Sunday, 28 February 2010

Arguments on holiday with expats

I have just come back from a break in Spain visiting my mum who lives there. While I was in Spain I got into an argument in an English bar with almost the everyone in there (A shame as I was trying to watch the Reading FA Cup game).

I was over hearing about how services in Spain are not very good and also complaints about the Spanish and how some of them don't speak English when dealing with the Spanish over the phone (for say utilities or phone nd internet connections) and at the same token how England is finished because of the economy, Brown and immigration etc.

Now this all seemed a bit odd to me as I could see for myself that Spain is having a really hard time and so are many of the expats living there. There are plenty of closed down shops and with Spain's unemployment rate hating 17.4% and an unfavourable Euro plus the house building/planning scandals have hit hard. Plus Spain's public debt is currently 55.2% of GDP and rising.

The UK may not be what some people living aboard imagine a perfect Brtiain should be, I feel that frankly there never was a perfect Britain. Britain may have its problems but it is far from finished. Many people just hold a negitive view because the press every day bang on about negative subjects.

I also feel that its funny how some British expats don't view themselves as immigrants and expect to be treated the same as in the UK when it come to many services. People moan about the driving in Spain etc but appear to forget about the better driving back in the UK*. They only appear to view the negative aspects of British life and do not remember the many positive ones.

People moan that their local doctors do not want to have them registered with them back in the UK, but they don't live in the UK and the doctors are only supposed to serve their local community, which they have moved out of.

The point is many things are not always better aboard, some things are worse. All other western countries of the world are not perfect and its worth remembering this when viewing life here.

Another moan was about the 520,000 Britons who have retired abroad but do not have inflation proof pension rises where UK have frozen the level of payments for expats pensions. But how can expats moan about it when there are fewer than 20,000 British expats on the electoral register, a tiny fraction of the estimated 6 million Britons living abroad. The UK government doesn't have to consider their vote as UK expats have some of the worst voting records in the world. Perhaps if they voted then the government (whoever it is) will listen too them.

If you are an expat and would like to vote in the general election then please do check out the this link

*Spainish car accidents in 1997, 5,790 fatalities, injuries estimate 500,000 with about 65,000 of them serious. From a population of around 45.5 million.
*UK 1997 3,599 fatalities, injuries 327,544 with 42,967 serious injuries. From a population of around 61.4 million.

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Marks experiences as a first time council election candidate

Mark Thompson who stood for the Liberal Democrats in Owlsmoor has blogged on this experiences of standing as a candidate, Please do have a read My experiences as a first time council election candidate.

I would like to thank Mark for doing so much work trying to win this seat and running the join blogs. I would also like to give my best wishes to all the activists and candidates I meet at the count from all the parties and wish everyone luck in whatever election they are standing in next.

People from all the parties may not all agree on how we can improve the local area or our national problems. However I do feel that at a local level all the activists I meet are passionate and all well meaning. This is just politics. After all there would be no democracy if we all agreed all the time on everything.

Friday, 26 February 2010

By-Election shows that UKIP don't only take votes from the Tories‏

The local election in Owlsmoor has thown up a chance to see where the UKIP voters would go if UKIP don't stand or perhaps where they have taken there vote from. Given that UKIP did not stand in the Borough election but did stand in the Town.

It is always assumed that UKIP votes simply take from the Tory vote. Well I'm not so sure this is the case.

UKIP received 12% of the vote which is quite a large figure of the overall vote almost putting labour into 4th place.

I would add some caveats to this, firstly this is a local election so people may know some of the candidates or may indeed vote differently to a general election because of the candidates etc. Secondly some people could of changed their vote from Labour or Tory or Lib Dem from Town or Borough, but lets for this example assume that this goes both ways and irons itself out.

Labour vote appears to me unchanged percentage wise losing only 2 votes from UKIP. the Greens are next losing 16 votes or 2% next its the Lib dems with 37 votes or 4% and the Tories the most at 55 votes or 6%.

This also means that of UKIP vote of 112 people given no UKIP choice in Owlsmoor, 14% choose Greens, 2% choose Labour, 33% choose Lib Dems and 49% choose Tories and 2% don't vote.

Does this not demonstrates that infact the Lib Dems and the Greens are also effected greatly by having a UKIP stand in an election. This is something worth remembering when working out those marginal seats.

