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Pinocchio is back and on form!

May 3, 2017

Thought he’d gone for good? Perhaps we all did, especially after he became Sir Pinocchio – although modestly he doesn’t seem keen to use his title on the literature he sends out to his former constituents! He prefers the more ‘democratic’ Ed – which is kind of him – really!

After two years silence he’s at it again. Back in 2010 he launched the famous scare over the ‘closure’ of the Maternity unit and A&E at Kingston Hospital. Remember? I was at Kingston Hospital last week and A&E seemed to very busy still, seven years later! I can’t comment on the Maternity unit from first hand experience but I understand it still runs too.

And he promised students he would end tuition fees – but the last I heard they were still paying them seven years on and after he and his party supported an increase! And there was the old favourite about rezoning Surbiton station which he used to trot out every four or five years but never, somehow, seemed to make any progress between General Elections.

Now he’s promising a ‘soft Brexit’ – or is it a rerun of last June’s Referendum on EU membership? It isn’t altogether clear. I don’t know if he himself knows what he means by this but I do know that he hopes that people who voted ‘Remain’ last June will fall for the idea that he will deliver them a second Referendum so that the ‘Leavers’ can repent and give the ‘right’ answer this time in the elegant way things are usually done in the EU.

So Sir Ed, who was our local MP and said nothing when Gordon Brown signed the UK up to the Lisbon Treaty without any vote in Parliament or a Referendum in the country – the very Treaty which contains the Article 50 Theresa May has now activated after a Referendum and votes in both Houses of Parliament – is hoping the electors of Kingston and Surbiton will again fall for the formula that worked for him in1997, 2001, 2005 and 2010. I think not!!

 

 

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Floods!

June 24, 2016

Driving through Surbiton Hill ward yesterday I encountered flooding such as I haven’t seen in years. I notice that James Berry MP posted a picture of it outside his office in Ewell Road during the down pour.

This used to be a feature of life until Jane Smith, Janet Bowen-Hitchings and I campaigned successfully to get all the gullies cleared regularly. First we had to get the Highway engineers to map their locations accurately. Some were choked with silt in which grass was growing and one outside Bourne House in Langley Avenue was blocked with cement!

Yesterday Upper Brighton Road near St. Matthew’s Avenue was a lake for a while – something I’d never seen before. I was glad to see that some of the other former flood areas were clear thanks to functioning gullies and drains.

But would our successors please note: the price of dry roads is perpetual vigilance to see that the drainage system is properly maintained.

Take back control

June 23, 2016

I suppose like me you are tired to death of the ‘Neverendum’ and may be inclined to disconnect the TV and every other communication device within earshot, recycle the paper and go to sleep in a darkened room.

The campaign has shown our politics at its worst. 1975 was nothing like this, nor was any General Election I can remember, going all the way back to 1964. However, one thing I have ended up more convinced about than I ever expected to be is that we simply must not take what Cameron and the Remainers want us to believe is the safe, easy option and vote to stay in this dysfunctional ‘Union’ or bury our head in the pillows and just abstain.

If you ever want to have a real choice over who governs us and how – something we took for granted in those earlier General Elections – then you must go out and VOTE LEAVE TODAY.

In 1975 I campaigned for YES to stay in. To stay in what? I’m not going to say that I thought it was just a free trade area and no more because it wasn’t. It had political overtones even then. But the world of 1975 was entirely different to today. One quarter of Germany, all of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania were behind the Iron Curtain and controlled by the Soviets, who had sent tanks to crush reformers in Prague as recently as 1968. Yugoslavia (who??) and Albania had Communist dictatorships. Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia were still part of the Soviet Union. Spain and Portugal were just on the verge of ending Fascist dictatorships that had held power there since the 1930s.

The European Community we had joined had within it France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg plus Denmark, Eire and ourselves. Norway should have joined but decided not to. Essentially we were the democratic, free market states of Northern Europe and also (except for Eire) members of NATO. Closer economic and cultural co-operation between ourselves and our like-minded neighbours made sense. Besides which the UK was in serious economic trouble with strikes and serious inflation and the other members seemed to be doing better economically than we were. Truly some ‘visionaries’ might have nursed ambitions to recreate the Roman Empire – some sort of European superstate – but that seemed unlikely ever to happen and in no-one’s interest that it should. By being in, we, with our ties with the Commonwealth and the USA, believed we were in a position to stop it anyway.

