Thursday, 17 June 2010
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
It was great to see so much warmth not just from the heavens but from the great and good that had gathered to welcome home 101 Logistics Brigade today. The Mayor and other VIPs even got to pin a few medals on the extended chests of these returning troops that had served in Helmand province, Afghanistan helping communities to resist the oppression of the Taliban and live in peace.
After the parade and medal award ceremony we all gathered in the Princes Hall for refreshments with all the returning troops, where we had the pleasure to meet and talk with them and their families. The overwhelming message from every soldier I spoke to was that despite casualties, they all agreed that they were doing a valuable job and genuinely helping the Afghans, who they spoke kindly of. They were also happy with equipment and speaking to a senior officer in equipment supply I learned that new vehicles are being designed and built and will be put into theatre soon.
I came away from this parade extremely impressed with our troops, and their positive and optimistic attitude. They really are a credit to our nation, and I am so pleased we hosted this reception. I was particularly impressed with a young group of military policemen I spoke to who had gone on regular foot patrols with the infantry. They were bright, positive and sober beyond their years, a real credit to their unit and just a good and descent group of young men. We are sending out to these far away lands fine ambassadors.
This is in stark contrast to the enquiry into 'bloody Sunday' that filled the news yesterday. It is all too easy to make judgements from the comfort and safety of a courtroom on soldiers caught in the 'fog of war' with those they believe or fear may be terrorists. Although I fully appreciate the pain of families that loose loved ones in such a situation.
Today however, having met with some of our troops today I believe Bloody Sundays are now much less likely, and, as some wise commander recently suggested, we should start giving medals out for soldiers that are nowadays showing incredible restraint under fire.
I felt extremely privileged to meet these fine young men and women today, and feel very sad that four that should have been there were not.
The elderly resident needed help clearing the overgrown grounds of her house to make it safe after being recently targeted by heartless vandals, some of whom have been arrested. With the elderly resident unable to cope with her overgrown garden, over 20 keen Mormon volunteers from their ‘helping hands’ action team in Farnborough readily picked up their tools at short notice and went to work clearing paths and overgrown shrubbery.
WPC Woodhead and myself who referred the case to the Helping Hands team were both delighted with the outcome and praised the volunteers for their quick response and the dramatic difference they made.
Friday, 11 June 2010
I saw Isabelle and Megan this last weekend and got a great photo of them talking to each other. I hope they always stay this happy with each others company!
Last weekend Gareth my fellow councillor got married. A lovely wedding and a beautiful bride. I hope they are both very happy together. I got a few snaps, but sure we will see much better photos of the wedding later.
Tuesday, 8 June 2010
I have been assigned to three council committees: Environment Panel, Farnborough Business and Community Panel and Leisure and Youth Panel.
Last night I attended the first meeting of the Leisure and Youth panel. The first meeting of the year we elect a chairman, and I am pleased Ken Muschamp was re-elected with Sue Carter as his vice chairman.
We then had a presentation from Farnborough Football Club, which essentially was a request for £300,000 from the new owner Simon Hollis. Simon is a very nice chap, and obviously committed to football. He has put a huge amount of money into the club and spoke passionately about the game and about the vision he has for a new stadium.
Our panel has no authority to give money. That, under the cabinet system, is left to a group of seven councillors who get most of their decisions endorsed by the council as a whole. Under the political system we have, this effectively means that with a good Conservative majority it is highly unlikely that any decision the cabinet make will be overruled by council. Officers particularly like this system, as one can imagine. So the role of panels that I serve on is to advise or feedback to cabinet. It is a good opportunity to 'test the water' before a decision, and to 'scrutinise' after a decision.
I personally prefer the 'consultation before a decision' approach that our cabinet take. And the football club is a good example of that.
The presentation from the club lacked imagination in my view. I think we have potentially an exciting opportunity to build a 'coalition of support' for an inspirational project drawing on a few important themes:
1. Football Club under new management and with a growing supporter base.
2. Located in a deprived area with challenges that football can help tackle.
3. Close proximity to schools and colleges that can add an important educational dimension.
4. Good location, close access to M3
The challenges are:
1. No money anywhere, in fact it is a time of huge reductions and cuts.
2. Two football clubs in the Borough competing for money.
3. The club is a private company, not a social enterprise.
4. The club already has outstanding debts to the Council.
1. Council own the land.
2. New management of the club that are enthusiastic and want to make a difference.
I am sure there are more that could be added to the above, but that is just a quick empty of my brain onto paper, which you will not be surprised did not take long.
My view for what it is worth is that we obviously have a talented chairman of the club, that is enthusiastic. The council is also talented and enthusiatic. And I think the two working together could come up with an imaginative solution that could achive a number of objectives that could benefit the club and the community without the Council giving a huge amount of money at a time of radical spending cuts.
The panel under the leadership of the chairman Ken Muschamp had an animated discussion after which the chairman summerised the feelings of the panel which will be passed on to the cabinet.
What would you do? What advice would you give to cabinet?
Tuesday, 1 June 2010
I have taken over recently as the Chairman of Rushmoor Community Mediation Services (RCMS). This is an organisation with half a dozen highly trained mediators that help residents solve a variety of disputes free of charge.
If you know of a local neighbourhood dispute in need of resolving, or would like to train as a mediator contact me.