Friday, 29 June 2007

My passing out charade ....

May I thank everyone that has called and left messages. I was amazed how quickly Council officials learned of things - I may as well have had the event in the town centre, rather than the privacy of my back garden. Everyone knew within hours!
I am sorry to have disappointed so many, my "event" not being bad enough for a by-election. The family are also devastated. Returning home I found them in floods of tears with insurance policies and cruise brochures all over the floor.
The thought has crossed my mind that I really ought to change my life style now, and take up drinking and smoking. Having been a life long non smoker and soft drinker spending a few hours in the gym each week, I should not have been surprised at what happened!! Anyway, lesson learned - do not miss breakfast and lunch and drinking water, when out to break all your records at the gym.
I must say how impressed I was with my first experience of the Surrey Ambulance Service. A Paramedic was with me within 10 minutes, and an Ambulance crew within a few minutes after that. A first aider was on hand, Melina, who knew exactly what to do. So it all went as well as it could in the circumstances. Frimley Park Hospital were great and although busy kept me comfortable, well examined and well looked after. They even provided Dinner, a healthy "bangers and mash".
Residents will be pleased to hear I am in excellent shape for my years from the neck down - its the neck up that may be a problem, which, most of my political colleagues will confirm, is an issue they have already and frequently expressed reservations over. However, unlike them I will soon have a scan proving I at least have something there..... I hope.
QUESTION: Have your experiences of the Ambulance service, Frimley Park Hospital and your local GP been as positive as mine?

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Police Warning - Distraction Burglaries

Detectives from the North and East Operational Command Unit’s Priority Crime Unit are warning residents to check the identity of any unexpected callers following two distraction burglaries in the area on Friday, June 22. In both incidents, the caller claimed to be a non-uniformed police officer. The first incident occurred at 9am in Austen Grove, South Ham, Basingstoke. A man claiming to be a police officer attended the address and asked the female occupant for a sum of money to cover the costs of returning some property that had been recovered following a burglary.
The 86-year-old victim handed over £20 and the man then asked if he could come inside for a drink. The pensioner let him into the premises but the man left while she was distracted.
The man is described as:
Aged 30 to 35
5ft 4ins to 5ft 7ins
Average build
Short fair hair
Healthy complexion
Wearing a navy blue long-sleeved top and blue jeans

The second incident occurred at 11.30am in Fernhill Road, Farnborough. A man claiming to be a police officer attended the address and asked the elderly resident for his card details and PIN.
The man is described as:
Aged in his late 20s to early 30s
5ft 9ins to 5ft 10ins
Chubby face with a black moustache
Black hair
Wearing a black tracksuit
Detective Sergeant Ross Toms, from the Priority Crime Unit, said: “A genuine police officer, whether in uniform or not, will always show you their identification card and will be happy for you to check it by calling the main Hampshire Constabulary number on 0845 045 45 45.
“If you have any concerns about a caller to your door, do not let them in and call the police immediately on 999.
“Although distraction burglaries are relatively rare, these incidents can have a huge effect on the victims and can leave them feeling extremely distressed. “I would urge anyone with any information to contact police. I would also urge members of the community to keep an eye on any elderly and vulnerable neighbours and report any suspicious callers.” Officers are offering the following Safer Homes advice to avoid becoming a victim of this sort of crime: Burglars can fool you into thinking they are genuine callers. Don't be the one who invites them in. If in doubt, keep them out!

Stop – are you expecting anyone to call on you? Do you know the person at the door? Don’t be misled by what appear to be genuine reasons for calling on you.
Check – A genuine caller will carry identification and will be happy to wait outside while you check it. Remember to source your own number for the company they are claiming to be from, don’t accept a number from the caller.
Chain – fit a door chain or spy hole so that you can speak to callers or check who they are without opening the door fully.