Since then the Nine, as we were in 1975, have grown to 28. The Iron Curtain has gone and most of the states that were formerly behind it have been allowed by Brussels to join the EU (as it became through the treaties of Maastricht and Lisbon and they have changed the whole character of that body simply by being allowed to join it. Brussels has pretended that each of them has changed its policies and laws since the days of its Communist past sufficiently to rank it alongside the Western countries that never had a Communist (or a Fascist) past in the first place. The basis for this is territorial aggrandisement pure and simple and as fast as possible so as to advance the cause of the Superstate which is no longer just a pipe dream but which they are desperate to create as soon as possible.

This attitude is no more clearly revealed than it was over the Euro, created not as a common currency, as many commentators inaccurately call it, but as a single currency. Effectively this has meant replacing the lira, peseta and drachma with the Deutsche Mark under a different name and assuming that the economic policies that made Germany’s currency the strongest in Europe could be applied (irrespective of the wishes of their citizens) in all the states of the Union. We and the Danes have opted out, thank the Lord, but we have, nevertheless, had to pay out millions to shore up the Euro and save it from collapse. Meanwhile the peoples of Southern Europe are paying a heavy price in terms of unemployment for this nightmare experiment and we are rewarded for our abstinence from the Euro by massive migration and the consequent strain on all our social and other services and the pricing of young people out of the housing market.And can we be sure that we can indefinitely stay IN the EU but OUT of the Euro?

The EU is headed down a path we and most of the citizens of other member states never asked for or agreed to. The Remainers have made no case at all why we should continue along this path with them. David Cameron has shown that the people who actually run the EU are not prepared to countenance any change of tack, believing that we don’t really care. All Cameron and Osborne have done is to try to scare us with horror stories about leaving, in a campaign which has crossed the borders of hysteria and mendacity more than once. I wish they’d shown more wisdom and restraint and soon enough I think they will wish so too.

We owe it to ourselves and our children and we owe it to all the people in Europe who are suffering to take our future into our own hands and serve notice that we will no longer let the bureaucrats of Brussels take us for granted.

FOR ALL OUR SAKES VOTE ‘LEAVE’.

 

Great deal for Kingston

February 10, 2016

I’ve been so quiet for so long many of you must have wondered if I’d shuffled off this mortal coil. Well, I haven’t. I’ve been very busy and finding it hard to keep abreast of all that goes on locally. The news has often been pretty dismal too. However this has just arrived in my In tray and I thought I’d share it with you – together with my best wishes and promises to use this site again from time to time.

 

A Better Deal for Kingston

Unprecedented new government settlement for Kingston

Following the announcement in December of the adverse grant settlement for Kingston, strong lobbying from the Council, its Leader and Members of Parliament  has led to a revised deal for Kingston and our announcement of a reversal of the planned Council Tax increase.

The new settlement, revealed on Monday by Communities Secretary Greg Clark, will provide a transitional grant in 2016/17 and 2017/18 to Kingston, one of the worst affected Councils from the Government’s new grant distribution methodology.

As a consequence of this transition grant of £1.305m in 2016/17 and £1.288min 2017/18, Kingston Council is reversing its proposal to raise Council Tax by 1.99%. This will reduce the originally proposed Band D Council Tax bill by £27.44 in 2016/17.

The Council will still proceed with implementing the Government’s 2% ‘Social Care precept’, to assist in funding older and vulnerable people’s care. With planned reductions in the GLA charge to Kingston residents the overall Band D tax increase will be £8.58 in 2016/17 or 0.51%.

In a speech to the House of Commons, Kingston was highlighted by the Communities Secretary as one of the councils who have argued strongly for this transitional fund.

Mr Clark also confirmed there would be a review of the needs assessment formula for local government, a significant policy development for Kingston with nearly 30% of its population over 50 and suffering from a funding formula which is significantly out of date.

 

As Kingston seeks to rely less on government grants, the Council will continue to lobby on behalf of residents to bring forward a pilot to retain business rates, something the Council has been lobbying for since Autumn 2014.

Councillor Kevin Davis, the Leader of the Council at the Royal Borough of Kingston said:

“This is a significant victory for the Borough. We have made our case loudly and clearly to central Government and they have listened and acted. This is the first time anyone can remember that the local Government settlement has been changed. This unprecedented announcement is the result of a coordinated approach between the Royal Borough of Kingston, local MPs and other outer London councils talking to government with a united voice.

