Thursday, 18 December 2008

Paramotor Pilots Christmas Bash and Smash


Tonight went to our annual pilots Christmas Bash in Old Basing, lovely food and great company rounded off with this years pictures and videos of some generally disgraceful flying. It was nice to be reminded regularly of my particularly skillful power line collision. Thanks!!

Highway meeting

At the council offices, present: Three ward councillors, PC Lee Jeffers, John Edwards, John Trussler, Phil Stoneman, Andy Ford. Met with our Highway men at Rushmoor and agreed progress on a number of ward issues:

Actions
1. Queen Elizabeth Park: New low lite cycle path to be installed in February 09. At the same time we aim to get CCTV in place too. (a bid has been put into the community fund). Neighbourhood Watch planned for this area in January also.

2. Rectory Road: Double yellow lines to be advertised Feb and implemented in March to stop parking on grass verges. Also plan at same time some improvements to the small car park.

3. Empress Estate: Yellow lines going in unsafe road areas February.

4. Orchard Road: Parking meters to be hooded and not used at our request. This was agreed and will be actioned immediately, and trialed for 6 months.

5. Clockhouse roundabout: We complained about the new junction layout - were told the contractor building concept 2000 had done this without authority so work was to be 'undone', and put back to how it was.

6. Union Street: Any obstruction to drives to be reported to beat officeres who have power to ticket vehicles that are causing an obstruction.

7. Cove Green: Will get increased priority as a regeneration area.

8. Pinehust Avenue, Elles Close: 'Residents only' parking signs going up January

9. Cycle Plan for Farnborough is now getting some proper funding from the County Council, and a comprehensive plan will be complete by May 2009.

10. We now have a hit team to attack any badly maintained areas in the Borough. If you know of one - let us know too!!

You report it - we will sort it.



Wednesday, 17 December 2008

More support for local business

This year I sat for the first time on the 'Farnborough Business and Community' panel. The Chairman is a very nice man, and included lots of nice people, the lady in North Camp that runs the tobacconist, the chap that runs the sports centre, our local beat officer, a nice chap from Planning and another nice chap from Environmental Health.
However, very nice and polite as they all were, I distinctly left my first couple of meetings wondering what Rushmoor actually does to support front line business in Farnborough and indeed Aldershot. You could equally argue - this is not a town hall job, the town hall aspect is ensure a clean safe environment that will attract businesses and nice homes, shops, leisure and living conditions that will attract skilled people.
We would have to be a particularly bad authority to mess up some of the prizes we have been given. We live in a great area, relatively low density housing, although I shudder at what planning have allowed regards slums in waiting that we call modern flats recently. To put blame where it belongs - we have to thank Mr Prescott for most of that, although we have been too slow in my opinion to address parking ratio's for flats.
We have an excellent blue chip company base that is the envy of many a local authority, with Nokia, CSC, QinetiQ and Tag Aviation to name just a few who reside in the Borough. We must not forget (although heavily depleated now) the Army, who are ressession proof. Sadly we are a garrison village more than a garrison town these days.
The other key gem we have is the Farnborough College, who can offer skill training etc to businesses and employees.
We have been very good at the 'strategic' vision, you know the generic stuff that is duplicated on lots of town hall copiers to 'tick boxes'. I think we have very nice people that want to do the right things, and in general we are getting this right, but I think we could do better, and see two areas worth concentrating on.
1. We need to focus on local, especially when the wolves are gathering at the doors. Let us concentrate on what we are good at - delivering local solutions at a local level tailored to local needs. Supporting our local economy in deed not just in word.
2. We need to work with all agencies as a local authority, and not have any favorites. This also spreads risk and keeps us above any accusation of unfair support for a particular organisation. There are a number of agencies now that are offering free support to companies, now if I, as a local business owner and a councillor, am having difficulty finding exactly what is on offer - somewhere, somehow, something is not working as it should.
Can a local authority really have a great impact on local businesses? No a failing business will fail regardless, and assistance sometimes only prolongs the inevitable closure. But local authorities are able to do a number of positive things to help rather than hinder the development of business. These could include, but are not limited to:
1. Hosting events run by specialist organisations, that offer free services to businesses.
2. Have free pre planning briefs for businesses wishing to expand.
3. Promote skilling up via local educational establishments.
4. Get a reputation for working with companies, not to bend any rules, but have an open and friendly dialogue which looks for solutions rather than obstacles to business challenges.
5. Ensuring we keep all costs to companies and individuals to an absolute minimum.
.. and more
Some of these we are doing, some we are not.
The one frustration with local government is the 'oil tanker' culture. Bad habits can take years to stop, and years for a change in direction. This is the fault of the majority of members and senior officers. Change under the present system takes time, some suggest this is one arguement in favour of directly elected Mayors with cheif executive powers.
Summary: Rushmoor is a good place for business - but some aspects of what the local authority are doing could be improved, run more efficiently and more focused.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Suffering with man flu

I am sure we get it worse than the girls!! Just want to sleep right now - I am never sick and hate feeling this awful. So lots of sympathy please.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Paramotor Crash

On way back from the factory, I saw some 'Micks' (Irish Guards) laying out a paramotor wing and engine ready for take off, from an undisclosed location in the Garrison. So I stopped to watch - unfortunately the poor chap started off really well, but then failed to launch, fell and badly injured his arm. Luckily his comrade was at hand to take him to the MO, and the engine to the workshop to replace the propellors. Good to see some fellow pilots in the area, hope the guy does not let the accident put him off.

The Aviator Hotel - the Farnborough Society visit

Sue a member of the Farnborough Society - who organised the trip with our guide the delightful 'Miss Bird' of the Aviator - perfect!!


