Friday, April 30, 2010

Gardener Leaflet fails to talk about the £6.1 million deficit.

I received a Conservative leaflet for their candidate in Eynesbury - Ian Gardener. Good looking leaflet though I do have some issues. The Conservative run Huntingdonshire District Council is looking to cut £6.1 million. Why is there no mention of this in this leaflet?

My priority is to find out how the Conservative run HDC is going to cut £6.1 million from spending. So where are these cuts going to fall?

So Ian will lobby. No promise to reverse this decision? Why not promise something like I will not support a budget until this is reversed? Lobby is very feeble.

Er...This was a decision by the Conservatives at HDC. So the St Neots Conservatives managed to save something by getting the St Neots Council taxpayer to pick up the bill!

Nothing about money being put aside as your colleagues want? Not disappointed that the Conservatives is using Town Council money to keep the toilets open which HDC were going to close.

What does "fully supportive" mean?

I expect this list to be adhered too and will hold the Conservatives to account over this list.

The reason the Council tax level is so low is Conservative run HDC is propping up the budget through the use of reserves. A few years ago the Conservatives were willing to jack up the Council Tax by 80%. They still need to find £6.1 million in cuts to maintain this level of Council Tax. This fact the Conservatives are almost silent on.

Huntingdon Conservatives not working

Can the Conservatives make more of a mess of their campaign. Yes they can! I received my first leaflet of this campaign from the Conservatives. I will have more to say on it in a later blog. The St Neots Conservatives have a new campaign website at:

When I entered this web address into my web browser I found the following:

So the Conservatives are pointing electors to a campaign website that is Under Construction. Can this campaign get any worse? Of course it can! No wondered I voted for Steve van de Kerkhove.

Jonathan Salt leaflet delivered by Royal Mail.

I received an A5 leaflet from Jonathan Salt delivered by the Royal Mail. A copy of the leaflet can be obtained here. I've already voted for Jonathan Salt at the General Election. You should do so too!
I've complained about my postal vote cancellation request to David Monks, Chief Executive of Huntingdonshire District Council and Returning Officer. I have as yet to have an acknowledgement to my email.
date29 April 2010 17:11

Burial could be soon after two-month wait

I read that Cllr Thorpe offered some hope to the family who has been left on ice awaiting a burial in St Neots. He said the cemetery extension will be consecrated on May 9.

I will continue to point out this cemetery extension only came about because the plan to establish a cemetery in Bedfordshire failed.

Having got the extension consecrated Cllr Thorpe is still unable to say when the first burial will happen.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

My Comments on letters in St Neots News and Crier - 29/04/2010

St Neots is getting a raw deal - Cllr Giles has come out to say the Conservative run HDC is to "Screw St Neots". A crude title which doesn't actually stand up to examination. Because HDC is trying spreading this pain throughout the District. "Screw St Neots" is a crude campaign to try to show St Neots is somehow treated differently. I have yet to find evidence of this. All this does is adds to the perception that St Neots is treated badly.

I also have to take issue with St Neots Town Council was able to reduce tax this year. This was only achieved by the extending the boundaries rather than anything the Liberal Democrat Town Council actually did.

Request is costing us - Name supplied (couldn't give there real name) says : "The Council turned down the appeal for information and that should be the end of it." That is so wrong. Are the decisions of the Town Council are always correct? They are not. After two damning audit reports I simply do not trust this Town Council.

What are they hiding? - Mr Hill is correct. Spending taxpayers money to stop the public knowing information is wrong. Looking at other crisis councils this is a method which they like to do. Mr Baldwin also hit the right spot with: "I thought the Liberal Democrats supported transparency? I guess when the inconvenient truths are involved, it must be resisted." Too right!

Disappointed by choice - T Lewis and I agree that Martin Land's leaflets are biased towards getting Labour supporters to vote Liberal Democrat. Rather than trying to attract Conservative supporters to his cause.

Towns could pay all play upkeep costs

According to this article HDC Cabinet felt the provision and maintenance of the play equipment should be carried out by the Town Councils. This is another "Conservative Stealth Tax" on the Council taxpayer. The reason for this is the Conservative run HDC has got itself into a right mess over its finances. £6.1 million needs to be cut from a budget of £24 million.

The main problem with all this is the Conservative run HDC obviously has no strategy on how to push through the £6.1 million of cuts. The burning of the bridges by HDC with the Town and Parish Councils is what is also wrong. As HDC has to make these cuts it would be better to bring these local councils on board rather than imposing more and more Conservative Stealth Taxes.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My comments on some letters in The Hunts Post St Neots - 28/04/2010

Penny Pinchers - The rather crude "Screw St Neots" campaign from Cllr Giles likens HDC having it in for St Neots. HDC hasn't got it in for just St Neots but for everyone in the District.

