Monday, December 5, 2011

Five Down - One to Go

A14

Congestion hits A14 after car breaks down... A broken down car brought congestion to the A14 during rush hour this morning (Dec 5).

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A14

Four-vehicle collision blocks A14... An accident involving four vehicles caused traffic tailbacks on the A14 westbound...

Chancellor's A14 Comment

“The Government is committing to increase capacity and improve performance on the A14, which will support proposed housing developments in Northstowe, Waterbeach and Alconbury. It will explore innovative ways of financing this work, including tolls, which will also be investigated for other new capacity proposals. By spring 2012, the Government will have developed proposals with local partners for improvements to the A14 road and the other local transport networks."

Chamber launches government e-petition for A14 upgrade

Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce has launched an online government e-petition to urge the government to find funding to upgrade the A14. The Chamber has been lobbying for many years for much needed and long overdue improvements to this corridor.

In recent months hold ups on the A14 have occurred on an almost daily basis. Minor incidents such has breakdowns cause miles of tailbacks, with major accidents bringing the whole county to a standstill. Businesses and commuters are all suffering from unreliable journey times caused by a road that is not fit for purpose, and residents experience increased traffic as drivers look for alternative routes.

The Chamber is urging the government to find funds to commit to upgrading the A14. Cambridgeshire has a key role to play in helping the country rise up from the economic downturn, however upgrading the infrastructure is vital to ensure that growth remains positive in the region.

Signing the Chambers petition will show the discontent felt by individuals at the unacceptable situation, and hopefully encourage the government to act.

John Bridge OBE, Chief Executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, said:
“The A14 is such a key international as well as local route to allow people to travel through this corridor. We are seeing reports of hold ups on an almost daily basis causing major frustrations for businesses and individuals. Everyone is suffering as travelling on the A14 is so unpredictable.”

He continued “We are looking for everybody’s support to urge the government to find funds to improve this vital link, by asking them to sign our new petition. Once people have signed the petition it would be great if they could communicate it widely and, if possible, post a link on their own websites.”

He added “Without some form of investment we will not be able to overcome this unacceptable situation, and in particular Cambridgeshire will not be able to continue providing the much needed growth for the national economy.”

The government e-petition is available through the Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce website at www.cambridgeshirechamber.co.uk.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cow on the A14

A cow wandered onto the eastbound carriageway of the A14, causing delays for motorists.

Published: 29/11/2011 16:52:00

Monday, November 21, 2011

A14

One lane of a busy A14 exit slip road was closed this morning (21) after a lorry broke down.

Published: 21/11/2011 09:16:00

Friday, November 18, 2011

A14

A broken down car blocked one lane of the A14 eastbound.

Published: 18/11/2011 12:25:00

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A14 Toll?


"Department for Transport has made funding available for the first two stages of research into how congestion on the trunk road can be relieved, and the initial work should be completed by Christmas..."

How many studies in how many years must we have when the answer to the question is, "add another lane on each side."

You can do this by (1) paying for the whole thing up-front, (2) doing a real-toll PFI, where the private sector takes the traffic risk - that's a drop or rise in the expected number of vehicles or, (3) or an availability payment system PFI where the private sector focuses on the road maintenance, ie keeping it open and available to public.

The decision about which option to use is actually a political one, not a technical one.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A14

Crashes have caused serious problems on the A14...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A14

Two broken down lorries caused chaos on the A14 yesterday...

Friday, November 4, 2011

Robin Hood...



"The central issue was overtaxation, and Robin Hood was most emphatically not on the side of the bureaucracy."

More on that here.


*photo from wikimedia commons

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A14 Double Trouble

Two crashes on the A14 in Cambridgeshire brought traffic to a halt earlier...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Wind-bag Councillors

I worked for someone who ran a country on meetings that never lasted longer than an hour. With Prime Minister John Howard in the chair you could guarantee that the discussion would be focused, the agenda results-driven and outcomes understood by all parties. The four-hour gab-fests known as Area Committee meetings are the exactly the opposite. The only items that draw in the crowds, the planning decisions, are always taken last. How many times has some poor applicant sat through 360 minutes of puff and wind before hearing his case turned down - or approved - in the time it takes to read the agenda out loud? Today's News has noticed this.

In 2009 taxpayers spent £195.70 per person to take part. As Andy Bower said then, "The Area Committees need the axe."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Council Loses Housing Fight

The legal dispute between the City Council and housing developers is covered in the Cambridge News today.

The councillors believe that they are not bound by the time limits they themselves agreed to for using private cash to fund new homes. While it would have been 'nice' for the developer to give us money after the deadline, you can see why no sane business would want to be at the beck-and-call of councillors demanding money many years after a project has been completed.


The main point is the inability of the council to use the windfall cash it acquired.


The argument, as usual, sees ordinary people caught in the bureaucratic fight.

A14 Closed Eastbound

Saw this one myself on the way to Huntingdon.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A14

A14 pile-up brings traffic to standstill... The five-vehicle crash happened on the westbound carriageway at junction 27, Fenstanton.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bin the Chip 'n Bin

"Tim Haire, deputy chairman of Cambridge Conservatives, said “bin snoopers” would not be welcome in the city."

Quite right.

Councillors want to know if they can put microchips in your bin that check usage and 'reward' good behaviour. What would happen? Well, the nasty neighbour's rubbish will end up in your bin unless you keep the bin under lock and key, or they'll just do a bit of decorative fly-tipping. A whole new council business of bin-monitoring, bin-theft counselling and petty crime against bins will be born.

The odd defence of including the "chip'n bin" in the survey offered by the City Council was that they know it is unpopular, it is not a preferred option, but they included it anyway. For the curious the survey can be found here.

The interesting questions are...

In order to implement a reward scheme it might be necessary for the bins to have microchips. The microchip would identify your bin so that points could be awarded based on the amount you recycle. Would you be interested in taking part in such a scheme? TICK ONE ONLY

No I would not want to take part
Yes I would take part but I don’t think I would recycle more
Yes I would take part and it would encourage me to recycle more
Other (Please specify in the box below)


Which daily morning newspaper do you normally read?

Monday, October 24, 2011

How the Vote Went for the Prime Minister

111 MPs (including more than 80 Tories) take part in biggest ever rebellion on EU... More here


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Give no Quarter!

The County Council has not increased its allowances for councillors since 2003, the last review was in 2006 when councillors voted not to increase their allowances, and the members voted to pay for their own meals at the full council (including wine). But by deferring the rise for so long, instead of taking rate of inflation rises along the way, the council has created a storm of its own making.

The form of the allowance rise for the County Councillors - opposed by some of the cleverer Tory members - is another example of having the right policy (councillors have been underpaid for their work) but the wrong implementation (do you know how can they can speak with credibility about the need for 'cuts' having had a percentage rise worthy of the most unrepentant banker?).