To compare this to the 2003 Borough elections were;

Party 2003 Vote 2010 Vote
Conservative 64% 54%
Liberal Democrats 19% 25%
Labour 17% 13%
Greens 0% 7%

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Owlsmoor - second in both Town and Borough by-elections

The result was announced last night of the Owlsmoor by-elections. I didn't win either of them, instead the Conservatives retained both seats. We did however come second.

Now that we have had the result, I will blog more fully about my experiences in my first campaign to run for elected office soon but in the meantime here are the results:

Owlsmoor (Sandhurst Town Council):

Peter Martin FORBES (Green Party): 50
Guy Alexander GILLBE (Labour): 124
Ian James SIMMONS (UKIP): 112
Mark James THOMPSON (Liberal Democrats): 201
Philip WALLINGTON (Conservative Party): 453

Owlsmoor (Bracknell Forest Borough Council):

Norman William BOWERS (Conservative Party): 508
Peter Martin FORBES (Green Party): 66
Guy Alexander GILLBE (Labour): 126
Mark James THOMPSON (Liberal Democrats): 238

Congratulations to Philip Wallington and Norman Bowers.

This post is cross-posted from Mark Reckons.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Election day in Owlsmoor

So my first election day as a candidate has dawned. The polls opened in Owlsmoor at 7:00am this morning.

I was canvassing up until last night and delivering "good morning" leaflets first thing this morning. I am Telling at the polling station later on and then will be going to the count this evening.

I had a nice experience just as I was finishing the leaflet delivery this morning. As I was going back to my car, I bumped into a chap who I had chatted to on the doorstep a couple of nights ago. He has given me a bit of a grilling previously (in a friendly way!) and he had told me that it was between me and the Conservatives for his vote. Well it looks like I persuaded him because this morning he told me that he was just coming back from the polling station and that he had "given me my chance"! Gave me a bit of a boost to start election day off with!

Hopefully the weather will stay nice and we will have a reasonable turnout.

I will post the results here when I know them.

This post is cross-posted from Mark Reckons.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Bracknell Tory Councillor Dismissed After Work and Pensions Investigation

I have come into some information on the Tory Councillor Denise Whitbread of the Wildridings and Central ward, Bracknell Forest Borough Council.

After some investigations I have received the following statement from the Holyport C of E Primary School Governors.

'Ms Whitbread was employed by us as a teacher until she was dismissed on 13th June 2008.
She was suspended following a benefit payment investigation by the Department of Work and Pensions and Bracknell Forest Council and subsequently dismissed.'

The following details were recently published on the web by the General Teaching Council for England here. This is repeated below;

Disciplinary order made by the GTC
Hearing of Professional Conduct Committee

On 15 December 2009 a disciplinary order was made against Ms Denise Whitbread, teacher reference number 8654912, taking immediate effect.

Ms Denise Whitbread was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct in that whilst employed as a teacher at Holyport Church of England (Aided) Primary School between September 2004 and 13 June 2008 she:

i) received Social Security Benefits to which she was not entitled

ii) failed to obey the management instruction given to her by the headteacher to inform her of developments in the Department of Work and Pensions case against her

iii) frustrated the School's enquiry into these matters by:

a) claiming she had instigated the investigation and not the Department for Work and pensions

b) withdrawing her authorisation from the DWP to answer the School's investigation queries.

Ms Denise Whitbread received a Reprimand (two years).

Holyport School comes under the territory of Windsor and Maidenhead Council so its interesting to discover that Bracknell forest Council were involved in this investigation.

She was dissmissed in June 2008 and yet the council appear to of taken no puplic action. I expect to see a statement from the Bracknell Forest Council on this subject in the local press soon. I also wonder why no action has been forth coming from the council and what will happen to her future position on the council

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Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Local Blog: High Level of Bracknells Empty Shops?

After reading this report here in the Bracknell Standard that a survey by the Local Data Company claiming that Bracknell has some of the highest levels of empty shops in the country. I decided to have a look around town at the impression given by the empty units.

The survey claimed that more than 20 per cent, around 38, of 191 shops in Bracknell town centre were empty. They showed the worst figures in the Southern area. Whereas the Bracknell Regeneration Partnership (BRP) that 8.8 per cent or 17 units are empty.