If you turn anyone away from your home because they could not provide you with a genuine reason for being there, or you are suspicious of callers in your area, contact the police. Anyone with any information should contact Det Sgt Toms at Aldershot police station on 0845 045 45 45 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Question Time - Aldershot

I had a dilemma yesterday. Attend a Council Meeting with little on the Agenda except an item to amend some byelaw's and more important a presentation to a good friend of ours Joan King for services to the Borough or attend the first ever Question Time in Aldershot (and first in the Borough). Well, agreeing that I would visit Joan after - if Council was finished by the time the programme ended, and having confidence that the Empress residents were well represented by fellow Councillors Patricia Hodge and Brian Parker, it was a no brainer!! It had to be Question Time.
Despite the small blemish to my 100% attendance record. And lets face it, there is more to being a Councillor than just attending meetings. I love getting out and doing things for my residents, which sometimes can be more important than a meeting. Also, one can often influence the decisions made in the Chamber through much effort and work outside the Chamber. I have to say some councillors with 100% record have achieved very little for residents. All that said - I would not dream of missing the Council Meeting where we discuss Alternate Week Collections. There are certain unmissable meetings! However, yesterdays meeting was definitely not in that category.
Anyway, Question Time was fantastic - congratulations have to go to David Phillips the Princes Hall Manager that has worked hard for a few years to get this programme. Let's hope they enjoyed their time here and want to come back. 150 local people were there (I might add that the public very rarely attend Council Meetings) all very interested in Politics. I met a few residents, and we all thoroughly enjoyed the evening. I got an opportunity to make a remark, which was supported by my fellow Conservative Boris Johnson MP - who was on top form as usual, and in touch with public feeling on every issue.

To see the programme go to the Question Time web site: or see the pod cast of the Aldershot programme which is currently at
The Council Agenda for the meeting I missed can been seen at
Do you think I did the right thing?

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Friday, 15 June 2007

Lord Hesletine - Local Government City Renaissance

Local Leadership - Submission to the Shadow Cabinet -Cities Taskforce - some key points

1. Local Leadership of our English Cities has become emasculated and hollowed out by successive overcentralising Governments. It lacks the power to address the problems of poverty, low skills levels and physical decay present in many of our once-great Cities.
2. Excessive power has been granted to unelected Quangos – who often sit at regional level – including Regional Development Agencies, Learning and Skills Councils, English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation. They now disburse over £10 billion per year in regeneration funding. This poses severe problems:
a. There is almost no democratic accountability
b. They are bureaucratic and confusing: there are more than 50 different funding streams
c. It is not clear who is “in charge” which leads to inertia and buck-passing

3. Instead of regional Quangos, Local Government should be leading the renaissance of our Cities

4. In order for Local Government to fulfil this role in the Cities, it needs to be able to:
a. Consistently attract the very best people into Leadership roles
b. Have the full range of powers that they need
c. Cover geographical areas that make sense
d. Be freed from the suffocating regime of central targets (currently over 1,200) and heavily hypothecated funding from the centre

5. The Government’s own Task Force under Lord Rogers recognised these problems. However, the November 2006 White Paper is timid and does not propose meaningful reform

6. Conservatives should propose a programme of reform that will allow Local Government to lead City renaissance:
a. The wholesale transfer of powers, responsibility and funding from the Quangos to Local Government (or the Regional Government Office on behalf of Central Government for the small number of truly regional functions). This will mean that RDAs, LSCs, Regional Assemblies, English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation will cease to exist as regional bodies and instead become agents of Local Government
b. Directly elected Executive mayors for Top-Tier Authorities, serving full four year terms. This will improve accountability, allow clear leadership and improve the prospects of attracting people of appropriate calibre
c. The creation of Pan-City Executive Mayors of Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester and Liverpool (the pan-City area is unlikely to cover all existing Mets in these areas, e.g. Coventry may not be treated as part of Birmingham). The Executive Mayor would take powers almost entirely from the Quangos, not from the existing Metropolitan Districts
d. The Executive Mayors would have power over Strategic Planning (from Regional Assemblies), Regeneration and Development (from RDAs), Vocational Training (from LSCs), Highways (from the Highways Agency), Transport Planning, Passenger Transport, Fire, Waste Disposal and Police
e. The Government’s micromanaging target regime, the Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA), and its expensive attendant bureaucracy should be abolished. Data should be made available to the public who can then make their own mind up about the efficiency of Local Governmant
f. It is vital that Local Government has more control over its own finances if it is to play a true leadership role. At present, around 75% of Local Government funding comes by way of heavily hypothecated central grant
g. Local Government should therefore be allowed to retain the business rates which they collect from businesses in new developments in their first five years. This will allow Local Government to benefit directly from economic development in their area – and so incentivise them to encourage business
h. Capital Funding currently flowing through the Quangos (£10.5 billon) should instead be allocated directly to Local Government:
i. Partly by formula
ii. Partly by a competitive bidding process for projects
i. Local Government should be allowed to issue its own Bonds. These should not be underwritten by the national Government and therefore should not form part of the National Debt

