Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Guided Bus Deserves Support

This letter from Chris Howell was published in Monday's Cambridge News, but not in the online edition:

THE Liberal Democrats' behaviour over the Guided Bus is the worst kind of political opportunism. Where were their alternative proposals when the Guided Bus decision was made? Nowhere, because they knew then and now that all independent expert reviews indicated this was the only one to make any financial sense, and therefore the only option that could be funded and delivered.

The Conservative County Council is well on its way to making happen a scheme that will significant improve public transport and cycling - and they will be accountable for the outcome. If the Liberal Democrats had any sense of responsibility to taxpayers, they would do all they could to make the Guided Bus scheme work, instead we get continual carping and made up stories like their latest 'pollution scare'. Listening to this nonsense, you would think having any buses at all in Cambridge was a bad thing. Like their previous 'opposition' to A14 improvements, their stance is one of cynical posturing, which would result in no transport improvements ever in the County. It demonstrates why they would be totally unfit to run transport in Cambridgeshire.

Cllr Chris Howell
Cambridge City Council

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Weekly Collection Option Ignored in City Recycling Survey

Cambridge’s recycling record has fallen behind other councils in the county. Starting from a similar level, it is now behind Conservative controlled Huntingdonshire.

The city council, to give it credit, is trying to catch up. As part of the work to recover its reputation, the council is carrying out a survey of residents’ views. Visit to fill out a short 10 minute online survey form.

It is not a perfect form, for example question 22 is about the blue box but has a reference to a black box in it. More worryingly, the option of having a weekly collection for the some of the boxes is simply not there. If you want it, you have to write it in yourself.

The Conservatives are committed to increasing collection rates, and increasing the frequency is one of the more obvious options. By ruling it out from the start, the Liberal Democrats are doing themselves and our city no favours.

Richard Normington

22nd October 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Congratulations to the County Council.

After a debate in today's council meeting, Cambridgeshire county councillors today voted to oppose Labour’s ID card scheme.

I have to declare a personal interest because Councillor Susan Normington of Ramsey, my mother, contributed to the final motion that was approved by Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors.

Richard Normington

Monday, October 20, 2008

Who guards the guards?

Another day, another Identity-based embarrassment for the Labour government.

"Staff at the two government departments responsible for prisons and ID cards have lost or had stolen nearly 3,500 security passes in six years, it was revealed. Home Office and Ministry of Justice employees have mislaid 3,492 passes since 2001, official figures revealed. Between 2001 and 2007 passes went missing at a rate of more than one a day, the figures showed." (aol news).

Tomorrow the county council will discuss Labour's compulsory ID card scheme. The Conservative group will oppose the scheme, wanting to concentrate on delivering necessary services for our county, like schools and roads.

Richard Normington

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Gordon should have read David's speech in March

This is part of a speech delivered by David Cameron on 28th March this year. The problems with the banking sector were recognised by the Conservatives. It took a banking sector shock and stock exchange collapse to get the government to catch up.

“As well as the reforms we have outlined for the UK financial system, we need reforms at a global level too. So let me suggest one important reform that needs to take place in light of the recent crisis in world banking.

“The Basel capital accords determine how much capital a bank must set aside for a given amount of lending. This makes good sense, and, for obvious reasons, it is right to set the rules at a global level. But economists have identified some key problems with the current Basel accord.

“First, the rules on liquidity, which has been at the core of the current crisis, are too weak. Banks can operate with enough funding only to survive for a couple of weeks, but still be within the rules. Second, we need to examine which asset classes and which institutions are covered by existing rules. For example, the zero-weighting of some triple A assets has led to distortions in asset allocation. Put simply, some of the debts were kept off balance sheet so they didn’t count as lending under the rules.

“Third, judgements about credit risk were delegated to rating agencies who themselves had incentives to expand the amount of lending that was allowed under the rules. Put simply, because they are paid fees for rating debts, credit rating agencies had an interest in there being as much debt as possible. Finally, market risk was measured by backward looking models which tend to exacerbate the credit cycle, not dampen it. When credit is easy, the models allow more lending. When credit tightens, the models reduce the amount of permitted lending.