I suspect that both reports are correct as a shop can be vacant while a tenant is paying a lease. However I noticed that the part of the town centre where Woolworths was also has a number of units paid in part by the council. These are a good idea I believe however they are not shops other than perhaps the Tea House.

The sooner the town is redeveloped the better because the short leases on many units in town may put off many of the bigger retailers as well as the size of some of the older units.

Below are some pictures of the empty shops in town.

As you can see I won't win any prizes for taking pictures with a BlackBerry!

Finally the unit below is now a dance studio but the picture does ask a good question. I of course know the plan is now, to develop Bracknell one stage at a time, but it is a reminder of the original ambition.

Monday, 22 February 2010

I'm glad I'm not in Browns office‏

I understand that there is an argument to say that the National Bullying Helpline's Chief Executive, Christine Pratt has broken callers confidentiality to a point and this does have its own implications. However when Downing Street denies the bullying claims made by Mr Rawnsley's book (extracts here) where the head of the Civil Service had a private word with the Prime Minister over his behaviour. If you knew differently and you believe there should be consequences for bullying then I can see how Christine Pratt could be compelled to say something on the matter.

I for one do believe Christine and do not think she is using this for political reasons as she could lose her job over this if Labour get their way. I think she believes that she has to stand up to bullies.

The defence of by Gordon Brown and Lord Mandelson has not been solid. I think the defense demonstrates that there is some truth in this.

If I regularly got angry at work and threw books or papers down on the floor or keyboards through computers (see here) etc then the atmosphere would be very tense and it would be difficult to get any work done and hard to raise concerns. Also if I acted like this at work eventually I would be shown the door as people would not be able to work with me.

Quite frankly im getting tired of all these comments on Gordon Brown about whether he is on medication or bullying people, I just think it is now high time for an election. Although be warned, I think this election is going to get even nastier.

One thing is for sure I would not want to be working in Mr Browns office after these revelations have come out as this would make him angrier than ever.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

My Tombstone Poster

Here is my poster created using

These posters can be found at

unfortunately or fortunately (depending on your view) Clifford Singer of has decided to knock it on the head. Read why at We can’t go on like this… .

It is a shame but I guess the main party bloggers or indeed the parties themselves will now be editing their opposition posters. It has been a good example of how a poster campaign can backfire (a little) in this age of the web. However the best thing about it is how funny some of these posters are. I have enjoyed reading too, which was setup by ConservativeHome.

I think the cunning plan by the Lib Dem's to not have any posters so far is working. Although I suspect if they do then maybe it would be a better idea to only put adverts in the press rather than massive billboards with big faces on them.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Lobbying A Scandal?

Tim at Full Fact has wriiten an excellent article on Lobbying called 'A scandal unknown?'

He uses the Headlines;

A lucrative business
Access – parliamentary passes
Embedded in Parliament
In Defence of Lobbying
Proposed solutions
A Postscript

To break down the analysis of lobbying.

Tim himself explains his article best;

'Everyone who works in politics is aware of the presence and influence of lobbying. Indeed, having worked in both public affairs and parliament myself, I was struck by the historian David Starkey’s recent remark that the modern UK Parliament was little more than “lobby fodder”. The rise of the lobbying industry risks drowning out the voices of those that do not have the money, access or know how to make their voices heard.

Full Fact decided to look at possible areas where the next lobbying scandal could arise and spoke to experts on all sides of the lobbying debate. We looked at the registers of MPs and Lords commercial interests. We also studied the register of interests for parliamentary staff'.

Please do have a read as this very much feeds into the Andrew Mackay Lobbying articles on Bracknell blog Should Andrew Mackay work for a political lobbying firm?

My personal belief is that lobbying has always had the potential to be a scandal all the way down the political line.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Local Blog: Look In Some Answers

I recently received an email after I asked Councillor Clifton Thompson some questions on the Look In Cafe. This is after I blogged on the concerns of a local campaigner contacted me and Ray Earwicker Lib Dem PPC has called for Cllr Thompson to go as Older Peoples Champion SeeLocal Blog: The Look In Cafe Campaign Continues

Councillor Clifton Thompson email is below;

Hi Darren

Thank you for inviting me to have my say on the Look In. As you will
now know the Council has issued a press release confirming that the Look
In will remain open thanks to the establishment of a new organisation
the Look In Community Café organised by Bracknell Forest Voluntary

I have worked closely with the Council's Executive member for adult
services to find an alternative operator. Possible alternatives
included whether the ground Floor of the Council's offices at
Easthampstead House could be used or even the library . If BFVA had not
been able to find a new operator these options would have been
considered as we fully recognise the value of a port of call for our
older residents..