Oh dear.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A14

Swan on A14 causes traffic hold-ups ... Police officers chased a swan along the A14 after it caused traffic disruption.

A14

Swan on A14 causes traffic hold-ups...

Anarchists Fight... er, parked cars and family businesses?



Well, it is hard to get more bonkers than this story featuring our Cambridge Anarchists who seem to have taken up the class struggle against... family-owned car dealerships. Forget the usual targets of their bile, like multinational corporations, the Cenotaph or the various branches of law enforcement, this time the small family enterprise in a nice street is the source of 'evil' that must be punished. Bonkers.

However, the anarchist website is worth a visit, if only in the hope that it is a massive practical joke.


What caught my eye was the comrades' astonishment that there is such a thing as "Neo-Nazi Bolshevism?!" No kidding. Hitler and his odious henchmen were 'National Socialists', a description which was shortend to 'Nazi'. As Wikipedia notes:

Nazism (Nationalsozialismus, National Socialism) was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany.

Just to repeat: the ideology was National Socialism. It was the one that brought us Kristallnacht and the ultimate 'Neo-Nazi Bolshevist' innovation: the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.





Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1970-061-65 / Unknown / CC-BY-SA


Back in the UK

...And in my time out of the country we have a new Chancellor for Cambridge University - "take the money" cried the audience - and yet more lives lost on the notorious A14.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A14

A collision between a car and a van on the A14 is causing disruption...

Friday, October 7, 2011

A14... Underwater

"A burst water main on a busy A14 slip road caused problems for motorists..."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A14

"A lorry fire forced the closure of one lane of the A14 eastbound"

Monday, October 3, 2011

A14

"A car overturned on the A14, blocking part of the route."

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Weekly Bin Collection is Bad?!

For centuries, the regular and frequent collection of municipal waste was an asipiration when the reality of "Gardy Loo!" was all too common. So Cambridge City Council's knee-jerk reaction to say "no" to the return of weekly bin collections goes against the grain of history.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Cambridgeshire's Big Dig...


The long-planned housing developments for the shire have reached the papers. While some commutes will be catered for by the - now successful - Guided Bus, what happened the policy of not agreeing to new housing unless the A14 and other roads were upgraded?

A14 Misery Unabated

"Lorry and car collide on A14 causing more traffic misery..."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

More A14 Chaos

Two-lorry crash on A14 caused severe disruption...

Friday, September 23, 2011

A14... Seven in Crash

"Four lorries, a van, and two cars collided on the A14, causing the westbound carriageway to be completely closed."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A14

"A three-vehicle smash on the A14 has closed both lanes of the westbound carriageway..."

A14

"An overturned vehicle has caused delays on the A14. The military Land Rover blocked one lane of the route"

Friday, September 16, 2011

Lorry fire on A14 causing delays

"The A14 was closed between junctions 13 and 15 eastbound at Thrapston due to a lorry fire."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Like Looking at the Ballot Bundles...

In case you wondered what it was like to see the bundles of ballot papers at an election count in Cambridge, this pile of papers at the station early in the morning is a good guide to demand... The Guardian is the paper of choice. Of course, I buy The Guardian when I want a change from The Telegraph...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cambridge. No Change.

"We propose no change to the existing Cambridge constituency."

Blimey, That's Expensive



The off-peak single is quite steep...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Gosh, the Guided Bus is being used...

"Bus operator bosses have confirmed they are increasing the number of buses running on The Busway as demand for the new link is so high. Extra buses have been on standby since the route opening on Sunday 7 August to cope with demand and duplicate buses have been deployed on the 16-mile track during busy periods. However, bus operators are now making extra services a fixture on the timetables."
As said by County Councillor John Reynolds.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Top University Spot for Cambridge


Cambridge University has been named the top institution nationally, according to The Sunday Times University Guide published today.

September 11

Friday, September 9, 2011

A14

Two lorry crashes cause chaos on A14 and A428
Two lorries have smashed into central reservations on the A14 and A428 - causing traffic misery...Later in the day, on the A14 at Fenstanton, going eastbound, a car and a lorry were involved in a crash. More here.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A14 Attacked by Ents

The Cambridge News reports, "A branch fell across the A14, leading to concerns that nearby trees may also be unsafe. One lane was closed, causing traffic to queue from the incident at junction 26 (St Ives) westbound..."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A14

A car caught alight on the A14 at the junction with the A1 motorway.
and
A motorcyclist came off his bike on the A14, causing tailbacks.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Plague of Frogs to Follow...



Again, all the family in Washington are well. Damp, but well.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Guided Bus Reported to be Good for St Ives

"An increase in shoppers in St Ives has been reported by traders since the guided buses started to operate less than three weeks ago," says the Cambridge News.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tory Events in Cambridge

31 August, CPF discussion - Natural Resources.

10 September, Clay Pigeon Shooting.

21 September, Tour of Houses of Parliament.

23 September, Vicky Ford MEP Lunch.

28 September, Coffee Morning, Castle Ward.

8 October, Quiz Night, with S Cambs and SE Cambs in Bottisham.

21 October, Buffet Supper at Trumpington Hall with Jane Ellison MP.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Earthquake at Mount Vernon




The family in Washington DC right now is OK. They arrived at Mount Vernon just as the earthquake rolled in... So while I can't provide a photo of George Washington's home from today's expedition, here are some from an earlier visit.
Miss them lots...

A Blessed Chancellor

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Active or Reactive, NOT Proactive

"Proactive?"

Rubbish.

It should join the other nonsense words from the advertising industry…

· “Buy Pro Bright Polisher Heads at Dentalshop”

· “Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief 75ml contains an exclusive Pro-Argin formula”

· “Proactiv skin care system”

It’s all Pro-Nonsense and should not be used by Pro-Fessionals.

A14

Anger at A14 U-turn drivers after accident closes road

A driver was left unconscious after a smash on the A14 which led to the road being closed for a short time today (Sunday)reports the Cambridge News...

Friday, August 19, 2011

A14...

Delays as lorry and car crash
A collision between a car and a lorry on the A14 eastbound near Newmarket caused tailbacks.

'AVing a Laugh in Scotland

A by-election in Scotland... The Lib Dems got their votes counted five times and the final result overturned the first round vote by putting the SNP ahead of the Tories.



Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Tory Government at Last?

Not for nothing are the Canadian Conservatives called 'Tories'...

"The Harper government has promised major events next year to commemorate the War of 1812. It has swapped traditional art in government buildings with pictures of the Queen. And... it will announce that the names of the armed forces will be restored to those that were discarded more than four decades ago."