Some inspiring photography made easy by inspired achitecture



The heart of the hotel beating with visitors

An scented altar in a darkened hallway


Deli


Resturant

A room - spot the amature photographer



A room with a view

A great story I came across

A man from Birmingham who cannot read or write just sold some art for £11m. I firmly believe we all have a special talent in a particular area - the challenge is to find it. Mine is being awkward!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_midlands/6647855.stm


http://www.maniacworld.com/art-in-the-eye-of-a-needle.html

Our new PCSO Beth


Welcome to Beth our new PCSO helping us make Empress safer. We are really pleased to welcome Beth who has just completed her training and been assigned to us, having met her I know she will be a real asset to our community.

Christmas Disco fever!!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Merry Christmas Hoe Down from Empress

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Monday, 8 December 2008

Ban cheap alcohol and reduce crime and NHS costs

A ban on supermarket and off-licence discount promotions would cut crime by 14,000 offences a year, including 4,000 violent incidents, and reduce absenteeism from work. according to government-funded research from Sheffield University.


The research was commissioned by the Department for Health and looked at 40 separate alcohol policy options, including setting minimum prices per unit. It showed that reducing the quantity of cut-price alcohol on sale can reduce consumption and have significant effects on reducing related crime and ill-health.


The researchers estimated that a 40p per unit minimum price could reduce hospital admissions by 41,000 a year and save the NHS £116m a year in treatment costs. This minimum price level would also reduce crime by 16,000 offences a year.


The report also looked at the impact of a ban on cut-price alcohol promotions in supermarkets and off-licences, and suggested that wine drinkers would be hit hardest by such proposals. It said that a ban on discounts of more than 30%, while effecting wine consumption most, would have little effect on cheaper alcohol, such as lager and beers, selling for less than 30p a unit.


Targeting price increases at cheaper types of alcohol, particularly in bars and pubs where at-risk groups such as younger people do most of their drinking, would have an impact without unduly penalising moderate drinkers.

Read the full feature from The Guardian here
Booze cheaper than water in some superstores!!
Research by the drink and drug charity Addaction shows it costs less to drink alcohol than bottled water at leading supermarkets. Discounted own-brand alcohol is sold for as little as 23p per can, claims the report.

Addaction said proposals which will be announced by the Governmennt later this week may not include measures to stop cheap booze from being sold in supermarkets and off-licenses.
The charity analysed the price of drink from supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and ASDA. Although the range of cheap alcohol on offer has shrunk over the past year, shops continue to offer low-cost “value booze”.

Tesco Value lager cost just 23p per can, or 26.1p per unit of alcohol. This was less than the equivalent volume of bottled water. Cider by the three supermarkets cost just 59p per litre, or less than a bottle of coke. The researchers also found that Sainsbury’s and ASDA had two-for-one deals on a well-known brand of 5.2% lager, and that value vodka was being sold for as little as £6.55 per bottle.

Read the full article from TimesOnline here
I also think we should take names of drunks that abuse police, nurses at A&E, ambulance staff, and taxi drivers, etc - and they should get banned from all pubs in the area for a fixed period according to their behaviour. This could easily be agreed with local landlords.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Some body statistics

  • The largest cell in the human body is the female egg and the smallest is the male sperm.
  • It takes your food seven seconds to get from your mouth to your
    stomach.
  • One human hair can support 3 kg (6 lb).
  • The average man's penis is three times the length of his thumb.
  • Human thighbones are stronger than concrete.
  • A woman's heart beats faster than a man's.
  • There are about one trillion bacteria on each of your feet.
  • Women blink twice as often as men.
  • The average person's skin weighs twice as much as the brain.
  • Your body uses 300 muscles to balance itself when you are
    standing still.
  • If saliva cannot dissolve something, you cannot taste it.
  • Men who read this are probably still busy checking their thumbs.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Beware door to door salesmen

Yesterday CID arrested a man in Winchester for going door to door without a Pedlars Certificate
He had numerous convictions for Burglary, theft etc..

He said that other 'Nottingham Knoockers' would be coming to Hampshire before Christmas.

Officers have been told to arrest anyone selling door to door without a Pedlars Certificate.
If they knock your door - tell us immediately

IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE HOW I VOTE: NOTHING EVER CHANGES (by my mate Daniel Hannan)

Are you a councillor who believes that local authorities should have more power?

Or a Conservative activist who wants the party to set out in more detail what it would do in office? Or a patriot who feels that too much power has been ceded to Brussels?

Or simply an intelligent person in search of a good read?


Well, my friends, I have just the thing. The Plan: Twelve months to renew Britain, co-authored by me and Douglas Carswell, a Conservative MP, sets out a comprehensive plan to restore purpose to the ballot-box, dignity to the legislature and freedom to the individual.


"Douglas and Dan show how a future government could actually shift powers back, from Brussels to Westminster, from Whitehall to town halls, from the state to the citizens. Things do not have to be as they are.


