads this winter after 3 or 4 days of the sustained snow and ice.  This was an extra service and not one any of us can insist upon.  CWaC are required by law to ensure that the principal routes remain open and then and only then if resources allow can CWaC choose to provide additional gritting.

This last winter (when we were able to control our own grit stocks - unlike the previous year when Labour effectively nationalised them and CWaC couldn't even think about doing anything other than the principal routes) CWaC did a good job but we are all aware in Frodsham that there are many areas that suffer from icing.  Can we do more?

Lets not forget we are all wanting more and better services than we have ever had before - so can we do it?  The answer is we can as a community if we work together and choose to do it.

I tried to persuade Frodsham Town Council to get involved - however the Labour dominated FTC were at best reluctant if not downright hostile.  Labour Councillor Brian Lloyd expressed his view very clearly saying he didn't want to see FTC money spent on what he saw as CWaC's responsibility.  Sorry Brian you are totally wrong on this one it is not CWaC's responsibility to grit residential roads.  That's the law.  No ifs, no buts, no grey area, that's the law.

Knowing that we can do more I arranged for an experiment in the lakes estate which saw over 60 bags of grit delivered to volunteers paid for out of the community grants I control.  We could continue a scheme like this next year covering the whole of Frodsham if FTC will organise it and pay for it.  I think the cost would be of the order of £5,000 a winter for say 5kg bags of salt to be delivered 4 times a year to say 60 community volunteers spread through Frodsham.  Of course this would require FTC to be seen to do something and organise this!  With the present mob in charge I doubt they are capable of doing this - hence the need for change.

Lets not forget Labour decided to cut £10,000 from FTC's budget this year meaning that the Council Tax in Frodsham will fall, wait for it, by less than £3.00 in the whole year.  Just think for the price of a pint of beer this year Labour Councillors gave away £10,000 of community funding which we could use on schemes like this.

Sorry John Maddock, Kyle McGregor, Alan Greggs and your ilk this is the reality both of the law and the decisions you brought about at FTC.   Now when you are out on the doorstep - please tell it how it really is.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Open and honest ... please don't treat the electorate like fools

So are you a member of a political party?  Are you seeking election?  Do you think you ought to tell the electorate that?  Now you might think these are simple straight forward questions, however not everyone appears to see it that way.

In the elections for Cheshire West & Chester Council, and for the Town and Parish Council elections that will also take place on the same day each candidate has the option of describing themselves in up to six words.  As I'm standing for election as a Conservative candidate for Frodsham for Cheshire West and Chester Council I don't think it would be right for me to pretend I am something different in the election for Frodsham Town Council in which I am also standing.  So for the Frodsham East election for the Town Council I am also 'The Conservative Party Candidate.'

Now I don't know, and I don't want to know, who is or is not a member of any other political party - but what do you make of this:

In Frodsham West present Town Councillor Kyle McGregor has been elected unopposed for the Town Council.  Kyle McGregor is one of the Labour Party candidates standing for election to Cheshire West & Chester Council also on 5 May 2011.  Interestingly Kyle is not shown as  'The Labour party candidate' on his nomination papers for Frodsham Town Council although he used and is using that description on his Cheshire West and Chester nomination papers.

In Frodsham South Alan Greggs (a former Labour party candidate for Vale Royal Borough Council) has been proposed for election by the former leader of the Labour party on Vale Royal Borough Council and present Mayor of Frodsham Cllr Brian Lloyd and seconded by his wife Cllr Christine Lloyd who used to work for the former Labour MP Mike Hall.  Alan has left the description box blank.

In Frodsham East present Town Councillor John Maddock (and former Labour party candidate for Vale Royal Borough Council) has similarly left his description blank.
 In Frodsham North present Town Councillor Pammi Taylor (who has been elected unopposed) has been proposed for election to the Town Council by Labour party candidate Kyle McGregor.  Pammi did tell me previously that she had left the Labour party - but it is interesting that she has been nominated by a Labour party candidate.

So, as a voter what do you think.  I know I go for being open and transparent every time.  To do otherwise is to risk misleading people ... and in an open democracy give me openess and transparency every time.

Update - on 19 April 2011 I inspected the Declarations of Member's Interests which each current Councillor is required to keep up to date.  Cllr Kyle McGregor declares he is a member of the Labour party, so does Cllr Alan Greggs, so does Cllr John Maddock.  So if they declare they are members why don't they tell the voters?