The government, "has lowered sales and corporate taxes, avoided signing climate change legislation and become a stark advocate of Arctic sovereignty... increased military spending and extended Canada's military mission in Afghanistan."

So there.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A14

Lorry and car collide on A14
Published: 17/08/2011 18:51 - Updated: 17/08/2011 19:42

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sir Les Moves to DC

Here's a job you thought only existed in comedy...
Cultural Program Officer
Embassy of Australia - Washington, DC (Downtown area)
The position is located in the Cultural Relations Section of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This position is central to the ability of the Cultural Relations Branch to deliver the projects, publications, and special events...


But Sir Les's job there won't be as fun because he would be placed: "Under general direction and in accordance with Workplace Diversity, Occupational Health and Safety and Industrial Democracy principles and practices... " He would not give a Four X for that.



Monday, August 15, 2011

A14 Lorry Breakdown

Broken down lorry which blocked A14 is recovered
A broken down lorry that was causing tailbacks on the A14 has been recovered...

Friday, August 12, 2011

A14 Again...

Overturned caravan causes delays on A14
Published: 12/08/2011 08:25 - Updated: 12/08/2011 09:31

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Good Point, Well Presented

"...And of course later today the looters will be condemned in Parliament by a bunch of people who stole money by accident." Daily Mash

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Carry a Big Stick

The academic says...The experience, as badly as the Metropolitan Police and the establishment hate to admit it, is that apparently “flashmob violence” can only be deterred by forming a similar mob, with an equal or greater propensity for violence. With more here.

The Daily Mash says... HAVING a gigantic number of policemen on the streets of London does seem to prevent riots, it emerged last night. The bold experiment in public order was declared a success after thugs and looters realised there were 16,000 heavily armoured professionals, each carrying a big stick with their name on..

Glad the tactic is working Cambridge too.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Car, Bus and Bike Race to Cambridge

The Cambridge News ran the 'race' and the car won by a 10 second squeak. Of course, the A14 was kind and it helps to do this outside term time.

Riot Control - Georgian Style


A picture of the Gordon Riots.

In 1789 the mob stormed the Bastille as it was a symbol of oppression. In 2011 the BBC's 'protestors' are fighting the establishment by looting Carphone Warehouse and Curry's.
Notice how they never break into bookshops?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Flat.Earth's Anti-Bus Timetable.

A letter for the local paper on Cast.Iron's propaganda piece published by the Cambridge News.


Dear Sir,

I notice that Cast.Iron have been given yet more editorial space (CEN, August 5th.) for yet another attack on the guided bus.

Tim Phillips is quoted as saying that the railway journey from Huntingdon to Cambridge took 38 minutes in 1869 whilst the bus journey on the guided busway would take 71 minutes.

The passenger service from Huntingdon to Cambridge was operated by the Midland Railway before the First World War. I happen to have a replica of their 1903 timetable. So I looked it up.

The service consisted of three trains a day. One stopped at all stations and took 53 minutes. The other two took 38 minutes - but did not stop at any stations between St. Ives and Cambridge. Passenger trains did not have brakes on every coach in 1869 and would undoubtedly have been slower.

Then I looked at my Cambridge Busway timetable. Service A will go from Huntingdon bus station to Cambridge New Square in 36 minutes. Three times an hour.

It would seem that, not for the first time, Tim Phillips has been flexible with the facts.

Yours sincerely,

James Strachan

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Aesop's Fable for Cast.Iron

According to Whom You Ask

A great city was besieged, and its inhabitants were called together to consider the best means of protecting it from the enemy.

A bricklayer earnestly recommended bricks as affording the best material for an effective resistance. A carpenter, with equal enthusiasm, proposed timber as a preferable method of defense. Then a currier stood up and said, “Sirs, I differ from you altogether: there is no material for resistance equal to a covering of hides; and nothing so good as leather.”


The leather salesmen from Flat.Earth are out banging the train drum again, see here.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A14

Oil on road after accident on A14
A three-vehicle pile-up caused long tailbacks on the A14.
First Published: 05/08/2011 14:38

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A14 Crashes

Crashes cause A14 delays

Motorists faced delays after three rush hour crashes hit the A14
First Published: 04/08/2011 18:51

Monday, August 1, 2011

Letter to the Cambridge News

Dear Sir,

I recently received a copy of the latest Liberal Democrat propaganda - the Cambridge Herald.

If I am to believe what I read, all the good things in this coalition government come from the Liberal Democrats, and all the bad things from the Conservatives. With a few snide attacks on Labour as well.

This reminds me of those middle class marriages where husband and wife go to dinner parties so that the husband can complain about the wife, and the wife can complain about the husband.

We are in a serious financial crisis. We need to work together to resolve the crisis and to restore growth in the economy.

Liberal Democrats have chosen to be part of the Government that aims to solve this crisis. They should work as part of the team and not snipe from the sidelines.

Yours sincerely,

James Strachan

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Another A14 "Event"

Seven-vehicle pile-up leaves nine injured
Published by the Cambridge News: 31/07/2011 10:59 - Updated: 31/07/2011 11:06

Friday, July 29, 2011

A14 Again...

Four-car pile-up blocks A14

The westbound carriageway of the A14 was blocked after a four-car collision.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Other Candidate...

In addition to the first three candidates, the final candidate for the Cambridge University Chancellor's post is Michael Mansfield QC who wikipedia says is, "republican, vegetarian, socialist".

Talk about three strikes and you are out.

Visit Brian Blessed's site instead: www.brianforchancellor.com

As his supporters say, Remember, if Brian Blessed is elected, no-one will ever ask, “Who is the Chancellor of Cambridge University?"

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A14 Again...

Broken down lorry causes delays
Drivers were warned to expect delays as a broken down lorry caused traffic tailbacks on the A14 westbound at Fen Ditton today (Tues).

Casting Vote for Coalition Policy

"A ballot of the Regent House delivered 681 votes in favour and 681 votes against a motion of no confidence in the policies of the Minister of State for Universities and Science.

“Under University regulations, such an equality of votes means the Grace - and hence the no confidence motion - is not approved.”

Well, well, well...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ulster Says "Yes"

The annual survey on the future of Northern Ireland shows how Republicanism is another major casualty of the credit crunch:

73% wanted to remain part of the United Kingdom with either direct rule or a devolved government;
16% to reunify with the rest of Ireland;
6% don't know what they want;
3% favoured an independent state; and
3% put forward other ideas which made the mind boggle.

Next year, I want more detail about that final three percent.

(figures are rounded up to the nearest percent)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Multiple Wives on the State… And Husbands?

I did not know that the benefits system recognised polygamous marriage. Why is polygamy supported by the taxpayer and is this discrimination against polyandry? Who’s going to the European Court of Human Rights to campaign for multiple husbands?

