Monday, 27 March 2006

Out campaigning

It is a real pleasure to get out on the campaign trail for this years Borough Elections.

I am very excited at having the opportunity to represent you, am am keen to listen to the issues that you feel are important and need tackling.

Just because it is the official start of the campaign, do not think I have only just started to think about issues that are of concern to you. I work all year round not just at election time.

Farnborough Town Centre:

I asked Gerald Howarth MP who is also an Empress resident, for a meeting to discuss how we can increase the pressure to move work on our town forward. I also invited Empress Ward Councillor Patricia Hodge, who I hope to be working with after May. Much has been done, but we must continue to make this a high priority.

Cove Green:

Talking with one of the many concerned residents about the issues around the pay and display scheme in Prospect road.I have asked for an urgent review, and have also discussed the issues with the Council Leader Peter Moyle.
I have also asked for a SpeedVisor to be installed in Prospect Road to try and tackle the speed of vehicles travelling along that road

Politician weight loss programme

I have promised to my good friend that I would not mention which country this politician comes from. But I found this story so amusing I just had to share it.

A prominent foreign MP decided he was not happy with his weight of 140kg, so decided to take up some exercise, especially with elections imminent. Wanting to not over do it, he thought horse riding would be a good way to get started.

The result was a little disappointing. The politician lost no weight at all.

However, the horse lost 6kg.

Friday, 24 March 2006

Galipolli Expedition

The sun setting on Anzac Cove Galipolli. The peaceful setting hides its bloody history.

Visitor Stop!

The ground you walk on is where an era finished.

Bow your head, and you will hear the heart beat of our nation here.

" mothers who sent your sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears, your sons are now lying in our bosom, and are in peace, after having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well."

Ataturk 1934 President of the Turkish Republic

My ancestor 19 year old Charles W Hardaker of the 18Bn Australian Infantry arrived at Galipolli 25th August 1915 and the battallion was immediatly commanded to attack this hill. Hill 60. He was killed that same day

With no mortal remains to bury, Charles W Hardakers soul is remembered on monument 61 in the Lone Pine Memorial Cemetery. You can see Anzac Cove behind me in the background.

Quote of the week

Pain is inevitable - suffering is optional

Tuesday, 21 March 2006

So, you thought the EU Constitution was dead, did you?

In case you missed it yesterday, here's a copy of the piece my mate Daniel wrote which appeared in yesterday's Daily Telegraph.

So, you thought the European constitution was dead, did you?

Two years from now, the European constitution will be in force - certainly de facto and probably de jure, too. Never mind that 15 million Frenchmen and five million swag-bellied Hollanders voted against it.

The Eurocrats have worked out a deft way of getting around them. Here's how they'll do it.

First, they will shove through as many of the constitution's contents as they can under the existing legal framework - a process they had already begun even before the referendums.

Around 85 per cent of the text can, with some creative interpretation, be implemented this way.

True, there are one or two clauses that will require a formal treaty amendment: a European president to replace the system whereby the member nations take it in turns to chair EU meetings; a new voting system; legal personality for the Union.

These outstanding items will be formalised at a miniature inter-governmental conference, probably in 2007. There will be no need to debate them again: all 25 governments accepted them in principle when they signed the constitution 17 months ago.

We shall then be told that these are detailed and technical changes, far too abstruse to be worth pestering the voters with.
The EU will thus have equipped itself with 100 per cent of the constitution, but without having held any more referendums. Clever, no?
Don't take my word for it: listen to what the EU's own leaders are saying. Here is Wolfgang Schüssel, Chancellor of Austria and the EU's current president: "The constitution is not dead."

Here is Angela Merkel, leader of Europe's most powerful and populous state: "Europe needs the constitution… We are willing to make whatever contribution is necessary to bring the constitution into force."

Here is Dominique de Villepin, who, in true European style, has risen to the prime ministership of France without ever having run for elected office: "France did not say no to Europe."

And, on Tuesday, our own Europe minister, Douglas Alexander, repeatedly refused to rule out pushing ahead with the bulk of the text without a referendum.

For the purest statement of the Eurocrats' contempt for the voters, however, we must turn to the constitution's author, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing.
Here is a man who, with his exquisite suits and de haut en bas manner, might be said to personify the EU: so extraordinarily distinguished, as Mallarmé remarked in a different context, that when you bid him bonjour, he makes you feel as though you'd said merde.
"Let's be clear about this," pronounced Giscard a couple of weeks ago. "The rejection of the constitution was a mistake that will have to be corrected."