The Council opened and provided the Look In for a number of years
with a significant subsidy.. This was not a statutory obligation placed
on the Council but the choice of the Council to provide the facility .
Latterly each year the Council has come under continuing pressure to
make savings in its budget . For the coming financial year it has had to
make savings of over £3 million. When it was recognised that the Look
In subsidy could not continue without change work started, before the
budget consultation began, to find a solution.

You asked if I agreed with the Council allowance cut as suggested by
the Labour group. Councillors allowances are subject to regular review
by an independent panel to establish what the panel considers fair
and reasonable . Allowances were introduced by the Labour Government
to attract councillors and I believe should not be interfered with.
They are an easy target and this is not the first time they have
featured.. The basic fact that is that the situation arose because
Government financial controls over recent years has seen a reduction in
real terms of the amount the Council has available to spend.

You have also asked if I can let you know what a community café is -
as I see it it is a café run by the community - ie a voluntary group.

I welcome the fact that a solution has been found enabling the café
to remain open for the over 50s.


Clifton Thompson
Older Peoples Champion
Councillor Bracknell Forest Borough Council
Warfield Harvest Ride Ward

It appears that the cafe will also be open to the over 50's

Please let me have your comments

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Sir Nicholas 1st Class Comment Reminds me of a Story of Revenge

This latest story which has been well publicised story were Sir Nicholas Winterton has angrily denounced plans to reduce first-class travel by MPs and a Tory spokesman said Sir Nicholas's remarks were "the out-of-touch views of a soon-to-retire backbench MP". Of course continues to anger the public, many of whom travel in standard class.

But this did remind me of something that happened when I decided to get a first class ticket for a gig when travelling from my then work in Weybridge to London way back when I was in my early 20's. Remember this is back in the days of slam door trains and no ticket barrier machines.

I boarded on the train at Weybridge in first class, the only man in first class asked me if I had a first class ticket (he appear to be a city gent).

Anyway I said yes but I'm not showing you, he said he didn't believe me, so I said I don't care after all I have one and I don't need to show you. Anyway the ticket inspector came and I showed him my ticket first class, he showed his and it turned out his season ticket had just expired. he had to leave at the next stop. I could not hide my smile.

One good reason to not get a first class ticket (other than the costs) is to avoid people like Sir Nicholas who think that some of us are not up to his standard. Justice I think was served on that day.

Local Blog: The Look In Cafe Campaign Continues

The Look In continues to be a thorn in the side of the Borough Council, After the protest it appears that their has been some new developments.

1. I have been in contact with one of the Campaigners who helps run one of the Facebook groups to save the Look In Cafe see here and here. Angela also helps out with the Alzheimer's group, she send me the following emails;

This was sent after a recent radio Berkshire interview that Dale Birch (Borough Council leader) stated on Meridian news that the Look In Cafe could be saved as the 'community cafe' and used as a Youth Centre as well as a Cafe.

1st email.

'This is a cover up!

BFVA were sounding out various groups (like the Alzheimer's group) asking if they were interested in running a joint venture last year - before anything was announced. I believe the council hoped to do the swap over without anyone noticing and were it not for Clare and Bill Heffill they might well have succeeded.

This is NOT what the people who marched, and signed the petition wanted. We hoped to keep the Look In as it is now, with the same staff, but with measures to save money, and to put in ideas to make it a self funding cafe. Plenty of people were willing and able to help with ideas and practical help.

The centre is not geared for a youth group, this raises lots of questions. They will need some equipment for young people - pool tables, juke box etc. Is there room for this as well as a 'Community Cafe'? and who will clean up after the youth club?

We have not been given any idea that this will be for over 50s during the day either. The current clientele surely deserve more respect than this?

I feel really let down by the way the council has managed to twist this to make themselves look like saviours.

2nd Email,

When the closure was first announced in December last year I was in the Look In.

A reporter from the Bracknell News came to cover the story and the council was told she was coming. A council representative arrived, told the staff the reporter was not allowed in and waited outside to make sure she didn't come in! Many people went and chatted to her outside. WHY did the council make this stupid ruling?

