Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Historic Budget

What a historic picture: Tory Chancellor flanked by Liberal Democrats!!

David Cameron also dropped me a line to keep me updated as he always does when there is something important.

Dear David,
I know how worried people are about the state of our economy and the decisions we have to take as a country. So I wanted to write to you personally about the emergency Budget the Chancellor delivered today.
I'm not going to hide it from you - what the coalition has announced is tough. But let's be clear, it's also entirely necessary and entirely unavoidable. Never forget - Labour left us with one of the worst economic inheritances imaginable. They racked up one of the biggest budget deficits in Europe - with the government borrowing one pound for every four it spends - and they doubled the national debt.
Doing nothing about this isn't an option. Greece stands as an example of what happens to countries that don't deal with their debts. And we cannot afford to be timid either - take just small steps now and confidence in our economy will fall, interest rates will rise, we'll carry on with this debt cloud hanging over our whole economic recovery.
That's why these difficult times call for such decisive action. And that's what this emergency Budget is about. Unlike the Budgets of the past thirteen years it's not a random shopping list of policies to buy short-term popularity. It's a thoughtful plan to pay for the bills of the past while planning for our future prosperity. At the heart of George Osborne's Budget are three principles.
First, responsibility. We will bring some sense and sanity back to the public finances by reducing our deficit by an extra £40 billion over the next five years. The majority of this will come from spending cuts - though as we always said, we will protect the NHS and international aid budgets. But tax rises are required too. I know you won't like that. Believe me, I don't like it either. But there's a high price to pay for Labour's incompetence, so VAT will have to rise to 20 percent to deal with their deficit.
Second, freedom. The economic growth needed to create jobs and opportunities for all will only come when we get enterprise flourishing again, so this Budget sends out a signal to the world that Britain is back open for business. In its pages are plans to cut red tape, stop Labour's jobs tax, reduce corporation tax rates, improve our infrastructure, support a low-carbon economy and spread new industries to every corner of our country.
Third, fairness. As I said, this Budget is tough. But it's also fair. That's what I'm about, what this Party is about, it's what this coalition is about. That's why we have asked every part of society to make some sort of contribution to paying off our debts - with the richest paying most. For example, Capital Gains Tax will rise for top rate taxpayers - but I think most people will agree that 28 per cent is a fair rate.
At the same time, we have also done everything we can to protect the least well-off. So while there will be a two-year public sector pay freeze, we will make sure those earning less than £21,000 still get pay increases. We will also increase the personal tax allowance by £1,000 for low and middle income earners, re-link the basic state pension to earnings and make sure it rises each year and reform the benefit and tax credit system so we reward work and protect the most vulnerable. What's more, we have committed an extra £2 billion in child tax credits for the poorest families - helping to ensure there is no increase in measured child poverty over the next two years. This is what we mean when we say we're all in this together.
David, in this emergency Budget I believe you have the measure of this government. Will it provoke debate? Certainly. Will it cost our coalition some popularity? Possibly. But is this the right thing to do - for the health of our economy, for the poorest in our society, for the future of our country? I passionately believe it is.

South Africa Lunch

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Aldershot Hot News

The MOD shortlist for the Aldershot Urban extension comprise three companies
  1. Argent Uk
  2. Taylor-Wimpy
  3. Grainger
 The contract should be awarded in the autumn.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Pictures of a Parade: Welcome home 101 Logistic Brigade

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.

Thank you LDS Helping Hands

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ’Helping Hands’ team acted swiftly when they received an appeal from the police and us local councillors to assist an elderly resident.

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.


After - a resident with some of the LDS 'Helping Hands' volunteers

Friday, 11 June 2010

Isabelle and Megan

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!

Megans love of the camera is frighteningly like her grandfathers, another keen photographer or a budding politician perhaps......

Gareth gets married

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

Farnborough Football Club approach the Council for money

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.

Positive factors:
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?

God's Pharmacy

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Rushmoor Community Mediation Services

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.