“We have been very clear with residents that the only reason we were increasing Council Tax above the Government’s Social Care levy was because of the grant settlement. Now Government has corrected this, it is only right that we pass on the benefits of our lobbying to our residents.

“There are still financial  challenges for Kingston in the years ahead with a significant revenue gap in the estimates for 2018/19 and beyond. We still believe we can best weather those years by being independent from Government grant. The Government announced last Autumn that it was adopting nationally, from 2020, the Business Rates devolution we had proposed and we are therefore pushing hard for government to bring forward a business rates pilot.

“As if our success on grant changes were not enough, we are also pleased that Government has recognised the long-term ill effects of the years since Kingston was labelled a ‘leafy Borough’ and our grant methodology was used to disadvantage us. This Government has recognised the unfairness of this and has called for a review of the needs assessment that will finally recognise the changing nature of Kingston and our ageing population.”

Pinocchio’s last fib?

May 6, 2015

pinocchioOur friend Pinocchio has been at it again during this Election campaign. I was intrigued to note early on that he was even spotted by the Labour candidate, who even called him by this name when listing his various achievements of the last 18 years.

There has been the recurring theme of moving Surbiton Station into Zone 6, now enjoying its fourth General Election outing – and still nothing done! Then of course there’s the Great Hospital Scare of 2010, now having a well deserved re-run as the heroic tale of ‘How I saved the Hospital from the Non-existent Threat’. I guess this is due for a quinquennial re-run if he gets the chance!

One of the features of the latest burst is the bit about ‘How I’ve been a Minister in the Government of the Ghastly Cameron for the last five years.’ Not that he says Cameron is ghastly in so many words, nor does he trouble to explain how he managed to maintain his political purity while just having to accept the Ministerial salary etc that went with it. I feel a lump coming in my throat at the very thought of it!

I wouldn’t have bothered mentioning any of this but today – not long after the revelation that his Leader Clegg is looking to see if he might not find a way to be dragged, kicking and screaming into another Coalition with the Ghastly YouKnowWho we get the latest scare which has me almost shivering in my slippers. Pinocchio announces EVERY VOTE FOR THE CONSERVATIVES RISKS PUTTING NIGEL FARAGE IN NO 10′

Shock!! Horror!!! Nigel himself hadn’t thought of that one!

All those Tories who have spent the last several months trying to persuade everyone NOT to vote UKIP have been engaged in a cunning plan worthy of Baldrick himself to put Farage in power. And, he tells us ‘EVERY SEAT THE TORIES WILL WIN WILL PUT THEM ONE STEP CLOSER TO AN ALLIANCE WITH UKIP’

That’s right, in Pinocchio’s little world of makebelieve, a Tory hold in Thanet South, or the recapture of Clacton or Rochester brings us nearer to an alliance with the very people we will have ousted.

Once more, friend Pinocchio is hoping enough people will be taken in to vote him back into the House and (just possibly) to another five Ministerial years in Coalition with those awful Tories!

Hook Road open northbound

April 15, 2015

The northbound carriageway of the A243 Hook Road, which has been closed for some days at the ‘Ace of Spades’ roundabout seems now to be open again.

I am told, however, that there are still holes to be navigated around between there and Ditton Road.

Future for the Rose

April 15, 2015

rosetheatreKingston Council has entered into a new arrangement with the Theatre covering the next 5 years. The complex financial arrangements put in place by the previous Lib Dem administration will be terminated and a new more transparent relationship established going forward. Instead of an annual grant of £500,000 with payments back to the Council (or the theatre property owning limited liability partnership) for leasing costs, rent and debt repayments, the Council will now purchase services to the value of £265,000 with an additional public subsidy of £52,000 reducing to zero over the 5 years. In addition, the Council will write off a 100 year loan of £1.8 million, which had already been fully provided for in the Councils books soon after it was granted. This will clean up the Theatre’s balance sheet and remove a hindrance for raising external funds for the Theatre. Cllr David Glasspool, Lead Member for Arts, Leisure and Heritage, said, “The Rose makes an important contribution to the cultural life of the borough and the local economy. These new simplified arrangements clarify the relationship between the Rose and the Council and should assist the Rose in securing external funding and making financial plans for its long term future. They also continue to deliver access for Kingston residents to a range of cultural activities and events throughout the year.”