Then Meridian News came - this time the council allowed them in but wanted to be there to give an interview. Mr Dale Birch and a lady from the council came. After the interview Mr Birch made a fast exit leaving the lady to keep an eye on things - Meridian had a strict time limit.

Then it was the turn of Radio Berkshire. Again, the reporter was not allowed in. WHY not? Again, lots of people went outside to talk - in the freezing cold, and there was quite a queue of people wanting to make their feelings known.

Yesterday (Wed 17th Feb) Meridian turned up 'unexpectedly'. The staff were not told until mid morning and even then no time was given. I imagine it had been organised by the council who hoped the place would be quiet, but it rarely is at lunchtime and every table was occupied. Again, Dale Birch arrived for an interview, but would not do it inside the cafe. WHY NOT?

Celebrities are often accused of manipulating the media - in my opinion the council has done just that!

One last point. The final decision regarding the future of The Look In was not due to be made until 3rd March, another 14 days from now, but the staff were notified of their redundancy several weeks ago, their final day of work being 1st April.'

2. Ray Earwicker Lib Dem PPC has called for Cllr Thompson to go as he has not fulfilled his role as Pensioners Champion and has not attending the protest March where over 100 people attended. The Lib Dem Press release on this can be found here .

3. A new blog has been setup to keep the public informed on the ongoing developments at the Look In its address is

I can understand Angela concerns, it does all seem as if this was part of a longer term plan and I am also concerned that using the cafe as a youth centre could also lead to funds from the other youth centres being diverted? Is this all Spin from the council to say they have saved the cafe when it has actually been changed and not saved?

What has Cllr Thompson done to help on this matter, I have emailed him to ask what he has done as 'Pensioners Champion' to save the Look In Cafe and what does the 'Community Cafe' actually mean.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Andrew Mackay and Julie Kirkbride's Appeals

Paul Waugh of the Evening Standard has an excellant Blog called 'Mackay and Kirkbride may not want Legg/Kennedy as referees' which I would like to direct my readers too.

As well as linking into Mark Reckons's blogpost about MP Andrew Mackay he finds a damaging verdict which was buried in Sir Paul Kennedy's ruling on their appeals (retired High Court judge).

As Paul Waugh writes (taken from his blog post)


We learned from Sir Paul that she argued that hubby Mackay's "family" lived in our near her Bromsgrove constituency, "hence making it his natural home". As a result, he claimed ACA for their London home. Ms Kirkbride said that her own designation of London as her natural home stemmed from the fact that she was "based in London as the princpal carer" of her child.

Sir Paul was distinctly unimpressed with this line of argument. "I find it a little difficult to accept your suggestion," he wrote. His final judgment is more brutal:

"To my mind the fundamental reason why the arrangements which you made cannot be regarded as acceptable is that they lost sight of the purpose of ACA, which was to assist Members to fund the cost of accommodation when they needed a second home in order to fulfil their duties.

"It was never intended to relieve them of the costs of their main home, and you operated it in such a way that you achieved that result"


Sir Paul says Mackay should have realised that the Fees Office was mistaken in approving his arrangements.

"It seems to me that the advice was plainly mistaken, and indeed that you should have recognised it to be mistaken.

"As I have said in my letter to your wife, the fundamental reason why the arrangements which you made cannot be regarded as acceptable is that they lost sight of the purpose of ACA, which was to assist Members to fund the cost of accommodation when they needed a second home in order to fulfil their duties.

"It was never intended to relieve them of the costs of their main home, and you operated it in such a way that you achieved that result".

I agree with Paul Waugh that this is truly devastating stuff. I also feel that the above is yet more proof that they continue to be in denial of any wrong doing and continue to get away with what every they can.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Owlsmoor council by-election campaign update

I have been campaigning in Owlsmoor for 3 weeks now following my selection as a candidate to fight for the borough and town council seats for the Liberal Democrats.

I have done plenty of door-knocking and canvassing in the past both in the Bracknell constituency and also more widely in surrounding areas but this is the first time that I have been the candidate too. It has been an enjoyable experience so far. I have been pleasantly surprised at how many people are willing to talk to me about issues. Although I have tried to make sure they understand that I can only represent them regarding local issues they often want to talk about national issues too which I am happy to do.

