Friday, 31 October 2008

Nathan abducted by aliens

My nephew Nathan cannot quite understand exactly what is going on. I can almost hear him saying "I'm sure Dad is in here somewhere"

Friday, 24 October 2008

London South Bank University

I absolutely love being a student. I never forget what a privilage it is to get University education, especially here in London. I am three quarters of the way through my post-graduate degree, and still cannot believe I have not been kicked out yet.
This course contributes points to a Masters in Public Administration, and we have just completed some study on employment law and good governance. The tutors are excellent, and I really enjoy the company of the other students. It has really been a big help in understanding my role as a councillor and my only regret is I did not have the chance to do this course a year or so after being elected as a councillor a life time ago.
The more I study the more I realise two things.
1. Rushmoor is a very well run Council, with first class officers.
2. Borough Councillors have been stripped of too much power and ability to lead and represent properly their communities. Too much policy and directives come from Whitehall, and not enough is coming from the ground up - so no wonder it often does not work or meet the needs of residents.
More power and authority needs to be devolved down to Borough Councillors, and we need to play a greater role in making local decisions and setting local policy. Too much power has been taken further away from the people that power effects.
It is time for the tide to turn.

16 arrested in drugs raids

A total of 16 people have been arrested and substantial quantities of Class A drugs seized during a police operation targeting transient drug dealers in north and east Hampshire.

The operation, which began on Wednesday this week, has brought together officers from North and East OCU together with colleagues from Specialist Operations teams to target people coming in to the north of the county specifically intent on dealing drugs, and the violence associated with their criminal activity.

This operation is ongoing and the latest part of Operation Spartan, Hampshire Constabulary’s response to the threat of gun, knife and drug crime in the two counties.
The results of the operation so far include:

16 arrests
11 vehicle searches
31 drug searches
12 warrants executed

In total, police recovered £4,000 of crack cocaine and heroin in wraps, and have this morning opened a safe that was seized from an address in London which was found to contain a substantial amount of crack cocaine, the value of which is currently being calculated but is believed could have a street value of between £50,000 and £100,000.

Officers also travelled to London last night (Thursday, October 24), and executed a number of warrants and searches, resulting in the arrest of three men, who are suspected of travelling into Hampshire to deal drugs.

Three people have so far been charged with possession with the intent to supply Class A drugs and with being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs.

Superintendent Paul Brooks, who co-ordinated the operation, said: “We are still currently investigating a number of people in custody, and this operation will continue for the foreseeable future.

“By putting officers from across the force and local intelligence teams out on the streets together, we believe we have already severely disrupted the supply to this area.”

Chief Superintendent Mark Chatterton, local police commander, said: “This OCU has been, over the last 12 months, the safest place in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. This sort of pro-active operation is part of the reason why this is the case.

“It is my intention to keep it that way.

“Your Safer Neighbourhood Teams will be out and about in your community, and you should feel free to stop them and discuss any concerns you may have. Information from the community plays a real part in influencing the way we police, so I would encourage you to let us know what issues are important to you.”

Anyone with information about drugs being dealt in their neighbourhood can contact their local Safer Neighbourhoods Team on 0845 045 45 45, or leave information anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

For more information about your local policing team, please visit

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Trolley Table - latest score

Going 100% Neighbourhood Watch

Dear Residents

We are busy trying to get 100% coverage in the ward for Neighbourhood Watch.
There are a number of advantages to this:

1. Good liaison with the police about current crime activity and prevention.

2. All members of our Neighbourhood Watch will get 10% further discount from local Insurance broker Shelton's on their insurance requirements (car, house etc).

3. We meet every 3 months with the Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators to update on crime etc issues, but also make priorities for the ward with regards to not only crime but other community issues. This has meant we can channel money for important ward projects of community interest.

4. We are finding as we establish these (we have completed Empress Estate), we are finding a real sense of community is returning to our area.

5. This is also proving a great way of local people working with our two beat officers and councillors keeping an eye out for vulnerable neighbours who are prone to fraudsters.