The Plan shows how we can change our country for the better," writes Boris Johnson http://www.boris-johnson.com/2008/10/10/the-plan-12-months-to-renew-britain-by-daniel-hannan-mep-and-douglas-carswell-mp/ .
"There is real power and integrity in their analysis, and it presents a conundrum for Cameron. The Tory leader can only remain true to his ideas by relinquishing power on a massive scale-to communities and to Parliament" says Peter Oborne <
http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=3D10479> in the current issue of Prospect.
Other critics, too, have been generous (see, for example, John Redwood <
http://www.johnredwoodsdiary.com/2008/10/15/in-praise-of-the-plan/> , Dizzy <http://dizzythinks.net/2008/09/plan.html> , John Laughland <http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/3556> , Donal Blaney http://donalblaney.blogspot.com/2008/10/plan-12-months-to-renew-britain.html and ConservativeHome
<
http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2008/09/jesse-norman-re.html
> ).
And here's the best bit, amigos: we can do all these things in just one 12-month parliamentary session. You don't believe me? Read the book. You can it from
www.renew-britain.com <http://www.renew-britain.com/> or through Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/Plan-Twelve-Months-Renew-Britain/dp/0955979900/ref=3Dsr_1_1ie=3DUTF8&s=3Dbooks&qid=3D1228341406&sr=3D1-1
Read Daniel's blog on
Visiting our troops in Helmand
<
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/daniel_hannan/blog/2008/11/29/defending_democracy_in_afghanistan_vitiating_it_in_britain>=20
Conservative MEPs must leave the EPP
<
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/daniel_hannan/blog/2008/12/01/conservative_meps_must_leave_the_epp>=20
Five ways to make Parliament more representative <
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/daniel_hannan/blog/2008/11/25/five_ways_to_make_parliament_representative>=20
The best and worst of Shakespeare
<
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/daniel_hannan/blog/2008/11/24/shakespeare_my_best_to_worst>=20
How to bring down the BBC
<
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/daniel_hannan/blog/2008/12/01/the_bbc_could_be_brought_down_by_a_popular_boycott>=20
Public sector workers immune in the Baby P case <
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/daniel_hannan/blog/2008/12/02/baby_p_social_workers_retain_pay_perks_and_pensions>=20
The Speaker must go
<
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/daniel_hannan/blog/2008/12/01/the_nation_still_believes_in_parliamentary_supremacy_but_do_mps>=20
=20
You can follow Daniel in the Telegraph online every day at
www.hannan.co.uk

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Search of Damian Green's Office on cam

David Cameron on the Queens Speech.

My verdict on the Queen's speech
Today was the day Labour lost its last shred of credibility. First we had a Queen's speech that was all about the short-term political prospects of the Prime Minister, and not the long-term future of this country.
Then Gordon Brown failed to support the Speaker's regrets about the search of Damian Green's office. His silence on the episode was deafening and damning. It's time for this Government to go.
Click on the video below to get the rest of my take on today's events.
David Cameron

Harlequin Hall of Fame Dinner - Harrods


Well - where else for Harlequins? Above is the shrine to Dodi and Diana which greets everyone that comes in the back door. I reached for my wallet when I saw that jeans were 40% off - but then realised they started at £300, so thought I would wait for the New Year sales.


I seem to have been following Jason Leonard MBE around the last few years http://www.rugbynetwork.net/main/s245/st50222.htm - I was at his testimonial dinner and last night discovered I was at his induction to the Harlequin Hall of Fame. I had a great night with a table full of extremely interesting people, some of which I met that night and some I have known for a good many years.


Jason Leonard getting the well earned induction into the Harlequin Hall of Fame

On our table was the Harlequin Director of Rugby (Head Coach) Dean Richards who is doing a fantastic job at Harlequins and has the fear and respect of the players. He has a stunning rugby career http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dean_Richards_(rugby_player)


Dean Richards and friends on our table - identities hidden to protect the innocent .. well guilty actually...

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Alarm Bells ..... be warned

On ….1430 28/11/08
A resident in Winchester received call from a female from a company called


First Direct/First Response Alarm Co

Said salesman was in area and that they only sold to elderly. Man arrived gave name Paul Hardcastle and mobile number 0XXXX 31558
Pointed out how easy it would be to break into house and that there was a real risk of fire
Their system would alert police and fire service… a snip at £3300
When they did not agree price gradually fell to £1500 + £40 per month for police attendance

This is the 2nd complaint in a week
An elderly lady in Twyford gave them bank details set up direct debit, handed over a cheque for £3000 And a cheque for £45 made out to Hampshire Constabulary
Trading Standards waited for them ….an engineer from Bournemouth turned up. He had no connection with company and been hired to install system
Cheque & direct debit were cancelled

Monday, 1 December 2008

Two incidents in Westheath

Two recent incidents that you need to be aware of.
Please pass this on to neighbours.

1. Sunday afternoon around 1300 hours there were two suspicious males in the Westheath Road area.
They knocked on a door asking if the household owned a dog that looked like a fox that was lose in the area.
The female visitor and ex police officer stated that it was not theirs but was visiting so she would ask the occupant of the house if they knew if the neighbours had one.
She could not update the males as they had already walked away down Westheath Road.
The males were soaking wet and looked like they were seeing who was home or not.

The males were both around 17 years of age and white.

The first male had short dark hair was skinny and 5ft 8.

The second male was 5ft 9, skinny build, gaunt face, with hood up. They were not seen again.

2. The second incident involves a white transit van seen on Sunday 30th around 1300 hours again on Westheath Road.

The male driving this van stopped to speak to a lone female.

The male initially asked for directions to Farnborough Main Train Station and then offered the female a lift.

This was declined but shook the female. It is believed that this is the same male who was seen some 7-8 months previously under the same circumstances.
The number plate of the vehicle was not seen.

The driver is described as being white, 5ft 8-9, stocky, late 40s early 50s, short stubbly beard, uncombed medium length hair which was dark grey/white.

Can you all please be on the lookout and be careful.

Farnborough Town Centre Schedule update



There are 6 phases in the above plan. Phase 1 and 2 are now complete. Phase 4 is the major work currently being carried out now, building the superstore units and Hotel, which are blocks one and two. According to the new schedule, these will be completed November 2009. The remaining work phase 5 and 6 in the map above and units 3 and 4 in the schedule below are the works to be completed adjacent to the main site.
The final piece of the puzzle is the Cinema construction, which is now expected to start in the summer of 2009 and completed October 2010.


click on images to enlarge

Theft in Holly Road

Please be aware that overnight 27/28th in an address in Holly Road an intruder removed from a trailer filled with odd timber and the like, the plastic cover.

The cover had been secured with rope and difficult to remove when wet.
-
There was no sign of the rope so it is suspected that it had been cut off and taken.

Fortunately nothing has been stolen

PLEASE MAKE ALL YOUR NEIGHBOURS AWARE AND TO BE VIGILANT.

