Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Australia's Still Counting the Cost of AV

The results service is clicking away on the official website.

Bad News from the A14...Again

"Lorry jack-knifes on A14 - Motorists on the A14 faced delays after a lorry jack-knifed and shed its load of straw bales," reports the local News.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Putting a Sock in Heathcock

Ed's letter puts a 'rent-a-quote' in his place...

Non-doms are out of Lords

I WAS bemused by Geoff Heathcock’s call for the prosecution of Tory peers living abroad (Letters,August 17). I realise Lib Dems need no excuse for self-righteousness, but my local councillor fails to realise not only that non-domiciled peers were forced out of the Lords earlier this year, but also that there is nothing illegal about the non-dom status.

If Mr Heathcock needs educating about the concept of legality, I suggest as a case study the £2.4 million accepted by the Lib Dems from Michael Brown, a convicted fraudster who lived in Spain and was not even eligible to vote. They still haven’t paid it back.

Edward Turnham
Queen Edith’s Way

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Another A14 Accident

From the Cambridge News... and a reminder that the local Lib Dems oppose widening this road.

Crash on A14 triggers lengthy tailbacks

A crash on the A14 has caused long delays for motorists. Two vehicles were in collision leaving the front of Peugeot car with extensive front end damage.

The smash happened just after 9am on the westbound carriageway at Godmanchester, closing one lane and triggering 20-minute delays for motorists.
There was congestion from the crash site at junction 24, A1198 to junction 26 at St Ives and the A1096.

No-one was reported injured and the road was cleared by 10.20am

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Transparency, Taylor and Howell

Richard Taylor's blog carries an account of the recent East Area committee meeting. While much of local government can be characterised as being "as dull-as-ditchwater" this report shows how locally elected folk are trying to get things done for residents... even if the police have not yet worked out that they are accountable to the public.

"Cllr Howell has been pushing for an evidenced based approach, with speed surveys (conducted by automated black boxes on streetlights) conducted before and after action is taken by the police. Cllr Howell expressed concern that a plan agreed between city councillors, council officers and the police had not been acted upon."

Monday, August 23, 2010

Two Stories?

Was I the only one who noticed how the local politicians welcomed the government’s Housing Growth Fund hand-out, having previously said that it was not enough?

When the government cut £6 million from the fund, Councillor Sian Reid, Cambridge City Council's executive councillor for growth, condemned the decision as "ludicrous", adding: "The funding the Government has taken away is sure to deprive Cambridge residents of important affordable housing and infrastructure projects." Cambridge News, 18/12/2009.

Last week…

Councillor Sian Reid, leader of Cambridge City Council, said: “We are pleased to hear the Coalition Government has confirmed our capital funding allocation for this year so we can concentrate on the important task of delivering new homes, in particular affordable homes, to help meet pressing local demands...” Cambridge News, 19/08/2010.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Australia Votes AV

The Australian Federal election is underway.

There are three differences from the British General election.

The first is to note that voting in Australia is compulsory. This changes the entire nature of the election campaign from “motivate and get-out-the-vote", as it is here, to “vote for us first and put the other parties in the right order on your ballot paper”.

The second is the Alternative Vote. This means putting the parties in the right order is vital as the preferences of the easily defeated candidates are added to the remaining ones until a single candidate polls over 50 per cent of total vote. I believe voting is a civic duty, but not a compulsory one to be enforced by the full majesty of the law. Abstention can also be a powerful political statement, whether by spoiling a ballot paper or just not going to the polls. For AV, the results are not necessarily proportionate (if you are a fan of PR) and there is something grubby about elections being decided by the second, third or fourth preferences of voters who plumped for fringe parties. Why is their fourth choice vote as valid as my first preference?

One further difference is that the Australians also have a system of triennial parliaments, something the British dropped in 1715…

However, the system is still a democratic one and works for the Aussies.

Oh, and if you are reading this in Australia,vote Liberal...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cambridge Lib Dem Blog Round-Up

There are two blogs that are up and running well, the King’s Hedges Lib Dems and Cllr Amanda Taylor. Good for them.

Cllr Geoff Heathcock is also on the web but not heard of since August 9th, 2010. I am sure this is a temporary blip. The next active site, the Newnham Lib Dem councillors, are twitching… with a posting on August 3rd, 2010, but some mighty gaps in coverage before then.

The blogs of three councillors, otherwise known for their words, have collapsed completely: On May 5th, 2010 the belindabrooksgordon site stopped, on March 20th, 2010 Kilian Bourke dropped and on March 10th, 2010 it was the turn of Nichola Harrison to go quiet.

Of course some of these might come back to life, or are operating on new sites, and if so they would be welcomed back to the debate: the more information we have for the public, the better. However, people are puzzled why the local Conservative Assocation is relying on bloggers to get the Tory message out...

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Throne Was Deemed Vacant

When James II left England in the face of the Glorious Revolution, the throne was declared "vacant" as he had, "abdicated the government".

Something similar keeps happening to Lib Dem councillors in Cambridge, with their regular flow of resignations and by-elections (East Chesterton is up next).

Of course there is an honourable part to their behaviour which should be acknowledged. If I had promised people that I would serve a full term but proceeded to take leave for a third of that time, my resignation would be in the post...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Political Donations on the Net

The list of donors is up on the Electoral Commission’s website. Nice to see solidarity for the Cambridge Lib Dems from people surnamed ‘Huppert’...