“In short, liquidity risk was all but ignored, credit risk was delegated, and market risk was backward looking. And we now know that not only did the regulators not know, but too often the banks themselves didn’t know, the full extent of the risks they were subjected to.

This extract comes from - a useful source of information, comment and opinion. The full speech can be found at

Richard Normington

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Laws of Unintended Consequences

The Financial Times reports: “Anti-terrorism powers were used on Wednesday to recoup money owed to UK depositors in a failed Icelandic bank… the freezing order was issued under the 2001 Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act that was passed after the September 11 attacks the same year.”

Earlier it was reported how the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) allows operations to fight terrorism as well as dog fouling, enforcing school catchment areas and fly-tipping.

Now, just imagine what mischief the government could do with the national identity database.

The ID cards, and their database, must be stopped before we all become victims of Labour’s laws of unintended consequences.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Back to Square One

When Labour came to power in May 1997, the stock exchange's FTSE 100 index was at 4,445 points. This morning it stands at 4,402

A typical with-profits pension, after saving for 20 years, is worth less than half what it would have been in 1997. The rates used to convert pension funds into income have also fallen by almost half.

Labour: Eleven Wasted Years.

Richard Normington

Lazy Lib Dems back Gordon Brown’s wasteful regime.

City Conservative plans to restore weekly rubbish collection were today rejected out of hand by Cambridge’s Liberal Democrats.

Richard Normington, parliamentary spokesman, said,

“What we got was a lazy, knee-jerk response from a council that is growing more and more out-of-touch with what residents want.

Residents want the chance for their rubbish to be collected more often than it is today.

If elected, a Conservative government will offer
central funding to all councils for a proper weekly collection, as well as comprehensive recycling collections. That’s an offer that should be looked at by councils, regardless of political control."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Today's Letter on Housing Targets

This letter from Andrew Bower was published in today's Cambridge News, but not in the online edition:

Friday, October 3, 2008

A full-time Secretary of State for Defence?

"Mr Browne is to leave the government... He was offered another job but he felt it would be an insult to the armed forces to leave as defence secretary but take another job." (BBC News Online).

If that's the case, why did he and Gordon Brown think that it was not insulting to be a part-time defence secretary, sharing his working day with the Scottish Office?

Richard Normington

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Good News - Good Conference

This year’s Conservative conference had good news for Cambridge residents. The pledges that struck me as the best for making the city better were:
  • Restoring the weekly rubbish collections. Recycling and regular collection go hand-in-hand. Bringing back weekly collections also reduces fly-tipping, a serious nuisance to health as well as an eyesore.

  • Cutting the housing targets and the regional bureaucracy that is there to impose them. John Prescott may have left the government but the belief that we should shoehorn people into more developments to meet arbitrary housing targets outlasted him. Returning decision-making to local authorities is a common sense solution.

  • Freezing the council tax. This local tax has been used by Labour as a way to raise relentlessly the tax levels indirectly for millions of people; it is time to call a halt to stealth taxes.

  • Restoring Confidence in the economy. Labour inherited a golden economic legacy. It was squandered. We will all have to help clear up the mess. Until the General Election, the Conservatives will support sensible government measures and criticise short-term fixes. After the General Election, it will be up to us to reverse Labour’s legacy of failure.

Richard Normington

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Today's Letter on Weekly Refuse Collections

This letter from Councillor Chris Howell was published in today's Cambridge News:

I WELCOME the Conservative announcement that weekly bin collections will return if David Cameron wins the next election.

We need to be better at recycling, or to be more precise, we need to reduce the amount of waste we landfill. But the right way to do that is to make recycling easier and more convenient, and to work with manufacturers and companies to reduce the waste material produced in the first place, then trust people to behave responsibly.

Under Labour, there has been a different approach - extreme nannying to force people to recycle, with a whole load of more sinister bullying planned like micro-chipped bins and new bin taxes and fines so Big Brother can really try to control personally what people put into bins.

It is easy for local councils to forget that for many people the most readily identifiable service provided by local authorities is the collection of household refuse. And many people feel that by abolishing weekly collections the service levels they experience from their local council have halved. The latest Conservative announcement is great news.

Coleridge Ward
Cambridge City Council

See original letter and Cllr Howell's blog.