IF ANYONE HAS ANY INFORMATION WHICH CAN ASSIST THE ENQUIRIY PLEASE LET US KNOW.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Arrest of MP Damian Green an outrage

Let us be clear:

Should MP's be treated different if they break the law? Definitely not. Law makers should not be law breakers, so I think the law should come down harder on MP's than anyone else that break common law crimes.
BUT.... should the police use terrorism laws to try and gag an opposition MP who thanks to a whistle blower has exposed information that SHOULD be in the public realm and is clearly in the public interest, but has been buried under official secrets act legislation in order to save the Government and senior civil servant responsible from embarrassment?
A number of things seriously bother me about this incident:
1. We have heightened security, a massacre of innocent citizens takes place in India - and what are our anti terrorist police doing??? Seven, yes seven sweep on an opposition MP's home and arrest him and question him for 7 or 9 hours. What was in the mind of the police? Is this their idea of building public confidence? We shoot innocent people on the underground and arrest opposition MP's that embarrass the Government.
2. ARE WE A POLICE STATE? Is this not something we expect to read about happening in Zimbabwe or some other despotic regime? Who authorised this? Who knew about this? Who decided this was in the public interest of national security to pursue? There are many questions over this whole issue, and I would expect to see some resignations.
Quite rightly MP's have the freedom in the House, under 'Parliamentary privilege', to say what they like without fear of prosecution - this right enables MP's to highlight and challenge issues that are in the public interest. This is especially valuable to MP's that are in opposition. We need to ensure,, in the interest of a healthy democracy, that opposition MP's are able to have the protection of 'the house' (House of Commons). It should be a haven for responsible MP's that scrutinise and ensure we are governed effectively and look after ours and the Country's best interest.
3. That said - whatever was going through the mind (if he has one) of the Speaker of the House, to not only allow the Police to search Damian Green MP's office, but had his emails suspended. It frankly beggars belief. Again, something you would expect to happen in Zimbabwe - but not here in the Mother of Democracy. The Speaker MUST RESIGN. His position is untenable. It must be noted that this is the same Speaker that went to the High Court to STOP an exposure of MP's expenses Michael Martin MP.
This reminds me of the occassion before the outbreak of the second world war where Churchill was leeked information by a senior Foreign Office official Ralph Wigram about the then Government deliberately hiding or underplaying figures about German military expansion. The whisle blower Ralph Wigram was hounded and committed suicide (sound familiar - Dr Kelly and Iraq Weapons), but the information was right and should have better prepared Britain for a bloody conflict that cost many British lives.
When all these things are happening - it is clear that it is time for change.

Friday, 28 November 2008

At University again

Fascinating study module, all about out sourcing. Spent the day learning all the in's and outs of contracts with all their pit falls and opportunities. Analysed the key features of good contracts and evaluated a few. Extremely useful to me as a Borough Councillor, some of the biggest expenditures of the council involve contracts, ie. waste collection and leisure provision. I will now be looking at these in future with a new pair of eyes.

I love London, and am staying in the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel, right on the Thames. At Uni and here at the Hotel I still get excited seeing all the London icons despite all the years I have been coming here. Houses of Parliament, London Eye, St Pauls, and the beautiful bridges. It is a beautiful city

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Say after me ... I will never complain about my job again

I will never complain about my job again
I will never complain about my job again
I will never complain about my job again
I will never complain about my job again
I will never complain about my job again
I will never complain about my job again
I will never complain about my job again

Budget summary by Cliff D'Arcy (www.fool.co.uk)


Alistair Darling’s Pre-Budget Report offers short-term gain, but long-term pain. We list the winners and losers from his tax changes.
Chancellor Alistair Darling presented his Pre-Budget Report (PBR) to MPs yesterday afternoon. By cutting taxes and increasing spending, he hopes to avoid a long, deep recession in the UK. However, there is a price to pay in the form of massively increased government borrowing.
Thus, in return for short-term gain, there will be long-term pain in the form of higher taxes and lower spending in the future. Indeed, some economists predict that, as a result of sharply higher government borrowing, our national debt will increase by more than £500 billion by 2015. This is equivalent to an extra mortgage of £20,000 for every household in the UK. Ouch!
So, here’s a round-up of the changes announced yesterday:
Businesses (winners)
In its first three years, my small business saw its tax rate rise from 19% to 20% to 21%. Hence, I welcome the news that the proposed increase to 22% has been put back from 2009 to 2010. Also, some small businesses may benefit from VAT being cut to 15%. In addition, the Government intends to allow businesses to spread their tax bills over longer periods and given them access to a Small Business Finance Scheme offering temporary loans of £1,000 to £1 million.
Foreign dividends paid to medium- and large-sized businesses will become tax exempt with effect from 2009. Also, small firms get temporary relief from empty-property rates: in 2009/10, empty properties with a rateable value under £15,000 will be exempt from business rates.

Families with children (winners)
Child Benefit will rise by 6.4% from £18.80 to £20 a week for the first child and by 4.9% from £12.55 to £13.20 for other children. These changes have been brought forward three months, from April to January, as have proposed increases in Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.

High earners (long-term losers) and other workers (winners)
After eleven years of restraint, the Government has taken aim at Britain’s richest individuals. From April 2011, it will introduce a 45% income-tax rate for those earning over £150,000. It estimates that only 400,000 people will be affected by this tax hike -- the richest 1% of the population. What's more, from 2010, the personal allowance for income tax (currently £6,035) will be withdrawn completely for the highest earners. Those earning more than £140,000 a year will lose their entire personal allowance, while those on £100,000 to £140,000 will lose half of its value.
On the other hand, the temporary £120 tax rebate for basic-rate taxpayers will become permanent, increasing to £145 next April. This will put more money in the pockets of around 22 million households. Alas, from April 2011, National Insurance contributions are to rise by 0.5% for both employers and employees. Also, the lower threshold for NICs will be raised to match that for income tax. In effect, future NICs will rise for anyone earning over £20,000 a year.

