Sunday, 30 November 2008

Arrest of MP Damian Green an outrage

Let us be clear:

Should MP's be treated different if they break the law? Definitely not. Law makers should not be law breakers, so I think the law should come down harder on MP's than anyone else that break common law crimes.
BUT.... should the police use terrorism laws to try and gag an opposition MP who thanks to a whistle blower has exposed information that SHOULD be in the public realm and is clearly in the public interest, but has been buried under official secrets act legislation in order to save the Government and senior civil servant responsible from embarrassment?
A number of things seriously bother me about this incident:
1. We have heightened security, a massacre of innocent citizens takes place in India - and what are our anti terrorist police doing??? Seven, yes seven sweep on an opposition MP's home and arrest him and question him for 7 or 9 hours. What was in the mind of the police? Is this their idea of building public confidence? We shoot innocent people on the underground and arrest opposition MP's that embarrass the Government.
2. ARE WE A POLICE STATE? Is this not something we expect to read about happening in Zimbabwe or some other despotic regime? Who authorised this? Who knew about this? Who decided this was in the public interest of national security to pursue? There are many questions over this whole issue, and I would expect to see some resignations.
Quite rightly MP's have the freedom in the House, under 'Parliamentary privilege', to say what they like without fear of prosecution - this right enables MP's to highlight and challenge issues that are in the public interest. This is especially valuable to MP's that are in opposition. We need to ensure,, in the interest of a healthy democracy, that opposition MP's are able to have the protection of 'the house' (House of Commons). It should be a haven for responsible MP's that scrutinise and ensure we are governed effectively and look after ours and the Country's best interest.
3. That said - whatever was going through the mind (if he has one) of the Speaker of the House, to not only allow the Police to search Damian Green MP's office, but had his emails suspended. It frankly beggars belief. Again, something you would expect to happen in Zimbabwe - but not here in the Mother of Democracy. The Speaker MUST RESIGN. His position is untenable. It must be noted that this is the same Speaker that went to the High Court to STOP an exposure of MP's expenses Michael Martin MP.
This reminds me of the occassion before the outbreak of the second world war where Churchill was leeked information by a senior Foreign Office official Ralph Wigram about the then Government deliberately hiding or underplaying figures about German military expansion. The whisle blower Ralph Wigram was hounded and committed suicide (sound familiar - Dr Kelly and Iraq Weapons), but the information was right and should have better prepared Britain for a bloody conflict that cost many British lives.
When all these things are happening - it is clear that it is time for change.

Friday, 28 November 2008

At University again

Fascinating study module, all about out sourcing. Spent the day learning all the in's and outs of contracts with all their pit falls and opportunities. Analysed the key features of good contracts and evaluated a few. Extremely useful to me as a Borough Councillor, some of the biggest expenditures of the council involve contracts, ie. waste collection and leisure provision. I will now be looking at these in future with a new pair of eyes.

I love London, and am staying in the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel, right on the Thames. At Uni and here at the Hotel I still get excited seeing all the London icons despite all the years I have been coming here. Houses of Parliament, London Eye, St Pauls, and the beautiful bridges. It is a beautiful city

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Say after me ... I will never complain about my job again

I will never complain about my job again
I will never complain about my job again
I will never complain about my job again
I will never complain about my job again
I will never complain about my job again
I will never complain about my job again
I will never complain about my job again

Budget summary by Cliff D'Arcy (

Alistair Darling’s Pre-Budget Report offers short-term gain, but long-term pain. We list the winners and losers from his tax changes.
Chancellor Alistair Darling presented his Pre-Budget Report (PBR) to MPs yesterday afternoon. By cutting taxes and increasing spending, he hopes to avoid a long, deep recession in the UK. However, there is a price to pay in the form of massively increased government borrowing.
Thus, in return for short-term gain, there will be long-term pain in the form of higher taxes and lower spending in the future. Indeed, some economists predict that, as a result of sharply higher government borrowing, our national debt will increase by more than £500 billion by 2015. This is equivalent to an extra mortgage of £20,000 for every household in the UK. Ouch!
So, here’s a round-up of the changes announced yesterday:
Businesses (winners)
In its first three years, my small business saw its tax rate rise from 19% to 20% to 21%. Hence, I welcome the news that the proposed increase to 22% has been put back from 2009 to 2010. Also, some small businesses may benefit from VAT being cut to 15%. In addition, the Government intends to allow businesses to spread their tax bills over longer periods and given them access to a Small Business Finance Scheme offering temporary loans of £1,000 to £1 million.
Foreign dividends paid to medium- and large-sized businesses will become tax exempt with effect from 2009. Also, small firms get temporary relief from empty-property rates: in 2009/10, empty properties with a rateable value under £15,000 will be exempt from business rates.