See the DWP link for Savings credit. The list starts with the obvious:

threshold - single...
threshold - couple...
maximum - single...
maximum - couple...

And then comes:

Amount for claimant and first spouse in polygamous marriage - £209.70
Additional amount for additional spouse - £72.35



This was first spotted in the comments section on Conservative Home

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A14 Lib Dem Hypocrisy

The County's Lib Dems have demanded action on the A14, noting the demise of the plan to upgrade this major road. Of course, they have been rather quiet about their role in opposing the major upgrade in the first place. They also seem to have forgotten that at the start of the process the county councillors were told that they could either have the Guided Bus and an upgrade or no upgrade at all; most councillors were not keen on the bus but took it as a necessary part of the programme (quite why the then Labour government linked the two remains for the cynics to discuss).

Jumping the Gun

An e-mail received today says, "Take 20% off Back to School Styles!"
The poor creatures have only just broken up for the holidays.
Want to bet that the first Christmas adverts appear in September?

Monday, July 18, 2011

A14 Accident


Car hits central barrier on A14


Published: 18/07/2011 08:57

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Saturday, July 16, 2011

More A14 Misery

Five-vehicle collision causes tailbacks on the A14
Published: 15/07/2011 14:06

Friday, July 15, 2011

Supermarket or Sainsbury's Debate?

Well, the debate is underway...

If the argument was whether we needed another supermarket/mini-market in Mill Road then that would be fine with me. Personally, I don't think there is a huge demand for another one, and could have been persuaded to support the protestors.

However, it is not phrased that way at all. It is all about 'brand' names opening up in Mill Road.

A new Sainsbury's is therefore a 'bad thing' in the 1066 And All That terms of the protestors while, bizarrely, the existing national chains in the road, the Co-op and Londis, are in place and to be protected from future competition.

Folks, you've chosen the wrong argument.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A14 Again

More on the A14 via the Cambridge News

Fire crews tackle furniture lorry ablaze on A14
Furniture on a lorry went up in flames on the A14.
Published: 12/07/2011 08:49:00

A14 eastbound closed as crane crashes into ditch
A mobile crane crashing off the A14 led to the road’s closure eastbound for four hours.
Published: 12/07/2011 08:44:00

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A14

From the Cambridge News...

Broken down lorry causes delays
A broken down lorry has led to the closure of two lanes of the A14.
Published: 04/07/2011 07:48:00

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Back in England... and the A14 is still a Menace

From the Cambridge News...

A14 lorry fire sparks series of explosions
Published: 28/06/2011 08:02 - Updated: 28/06/2011 17:01

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

CATCH 22 FOR THE A14

Business Leader John Bridge OBE is continuing to press the government to reconsider the decision to scrap the A14 improvement programme, claiming that its refusal to follow-through with the public inquiry is leaving the congested route in a Catch 22 situation.

The long-term campaigner for improvements to the A14 has renewed calls for Mike Penning MP, the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, to reinstate the process that he claims will result in a viable scheme being put on the table.

John Bridge OBE, Chief Executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, said:

Business Leader John Bridge OBE is continuing to press the government to reconsider the decision to scrap the A14 improvement programme, claiming that its refusal to follow-through with the public inquiry is leaving the congested route in a Catch 22 situation.

The long-term campaigner for improvements to the A14 has renewed calls for Mike Penning MP, the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, to reinstate the process that he claims will result in a viable scheme being put on the table.

John Bridge OBE, Chief Executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, said:

“The Minister has written once again and told us that the region needs the private sector to provide funding for any proposed scheme. However we have no scheme that a private sector organisation can consider for funding and he will not reinstate the public inquiry which will give us a tangible scheme.

“Here we have the Department for Transport once again confirming in writing that they believe ‘mobility’ along the A14 to be critical for economic success an growth. I think we’ve all come to terms with the government’s refusal to invest in this key section of our region’s infrastructure but what I can’t believe is that they are continuing to hamper growth by refusing to reinstate the public inquiry and therefore further delaying any sort of progress being made.

“Regrettably we don’t seem to be getting anywhere, except back to a talking shop where the government’s refusing to stock the shelves.

“The business community don’t care who pays for what, they just want action. They need to know that their staff are going to be at their desks on time, their deliveries are going to meet their contractual deadlines and that supplies can get through, when they need them. Right now, would a business consider locating in Cambridgeshire when gridlock on such a key through-route is making the traffic news on national radio on an almost daily basis?”

A recent survey of senior business decision-makers in the East showed that 75% of respondents agreeing that the key road network needs significant investment and improvement in the near future (1).

The Minister’s response to John Bridge’s letter of 7th February had to be re-sent after the letter the Department for Transport claimed to have sent on 1st March never arrived. Clearly the letter must, like many of us, have had to travel on the A14.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Why the US is the greatest emerging market in infrastructure

This month we are supporting three events for the US PPP market. The first event – The InfraAmericas P3 Infrastructure Forum in New York  – was the venue for US legislators and public officials to meet with the private sector to evaluate the country’s progress into a mainstream market for Public Private Partnerships. TheCityUK was well represented by member firms looking to invest and bring expertise to help provide much needed infrastructure and public services.

Commentators noted that the US is still a small market in terms of deals closed, albeit one with very large projects, and that the progress is patchy across the country as different states have their own laws and political priorities. Last year saw five projects reach financial close with some 25 now in operation. By contrast, last year Canada had 21 projects completed and now has over 100 up and running.

The scale of opportunity
So why the interest, if so little has happened? It is a matter of size and future opportunities.

For example, California’s long-awaited Long Beach Courthouse was the first availability-based non-transport concession. California’s economy is the size of Brazil’s.

Colorado is the home of the Denver Fast Track project. Colorado’s GDP is greater than the United Arab Emirates.
Other states with transport PPPs were Florida, which is similar in economic strength to Turkey, and Texas, which matches the whole of Russia in the scale of its GDP.

The meeting heard from New York about the legal challenges facing the introduction of PPPs – New York’s GDP is about that of Mexico (a country called the silent ‘M’ in BRICS), while we heard speakers from Illinois (think of Indonesia), Indiana (Colombia), Georgia (South Africa) and Virginia (Saudi Arabia).

What is changing 
The public-policy environment is becoming more welcoming for PPPs. Surveys show Americans do not want their taxes to go up and are now more ready to see the private sector provide public services that had hitherto been state monopolies. Swing voters – ones who are neither exclusively Democratic nor Republican party backers – express support for a greater role for business in the provision of public services. Furthermore, the preferred way to get the USA out of its economic gloom is no longer through spending cuts, the path favoured in 2009, but job creation led by the private sector.