Homeowners (not much on offer)
There’s not much on offer for homeowners, although the Chancellor has promised that borrowers in arrears will be given a three-month breather before lenders can begin repossession proceedings. In particular, hoped-for reforms to Stamp Duty Land Tax failed to arrive, with no extension to the current one-year exemption for houses worth up to £175,000.

Motorists (losers)
Vehicle Excise Duty (VED, alias ‘road tax’) will increase and will be based on CO2 emissions. However, the maximum increase per vehicle will be capped at £5 in 2009 and £30 in 2010. The greenest vehicles will have their VED cut by up to £30. Fuel duty is to rise by 2p a litre from 1 December and by a further 1.84p a litre from 1 April 2009.

Pensioners (winners)
Pensioners do pretty well from the PBR. From April, the Pension Credit rises by £6 to £130 a week for individuals and by £9 to £198 a week for couples. Also, the weekly state pension for a single person is set to rise by £4.55 to £95.25 in 2009/10. The Winter Fuel Payment remains at £250 for the under-80s and £400 for the over-80s, plus there’s an extra one-off bung of £60 in January (£120 for couples).

Savers (no change)
There’s precious little on offer for savers in the PBR. However, the government is to launch a national savings scheme in 2010 aimed at eight million people who receive various state benefits and tax credits. The Savings Gateway scheme was first proposed seven years ago and has been undergoing trials in selected parts of the UK.
A Savings Gateway account can be held for two years, with the Government adding 50p to every pound saved, which is a terrific return for low-income households. In total, up to £600 can be saved, with the Government contribution capped at £300. However, families earning less than £15,000 a year and individuals earning less than £11,000 a year are unlikely to have much disposable income, which may handicap this scheme. In addition, this scheme could be open to abuse, with well-off relatives or friends providing savings to low-income folk in return for a cut of that guaranteed 50%+ return!

Spenders (winners)
People who like to splash their cash will be pleased to hear that Value Added Tax (VAT) is being cut from 17.5% to 15% until the end of 2009. Then again, housing, food, childcare, public transport and children's clothes are already VAT-exempt, so these will not become any cheaper. Indeed, some retailers may decide that the switch to 15% VAT is too much hassle and, instead, will absorb the extra profit. It’s bad news for sin taxes, too, as duty on alcohol and tobacco will be increased to cancel out the VAT cut.

In summary
This is a big-budget giveaway, designed to put more money into everyone’s pockets in an effort to prevent a major downturn in the UK economy. Thanks to changes to income tax and NICs, most households will pay between £119 and £343 less tax in the 2009/10 tax year. Thus, most workers will be winners, although high earners will lose out in future. Indeed, someone earning £200,000 a year will pay almost £5,600 more tax and NICs from 2011/12. However, I suspect that few of us will take pity on these super-high earners!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Don't be materialistic!!!

A City Banker parks his brand new Porsche in front of the office to show it off to his colleagues. As he's getting out of the car, a lorry comes speeding along too close to the kerb and takes off the door before zooming off.
More than a little distraught, the Londoner grabs his mobile andcalls the police. Five minutes later, the police arrive. Before the policeman has a chance to ask any questions, the man starts screaming hysterically: 'My Porsche, my beautiful silver Porsche is ruined. No matter how long it's at the panel beaters it'll simply never be the same again!' After the man finally finishes his rant, the policeman shakes his head indisgust. 'I can't believe how materialistic you City Bankers are,' he says. 'You lot are so focused on your possessions that you don't notice anything else in your life.' 'How can you say such a thing at a time like this?' sobs the Porsche owner. The policeman replies, 'Didn't you realise that your right arm was torn off when the truck hit you.'
The Banker looks down in horror and screams........'Where's my Rolex????...'

Alert - keep watch

I have recieved this report from an adjacent Farnborough Ward:

We have had a spate of vehicle damage in Westheath Ward. This has been people breaking into vehicles to obtain items left inside them such as money, mobile phones etc. Can I remind you all NOT to leave any valuable items within your vehicle. On this note can you think about when you are out doing your Christmas shopping, do not leave presents on show in the car. This time of year makes vehicle crime more appealing. Use your boot area to hide items if you have to but remember this area is also a target. Try not to leave anything of value in your car.
We have had a report from one of the Councillors that there was a suspicious male seen. This male was first seen in the Pitt Way/Clouston Road area on Saturday 22nd around 1155 hours. We was knocking on doors in the area. Cllr X approached this male to find out what he was doing and explaining who he was, the response he got was less than polite. The male went on to say however that he was a tree surgeon and that he had business cards, however he would not show them to Cllr X. He said that he was registered and that he came from Farnham. This is all at this time suspected to be false. From the way the male behaved towards Mark he had something to hide. Please all be on the lookout.
The description of the male is:
White 40-50 years
Clean shaven 5ft 10
14 stone approx.
Black trousers Shirt Jacket Brown shoes

Approximately 10 minutes later Cllr X as cycling along Westheath Road when he was chased by a Grey coloured Mondeo saloon which contained 3-4 adults. It is not certain if this was the same male and some friends of his as Cllr X had to take evasive action to avoid being hit.
There has also been a second report of a suspicious male which was called in to us by an off duty Surrey Detective. He saw on Monday 24th around 1205 hours four males in the Blunden Road area knocking on the doors. The only description we have is youths aged 18-21 years. This may well be legitimate, however we always treat these reports as suspicious until we can clearly clarify that they are not. Rest assured if we see males doing this sort of door to door knocking we do obtain their details and clarify them. If you can all remain vigilant and if you have any information in relation to these points or anything similar please let me know.
Westheath Local Beat Officer

Monday, 24 November 2008

Car Crime in Empress

Over the last four days there have been three incidents of vehicle crime:

One in Oak Road Farnborough between 20.40hrs and 21.20hrs on Saturday night where an attempt to steal the car was made by smashing the rear drivers side window and removing the steering column.

Two incidents of theft of number plates in Rectory Road Farnborough.