The message that seems to be striking the loudest chord with people is that we really need to have some more opposition voices on the council. The borough council here is dominated by the Conservatives who currently hold 38 seats, Labour hold 3 and there is no-one else. This is not a healthy state for any local council to be in to be so dominated by one party. I would say this about any party having that much dominance and indeed I have seen similar situations in northern England with councils dominated by Labour.

I have also been struck by how little the people I have spoken to have seen of their councillors in the last few years. Not one person to whom I have asked the question "Have you seen your councillors around here in the last few years" has responded yes. The Lib Dems I know who are councillors in neighbouring council areas (Guildford and Reading for example) never stop going around their wards and talking to people. The idea that the people of Owlsmoor never see their councillors is just wrong and is definitely something I would remedy if I was elected.

I have knocked on hundreds of doors so far but there are hundreds more still to go between now and the 25th of February!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Should Andrew Mackay work for a political lobbying firm?

It has been reported that Andrew Mackay, Bracknell's current (and soon to be former) Conservative MP has accepted a position with political lobbying firm Burston-Marstellar.

The Times reports that:

The chief executive of BursonMarsteller is Matt Carter, who was Labour’s general secretary during the cash-for-honours affair. Mr Carter issued a press release on the appointment shortly after he was approached for a comment when The Times learnt that the lobbyists had been holding secret negotiations with the Tory MP.

The company said that it had announced the appointment in ad- vance “in the interests of transparency and so there can be perceived to be no conflict of interest in his current role as an MP”.

Mr MacKay, one of the casualties of the expenses scandal, is said to have negotiated a six-figure salary. “He’s been told to keep close to the Cameron team,” an insider said.

This is interesting because David Cameron in a speech only 3 days ago railed against lobbying of this kind. This is what he said:

"We all know how it works. The lunches, the hospitality, the quiet word in your ear, the ex-ministers and ex-advisers for hire, helping big business find the right way to get its way. In this party, we believe in competition, not cronyism.

"So we must be the party that sorts all this out. Today it is a £2bn industry that has a huge presence in parliament. The Hansard Society has estimated that some MPs are approached over 100 times a week by lobbyists.

"I believe that secret corporate lobbying, like the expenses scandal, goes to the heart of why people are so fed up with politics. It arouses people's worst fears and suspicions about how our political system works."

So Mr Mackay's reported move seems directly at odds with the direction his leader wants to take.

I thought it would be interesting to see what our readers think about this move and whether Mr Mackay is right to take on this role. I have put a poll in the sidebar at the top of the blog. It will run for a week and asks whether he should do it. The options are "Yes", "No" and "It's none of our business".

Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below too.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

MP Andrew Mackay gets a job

I am away on holiday but I have just picked up on this story, On Andrew Reeves Running Blog

Cameron declares war on lobbyists then top Tory Andrew Mackay MP accepts new job as a lobbyist

Please do read the link above

It appears MP Andrew Mackay, has admitted he will be joining Burson-Marsteller after considering a number of agencies when he stands down at the forthcoming general election.


Dazmando is on holiday for a few days to visit his mum in Spain. I will be back Wednesday next week. I do have some cover for the blog for any major events.

Feel free to discuss any local or national issues in the Comment box and I will reply back to the comments when I return.

Thank you all and I will soon return.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Climate Change IPCC Must Use Science

The recent IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) failures which includes admitting that they got the figures wrong on the Himalayan glaciers proves how important it is to use science. If you don't have science to back up your claim then don't make the claim, commission more research instead.

These recent failures of the IPCC to get the figures right on climate change has increased the scepticism in the public see the figures on Letters from a Tory blog Bye bye climate change consensus?. See the poll below says it all really;

People think there is some massive Left conspiracy to tax us all. I still believe that is just a crazy idea, as they will be found out if it was true.

There is also talk amongst Greens of going back the old mantra of reducing fossil fuels and fuel security and power. This would really just fuel the fire of the conspiracy believers as it would simply be viewed as a change of tack and then IPCC reports would appear to be some kind of dodgy dossier. If you have the proof of climate change and believe it then stick with it unless proven otherwise.

Andrew Neil is fast becoming a good source on climate change as he is covering both sides of the story with a skeptical eye. Andrew is being fair in this developing story and reporting on both the sceptical debate and the details of recent rising temperatures in January accross the world see here and the dam is cracking here.

