Saturday, February 28, 2009

City Conservatives welcome South Cambridgeshire’s rejection of the congestion charge.

Richard Normington commented, “This is another hammer blow against the congestion charge and the officials who back it. The news about South Cambridgeshire District Council's rejection of the congestion charge is most welcome. The pressure is now on our city’s Liberal Democrat administration to follow South Cambs lead to say no to the charge. We will see if they have more backbone than their South Cambs cousins who could do no more than sit on the fence with abstentions.”

The motion was:

28th February 2009

This Council believes that the proposal of a Congestion Charge or workplace parking charge would be against the best interests of the residents of South Cambrigeshire.

Any form of charging would be unfair to those who travel into Cambridge compared to those who live in the city, and could lead to a loss of employment and the closure of shops and other businesses.

We believe that improvements to public transport should be made - and given time to work - before any form of charging is even considered.

The vote was:

In favour: 24
Against: 2
Abstain: 15

“Today’s database state is not R2 D2, it is closer to Frankenstein’s Monster, but less subtle.”

Parliamentary spokesman, Richard Normington, commented,“Today I attended the debate on civil liberties for the Cambridge part of the Convention on Modern Liberty.

My main thought is that not only is 'Big Brother' intrusive and sinister, as you’d expect me to say, but he’s pretty thick too.

It’s not just the obvious points - that the government databases are riddled with errors, prone to abuse and will always be one step behind the criminals – but the surprise expressed by the politicians who champion curbs on freedom that the ministries can get things wrong. Of course they get things wrong. And when an institution with great powers gets it wrong, it can go wrong dramatically.
Anti-terror powers were never expected to be used against Icelandic banks, youngsters who want to be paperboys, or counting the homeless, but they have been. If you give powers to government officials, you should not be surprised to find them being used.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Twin Blows for Congestion Charge Plans: But Three Ways to Tax Cambridge

"Cambridge residents’ could face a triple-whammy of taxes if the congestion charge bid goes ahead,” said Richard Normington, the Conservative Parliamentary Spokesman for Cambridge.

Two pieces of news today further undermine the campaign for a Cambridge Congestion Charge; but also raise concerns if the Charge is pushed through.

The first is the report from the Manchester Evening News. Congestion has fallen there over the last year to the point that the city qualifies for a £1 million government bonus in funding. This is the city where the congestion charge lobby used both the bribe of extra funding with blood curdling threats of what would happen if voters ignored them. The voters, by a huge margin, threw out the proposal and were proved right.

The second is a report from today’s Financial Times that councils face a £6 billion shortfall in the funds they thought they would get from developers. Why is this a problem? The congestion charge bid requires at 10% contribution from the local authority. Here, the Congestion Charge Commissioner’s website is misleading because it does not even hint that the county will have come up with some funds itself. With the house building market in the deep freeze, there is little likelihood of the money the council anticipated when the officers drew up the congestion charge bid at the height of the property boom.

Richard added: “First we’d have a congestion charge, next we’d have the privilege of paying for its construction from our council tax bills; and, if the traffic forecasts are wrong, as Manchester shows, we’d have to pay a subsidy to keep it running year-in and year-out.”

He concluded,

“We need investment in transport. We do not need Labour’s compulsory congestion charge.”

24th February 2009


Friday, February 20, 2009

Help Delayed is Help Denied

Once again we see how Labour puts the press release before the policy.

"A scheme to stop people from losing their homes if they are hit by a sudden drop in income has been delayed until April, the communities department says. The Home Owner Mortgage Support Scheme was announced by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in December. But the government is still locked in talks with participating lenders about how it will work. " BBC News.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

George Orwell yesterday, Frank Field today

This is an unlikely pairing, but both Frank Field and George Orwell, coming from the left side of politics, have managed to put into words key beliefs and aspirations those of us on the centre right hold dear. Both have a core of left-wing ideology that means they would blench and faint before ever actually turning Tory, but they have said things that make sense if Gordon Brown's 'broken Britain' is to be mended:

“We are caught up in believing that it is the State that ensures social progress. History teaches otherwise. Secure social advance has been achieved by freeing up the basic impulses of human beings to do good, and to improve the conditions of their families and friends. For politicians to learn that getting off the back of families and communities might be the best way to drive a social advance may be the hardest lesson that the new politics demands.” Frank Field MP, The Independent, 17th February 2009.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A14 Upgrade faces Lib Dem Axe

The announcement by Nick Clegg that the Lib Dems would cut the national road budget by £980 million could put the upgrading of the A14 under threat.

Richard Normington, Conservative Parliamentary Spokesman, said: “ Once again the Lib Dems show that they are not interested in improving the major roads around here. The only thing you'll get from a Lib Dem vote is a congestion charge.“

The A14 is the major road linking the ports of the east to the industrial Midlands. Unlike the Liberal Democrats, Conservatives support the immediate upgrading of the road and condemn Labour’s dilatory approach to this national transport artery.

Richard added: “As local residents know, the fastest way to gridlock Cambridge is an accident on the A14. We need a safer, upgraded road.”


“Cut the national road building program - We will cut the road building program for national trunk roads and motorways by 90%: £980 million”

10th February 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Congratulations to Camfed

I am delighted that Cambridge University chose Camfed as Charity of the Year. Education is the surest route out of long-term poverty, and if you want to support an overseas charity this year then Camfed is my recommendation. I know from personal experience that it does excellent work with dedicated, professional staff. See

Richard Normington

University of Cambridge Names Camfed as Charity of the Year.

The University of Cambridge is celebrating its 800-year anniversary this year, and as part of the celebrations it has chosen Camfed as its Charity of the Year. Throughout 2009, the University of Cambridge will use its influence as a preeminent global institution to raise awareness about Camfed's work in Africa and the vital role of girls' education in the fight against global poverty.

"When a group of farsighted individuals established the University of Cambridge in 1209, they were part of a tiny educated elite in the world," said Camfed's Founder and Executive Director Ann Cotton.

"Today, 800 years later, the University of Cambridge is a global leader in higher education. We are delighted to partner with the University for this special anniversary year to expand access to education for girls in Africa."