Liberal Democrats, Cambridge
Dr Felicia Huppert, status: Individual, 31/03/10, £ 2,000.00

Liberal Democrats, Cambridge
Mr Herbert Huppert, status: Individual, 31/03/10, £ 2,000.00

But what an active fundraising group are those Lib Dems on the county council… so generous!

Liberal Democrats, Cambridgeshire County Co-Ordinating Committee
Cambridgeshire CC Lib Dem Council Group
£ 3,600.00

Liberal Democrats, Cambs County Co-Ordinating Committee
Cambridgeshire CC Lib Dem Group
£ 3,600.00

Liberal Democrats, Cambs County Co-Ordinating Committee
Cambridgeshire CC Lib Dem Group
£ 3,600.00

East Chesterton By-Election

The race is on for the county seat of East Chesterton following the resignation of the Lib Dem councillor. There is more on the new campaign blog, including information about the Conservative candidate.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Go Greeves, Go!

My former Research Department colleague is going to Edinburgh to make lefties roll in the aisles with laughter...

"Tom Greeves is a stand-up comedian, powerlifter, actor, writer, conservative and Americanophile. He came third in the Heavyweight division of the 2004 British Novice Armwrestling Championships. There were four contestants."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Residents’ Parking Quandry for City’s Lib Dems

What do you do when a community is divided over residents’ parking?

The Lib Dems usually try to come to a balanced response, by saying one thing in one ward and another elsewhere. However the parking crisis shows a clear division within one ward.

What will they do?

Based on previous form I think they will hit the ‘New Tax’ button.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

VFM Monarchy UK

The total cost of the monarchy, including security, travel and property, comes to about £140 million. The Crown Estate makes an annual profit for the taxpayer of £210.7 million (2010).

So, in Value For Money terms, the Queen is well ahead.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Bold Explorer

Someone was out walking with dinosaurs...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Beer Festival Roundup

The Great British Beer Festival was another success. Cambridgeshire ales were well represented, however the place for tasting them is the Cambridge beer festival!

There were three work-related beers to consider: Proper Job, Belt'n Braces and Entrepreneur.

The favourites this year were Hertfordshire Red Squirrel brewery's Colorado American IPA and Northern Ireland's Whitewater with its Crown and Glory.

The Colorado showed how an American-style IPA with the very strong hops can be improved. First, proper cask-conditioning means that you don't have the over-carbonation associated with US beers. Second, the ale can be sold at a temperature where the taste can emerge naturally and not with the flavour fighting it out with the iceberg coldness so loved across the pond.

For Crown and Glory, it was a superb pint and one bought with some trepidation as the Irish on both sides of the border do not have a reputation for real ale. Well, they do now in the north. It was a fantastic beer from Ulster.

One last worthy mention goes to the Channel Islands' Liberation Ale, pictured here. Don't be put off by the picture of a foaming pint. They use over-size glasses so customers pay for beer, not froth.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Letter to Protest A14 Upgrade Delay

This letter is provided by the Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce
Thank you for supporting our letter-writing campaign to highlight the importance of the A14 upgrade to the Government. The letter below is a template which we hope you will feel able to personalise with your own views and experiences.

To help us achieve maximum impact from the campaign, we kindly ask that you also send a copy of your letter to:

Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP
Minister of State for Transport, Theresa Villiers MP
Your local MP

Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce

5 August 2010

Mike Penning MP
Under-Secretary of State for Transport
Department for Transport
Great Minster House
76 Marsham Street

Dear Under-Secretary of State

I am aware that your department has refused to meet with Cambridgeshire MPs to discuss the need for improvements to the A14 in Cambridgeshire.

As they have been unable to discuss the issue with you on my behalf, I am writing to express my concerns over the ongoing delays to this crucial and long-overdue improvement project.

As it stands, the A14 in Cambridgeshire is at full capacity and the extraordinary volume of traffic that it carries each day inevitably means extensive delays when accidents or breakdowns occur.

Residents of Cambridgeshire deserve to be able to be able to commute across the county without such uncertainty as to how long their journey will take. Businesses deserve an infrastructure that doesn’t damage their profitability every time an accident occurs.

I hope that you will reconsider you decision not to involve our MPs in the decisions surrounding the upgrading of this over-utilised and under-resourced route. For those who rely on the A14 for business or pleasure, and for the future economic success of our region, it is vital that the improvements are made a priority.

Yours sincerely

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Not So Bright Person in Cambridge

"An armed robber who raided the Cambridge Building Society branch where he held an account has been detained indefinitely by a judge".

He robbed his own branch? Doh.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Car for Sale

A larger family means it is time to say "farewell" to my lovely car.

Toyota Corolla (1999), Red, Special Editions 1.3i 16V SE Lback 5dr Auto [EFW], 95,000 miles, 1 dent in the back, new paint needed for the bonnet, Service History. MOT and Tax to January.

It is up for sale for £350 (or nearest offer)...

Gridlock Summer Brings Out The Tories

Three recent reports on various hold-ups, parking hassles and roadworks.

All feature local Conservatives, with special mentions for the excellent Cantab Millennium run by Shapour Meftah (where I bought my PC, I must admit), the ever-active Councillor Chris Howell and my friend James Strachan and his 'tea party' comrades taking on the parking tax fanatics.

Odd that the local Tory association has not yet got its own website working, but here and here and here are the links from the Cambridge News.

Keep up the momentum...