Families with children (winners)
Child Benefit will rise by 6.4% from £18.80 to £20 a week for the first child and by 4.9% from £12.55 to £13.20 for other children. These changes have been brought forward three months, from April to January, as have proposed increases in Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.

High earners (long-term losers) and other workers (winners)
After eleven years of restraint, the Government has taken aim at Britain’s richest individuals. From April 2011, it will introduce a 45% income-tax rate for those earning over £150,000. It estimates that only 400,000 people will be affected by this tax hike -- the richest 1% of the population. What's more, from 2010, the personal allowance for income tax (currently £6,035) will be withdrawn completely for the highest earners. Those earning more than £140,000 a year will lose their entire personal allowance, while those on £100,000 to £140,000 will lose half of its value.
On the other hand, the temporary £120 tax rebate for basic-rate taxpayers will become permanent, increasing to £145 next April. This will put more money in the pockets of around 22 million households. Alas, from April 2011, National Insurance contributions are to rise by 0.5% for both employers and employees. Also, the lower threshold for NICs will be raised to match that for income tax. In effect, future NICs will rise for anyone earning over £20,000 a year.

Homeowners (not much on offer)
There’s not much on offer for homeowners, although the Chancellor has promised that borrowers in arrears will be given a three-month breather before lenders can begin repossession proceedings. In particular, hoped-for reforms to Stamp Duty Land Tax failed to arrive, with no extension to the current one-year exemption for houses worth up to £175,000.

Motorists (losers)
Vehicle Excise Duty (VED, alias ‘road tax’) will increase and will be based on CO2 emissions. However, the maximum increase per vehicle will be capped at £5 in 2009 and £30 in 2010. The greenest vehicles will have their VED cut by up to £30. Fuel duty is to rise by 2p a litre from 1 December and by a further 1.84p a litre from 1 April 2009.

Pensioners (winners)
Pensioners do pretty well from the PBR. From April, the Pension Credit rises by £6 to £130 a week for individuals and by £9 to £198 a week for couples. Also, the weekly state pension for a single person is set to rise by £4.55 to £95.25 in 2009/10. The Winter Fuel Payment remains at £250 for the under-80s and £400 for the over-80s, plus there’s an extra one-off bung of £60 in January (£120 for couples).

Savers (no change)
There’s precious little on offer for savers in the PBR. However, the government is to launch a national savings scheme in 2010 aimed at eight million people who receive various state benefits and tax credits. The Savings Gateway scheme was first proposed seven years ago and has been undergoing trials in selected parts of the UK.
A Savings Gateway account can be held for two years, with the Government adding 50p to every pound saved, which is a terrific return for low-income households. In total, up to £600 can be saved, with the Government contribution capped at £300. However, families earning less than £15,000 a year and individuals earning less than £11,000 a year are unlikely to have much disposable income, which may handicap this scheme. In addition, this scheme could be open to abuse, with well-off relatives or friends providing savings to low-income folk in return for a cut of that guaranteed 50%+ return!

Spenders (winners)
People who like to splash their cash will be pleased to hear that Value Added Tax (VAT) is being cut from 17.5% to 15% until the end of 2009. Then again, housing, food, childcare, public transport and children's clothes are already VAT-exempt, so these will not become any cheaper. Indeed, some retailers may decide that the switch to 15% VAT is too much hassle and, instead, will absorb the extra profit. It’s bad news for sin taxes, too, as duty on alcohol and tobacco will be increased to cancel out the VAT cut.

In summary
This is a big-budget giveaway, designed to put more money into everyone’s pockets in an effort to prevent a major downturn in the UK economy. Thanks to changes to income tax and NICs, most households will pay between £119 and £343 less tax in the 2009/10 tax year. Thus, most workers will be winners, although high earners will lose out in future. Indeed, someone earning £200,000 a year will pay almost £5,600 more tax and NICs from 2011/12. However, I suspect that few of us will take pity on these super-high earners!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Don't be materialistic!!!