So because Andrew Neil is being fair to both opinions, im going to read with interest on what he reports. The problem with climate change is there are too many people on both sides who appear to have agenda's personally im only interesting in find out the truth of the matter.

So please in future IPCC when you say its based on science, make sure it is otherwise you will lose all credibility and the stats will move further away from a public consensus on climate change.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Local Blog: Cut Councillors Pay to Save the Look In Cafe

Bracknell Council Labour Leader Anne Shillcock has called for a 5% cut in allowances to help pay for the Look In Cafe.

To pay for the Look In Cafe the reduction in allowances would have to be more like 10% because it costs £60,000 to run the Look In Cafe. I spoke to the former Lib Dem Councillor and current PPC Ray Earwicker and he confirmed that the Lib Dems would be willing to take a cut if they were on the council. He also informed me that he did not accept a rise in allowances while he was a councillor.

I do think councillors should be paid for their time and agree with Paul Bettison (council leader on this point) for this reason its not fair of Bettison to simply state that claiming an allowance is down to the individuals. It would be better to have a free vote on taking a cut in allowances and fairer. Why should one councillor pay for the Look In Cafe while others don't?

This is also why we need more opposition on the council and other points of view. Because the current Tory council have too much power.

A March is planned in Bracknell Town on Saturday 13th February from 10:30 to 12:00.

This links into my blog here which includes links to the Facebook campaigns.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Does Being Famous Equal Role Model

Whenever I hear a radio discussion on the ongoing revelations over the John Terry colourful private life the same subject keep’s on coming up again and again. John Terry is a role model so he should behave like one.

Well I’m not sure anyone who gets into a position of fame using talent should actually be a role model or indeed can be a role model.

When John Terry set out to become a professional football player (he joined the Chelsea youth team at 14 years old). He surely joined to live his dream of being a top class football player and playing for England. I doubt that being a rich famous star was at the forefront of his mind, and indeed all the negative trappings of being a star such as press intrusion and greater temptation.

I don’t see how many of todays famous, talented people are role models, many remarry, many have been involved in drugs and many have been involved in marriage scandals. Just of the top of my head I can name Tiger woods, Amy Winehouse, Pete Doherty, Britney Spears, Chris Brown, Michael Jackson the list goes on and on.

There has been plenty of famous people who were not role models (or not good ones) in the past you can think of the antics of many a famous rock band like the Who or the Sex Pistols or the Stones and other stars like Oliver Reed and George Best, or perhaps further back to Henry VIII.

These days we have plenty of untalented celebrities, do you want them to be a role model? I don’t?

Famous people should not be our role models, people are people and some will behave well while others will behave badly. We can’t expect these people to be role models. We may enjoy their talent and admire there skill but the real role models out there are the commutity workers the soldier who saves a life on the battle field and the person who jumped in a river to save a life and also the people in your life know help you out be them your parents, doctors or teachers.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Andrew Mackay MP for Bracknell has a Crime Registered Against Him

Goodbye Andrew Mackay have registered Andew Mackays second home payments as a crime see here.

After the news that Andrew Mackay has made a payment as per Sir Thomas Legg Report and after the news that three Labour MPs and one Tory peer will face criminal charges over their expenses.

I will follow this story closely to see if anything results from this. It will also be interesting to know if this has or is happening to any other MP's around the country?


In other news I note that Bracknell Green Party Blogger Green Gabbles has written an interesting blog on Phillip Lee Tory PPC called Phillip Lee To the Moon and Back here.

He makes some excellent points on safe seats and notes the questions I raised on Political Letters in the Press‏ and Alvin's rebuff of my blog here.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

News Flash Andrew Mackay Repayment

Here is an extract from Sir Thomas Legg Report.

''Rt Hon Andrew Mackay MP
Mr Mackay is married to another MP. He designated his London flat as his second home, while his wife nominated it as her main home. He designated his constituency home as his main home while his wife nominated it as her second home. This meant that, between them, the couple had no main home which was not funded by the ACA. Throughout the five years of the review period, they both claimed at or close to the full allowance to support their two homes. These arrangements obtained a financial benefit for the couple which appears unintended under the Green Book rules, and as such contrary to the principles governing it. Had they made different
designations, each MP might reasonably have claimed up to two-thirds of the full allowance on a shared second home. On this footing, each of them was overpaid by one-third of the maximum ACA for each year of the review period. This is £29,243.