‘P3’, as the Americans call PPPs, are no longer totally synonymous with ‘Privatisation’. This is taking the edge off some of the political opposition to PPP projects, with the realisation that the ‘Public’ part of PPP means that the public sector sets the goals for the project and how it is to be operated.

Taken together, this makes PPPs less of a party issue and more of an ‘art of the possible’ one. And one that some 27 new state governors will want to try.

The P3 programme is helped by some visible successes. The Denver Fast Track project came in some 15 per cent under budget and 11 months early. The Indiana Toll Road has generated some 60,000 jobs in its highway corridor, matching the federal estimate that 30,000 jobs are created by every $1 billion spent on roads. The Long Beach Court House shows that it is possible to change the public sector’s attitude from one of providing a facility to that of providing a service.

While highways dominate the PPP debate, the move from simple toll road concessions to more complicated PPPs, including availability payment mechanisms, is underway. There are also many more concessions and outsourcing opportunities coming up in other sectors, notably rail, ports and water.

What remains the same
The USA is not a single market but one of 50 states with numerous territories and major conurbations to take into account. Some are progressing well – Virginia – while others – Texas – have slipped and are making up for lost ground and credibility. More, like Michigan, are starting on the path.

The states have no money. Maine and Pennsylvania were accused of turning asphalt into gravel as a result of their cost cutting.

There is still a liking for unsolicited bids. These are quite often used to force reluctant public officials into doing the groundwork for projects that should already have been commissioned. However, most panellists at the InfraAmericas event thought them to be a distraction.

What to look out for
Two jurisdictions were praised for setting up PPP units, the territory of Puerto Rico and the state of Virginia. A third, the city of Miami, spoke of the positive benefits of hiring a specialist in PPPs.

Virginia has set itself the target to be the model authority for the rest of the country. Virginia is now identifying a transport project pipeline and working on professional project development practices, for example ensuring that the business case and value-for-money assessments are done before going to market. For more, visit the Virginia.gov website or attend TheCityUK’s supported “Winning Bids in the USA” conference .

The Texans showed up in force with an apology for the moratorium on PPPs and a new challenge, “Come and beat Cintra,” as they see too much Spanish influence on their road network.
Rail is on the agenda; both light rail for cities and the much-discussed Obama plan for High Speed links.

Conclusion
The InfraAmericas event brought 400 people to New York to discuss five deals from last year and potentially many, many hundreds in the future.

The USA is still an emerging market for PPPs, with huge potential for TheCityUK’s members. The next two events we have on this are:
All day, 23rd June – ‘Winning Bids in the USA’, a conference with Partnerships Bulletin.
1pm, 28th June – A round table with New York’s UKTI official responsible for PPP promotion.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Off to America

Will be talking infrastructure, finance and projects for a few days in New York... and Thomas the Tank Engine, "do you need a change?" and "time to play in the garden," in Pennsylvania.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

New University Chancellor... Who?

Well, three candidates so far...

Lord Sainsbury, a Labour apparatchik with the charisma (and the contents) of an ATM machine; Brain Blessed, a very loud voice for students; and
A local trader, who may live here but does not like competition (especially from a family firm associated with the first candidate).

Monday, May 30, 2011

Tax Freedom Day

Britain's 21st Century serfs can now start earning for themselves. However, if we take into account the money the local Lord-of-the-manor is borrowing then we must toil on until July.

Invitation to Dinner on Monday 6th June

Coleridge Conservatives' dinner series resumes with guest speaker County Councillor Sir Peter Brown, formerly Sir John Major's constituency agent.

Provisional menu:

Miton of chicken*/**
~~~
Veal chops with wild mushroom sauce
~~~
Nectarines baked in amaretto

Excellent value at £25 per ticket (£20 for students). Leave your name and number in the comments below (I won't publish them!) to order tickets.

* a posh kind of soup to the likes of you and me.
** Now informed that it's a terrine. Discover something new with the Coleridge Tories!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

BBC's Obama Blindspots

If George Bush had...

1. Written the wrong year in a guest book;or
2. Kept saying 'England' instead of United Kingdom;or
3. Fluffed his lines at the formal banquet;

then the BBC would have gone to town on his 'gaffe-prone presidency'.

Alas, President Obama mangaged all three.

Last Orders at the Beer Festival


Today's the last day for the beer festival on Jesus Green. Once again Cambridge CAMRA have done a great job. Top ale from outside the shire for me so far is Hertfordshire-based Red Squirrel's 'Red Tail' but get there early as the beer is running out..

Photo is of a contented customer from last year... he liked the soft drinks for designated rocket ship drivers.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Pot to Kettle


EU auditors find fault with EU aid channelled through the UN

European Voice reports that the EU’s Court of Auditors has found major shortcomings in the way that close to a billion euros in EU aid is channelled through the United Nations every year. The ECA found “frequent weaknesses” in the design of projects funded by the EU through the UN, unrealistic timelines for implementation, and insufficient reporting by the UN.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Campbell Bannerman Comes Home

Well, the ’Kippers lost their most convincing member of the European Parliament today. Maybe this explains why, “MEP?” overtures were made to me at the Huntingdonshire District Council election count by the 'Kipper's regional organiser.

And the answer is still,"No."

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sainsbury's is Tesco, Discuss...

News of Sainsbury's plan to take over the rather dire pool hall in Mill Road - yes, I have been there, played pool and left as soon as I could - is raising the ire of the anti-chain shop activists in the area.

Of course, we have seen some odd planning decisions.

Tesco - alcohol licence turned down for East Road when, "Waitrose was granted a licence round the corner in Fitzroy Street."

Tesco - alcohol licence turned down for Mill Road store when earlier, it was a non-Tesco shop that was slammed for selling to drunks in Mill Road.

And while I am at, remember the Mill Road Co-op with some Keep Mill Road Shops Independent platitude posters displayed, when the Co-op is also national chain? (nb. because it is a right-on, holier-than-thou, "ethical" chain, it gets a bye from the local protestors). When we have a commitee to campaign against the Co-op national chain, take the Mill Road store's licence away and halve the shop's square footage, I'll take the 'anti-chain' protestors seriously. Until then... "Hypocrites".

Friday, May 20, 2011

A14

Five-vehicle pile-up blocks part of A14
The A14 was partially blocked by a five-vehicle collision this afternoon...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Fly those flags...

Labour bent the flag flying rules to favour Brussels...

Under current planning rules, only a select few flags are allowed to be flown without express permission from town hall officials. Getting this approval can incur fees of up to £335. In a speech to the Flag Institute, the Communities and Local Government Secretary is today announcing his intention to launch a consultation to allow a wider variety of important and historic flags to be flown by people keen to celebrate their local and national heritage and culture.