He went on to remind his audience that the Danish and Irish electorates had once been presumptuous enough to vote against a European treaty, but that no one had paid them the slightest attention.

The same thing is happening today. Since the French and Dutch "No" votes, three countries have approved the text and three more - Finland, Estonia and Belgium - look set to follow in the coming weeks, which would bring to 16 the number of states to have ratified.

At the same time, the European Commission has launched a massive exercise to sell the constitution to the doltish national electorates.
Their scheme goes under the splendidly James Bondish title of "Plan D". I forget what the D stands for: deceit, I think, or possibly disdain.
Anyway, squillions of euros are being spent on explaining to us that we have misunderstood our true interests.

While all this is going on, the EU is proceeding as if the constitution were already in force. Most of the institutions and policies that it would have authorised are being enacted anyway: the External Borders Agency, the European Public Prosecutor, the External Action Service, the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the European Defence Agency, the European Space Programme.

The text is not, as the cliché of the moment has it, being "smuggled in through the back door"; it is swaggering brazenly through the front.
Whenever one of these initiatives comes before us on the constitutional affairs committee, I ask my federalist colleagues: "Where in the existing treaties does it say you can do this?"

"Where does it say we can't?" they reply. Pressed for a proper answer, they point to a flimsy cat's-cradle of summit communiqués, council resolutions and commission press releases.

To be fair, this is how the European project has always advanced. First, Brussels extends its jurisdiction into a new field of policy and then, often years later, it gets around to regularising that extension in a new treaty.

The voters are thus presented with a fait accompli, the theory being that they will be likelier to shrug their shoulders and accept it than they would have been to give their consent in advance.

This, indeed, is how the EU was designed. Its founding fathers understood from the first that their audacious plan to merge the ancient nations of Europe into a single polity would never succeed if each successive transfer of power had to be referred back to the voters for approval.
So they cunningly devised a structure where supreme power was in the hands of appointed functionaries, immune to public opinion.
Indeed, the EU's structure is not so much undemocratic as anti-democratic in that many commissioners, à la Patten and Kinnock, have been explicitly rejected by the voters.

In swatting aside two referendum results, the EU is being true to its foundational principles.
Born out of a reaction against the Second World War, and the plebiscitary democracy that had preceded it, the EU is based on the notion that "populism" (or "democracy", as you and I call it) is a dangerous thing.

Faced with a result that they dislike, the Euro-apparatchiks' first instinct is to ask, with Brecht: "Wouldn't it be easier to dissolve the people and elect another in their place?"

To complain that the EU is undemocratic is like attacking a cow for being bovine, or a butterfly for being flighty. In disregarding public opinion, the EU is doing what it has been programmed to do. It is fulfilling its prime directive.
Sadly, we British are also exhibiting one of our worst national characteristics, namely our tendency to ignore what is happening on the Continent until too late.

With a few exceptions - and here I doff my cap to the pressure group Open Europe, which is waging a lonely campaign to alert people to the danger - we are carrying on as though the French electorate had killed off the constitution, and so spared us from having to think about the European issue at all.

Once again, we are fantasising about the kind of EU we might ideally like to have, rather than dealing with the one that is in fact taking shape on our doorstep. Will we never learn?

Ist Resident email newsletter

Dear Residents

It has been a pleasure getting out and meeting you all, and discussing the local issues that concern you. I intend to keep you informed, as best I can, about the key local matters that are important to us, and what I am doing about them. I will also try to keep my blog up to date with a variety of things political and non-political that I am doing, or that I have found interesting.

1. Email Newsletters and Bulletins: I am building an electronic address book of local residents emails, in order to keep you informed of local issues and make you aware of the work we local Conservatives are doing on your behalf. This does not mean we will stop leaflets going through doors, but it will give us more ways of keeping in touch and make residents aware of the difference we can make and are making.