He was also paid £9,950 for cleaning over the four years 2004-05 to 2007-08, thus
exceeding the allowable maximum by a total of £1,950.'

Total repayment recommended: £31,193.00
Total repayments received since 1 April 2009: £31,193.00
Balance recommended to be repaid: £0.00

So Andrew Mackay has made a payment, it is at the higher end of other MP's repayments. However many believe he should pay more (£170,000) see here

His wife, Julie Kirkbride, MP for Bromsgrove, has also been asked to pay back £29,243.

What I find amazing about this is that both MacKay and his wife have appealed against these claims, they failed. Does this not prove that they infact believe that their claim was not false?

The full report can be read here

Goodbye Andrew Mackay also reports here

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Super Injunction More Trouble Than It's Worth

It appears to me after the recent revelations about John Terry's private life and after his super injunction failed that an injunction can make things worse for the subject in question.

The Newspapers have now really got it in for him perhaps because they were gagged. It just builds up a torrent of anger. When unleashed which is much worse than letting the story come out. Its like cutting your nose off to spite your face.

Also look at the Trafigura affair. I think that would of gone almost unnoticed if it wasn't for the super injunction. Where social media sites reported that the guardian and parliament were unable to report on/discuss the oil companies toxic-dumping incident in Ivory Coast.

It is surely wrong that an injunction can be used in this way in a democracy where we should have free speech and freedom of the press.

Trafigura Guardian story can be found here

The latest revelations on John Terry can be found at The Sun site here

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Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Local Blog: The Look In Cafe Campaign Grows

I do understand that it can be hard to be in power as you have to make hard decisions that you don't like, but closing the Look In is the wrong decisions as there are other ways of finding the money. As reported on this blog here and here. It looks like the council could have a real fight on there hands.

The users of the cafe are mobilizing and are prepared to hold a march to the council offices and the petition already has 1000 names. Look In campaigners have and will be attending the council budget meetings

There are two Facebook campaigns which can be found here and here.

This will be an interesting story of people power and I for one would not want to say 'NO' to this strong group of campaigners. If the council do back down of course this could also give hope to future campaigns, lets see if they listen.

By-Election In Owlsmoor Includes Mark Reckons

A Borough Council By-Elections in the Ward of Olwsmoor will be held at the Owlsmoor Community Centre from 7am to 10pm at Yeovil Road on 25th February. This by-election has be called because of the the sad death of Councillor Ray Simonds.

The candidates standing in for the position of Borough Councillor are;

Norman William Bowers - Conservative
Peter Martin Forbes - Green Party
Guy Alexandar Gillbe - Labour Party
Mark James Thompson - Liberal Democrats

And this election also includes Town Councillor;

Wallington Philip - Conservative
Peter Martin Forbes - Green Party
Guy Alexandar Gillbe - Labour Party
Ian James Simmons - UK Independence Party
Mark James Thompson - Liberal Democrats

I find it odd that UKIP are only contesting the town council, did they fill in the wrong form? Why not both seats?

Interestingly both the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party did not contest this seat in May 2007 only one UKIP and one Independent stood (in a seat which requires two councillors). To find results for the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party you have to go back to May 2003 when the Liberal Democrats received 2% more votes than the Labour Party and each Conservative received 32% of the vote.

Results for both years are as follows;

May 2007
David James Worrall
- Conservative 754 37% Elected
Raymond Simonds - Conservative 716 35% Elected
David William Vousden - Independent 347 17% Not elected
George William Barrand - UK Independence 245 12% Not elected

May 2003
David James Worrall - Conservative 582 32% Elected
Richard Hugh Thomas - Conservative 580 32% Elected
David Mohammed - Liberal Democrat 348 19% Not elected
Brian David Wilson - Labour 309 17% Not elected

Of added interest in this local election is that top Lib Dem blogger Mark Thompson (see Mark Reckons) is standing in this election. So expect some extra insight and blogs from Mark on running for a borough Council election. It will also be worth seeing if a national blogger effects a local election. This is not the first time a top political blogger has been a candidate in Bracknell, Iain Dale came 3rd in the Conservative PPC Primary, which was won by Phillip Lee.

So all that remains to be said is good luck too all the candidates. I also think its a good and brave thing to put yourself up for election, to represent the local people on the council and indeed to be involved in local democracy.