The last Government changed planning rules to allow the European Union flag to be flown without permission. The coalition Government will make it easier for communities wanting to celebrate the contribution of our armed forces by easing rules on flying local regimental flags. Other local flags, and projects like environmental awards, could also all be freed up from existing bureaucratic restrictions.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A14... Again

"Multi vehicle crash partially closes A14"

A14

"Wheel scare brings A14 traffic to a standstill."

Sunday, May 8, 2011

‘Political’ Cambridge is not Eton with added colleges; it is Islington with medieval trappings.

The last set of local elections were difficult for the Cambridge Tories. The full results, helpfully provided by a local Lib Dem, can be found here while the AV referendum result is here.

There are three points.

The first is that Cambridge is unlike the rest of the county that takes its name. While everywhere else in the shire was against the voting change, the burghers and students of the city went for a "yes" to AV; along with the Guardianista heartlands of Camden, Hackney and Islington, and the academic rival but equally cloistered-in-mind city of Oxford.

The second is that Conservative support is spread across the city. There is no obvious Tory ward for the faithful to retreat into – or to be incarcerated by the ‘progressive majority’. The dispersed vote was the traditional fate of the Liberal Party who turned to worship at the altar of PR, hoping for a miraculous change of the voting system to give their partisans places on the local councils or a pivotal role in Parliament. However, the Tories 2010 performance showed how it was possible not to win a seat on the council and yet to come second in a General Election held on the same day.

The third is to accept that hard work is sometimes not enough. I have seen textbook campaigns leading to meagre results: the simple reason being a lack of a pool of sympathetic voters. For those who doubt this, examine the travails of Tom Woodcock and his far-left party in Romsey (there’s no point in providing a party name as it keeps changing). Tom’s always had a high profile campaign with posters, leaflets and canvassing, but nevertheless has lagged in the middle to bottom half of the results table for half a decade.

Some thoughts...

1. Accept Cambridge is Different.

The AV referendum showed us how ‘political’ Cambridge is not Eton with added colleges; it is Islington with medieval trappings.

Once you’ve grasped this point, it gets better!

Here, the language and conduct of campaigns inside and outside election time will be different to the rest of the county. It will always mean much tougher challenges for fewer electoral rewards. I met some people – even very well qualified professionals who in other settings seemed to be quite sensible – who could not grasp this. For them, their optimism bias meant bitter disappointment when a textbook campaign did not end with a victory as set out in the textbook, and would search for scapegoats inside the party. Or just leave in a huff after an attempt or two.

2. Candidates Everywhere; Campaigns in a few places

Getting a full slate of candidates across the city is always an achievement. It means Tories can declare themselves via the ballot box in even the most left-wing political neighbourhoods.

The Conservative way is to work at the local elections, taking our chances at the individual ward polls. The pious hope is for a rising national tide to take several seats across the city simultaneously… when the tide comes. However, in the real world targeted campaigns on those seats most likely to turn to us are essential. Choosing those seats, however, is an art and not a science. It depends on having the right candidates in the right wards at the right time.

3. Individuals Count.

If you are not involved in politics, you may refer to a ‘party machine’ almost with awe. If you are in politics, you know that it is actually Mr and Mrs Smith with Mrs Smith’s bridge partner who delivered all of those leaflets. If a few more Smiths volunteer to help a campaign then it really does make a difference.

4. You can make a difference outside the council

The politically correct euro-loving eco-loon climate obsessed ‘diversity’ spendthrifts are wrong. Cambridge needs value-for-money, front-line service orientated Toryism to keep them in check. Andrew Bower in Coleridge showed how someone who is not elected to the council can still get things done for local residents.

5. Don’t Give Up.

Ever.

Friday, May 6, 2011

AV Result in Cambridge

Cambridge says 'Yes' to AV as the rest say 'No!'

Yes - 21,253 (54.32%)

No -17,871 (45.68%)

Well, it will provide a talking point in the sixth form common room.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Voting Today

Polling stations open at 7am and shut at 10pm.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Coleridge Should Back Bower on Thursday

Andy's worked hard and deserves to win. Unlike in Ramsey (where I am writing from now) and its UKIP folk, his campaign is against flyposting, not practicing it for a fortnight.


ANDY’S BOWER'S RECORD OF SUCCESS
Working hard in Coleridge for over three years, these are some of the things Andy
Bower has achieved without being a councillor:

TACKLING CONGESTION CHARGING
Andy Bower was at the forefront of the successful campaign to persuade the county council to resist the previous Labour government’s plan to impose congestion charging on Cambridge. Sadly Labour’s county councillor voted or the plans despite being elected on a pledge to stop it.

POLICING SPEEDING
Andy persuaded Conservative colleagues that we needed police speed enforcement in Coleridge resulting in this being secured by Conservatives, despite initial opposition from all the other local parties.

FIX MY STREET
Andy has got numerous things fixed in Coleridge by reporting potholes, graffiti, fly tipping and damaged signs to the council, not to mention his cycle streetlight survey where he identifi ed
over 30 broken streetlights.

Monday, May 2, 2011

If this is a legal election practice, I'm a fish.



His council says, "Graffiti and Flyposting activity is illegal, as well as being an unsightly nuisance." This includes, "notices tied to lamp-posts". So what do you do think of the Ramsey councillor - and UKIP agent - who is allowing this? Someone has explaining to do.



"Just because you are a county councillor doesn't mean you can treat county council property as your own..."



Other blogs make interesting reading on the Ramsey 'Kippers, like this one and this one.


Friday, April 29, 2011

Quotes for the Monarchy



Conservative Home has some choice quotes on the value of a constitutional monarchy, with my favourites being:

"Those who imagine that a politician would make a better figurehead than a hereditary monarch might perhaps make the acquaintance of more politicians." - Margaret Thatcher

and, for those who can count,


"According to the UN, seven of the top 10 countries in the world in terms of quality of life are constitutional monarchies." - Philip Blond

To which I would add:

“The monarchy is so extraordinarily useful. When Britain wins a battle she shouts, "God save the Queen"; when she loses, she votes down the prime minister.” - Winston Churchill

Happy Wedding Day


"Hurrah" for the happy couple.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Computer Says: "No"

A comedy turn from the city council's elections department as, "Computer is blamed for voting blunder". The CEN reports that the city council, "has blamed its computer for 'having a funny day.'”

Garbage in - Garbage out.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tories Don't Elect Leader Using AV

The Yes campaign and Paddy Ashdown have repeatedly claimed that AV was used to elect David Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party. The Conservatives do not use AV for their leadership elections. Conservative MPs vote using the‘Exhaustive Ballot’ system – a series of separate run-off rounds, a crucial distinction which allows them to know who has been eliminated at each stage, and which candidates remain. MPs can only vote for one candidate, and vote using an ‘X’. The final round is a First Past the Post vote of all party members, who again vote for one candidate using an ‘X’. (Nor do the Labour Party use AV as it is being proposed in this referendum: they use an electoral college system, where union members, party members, and MPs each cast separate ranked ballots.)