We need a few co-ordinators for each street. This is not an onerous job, and the rewards to you, your neighbours and the community far outweigh any small inconveniences. This is very rewarding and enjoyable. We have got to know so many more people and are already realising huge benefits for our area.

Please email me back if you wish to help or know someone in your street that would.

Warm regards
David Clifford
Empress Conservative Councillor.
"Together we can make a difference"
Tel 01252 371111
Fax 01252 371112

Monday, 20 October 2008

Learning how to govern

Rushmoor Councillors had a workshop on governance - local leadership and how best to develop and deliver it.

The irony?
The leadership of the Council were absent!
I am sure they had very good reasons.
This was not lost on the majority of members present, although it has to be recognised our Mayor was there - but as most of you know - he does not run the Council - he is our resident figurehead of State.
Lots of ideas were discussed and we can all feel good about this - I sadly dispair, however, that the powers absent will do very little to let go and push power out towards the people where I think some of the power needs to go. I would love to think I am wrong - and that we will do it before we are forced by legislation - we shall see.
For the benefit of the public and my entertainment I will try an identify the players at these meetings as follows, and breifly explain my reason:
So for this meeting we have:
The Good - have to be those that attended and especially those that made some good contributions and avoided political sniping.
The Bad - those that just could not be bothered to come along.
The Ugly - Mike Robert's (Labour Heron Wood). Not for his political sniping, or the fact he makes a comment on every topic - even I appreciate we did not get elected to keep quiet - but Mike does abuse it. No, he gets this nomination for the same awful jumper he insists on wearing to every meeting. This Christmas I must remember to de-jumper him and clean it or buy him a new one.

Harlequin's 42 - Ulster 21 @ The Stoop

Stuff the match - I was this close to Martin Johnson

A great friend invited me to his box situated in the perfect position - just behind the press box

Ulster scored the first try and conversion within minutes of the start of the game, and I have to say my Ulster Irish genes could not stop me letting out a cheer. But that was about as good as it got for Ulster. I managed to get a photo of Ulster finally working well together as a team - above when they had to walk off the pitch guided by the harlequin funnel.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Local Government Pay dispute - an update

The Employers (Councils) and Unions have been in dispute in relation to this year's pay award and the decision was taken recently to refer the issue to arbitration. Our Cheif Executive has received confirmation today that both sides have agreed, given the inevitable length of time that arbitration will take, that the Employers’ final offer should be implemented, with effect from 1 April 2008. I have included below an extract from the message received today:-

"The Employers’ Side of the NJC (National Joint Council) made a final pay offer for 2008/09 of 2.45% (plus an additional £100 per annum on spinal column points 4, 5 & 6). No agreement has been reached and this failure to agree has been referred to arbitration by the Trade Union Side. The Employers have acceded to this request.

Given the time that has elapsed since the award was due, and the likelihood of further delays arising from the arbitration process, the two sides of the NJC have now decided that the Employers’ final offer should be implemented, with effect from 1 April 2008……"

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

New Farnborough web

Found this and added to my Farnborough Links ...

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Rushmoor's Finance Director's letter to Councillors

Council Investments

I have been closely monitoring with the finance team the recent turbulence on the London and international money markets.

The Council agrees a Treasury Management Policy in February each year, which prescribes the institutions, credit ratings and limits on lending that govern our investment of the Council’s investments of £40-50m. This policy is being followed strictly.

Over recent months, the application of the Treasury Management Policy was tightened in the light of the higher risks in the money markets. This was done by using only those institutions that had a credit rating better than that prescribed in the policy.

This week I agreed a further tightening of our operational arrangements:

* A cessation on forward deals – these are agreements to lend an amount at a future date for a prescribed period of time.
* No further long term lending to be undertaken i.e. lending over 1 year.
* Limits on the arrangements for short term lending.

These are all aimed at reducing the risks the Council faces on its investments.

Our advisors, Butlers have told us that there may be some risk associated with the Council’s investment with Glitnir bank, based in Iceland.

The Council currently has £2m invested with Glitnir and it is not possible to assess the implications for this investment at present. As a term depositor, we will be relatively high up the order of creditors if the bank is liquidated and assets realised.