A City Banker parks his brand new Porsche in front of the office to show it off to his colleagues. As he's getting out of the car, a lorry comes speeding along too close to the kerb and takes off the door before zooming off.
More than a little distraught, the Londoner grabs his mobile andcalls the police. Five minutes later, the police arrive. Before the policeman has a chance to ask any questions, the man starts screaming hysterically: 'My Porsche, my beautiful silver Porsche is ruined. No matter how long it's at the panel beaters it'll simply never be the same again!' After the man finally finishes his rant, the policeman shakes his head indisgust. 'I can't believe how materialistic you City Bankers are,' he says. 'You lot are so focused on your possessions that you don't notice anything else in your life.' 'How can you say such a thing at a time like this?' sobs the Porsche owner. The policeman replies, 'Didn't you realise that your right arm was torn off when the truck hit you.'
The Banker looks down in horror and screams........'Where's my Rolex????...'

Alert - keep watch

I have recieved this report from an adjacent Farnborough Ward:

We have had a spate of vehicle damage in Westheath Ward. This has been people breaking into vehicles to obtain items left inside them such as money, mobile phones etc. Can I remind you all NOT to leave any valuable items within your vehicle. On this note can you think about when you are out doing your Christmas shopping, do not leave presents on show in the car. This time of year makes vehicle crime more appealing. Use your boot area to hide items if you have to but remember this area is also a target. Try not to leave anything of value in your car.
We have had a report from one of the Councillors that there was a suspicious male seen. This male was first seen in the Pitt Way/Clouston Road area on Saturday 22nd around 1155 hours. We was knocking on doors in the area. Cllr X approached this male to find out what he was doing and explaining who he was, the response he got was less than polite. The male went on to say however that he was a tree surgeon and that he had business cards, however he would not show them to Cllr X. He said that he was registered and that he came from Farnham. This is all at this time suspected to be false. From the way the male behaved towards Mark he had something to hide. Please all be on the lookout.
The description of the male is:
White 40-50 years
Clean shaven 5ft 10
14 stone approx.
Black trousers Shirt Jacket Brown shoes

Approximately 10 minutes later Cllr X as cycling along Westheath Road when he was chased by a Grey coloured Mondeo saloon which contained 3-4 adults. It is not certain if this was the same male and some friends of his as Cllr X had to take evasive action to avoid being hit.
There has also been a second report of a suspicious male which was called in to us by an off duty Surrey Detective. He saw on Monday 24th around 1205 hours four males in the Blunden Road area knocking on the doors. The only description we have is youths aged 18-21 years. This may well be legitimate, however we always treat these reports as suspicious until we can clearly clarify that they are not. Rest assured if we see males doing this sort of door to door knocking we do obtain their details and clarify them. If you can all remain vigilant and if you have any information in relation to these points or anything similar please let me know.
Westheath Local Beat Officer

Monday, 24 November 2008

Car Crime in Empress

Over the last four days there have been three incidents of vehicle crime:

One in Oak Road Farnborough between 20.40hrs and 21.20hrs on Saturday night where an attempt to steal the car was made by smashing the rear drivers side window and removing the steering column.

Two incidents of theft of number plates in Rectory Road Farnborough.

Please be vigilant and consider carefully where you leave your vehicles overnight.
If you may have seen something which can assist Police enquiries ring 0845 045 45 45.
PC 1145 Lee JEFFERS Empress and Town Centre OCU Neighbourhood Policing Team Farnborough Police Station.
Tel: 01256 405190 or 0845 045 45 45 ext 608158 e-mail:

Friday, 21 November 2008

My new neice or nephew

Great news - a new little person is on the way to join us care of my sister.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Farnborough Town Centre rising from the dust

What is there now - Rok Construction busy laying the foundations

What will rise from the dust during 2009

Works commenced August 2008 and comprises the construction of the foodstore, other retail units, hotel and residential units, together with the realignment of Kingsmead and construction of the surface car park. Demolition and enabling works have been completed. Completion of these blocks is programmed for the end of October 2009.

Mark up your bike for free

Click on picture to enlarge

A Jewish American - thoughts on Christmas

Herewith at this happy time of year, a few confessions from my beating heart:I have no freaking clue who Nick and Jessica are. I see them on the cover of People and Us constantly when I am buying my dog biscuits and kitty litter. I often ask the checkers at the grocery stores. They never know who Nick and Jessica are either. Who are they? Will it change my life if I know who they are and why they have broken up? Why are they so important? I don't know who Lindsay Lohan is, either, and I do not care at all about Tom Cruise's wife.

Am I going to be called before a Senate committee and asked if I am a subversive? Maybe, but I just have no clue who Nick and Jessica are. Is this what it means to be no longer young. It's not so bad.

Next confession: I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

England v Australia rugby

The good wishes and cheers of the crowd just were not enough to win over the referee!!