2. Bin Collections: I share the concerns of many residents about the proposal to reduce the weekly household waste collections to every 2 weeks alternated with the recycle bin collection. Last Council meeting I voiced publicly those concerns which were shared by many other Councillors. The aim of this proposal is to encourage residents to recycle more. I have been assured there will be some acceptions, for example flats. My concern is leaving decaying rubbish uncollected for two weeks. The irony is that I am told we should put this is plastic bags. I thought we wanted to reduce the use of plastic bags. However, many Councils have already introduced this without any great problems. Here in Rushmoor this proposal will go out to public consultation from the end of March for about a month , then back to the Borough's Cabinet for the final decision in May or June. If people want to write in to express a view please send an email to

3. Farnborough Airfield: An amended proposal for weekend flying has now been received and the Council are re-consulting all those who have previously responded (1500). This public consultation will finish 17th March. No date has been set for a special Planning meeting to determine this application, but it is hoped to be before the summer. However, we need to be sure all the issues are thoroughly examined before the application is determined. Having spoken to a number of residents about this issue, I know many of you feel we should not be giving TAG any "open cheques" to do what they want. Flying is an important and welcome part of Farnborough. Many feel we need a healthy and respectful relationship between TAG and the community, this means compromise not just on the community side, but on TAG's side too. There is no doubt the Council are doing the very best to consult as widely and thoroughly as possible. Note: At the moment I cannot express a view as it would stop me participating in any debate on the subject at Council and voting, which I need to do.

4. Farnborough Town Centre: A public inquiry into the road closure order took place in January. We are now awaiting a decision from the Secretary of State for Transport Mr Alistair Darling......but don't know when the decision will be made. However, there is still much more we could be doing to make the place look a little tidier. I will be pressing for more to be done, as well as keeping up the pressure on KPI the developer to "get on with it". Sainsbury is definitely signed up to the scheme now, so progress is being made albeit far too slowly for me.

5.Prospect Rd / Cove Green Car Park Pay & Display: I have been out and met with residents in this area, and must say I am concerned about a few aspects of this scheme. I have spoken to our Highways Department, and asked for a review. If you are unhappy with the scheme please email Jim Pettitt on . I will be keeping a very close eye on how this scheme progresses.
I am also alarmed at the speed at which some motorists will go along Prospect Rd right next to a park where children play. I will be seeing what practical steps we can take to tackle this issue which could cost someone their life. In the meantime I have asked for a SpeedVisor to be installed which has been successful in other parts of the Borough reducing motorists speed. It is a device that shows motorists their speed.

6. Cove Green: We have the CCTV camera in operation now and everything seems quieter. We will see for sure once we get into the summer. Some residents have suggested the camera is in the wrong location, so I have spoken to our Camera people who have assured me they can see a lot more than is assumed. Our Community Safety team are also happy that the location of the camera helps to deal with the unacceptable issues that were taking place. I have also spoken to our Head of Parks with Cllr Patricia Hodge about refurbishing the Pavilion. Shortly, I intend to meet with the young people that use the park to find out what they think of the facility, and how they can help make Cove Green a better place for everyone.

7. Bus Lanes: We are very upset that the County Council has suggested it will take no action to remove the Bus Lanes outside Bradford's Garage and "The Ship" Pub, despite reports saying they were unsatisfactory. If you feel strongly that the bus Lanes are dangerous outside the Ship pub and Bradford's garage email Cllr Glen who is going to make the decision on this

8. Parking Highfield Road: There is a problem in this road with parking on verges and with cars from King & Robinson taking up lots of valuable car space. I will talk to our Highways people about this and will be sending an email to King & Robinson and see what happens. Much of this will be down to the good will we can get from King and Robinson as they have every right to park on any public highway. With the verges we have two options tarmac over them or encourage people not to park on them.

9. Conservation Areas: I am currently working on improving our conservation areas. I want to see better quality street furniture and better maintenance of roads and buildings. My idea is to have a balanced partnership between residents and the Council with both working equally to preserve the character of these zones. At the moment it can sometimes feel like everything is down to the residents alone. If you have any ideas or thoughts on this let me know.

If you know other residents who would welcome a copy of my newsletter or if you do not want to be on the mailing list anymore simply email me on

If there issues you want me to tackle / discuss or have suggestions, observations or criticism's please email me. I can only be a good councillor with your help. I also want you to know that although I am a Conservative I am here to work for all residents regardless of your politics or whether you vote or not. And I will speak up for what I think is right regardless of which Party is running the Council.

Warm regards
Cllr. David Clifford
Empress Action Team.
Tel 01252 371111
Printed & published by David Clifford, Wellington House, 40 Avenue Road, Farnborough, Hampshire. GU14 7BL