See here for the other arguments.

Gordon's Golden Legacy

Gold was $275 an ounce when Gordon Brown sold our Gold reserves. Now it is $1500.

If sold today, the government would be more than £12 billion better off.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy St George's Day





For confirmation that God is an Englishman...

Friday, April 22, 2011

A14 Again

Huge delays on the A14/M11 again. Unreported in the papers... just the usual clogging up of the nation's arterial routes.

Friday, April 15, 2011

New County Leader

Nick Clarke is the new leader of Cambridgeshire County Council...

“The public expects and demands strong, effective leadership, and I believe I have those qualities. I am confident I have the ability, the energy and the time to provide the dynamic leadership the council and the county needs. There are significant financial challenges ahead.

“But it is also time to get on with the job of creating prosperity, happiness and safe, strong communities for the people of our county.”


His blog is here.

Good luck Nick!

A14 Again...

Three vehicles crashed on the A14.

Published: 14/04/2011 08:22:00

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Euro Joke...

A colleagues sent this...

An Irishman, a German, a Greek and a Portuguese man walked into a bar.

The German paid.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Voting Referendum Debate



If you have not made up your mind on the voting referendum then come along to the debate this Monday at St Luke's Church, Victoria Road, Cambridge CB4 3DZ from 7.30pm.


Joining me for the 'NO' campaign will be James Kilmartin. He works for the Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary Caroline Flint as her political researcher. Before that he worked for the Labour MP Joan Ryan. He graduated from Cambridge University in 2008 and was Deputy Chair of the Cambridge Universities Labour Club in 2007.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Council in Taxi Confusion

From the local authority that has to take itself to court, we now learn that the city's taxis have been licenced for 23 years... wrongly.

Taxis in Cambridge have been operating with incorrect paperwork for 23 years, the News can reveal. Incorrect Certificate of Compliances (CoC), or taxi MoTs, have been issued to drivers for more than two decades by Cambridge City Council, which is the licensing authority. The authority has been handing them out using section 43 of the Road Traffic Act 1972, but the Road Traffic Act 1988 scrapped the whole of the previous 1972 Act – making it invalid.

Candidates for the City Council Election

The full list is published by the City Council and can be found here. Good luck...

Friday, March 25, 2011

A14

Motorcyclist injured in A14 crash

Published in the Cambridge News: 25/03/2011 18:54 - Updated: 25/03/2011 19:00

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sorry Ed, Out of the Country


I must miss this event with Ed Balls. Pity.

Monday, March 21, 2011

London Leads New York (and the World)

The 9th edition of Global Financial Centres Index shows London has continued to keep the top spot as the world’s leading financial centre.

Although six points behind – which is a whisker in these surveys – New York is in still in contention followed by Hong Kong and then Singapore.

Financial services employ a million people in the UK, with a further 900,000 in related professional services. Two thirds of the employees work outside London. The sector makes a trade surplus for our country of £40 billion… it is, as 1066 and All That would say, “A good thing”.

That 1931 Feeling by Lord Lexden

A super bit of blogging on the Alternative Vote by the Conservative Party's official historian - Lord Lexden - who had the foresight/misfortune to employ me in the Research Department back in 1990.

He asked me to write the Politics Today pamphlet on proportional representation, it was my first venture, and he deserved a peerage just for editing my first draft.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Freedom of Speech


Taken from the English Bill of Rights (1689):

Freedom of Speech.

That the Freedome of Speech and Debates or Proceedings in Parlyament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any Court or Place out of Parlyament.


Watch this debate about the 'aggressive apparatchiks of the state' trying to stop people contacting their MPs to gain a redress of grievances. (Very grateful acknowledgement to this blog).

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A14...

...two cars crashed on the westbound A14. The accident happened just after 4pm Friday near the Girton interchange. Police said nobody was injured.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A14 Again...

"Road clear after A14 chaos".

Drivers faced lengthy delays after a crash on the A14...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

CAMRA - 40 Years Old Today!

"Today is the day when the Campaign for Real Ale celebrates its 40th birthday, and we hope you will raise a glass of good beer in celebration of this landmark!"

Visit: www.camra.org.uk/40thbirthday

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Who's Afraid of the EU?

Open Europe reports,

In a debate in the Commons yesterday, when asked about EU Foreign Minister Baroness Ashton’s strong stance against a no-fly zone despite UK support for it, David Cameron blamed one of Ashton’s aides for giving a "rogue briefing".

Well... "Baroness Ashton of Upholland will use the values that led her to help to run the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in her new role as Europe’s foreign minister," reported The Times. It went on about her being,"proud of her background as its treasurer at the height of the Cold War."

So, when the future of the free world was at stake, the policy of our now foreign policy chief was to disarm... As said in Aliens, "What the hell are we supposed to use man? Harsh language?"

A Clear Libyan Policy from the Past

When library images of Blair embracing Gaddafi were shown, Lady Thatcher declared, passionately: "I never hugged him, I bombed him."

Friday, March 11, 2011

"Personal Responsibility"

Chris Howell uses those two words to good effect.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cambridge University - Top of UK but not World

From today's Cambridge News... "Cambridge is the most highly regarded UK university in the world, according to new research. The prestigious institution came third in a table ranking universities exclusively on their reputation among academics worldwide. The UK had two institutions in the top 10 - along with Cambridge, Oxford university was placed sixth."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Nanny Nonsense on Cigarettes

The Health Secretary should tell his ministry to stick to the big picture, the plan to reform the NHS, and stop fretting about the little ones on packs of cigarettes.

Headlines like, “Plain packets' law to strip cigarettes of their glamour”, are just infuriating. The people who buy cigarettes now are not the ones in the 1920s with only a dim awareness that they might not be good for you. We have had years of school-based information, public information campaigns on TV and radio (and no product advertising), and lectures by doctors and politicians to tell us it’s just not a good thing to smoke.

If people want to buy cigarettes these days it is not because they were inspired by the pictures on the packets.

I don’t smoke. I like those two words: “personal responsibility”. They sound much better than “nanny”, don’t they?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Message from Camfed

Dear Richard,

Today, join us in celebrating the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, which highlights women around the world who are achieving amazing things. In honour of this special day, I'd like to introduce you to one of them.

Penelope Machipi comes from a poor village in Zambia. By age 12, she had lost everything – her parents, her home, and her opportunity for an education. She was forced to drop out of school to help support her siblings.