Saw the England v Australia rugby match today at Twickenham with a friend, and had a very enjoyable day spoilt only by the result. 14 to 28. The referee did not help - I never like to criticise the referee, as it is a tough job in the best circumstances, but it has to be said, on this occasion even my Australian fellow spectators were shocked at most of his decisions.

England are a team in transition, and appeared slow and hesitant. I am sure Martin Johnson will pull the team into shape, and could not have been happy with the performance today.

It was good to see the Army curry van there, and meet up with some old friends for a traditional Gurkha curry before the match, and a few cans (water for me) after the match, where we put, not only the England team right, but also solved most of the world issues too.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Empress Community Meeting

Tonight I met with our beat officers and representatives from our Empress Ward Community, local neighbourhood watch co-ordinators, businesses, churches and schools. We do this in the ward once every three months.
We discussed what is happening in the area, and also highlighted areas that need our attention.
The following are some priorities I was given:
  1. Cabrol Road and the play area needs unclogging of too many vehicles and some anti social juveniles. Empress Estate needs restricted parking times.
  2. Need to survey our alley ways and have a clean up, and light up where needed.
  3. Rectory Road needs some thought as to how we cope with parent traffic for local school.
  4. Trees in the ward - there are lots - what liability if they fall on roads etc. Who pays and can assistance be given to improve maintenance etc.

We have dealt with most of the anti social behaviour in the town, our neighbourhood watches have trebled and we are on target for 100% coverage. We have successfully been dealing with cycling, and are seeing improved facilities in the Ward. Recently, following a meeting with KPI the town centre developer we agreed some cycle path improvements and better locations for cycle racks.

I would like to thank the police for all their support, and especially residents for their valuable feedback and contributions, and finally my fellow ward councillors Brian and Gareth who all work hard making this place a nicer place to live.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Remembering all especially those in our family

I reflect today on the sacrifices made by so many, but especially on my own families sacrifice thru the years:

Our Family Roll of Honour

David Pullen: 1813-90 (51st Regiment of Foot) Storming of Rangoon 1847

John Robt Townsend: 1842 - 1932 (Queens Own Gloucester Hussars)

Frank Edwin Powell: 1892 - 1979 (Royal Navy) Served on HMS Victory

Henry Albert Sanders: 1877 - 1953 (Royal Artillery) fought in the Boar War

Charles Hardaker - killed - 22 Aug 1915 (AIF) Gallipoli, Turkey

Patrick McBride - killed - 26 Oct 1915 (DLI) Houplines, France

Francis Trudden - killed - 15 Oct 1916 (DLI) Somme, France

Denis Trudden - lost - 6 April 1917 (SS Powhatan) Atlantic

Arthur Merrell - killed - 12 April 1917 (Gloucester Regiment) Arras, France

George Richards- killed - 2 Aug 1917 (South Wales Borderers) Ypres, Belgium

Charles Penfold- killed - 12 April 1918 (Royal Fusiliers) Hazebrouck, France

George Williams: 1889 - 1965 (North Somerset Yeomanry) Prisoner of War

John J Townsend: 1873 - 1959 (AIF)

William T Jackman: 1882 - 1966 (Royal Fusiliers)

Patrick Clifford - lost - 1st Feb 1943 (HMS Welshman) sunk by U boat 617 in Tripoli Harbour, Libya

Albert G Godwin: 1912-98 (Royal Engineers) captured by Japanese in Hong Kong 1940, survived the sinking of the Lisbon Maru, by an American submarine, and survived the Japanese prison of war camp.

Francis Clifford: 1933 - 2001 (Royal Corps of Transport) served in Malaya and Aden

The family appear to litter the worlds battlefields!

Monday, 10 November 2008

Britains drug problem worst in Europe

Drug abuse in Britain is worse than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new report. Young people in the UK are more likely to take cocaine, Ecstasy and amphetamine than those in any other country on the Continent, it said. But cannabis use is declining.
Young Britons are using cocaine in quantities and with a frequency unmatched anywhere else in the world apart from the US, the report found. One in 20 schoolchildren of 15 and 16 - around 200,000 teenagers - have used the drug, it said.
The analysis, by the European Union's drug agency, also pointed to levels of deaths from drugs that are higher here than in any other major nation in the EU. Only four small European countries - Luxembourg, Estonia, Norway and Denmark - lose a higher proportion of their young people in drug-related deaths, the report said.
Deaths linked to drug abuse in Britain are, the figures suggest, running at double the rate of those in Germany and four times those in France.
The use of cannabis, says the report, is showing signs of decline in the UK, however.