Members may have seen that the LGA is pressing Government to safeguard these investments by local authorities.

I am continuing, with the finance team, to monitor the position and should there be any further significant developments, I will let you know.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Bankers a few billion - soldiers in Iraq/ Afganistan £19K pa

Am I the only one that is sickened by the pay off politicians are queing up to make to over paid, arogant, stuck up, remote city bankers, many of whom are earning an annual bonus worth over a million, and recieving huge pay offs inspite of poor performance. Funny how all this money has been found so quickly. The way some of these banks have behaved is nothing short of reckless and yet many politicians are falling over themselves to get them out of trouble. I say we should not let them off so easy. I want to see the bankers pay. I don't want blood - I want money. They need their pockets hit - and they are very deep pockets - and bankers have very short arms. I resent the fact that I along with every other UK tax payer will be contributing about £2000 to help bankers stay accustomed to the trough they have had their greedy snouts in for so long.

What a contrast to our troops paid about £19,000 per annum out in the desert regularly getting killed because of poor gear and poorly armoured land rovers regularly being blown apart by IED's (improvised explosive devices). We have only just heard that money has been found to build and supply new armoured vehicles . There have been a heap of dead British soldiers accumulate while the brave kept patroling, and the cowards in Whitehall prevaricated and delayed in giving the front line what they needed.
I say we do a job swap for 12 months ... Troops in the City - Bankers in Afganistan
In fact an even better idea - donate their bonuses to the injured servicemen - they can do it easily via "Help for Heroes"

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Military Hospital petition

Following our response to the e-petition
"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to create a dedicated Military & Veterans Hospital within the UK" on 24 September 2008, we received feedback from some signatories on the issue of hospital security.

We can assure you that the security of our personnel admitted as in-patients is of the highest priority and remains under constant review.

Each NHS Trust has overall security responsibility for the safety of all its patients. The main trauma ward at Selly Oak hospital has a swipe card door lock system, and we have good liaison arrangements in place between the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, the hospital, Special Branch and the local police. Similar liaison takes place at the other hospitals hosting Ministry of Defence Hospital Units, and any MOD concerns will be discussed with the appropriate Trust security department.

Prime Minister's Office

Thursday, 2 October 2008

New Consumer protection?

A new system that will better protect consumers comes into effect this week: From 1 October:

* Consumer Focus will be formed through the merger of the National Consumer Council, energywatch and Postwatch. The new body will be a more powerful consumer champion, with much stronger powers than its predecessors - including the ability to demand information from companies.
* Energy and post companies will have to take greater responsibility for resolving customers' complaints. The regulators, Ofgem and Postcomm, may now fine companies who fail to meet tough new standards. They will also announce how well companies are handling complaints - giving those that perform the best a competitive advantage
* If companies and consumers can't reach agreement on a valid complaint then new independent redress schemes will step in. These schemes will be free for consumers, but companies will have to pay for every case that reaches this stage. Unlike energywatch and postwatch, the redress schemes have the legal power to enforce resolution and award compensation for consumers.
* Consumer Direct, the Government funded advice service, will now give consumers information and practical advice on energy and postal issues. It can be contacted on 08454 04 05 06 or by visiting

Business Secretary John Hutton said:
"These changes will help consumers get a better deal.
"One single body, rather than three, means a stronger voice holding business and Government to account. It means a more joined up approach to tackling problems.
"Energy and post companies will have to take greater responsibility for handling complaints or face significant fines. And where complaints can't be resolved voluntarily, new redress schemes give the system teeth."

Ed Mayo, Chief Executive of Consumer Focus, said:
"There could not be a more appropriate time to launch a new, more powerful consumer champion and to improve complaints handling. Current economic conditions are tough and consumers are telling us that value for money is their number one concern.
"The creation of Consumer Focus, a new kind of campaigner, is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to put consumers at the heart of business and government decision-making. We will campaign for a fair deal for consumers, because if consumers are confident then everybody, including families, business and the economy, benefits."