Please be vigilant and consider carefully where you leave your vehicles overnight.
If you may have seen something which can assist Police enquiries ring 0845 045 45 45.
PC 1145 Lee JEFFERS Empress and Town Centre OCU Neighbourhood Policing Team Farnborough Police Station.
Tel: 01256 405190 or 0845 045 45 45 ext 608158 e-mail: lee.jeffers@hampshire.pnn.police.uk

Friday, 21 November 2008

My new neice or nephew


Great news - a new little person is on the way to join us care of my sister.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Farnborough Town Centre rising from the dust

What is there now - Rok Construction busy laying the foundations


What will rise from the dust during 2009


Works commenced August 2008 and comprises the construction of the foodstore, other retail units, hotel and residential units, together with the realignment of Kingsmead and construction of the surface car park. Demolition and enabling works have been completed. Completion of these blocks is programmed for the end of October 2009.


Mark up your bike for free

Click on picture to enlarge

A Jewish American - thoughts on Christmas


Herewith at this happy time of year, a few confessions from my beating heart:I have no freaking clue who Nick and Jessica are. I see them on the cover of People and Us constantly when I am buying my dog biscuits and kitty litter. I often ask the checkers at the grocery stores. They never know who Nick and Jessica are either. Who are they? Will it change my life if I know who they are and why they have broken up? Why are they so important? I don't know who Lindsay Lohan is, either, and I do not care at all about Tom Cruise's wife.


Am I going to be called before a Senate committee and asked if I am a subversive? Maybe, but I just have no clue who Nick and Jessica are. Is this what it means to be no longer young. It's not so bad.


Next confession: I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.


I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.


Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

England v Australia rugby


The good wishes and cheers of the crowd just were not enough to win over the referee!!

Saw the England v Australia rugby match today at Twickenham with a friend, and had a very enjoyable day spoilt only by the result. 14 to 28. The referee did not help - I never like to criticise the referee, as it is a tough job in the best circumstances, but it has to be said, on this occasion even my Australian fellow spectators were shocked at most of his decisions.



England are a team in transition, and appeared slow and hesitant. I am sure Martin Johnson will pull the team into shape, and could not have been happy with the performance today.


It was good to see the Army curry van there, and meet up with some old friends for a traditional Gurkha curry before the match, and a few cans (water for me) after the match, where we put, not only the England team right, but also solved most of the world issues too.


Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Empress Community Meeting

Tonight I met with our beat officers and representatives from our Empress Ward Community, local neighbourhood watch co-ordinators, businesses, churches and schools. We do this in the ward once every three months.
We discussed what is happening in the area, and also highlighted areas that need our attention.
The following are some priorities I was given:
  1. Cabrol Road and the play area needs unclogging of too many vehicles and some anti social juveniles. Empress Estate needs restricted parking times.
  2. Need to survey our alley ways and have a clean up, and light up where needed.
  3. Rectory Road needs some thought as to how we cope with parent traffic for local school.
  4. Trees in the ward - there are lots - what liability if they fall on roads etc. Who pays and can assistance be given to improve maintenance etc.

We have dealt with most of the anti social behaviour in the town, our neighbourhood watches have trebled and we are on target for 100% coverage. We have successfully been dealing with cycling, and are seeing improved facilities in the Ward. Recently, following a meeting with KPI the town centre developer we agreed some cycle path improvements and better locations for cycle racks.

I would like to thank the police for all their support, and especially residents for their valuable feedback and contributions, and finally my fellow ward councillors Brian and Gareth who all work hard making this place a nicer place to live.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Remembering all especially those in our family

I reflect today on the sacrifices made by so many, but especially on my own families sacrifice thru the years:

Our Family Roll of Honour

David Pullen: 1813-90 (51st Regiment of Foot) Storming of Rangoon 1847

John Robt Townsend: 1842 - 1932 (Queens Own Gloucester Hussars)

Frank Edwin Powell: 1892 - 1979 (Royal Navy) Served on HMS Victory

Henry Albert Sanders: 1877 - 1953 (Royal Artillery) fought in the Boar War

Charles Hardaker - killed - 22 Aug 1915 (AIF) Gallipoli, Turkey

Patrick McBride - killed - 26 Oct 1915 (DLI) Houplines, France

Francis Trudden - killed - 15 Oct 1916 (DLI) Somme, France

Denis Trudden - lost - 6 April 1917 (SS Powhatan) Atlantic

Arthur Merrell - killed - 12 April 1917 (Gloucester Regiment) Arras, France

George Richards- killed - 2 Aug 1917 (South Wales Borderers) Ypres, Belgium

Charles Penfold- killed - 12 April 1918 (Royal Fusiliers) Hazebrouck, France

George Williams: 1889 - 1965 (North Somerset Yeomanry) Prisoner of War

John J Townsend: 1873 - 1959 (AIF)

William T Jackman: 1882 - 1966 (Royal Fusiliers)

Patrick Clifford - lost - 1st Feb 1943 (HMS Welshman) sunk by U boat 617 in Tripoli Harbour, Libya

Albert G Godwin: 1912-98 (Royal Engineers) captured by Japanese in Hong Kong 1940, survived the sinking of the Lisbon Maru, by an American submarine, and survived the Japanese prison of war camp.

Francis Clifford: 1933 - 2001 (Royal Corps of Transport) served in Malaya and Aden

The family appear to litter the worlds battlefields!

Monday, 10 November 2008

Britains drug problem worst in Europe

Drug abuse in Britain is worse than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new report. Young people in the UK are more likely to take cocaine, Ecstasy and amphetamine than those in any other country on the Continent, it said. But cannabis use is declining.
Young Britons are using cocaine in quantities and with a frequency unmatched anywhere else in the world apart from the US, the report found. One in 20 schoolchildren of 15 and 16 - around 200,000 teenagers - have used the drug, it said.
The analysis, by the European Union's drug agency, also pointed to levels of deaths from drugs that are higher here than in any other major nation in the EU. Only four small European countries - Luxembourg, Estonia, Norway and Denmark - lose a higher proportion of their young people in drug-related deaths, the report said.
Deaths linked to drug abuse in Britain are, the figures suggest, running at double the rate of those in Germany and four times those in France.
The use of cannabis, says the report, is showing signs of decline in the UK, however.