Won't, not can't - Ann Hyams, wife of Colin Hyams who is Executive Councillor for Operational and Countryside Services on HDC ands therefore a member of the cabinet. Yet another Councillor who disagrees with a decision but would rather stay in post than take a stand and resign.

Ann Hyams is misleading when she says: "I appreciate the tough economic climate whcih was originally to blame for this closure...." This is wrong. It was the Conservative run District Council which went for a high spending/low tax plan which just added to the deficit. It is Ann's husband who is part of this.

Godmanchester is a close Conservative/Liberal Democrat marginal. After Fenstanton seats like Godmanchester must be vulnerable to a Liberal Democrat surge. Will Cllr Hyams be an acceptable loss to the Conservative administration?

Playing dirty - James Clark seems to think writing to the papers than campaigning. At the 2008 Town Council by-election this Conservative stood and lost. He blamed everyone else but there was no campaigning by James. I'm still waiting for the leaflet.

The Conservatives should worry less about what the Liberal Democrats are doing and actually get out and campaign. You might win a few seats and get rid of some of the deadwood and bad advisers in the Conservatives.

How I voted at the General Election

Having received my postal votes, although I had tried to cancel this arrangement. So this is how I voted. I have mocked up a ballot paper to indicate how I voted.
As you can see I voted for Jonathan Salt. 

How I voted at the local elections

Having received my ballots by post, although I wanted to cancel them, I thought I would let everyone know how I voted. I have done a mock up of a ballot paper to show you.
I will point out the only local campaign leaflets I have received were from Steve van de Kerkhove. As normal none form the Conservatives and none from Labour or UKIP. Rather pathetic really.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Co-opting for the vacant Town Council seat!

There is a vacant seat on St Neots Town Council. Fiona Birks (Liberal Democrats) resigned her Eaton Socon seat in March and the vacant seat has been advertised. The by-election would have been run on 27th May 2010. I would have thought the Conservatives would have been champing at the bit to fight the Liberal Democrats at Town Council level. Obviously not. Instead of a by-election the vacancy is now going to filled by co-opting someone onto the Town Council. Further information here.

If the St Neots Conservative Councillor Group are to be taken seriously they need to fight by-elections to show the strength of public feeling is backing them. Obviously, the Conservatives feel they would lose.

Ian Curtis IS a paper candidate!

A source let me know about this link. On the site for UKIP candidates there is a page for Ian Curtis. Joe Webster, Branch Chairman has stated on the UKIP page:
According to the Joe Webster, Ian is a "Paper Candidate". So what is "Paper Candidate"? The term is used for a candidate who is to put their name on the ballot but doesn't want to win. Therefore there is little campaigning as they don't want to win. This not only applies to General Election candidates but to local election candidates.

A better description is here of what a Paper Candidate is for.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Martin Land gets round to writing the 'contract'

In a previous blog I said Martin Land was missing the contract with his potential constituents that he stated was on his website. That was on 22nd April 2010. I see that a few days later, 25th April 2010, he has finally issued his contract. Not much of a contract anyway. A couple of parts to his contract need further examination.

"I’m pledged to work closely with and attend as many meetings as possible of the District and County Councils."

Why do you need attend all these meetings? Most of the time Martin Land wouldn't be able to attend the vast majority of these meetings.

"I’m pledged to hold an annual ‘Parish Parliament’ where the hundreds of local parish councillors will be able to raise their particular problems directly with me."

I feel this is mixed up thinking. A Parliament is a legislative body. This meeting will have no powers. I have to question whether Martin would see himself as a delegate or a representative.

I see at least two problems with this "contract". Firstly, what about his constituents. How are we able to hold Martin to account? He is very happy to start a body for Parish Councillors but not for constituents. Secondly, what happens if he breaches his "contract". There is nothing about Martin resigning if he breaches his "contract".

This "contract" isn't worth the website it is written on. 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Shopping around for future growth

St Neots Town Centre chairman John Davies is one to listen too. He reveals the planners are looking at a Town Centre Master Plan. There is a concern that if land cannot be found then there will be a shift to more out of town retailing.

The decision is simple. Either we want a Town Centre and are willing knock down buildings to achieve this or the Town Centre slowly dies.

Lets celebrate Huntingdonshire Day!

According to the Huntingdonshire Society the 25th April is designated as Huntingdonshire Day. This is the same day as Cromwell's birthday.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Eatons Community Centre gets a little boost

There are a couple of small articles the this weeks edition which may mean the ECC is slightly on the up.

Toddler group plea to get up and running - The pre-school space is looking to get used by a new baby and toddler group called Little Rainbows.

Family Services - And the River Church is increasing its use of the Eatons Community Centre.

Both are good so long as both means more revenue without the extra costs for the centre. Otherwise it is the St Neots Council taxpayer which will be heavily subsidising the Church and the new baby and toddler group. 

Mum's bid for better shopping

Wow, yet another Facebook campaign. This time it is for more shops in St Neots Town Centre. This Facebook campaigner, Emma Speed said: "We are the largest town in Cambridgeshire but we are just forgotten by the councils. All they want is more houses."