In the context of this report little comfort.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Time to remember

Today I went to my own church for Remembrance Day, as the garrison decided the Council were not worth reserving seats for. Seats were only reserved for the Mayoral group including I assume the leader and cheif executive. A great shame, as it had become a good tradition in which councillors were at this important time actually seen by our community shoulder to shoulder remembering together - still I am sure they had good reason to discontinue this tradition. The important thing is that however we do it - we remember, and keep remembering and never forget the sacrifices made by so many, and so many that were young and had a lifetime ahead of them. They were loved and missed, and every British family was affected in the great war, from the highest in the land to the lowest. A war that should have stopped all wars.
At our own service it was good to hear from retired soldiers and those distiguished with honour in the Falklands war sharing their experiences and remembering comrades and those that have sacrificed all for others and the cause of freedom. It was also good to stand with them in silience and remember, and to close the service singing our National Anthem.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

More thoughts on Obama

The impact of Obama is still sinking in, and for many good reasons. And there are two issues i would like to just focus on:

1. He serves as the ultimate role model (at the moment) for kids that feel or are told that they are disadvantaged. Any ethnic minority kids, or kids with a single parent need to realise that with hard work and talent they can achieve anything they set their mind to do. It may at times be tougher than for some others, but nothing is impossible, and the harder they work the luckier they will get.

2. The greatest stumbling block to an Obama event in the UK is Parliament. I believe that Parliament is in need of reformation. This has nothing to do with race. It has everything to do with how our democracy is organised. It is extremely unlikely in the current system that an MP having just served a few years (as in Obama's case) could campaign and win the job of Priminister. WE DO NOT CHOOSE our most senior and powerful political position - we leave it in the hands of Parliament. I say it is time for change. The job of Priminister is far to important to the Nation for us to leave it to a few hundred MP's. I want to have a say in who runs this Country, and in this modern Britain it is about time we joined the rest of the world in being able to all cast a vote for our political head of state. Now that I would like to see in my lifetime.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

County update on Cove village landscaping

Lunch time I met up with the County and Borough officers working on the upgrading of highway areas in Cove, with me were County Councillor Carol Laversha and Cllr Brian Parker. The County have committed £250,000 to the project and three key areas of improvement have been identified. Cove Brook, Cove Village centre, and junction with Cove Green. Details can be seen on the Borough web site.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Well done Obama

Love him or hate him - he ran a fantastic campaign, and raised a record breaking amount of money for his campaign. Not dominated by big donations from the wealthy, but rather millions of small donations. The widows mite a good analogy as his campaign has been almost Messianic. And not wishing to over play the analogy, but I fear white supremacists will be out to crucify him, before he can get to the White House, or as soon as possible thereafter.
It will be interesting to see if his vision that has captured the heart of America is translated into reality. Obama has the legitimacy of a land slide victory, the good will of many foreign nations. Change is something that is yearned for the world over. And nothing needs change more drastically than American foreign policy. So a vision has been created, there has now been created great anticipation. What now will be delivered? And delivery is everything, as every mid-wife will tell you.
I wish him well. I was surprised that Republicans chose a fine but aged man to run, but all so easy to say in hindsight. I personally liked Mit Romney and Rudy Giuliani. But maybe this election was not the one to get selected for. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. The hour now is Obama's, and justly deserved. He ran the best campaign, was the most charismatic, and created the vision that connected with most Americans. He was for the most part positive and concentrated on what he would deliver, and came across as a formidable statesman.
All men are more equal now in America. This election alone has redeemed the hypocrisy that there has been on this fundamental decree in the American Constitution for centuries. And the most moving images for me have been those of the people that choose to call themselves 'African- Americans'. Millions have waited to register, and the tears and joy on the faces of this American underclass have been remarkable. Hope has replaced despair. I hope for them it is not a false dawn. They have taken far too high a mortal toll in home and foreign policy.
I hope the other great unequal group will emerge now with more confidence in the political arena - women. I like Sarah Palin. The left wing media and press has tried to vilify her, and make us feel guilty admitting it - but I like her. She is young, new and inexperienced, and I hope this election has not been her ruin. We shall see.
So opens a new chapter in American and world politics. We have arrived at a cross road, and an American dream has been realised, or may there may be trouble ahead ....

Monday, 3 November 2008

Republican campaigning in Mississippi

My nephew Jared gets invited to help with the McCann campaign, as Republicans look for characters to stop Obama