In the context of this report little comfort.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Time to remember

Today I went to my own church for Remembrance Day, as the garrison decided the Council were not worth reserving seats for. Seats were only reserved for the Mayoral group including I assume the leader and cheif executive. A great shame, as it had become a good tradition in which councillors were at this important time actually seen by our community shoulder to shoulder remembering together - still I am sure they had good reason to discontinue this tradition. The important thing is that however we do it - we remember, and keep remembering and never forget the sacrifices made by so many, and so many that were young and had a lifetime ahead of them. They were loved and missed, and every British family was affected in the great war, from the highest in the land to the lowest. A war that should have stopped all wars.
At our own service it was good to hear from retired soldiers and those distiguished with honour in the Falklands war sharing their experiences and remembering comrades and those that have sacrificed all for others and the cause of freedom. It was also good to stand with them in silience and remember, and to close the service singing our National Anthem.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

More thoughts on Obama

The impact of Obama is still sinking in, and for many good reasons. And there are two issues i would like to just focus on:

1. He serves as the ultimate role model (at the moment) for kids that feel or are told that they are disadvantaged. Any ethnic minority kids, or kids with a single parent need to realise that with hard work and talent they can achieve anything they set their mind to do. It may at times be tougher than for some others, but nothing is impossible, and the harder they work the luckier they will get.

2. The greatest stumbling block to an Obama event in the UK is Parliament. I believe that Parliament is in need of reformation. This has nothing to do with race. It has everything to do with how our democracy is organised. It is extremely unlikely in the current system that an MP having just served a few years (as in Obama's case) could campaign and win the job of Priminister. WE DO NOT CHOOSE our most senior and powerful political position - we leave it in the hands of Parliament. I say it is time for change. The job of Priminister is far to important to the Nation for us to leave it to a few hundred MP's. I want to have a say in who runs this Country, and in this modern Britain it is about time we joined the rest of the world in being able to all cast a vote for our political head of state. Now that I would like to see in my lifetime.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

County update on Cove village landscaping

Lunch time I met up with the County and Borough officers working on the upgrading of highway areas in Cove, with me were County Councillor Carol Laversha and Cllr Brian Parker. The County have committed £250,000 to the project and three key areas of improvement have been identified. Cove Brook, Cove Village centre, and junction with Cove Green. Details can be seen on the Borough web site. http://www.rushmoor.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=7718

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Well done Obama

Love him or hate him - he ran a fantastic campaign, and raised a record breaking amount of money for his campaign. Not dominated by big donations from the wealthy, but rather millions of small donations. The widows mite a good analogy as his campaign has been almost Messianic. And not wishing to over play the analogy, but I fear white supremacists will be out to crucify him, before he can get to the White House, or as soon as possible thereafter.
It will be interesting to see if his vision that has captured the heart of America is translated into reality. Obama has the legitimacy of a land slide victory, the good will of many foreign nations. Change is something that is yearned for the world over. And nothing needs change more drastically than American foreign policy. So a vision has been created, there has now been created great anticipation. What now will be delivered? And delivery is everything, as every mid-wife will tell you.
I wish him well. I was surprised that Republicans chose a fine but aged man to run, but all so easy to say in hindsight. I personally liked Mit Romney and Rudy Giuliani. But maybe this election was not the one to get selected for. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. The hour now is Obama's, and justly deserved. He ran the best campaign, was the most charismatic, and created the vision that connected with most Americans. He was for the most part positive and concentrated on what he would deliver, and came across as a formidable statesman.
All men are more equal now in America. This election alone has redeemed the hypocrisy that there has been on this fundamental decree in the American Constitution for centuries. And the most moving images for me have been those of the people that choose to call themselves 'African- Americans'. Millions have waited to register, and the tears and joy on the faces of this American underclass have been remarkable. Hope has replaced despair. I hope for them it is not a false dawn. They have taken far too high a mortal toll in home and foreign policy.
I hope the other great unequal group will emerge now with more confidence in the political arena - women. I like Sarah Palin. The left wing media and press has tried to vilify her, and make us feel guilty admitting it - but I like her. She is young, new and inexperienced, and I hope this election has not been her ruin. We shall see.
So opens a new chapter in American and world politics. We have arrived at a cross road, and an American dream has been realised, or may there may be trouble ahead ....

Monday, 3 November 2008

Republican campaigning in Mississippi


My nephew Jared gets invited to help with the McCann campaign, as Republicans look for characters to stop Obama

Friday, 31 October 2008

Nathan abducted by aliens


My nephew Nathan cannot quite understand exactly what is going on. I can almost hear him saying "I'm sure Dad is in here somewhere"

Friday, 24 October 2008

London South Bank University


I absolutely love being a student. I never forget what a privilage it is to get University education, especially here in London. I am three quarters of the way through my post-graduate degree, and still cannot believe I have not been kicked out yet.
This course contributes points to a Masters in Public Administration, and we have just completed some study on employment law and good governance. The tutors are excellent, and I really enjoy the company of the other students. It has really been a big help in understanding my role as a councillor and my only regret is I did not have the chance to do this course a year or so after being elected as a councillor a life time ago.
The more I study the more I realise two things.
1. Rushmoor is a very well run Council, with first class officers.
2. Borough Councillors have been stripped of too much power and ability to lead and represent properly their communities. Too much policy and directives come from Whitehall, and not enough is coming from the ground up - so no wonder it often does not work or meet the needs of residents.
More power and authority needs to be devolved down to Borough Councillors, and we need to play a greater role in making local decisions and setting local policy. Too much power has been taken further away from the people that power effects.
It is time for the tide to turn.