Actually. it is the Labour Government that wants more housing in this area and requires HDC to find the land. And whilst St Neots is the largest Town in Cambridgeshire, we have a much smaller catchment area than Huntingdon.

Credit where credit is due, Cllr Thorpe sets out the problems very well. Many of the properties are listed and there would need to be wide scale demolition of the Town Centre to create the space which simply won't happen. The time scale of 2026 is about right. But this could well be movable feast as when we get to 2026 the economics will have changed.
What we do need is the extra retail to go into the Town Centre rather than another out of town development. If the Councils are not willing to knock down the buildings to create the space needed then all we will get is talk. Linking two shopping areas will just not work.

It is a pity the Town Council scrapped the Town Plan which could have led the way over what St Neots needs and wants.

My comments on letters in The Hunts Post - 21/04/2010

My comments on letters in this weeks paper.

Nothing achieved for this town - Terry Cooper seems to want his cake and eat it. The problem with what goes on is the dreams of politicians in reality cost. Tax has to go up to pay for all these promises. An example are the Liberal Democrats who had a bold vision for St Neots through the Forward Plan only to fail through the lack of resources. This was due to the Liberal Democrats not wanting to impose the tax rises needed to get this programme through.

Under the same heading Roger Skillin has a go at the outdoor pool and the cinema. The trouble is the land and money is dedicated to an outdoor swimming pool. But Roger goes in for the politics of envy as the answer. It isn't. The main reason why Huntingdon gets more than St Neots is because the Huntingdon and the surrounding towns together are far larger than St Neots.

Idea's a real loo-ser - J Barrett has a go at HDC over the closure of the public loos in Huntingdon. It is easy to say no. With a £6.1 million deficit HDC has got to cut somewhere. Cllr Pat Taylor has a go at HDC over the closure of the toilets in Ramsey. This just shows how badly the Conservatives at HDC handled this decision.

Don't swing arts axe - Where has Jean Chandler been? The axe has already been swung and the arts budget has been chopped. With £6.1 million of cuts due, restoration of these arts cuts just won't happen.

Friday, April 23, 2010

What is the Town Council up to now?

I was passing SNTC Offices today and thought does the Town Council know something I don't know. Because on their notice board Jonathan Djanogly is still our MP. I would have thought our Liberal Democrat Town Council would have done better than this and taken this poster down during the election. Djanogly is no longer an MP and his parliamentary contacts don't work.
Unless this Liberal Democrat run Town Council has decided not to take down this poster as Djanogly is going to win anyway!

Labour campaign just fails

With an incumbent Labour Government in a poor third, (John Major didn't achieve this low in 1997) this seems to have spread to local activists.
At Anthea's campaign launch there were a few Labour posters on display. On my cycle route there are a couple of Labour candidates for the local elections. I though they would have a poster or two up informing passers by to Vote Labour or Vote Anthea. Neither had posters up. This includes the Branch Secretary Bill O'Connor who is standing in Eynesbury.

Not a single Labour poster up in either house. Are these Labour candidates embarrassed of this Labour Government or Anthea? Or is this just Labour giving up on St Neots/Huntingdon.

More thoughts on the Hunts Post debate

After a good night sleep I thought I would take another look at the debate and how each candidate faired. The Hunts Post is doing a partial transcript and a publishing the video here.

1st - Jonathan Salt - Independent - came over very well. He had command over much of what he said. I liked the way he spoke to us. I do feel

Equal 2nd - Jonathan Djanogly and Martin Land

           Jonathan Djanogly - Conservative - I don't feel started well but got better in the debates. There was a certain section of Conservative 'cheerleaders' in the audience. I ignored these. I felt Djanogly didn't finish well. On the whole he came second.
           Martin Land - Liberal Democrat - I felt started well and ended very well. I feel Martin does do well in adversity and did. He had a very good finish.

4th - John Clare - Green Party - Came over very well and put his beliefs and his parties policies over very well.

5th - Lord Toby Jug  - OMRLP - Whilst cutting out the loony bit, which at times were inappropriate and bombed, Lord Toby Jug came over telling it as he sees it.

6th - Anthea Cox - Labour - Anthea didn't like being heckled. When Anthea was talking she just switched me off. Not inspiring at all. Anthea did attempt to defend Labours record. Whilst it is obvious Anthea can speak to the public, it is very much harder to talk to a crowd than to talk to a congregation. There were a couple of Labour 'cheerleaders' making more noise.

7th - Ian Curtis - UKIP - Ian is a late change on the UKIP side after Jennifer O'Dell dropped out. I felt sorry for the guy. Obviously out of his depth when compared to other candidates. Would probably do better at a lower level of representation.

My last observation on the meeting was the sheer number of men. 6 out of the 7 candidates are men. Where are the women in politics?