Thursday, 14 June 2007

First UK Paramotor fatality

Sad to learn today that one of my flying colleagues Julius Gee (24 yrs old) has become the first British Paramotor fatality in the UK. He was the first to congratulate me on my maiden flight in rain - where I picked up my nickname of "rainman" - I had been fed up waiting for a break in the clouds!! His father Andy, who was always with him, helped me prep up to take off, warning me of all the hazards before my take off, a lovely family.
Sadly he was doing some low spirals, and although an excellent pilot, it reminds us all that when we push the limits there is a risk. He died however, doing what he loved best. See you in the clouds Julius.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Cllr Dibbs apology

A few people contacted me about Cllr Dibbs clumsy remark in the alternate week bin collection story in the News, that I am against anything the Conservative Group propose. I would like to apologise for this remark, for a number of reasons.
1. It is inaccurate, and were it the case, I would have left or been expelled from the Conservative Group. I am true blue to the core.
2. Cllr Dibbs remarks led many of you to believe Alternate Week Collection (AWC) is a "Conservative" idea. This was clumsy of him. It is not a Party issue, and I am deeply sorry Cllr Dibbs gave this impression. Members of all parties locally support or oppose this scheme. There is also clear Conservative opposition to the scheme throughout the Country, where Conservative Councils elsewhere have led the way excluding this scheme in support of residents concerns. So Cllr Dibbs may want to read the speeches coming from Conservative Central Office that express the same concerns I have about the scheme.
3. I would also like to apologise for him because personal attacks are no way to conduct a public debate. This is not the new Conservative style, which I support. Policies not people should be challenged and scrutinised. It shows a lack of intellect when one resorts to personal attacks to "strengthen" a position in a debate. It is also one of the key things that have turned the electorate off politicians.
4. Empathy for another point of view is vital in public office, and lack of it can smack of arrogance. When conducting an informed debate about a scheme that has so much public interest we need to be very careful we do not come across as a "know all", this turns off residents who are often well informed and articulate. If we want to win over residents we need to have rational well thought through arguments, not cheap immature digs that people last experienced in the playground and do not expect to see used by those that represent us in the Council Chamber.
5. And lastly, I apologise as this is probably the only apology that will be forthcoming! I hope I do not come across as smug when I genuinely say I am never too proud to apologise - being mortal I inevitably fall short of perfection.
Cllr Dibbs regardless of what some of you have said is a good man, that is dedicating his time to public service, which few choose these days, and we need to remember, he comes from a generation where leaders were obeyed without question. That is just not the case these days, and some have difficulty coping with that. So I bear no hard feelings towards my colleague.
Now I pray, we can concentrate on debating not "personalities", but the issues, benefits and problems of Alternate Week Collections.....

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

My friends & I meet Harry Potter's friend

Wizards use owls to send messages - I got told not to look so smug!!

Alternate Week Bin Collection

Here in Aldershot and Farnborough we are currently conducting a 6 month alternate week bin collection trial amongst 7,000 of the 35,000 homes in Rushmoor. All 7,000 homes will take part in a survey at the end of June before the trial is concluded in July. I welcome this survey, and will value the information it gives us, however, this leaves 38,000 homes not consulted. As the trial area survey will be used as the basis for the final decision by Rushmoor Councils Cabinet, can I suggest the 38,000 homes not in the trial area ensure their voice is heard along with the trial area by writing to Mr David Quirk, Head of Environmental Health, Rushmoor Borough Council, Farnborough GU14 7JU.