16 arrested in drugs raids

A total of 16 people have been arrested and substantial quantities of Class A drugs seized during a police operation targeting transient drug dealers in north and east Hampshire.

The operation, which began on Wednesday this week, has brought together officers from North and East OCU together with colleagues from Specialist Operations teams to target people coming in to the north of the county specifically intent on dealing drugs, and the violence associated with their criminal activity.

This operation is ongoing and the latest part of Operation Spartan, Hampshire Constabulary’s response to the threat of gun, knife and drug crime in the two counties.
The results of the operation so far include:

16 arrests
11 vehicle searches
31 drug searches
12 warrants executed

In total, police recovered £4,000 of crack cocaine and heroin in wraps, and have this morning opened a safe that was seized from an address in London which was found to contain a substantial amount of crack cocaine, the value of which is currently being calculated but is believed could have a street value of between £50,000 and £100,000.

Officers also travelled to London last night (Thursday, October 24), and executed a number of warrants and searches, resulting in the arrest of three men, who are suspected of travelling into Hampshire to deal drugs.

Three people have so far been charged with possession with the intent to supply Class A drugs and with being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs.

Superintendent Paul Brooks, who co-ordinated the operation, said: “We are still currently investigating a number of people in custody, and this operation will continue for the foreseeable future.

“By putting officers from across the force and local intelligence teams out on the streets together, we believe we have already severely disrupted the supply to this area.”

Chief Superintendent Mark Chatterton, local police commander, said: “This OCU has been, over the last 12 months, the safest place in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. This sort of pro-active operation is part of the reason why this is the case.

“It is my intention to keep it that way.

“Your Safer Neighbourhood Teams will be out and about in your community, and you should feel free to stop them and discuss any concerns you may have. Information from the community plays a real part in influencing the way we police, so I would encourage you to let us know what issues are important to you.”

Anyone with information about drugs being dealt in their neighbourhood can contact their local Safer Neighbourhoods Team on 0845 045 45 45, or leave information anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

For more information about your local policing team, please visit
www.hampshire.police.uk

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Trolley Table - latest score


Going 100% Neighbourhood Watch

Dear Residents

We are busy trying to get 100% coverage in the ward for Neighbourhood Watch.
There are a number of advantages to this:

1. Good liaison with the police about current crime activity and prevention.

2. All members of our Neighbourhood Watch will get 10% further discount from local Insurance broker Shelton's on their insurance requirements (car, house etc).

3. We meet every 3 months with the Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators to update on crime etc issues, but also make priorities for the ward with regards to not only crime but other community issues. This has meant we can channel money for important ward projects of community interest.

4. We are finding as we establish these (we have completed Empress Estate), we are finding a real sense of community is returning to our area.

5. This is also proving a great way of local people working with our two beat officers and councillors keeping an eye out for vulnerable neighbours who are prone to fraudsters.

We need a few co-ordinators for each street. This is not an onerous job, and the rewards to you, your neighbours and the community far outweigh any small inconveniences. This is very rewarding and enjoyable. We have got to know so many more people and are already realising huge benefits for our area.

Please email me back if you wish to help or know someone in your street that would.

Warm regards
David Clifford
Empress Conservative Councillor.
"Together we can make a difference"
Tel 01252 371111
Fax 01252 371112
david@empress-tory.org

Monday, 20 October 2008

Learning how to govern


Rushmoor Councillors had a workshop on governance - local leadership and how best to develop and deliver it.

The irony?
The leadership of the Council were absent!
I am sure they had very good reasons.
This was not lost on the majority of members present, although it has to be recognised our Mayor was there - but as most of you know - he does not run the Council - he is our resident figurehead of State.
Lots of ideas were discussed and we can all feel good about this - I sadly dispair, however, that the powers absent will do very little to let go and push power out towards the people where I think some of the power needs to go. I would love to think I am wrong - and that we will do it before we are forced by legislation - we shall see.
For the benefit of the public and my entertainment I will try an identify the players at these meetings as follows, and breifly explain my reason:
So for this meeting we have:
The Good - have to be those that attended and especially those that made some good contributions and avoided political sniping.
The Bad - those that just could not be bothered to come along.
The Ugly - Mike Robert's (Labour Heron Wood). Not for his political sniping, or the fact he makes a comment on every topic - even I appreciate we did not get elected to keep quiet - but Mike does abuse it. No, he gets this nomination for the same awful jumper he insists on wearing to every meeting. This Christmas I must remember to de-jumper him and clean it or buy him a new one.

Harlequin's 42 - Ulster 21 @ The Stoop



Stuff the match - I was this close to Martin Johnson

A great friend invited me to his box situated in the perfect position - just behind the press box


Ulster scored the first try and conversion within minutes of the start of the game, and I have to say my Ulster Irish genes could not stop me letting out a cheer. But that was about as good as it got for Ulster. I managed to get a photo of Ulster finally working well together as a team - above when they had to walk off the pitch guided by the harlequin funnel.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Local Government Pay dispute - an update

The Employers (Councils) and Unions have been in dispute in relation to this year's pay award and the decision was taken recently to refer the issue to arbitration. Our Cheif Executive has received confirmation today that both sides have agreed, given the inevitable length of time that arbitration will take, that the Employers’ final offer should be implemented, with effect from 1 April 2008. I have included below an extract from the message received today:-

"The Employers’ Side of the NJC (National Joint Council) made a final pay offer for 2008/09 of 2.45% (plus an additional £100 per annum on spinal column points 4, 5 & 6). No agreement has been reached and this failure to agree has been referred to arbitration by the Trade Union Side. The Employers have acceded to this request.

Given the time that has elapsed since the award was due, and the likelihood of further delays arising from the arbitration process, the two sides of the NJC have now decided that the Employers’ final offer should be implemented, with effect from 1 April 2008……"