I would welcome all residents to take part in my on-line poll on the bin collection at the top right of this page where residents can also leave comments. It is no good complaining about decisions the Council makes if you do not make your voice heard. This scheme has been a very controversial issue the length and breadth of the Country. It is time now, to make your views known. Your views count, and I hope residents will give a very clear steer to those that will decide the future of waste collection here in Rushmoor.
What do you think?

Monday, 11 June 2007

Moi France - Pegasus Bridge & Cafe Gondee

Great trip to France. Here I am sat outside the famous Cafe Gondree, the very first home in France to be liberated, next to Pegasus Bridge - both liberated by elite British airborne troops I might add. Here I met a few veterans, and gave some thought while listening to them about why they return year after year. It's a great love affair they have with Normandy. Each year they go back and enjoy her attention (the locals beep their horns when they see a Normandy Veteran). The unusually warm French smile reserved just for him - he feels young again in her company, loves to recount their time together. He will always love her, and keep coming back till the day he thinks his last thought of her, whispers her name and expels his last breath.

Ranville "Para" Cemetery where some of the first casualties of D-Day rest. Over 2000 British war dead are here along with over 300 German soldiers.

The British Cemetery in Bayeux shared with French, Russian, Polish (over 4000 graves) and even a large group of German soldiers (over 400). Officers and other ranks mixed together. Thousands of young men robbed of life because of the evil foreign policy of a handful of older men. We never seem to learn from history do we? Ironic this is the home of one of the great historical records that detail the bad political decisions of another handful of older men.

Monday, 4 June 2007

Off to Normandy this weekend

Off on my homage to Pegasus Bridge this weekend. To salute all the old soldiers who gave their lives in a foreign field that will be forever England. One of these trips I am going to fulfill my ambition to see Pegasus Bridge from above floating down under a canopy. I feel it such a privilege to go and remember quietly, in the presence of the remaining noble veterans, the sacrifice that so many made for freedom from tyranny.
It is sobering to remember that young British men and women are still giving their lives in foreign fields today.

It is also ironic that a Government full of ex CND peace protesters have engaged us in what has now become a British Vietnam. With the added dimension, thanks to unchecked immigration, poor community integration and a host of other politically correct reasons, of having a "fifth column" here in Britain blowing up as many innocents as possible. And the Prime Ministers solution - £1m to boost Islamic studies in UK Universities.... right!! So this is how one gets Government funding.

Is this what our Grandfathers fought for? I wonder whatever, this wonderful generation of gentlemen who fought on the beaches of Normandy must think of our Nation now. Or am I just a bigoted little Englander, who should be hung for thinking such things.

Friday, 1 June 2007

M3 link road Robbery

Detectives are appealing for information following a robbery which took place on the link road to the M3 in Farnborough on Wednesday, May 30.
At around 3.15pm a commercial vehicle from Vertu, Fleet, carrying a consignment of mobile phones worth around three million pounds was driving along the link road to junction 4a of the M3. The vehicle was then forced to the side of the road by the driver of a dark coloured Subaru.
Four people, wearing balaclavas, then got out of the vehicle and took a number of items from the back of the van. They then got back into the Subaru and drove off north bound on the M3.
Detective Sergeant Matt Watson said: “I am appealing to anyone who may have witnessed this incident to come forward and make contact with the police.
“The Subaru received extensive rear damage during the incident and it is possible that someone may have seen it being driven at speed northbound on the M3. The car was later located in Slough and I am appealing to anyone who was driving between Farnborough and Slough on Wednesday afternoon, who thinks they may have seen this vehicle, to get in touch.”
A 26-year-old man from Hertfordshire and a 27-year-old man from Hertfordshire have been arrested in connection with this incident and are currently in police custody.
Anyone with any information regarding this incident should contact Aldershot CID on 0845 045 45 45 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.