But donors like you helped Penelope transform her life. She received a Camfed scholarship and graduated from secondary school. Today, she's an IT expert who teaches computer skills to girls and young women in her rural community.
“When we stand together, we can make a difference,” she says.

Penelope is making a difference not only as a role model and teacher. She's also a filmmaker, leading a group of women who make films about some of the most challenging issues in their community.

Today, we're proud to announce the premiere of their new film, “Hidden Truth.” An intimate portrayal of the effects of domestic violence on women and children in rural Zambia, the film is breaking silence within communities and sparking unprecedented dialogue for change. Watch an excerpt of the film here.

On this International Women's Day, let's stand together with Penelope and take action. As her story proves, when you educate a girl, you not only change her life, you change the lives of her family, her community and future generations.
Get involved by visiting www.camfed.org/intwomensday and sharing this email with friends and family.

Thank you so much for your support.
Warm regards,

Ann Cotton, OBE
Executive Director, Camfed International

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cameron's Post-Conference Letter

Dear Richard,

I'm in Cardiff this weekend with three clear messages for the party. One: thank you for everything you've done. We're in government delivering Conservative pledges - from bringing some sense to our public finances to dismantling Labour's nanny state. This wouldn't have happened without the constant work of activists up and down the country over this past year. So thank you.


Two: get ready because we've got some big elections coming up - council elections, Welsh Assembly elections, Scottish Parliament elections and of course, the AV referendum. AV is fundamentally unfair - it makes politics and politicians less accountable and it means some people's votes can count more than others. We've got to get out there, take these arguments to the country and urge them to vote no to AV.

The third message is to do with our economy. In just over two weeks, we're going to unveil the most pro-enterprise, pro-business Budget for a generation. It's going to be a no-nonsense, roll-our-sleeves up Budget in which we do everything we can to make it easier for businesses to grow, invest and take people on.

Make no mistake, I am an enterprise Prime Minister. Every summit I go to, every trip I make, every foreign leader I meet, I'm trying to drum up new trade or business for Britain. I know some people don't like me doing that. But do these critics think the Germans and the French and the Americans are all sitting at home waiting for business to fall on to their lap? Of course not. They're getting out there, and so am I.

This is an enterprise government too. Everywhere we can we're breaking down the barriers to business growth - cutting corporation tax, gripping regulation, bringing in an enterprise allowance to help those who are unemployed set up their own business. But there's so much more to do. Right now in our country there are what I would call the enemies of enterprise, whether it's bureaucrats who concoct ridiculous rules or town hall officials who take ages to make planning decisions. Believe me, we are taking them on.

Enterprise is in our party's DNA. We have always been on the side of the doers, the grafters, the entrepreneurs. They are the wealth creators and the job creators, the ones who will drive Britain's prosperity in the years to come, and that's why this government is doing everything possible to get behind them today.

David Cameron

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Events on Tuesday, Wednesday and in June


PANCAKE PARTY

Shrove Tuesday,
Monday 8th March 2011, 7.30pm.
86 Argyle Street.
£7.00 entry (£3.00 students).


BRANCH DINNER

With guest speaker Cllr Sir Peter Brown.
Monday 6th June 2011, 7.45pm for 8pm.
Cherry Hinton Constitutional Club,
144 Cherry Hinton Road .
£25.00 entry (£20.00 students).

PLUS

Don't forget an address at the Union Society on Wesnesday evening by The Lord Howard of Lympne, open to all members of CCCA or CUCA - see http://www.cambridgeconservatives.org.uk/ for details.

Andy Bower
Coleridge Branch Secretary

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Forwards with FG

With exit polls showing the left has not made a breakthrough in the Irish Republic, the winning party's manifesto shows that a centre-right party can win on the commitment to put the public services right. Subsitute 'Conservatives' for 'Fine Gael' and you get the gist...


Smaller, Better Government.

Services you need are prioritised over back-room waste

Our public sector is too large, too inefficient and too expensive. Fine Gael will improve the quality of public services by prioritising frontline services - that’s teachers, health professionals, GardaĆ­, Local Authority services etc, and will streamline systems, eliminate red tape and waste and managers will be accountable.

The outdated and inefficient annual budget system will be replaced with an open and transparent system to manage the nation’s finances.

Fine Gael’s Public Sector Strategy will reduce the cost of the Public Sector by 10% over the next four years. This will save €5bn by eliminating waste and abolishing 145 quangos. We estimate 30,000 administrative and bureaucratic positions can be eliminated by natural wastage, voluntary redundancy and relocation to create a better, more efficient and more customer focused public service...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A14 Again...

Echoes of 1998 horror lead to calls for upgrade
Chris Elliott - Cambridge News

"Frightening memories of one of the A14’s worst-ever crashes were rekindled by yesterday’s lorry smash at Fenstanton."

Monday, February 21, 2011

A14 Again...

Lorry fire on A14
A lorry fire caused tailbacks on the A14 this morning

Hitting the County’s Nail on the Head

In his struggle to understand how a Tory council could countenance the kind of cuts that hit the library service disproportionately, the article in Conservative Home by John Bald, a Cambridgeshire blogger says everything you need to know about the county council’s management:

“The Council has either let the officials write the first draft, or else has not written a strong enough draft itself. Officials are not, for the most part, Conservatives. Neither are they, for the most part, corrupt. But they are politicians, just as much as elected members are, and they have their own agenda. This package of cuts keeps their castle intact. If it makes the councillors look bad, well, the flack goes with the territory.”

Yes, that’s it.

As the Conservative Group looks to elect a new leader, let us hope that we get one of the Emily Blatch type and not a civil servant-led timeserver of the kind who supported Labour’s Congestion Charge for Cambridge.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Alternative Vote Campaign

Message from William Hague:

Dear Richard,

Without your help, Britain's traditional voting system could be ditched for something that is unfair, expensive and allows candidates that finish third to win elections.

On May 5th, there's a nationwide referendum on whether to replace the system of first Past the Post with the 'Alternative Vote' - or AV. The Liberal Democrats demanded this referendum as part of the Coalition agreement - but the Conservative Party are actively campaigning for a 'No' vote. Here's why:

AV is unfair. With First Past the Post, everybody gets one vote. But under AV, supporters of extreme parties like the BNP would get their vote counted many times, while other people's vote would only be counted once.

AV doesn't work. Rather than the candidate with the most votes winning, the person who finishes third could be declared the winner. AV is expensive. Calculating the results is a long, complicated process, which would cost the taxpayer millions.

No-one wants AV. Even the 'Yes' campaigners don't actually want AV - they see it as a convenient stepping stone to yet more changes to how we vote.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

- Go to the No to AV website and sign up to receive emails;
- Ask your local Conservative Association how you can help their campaign against AV; and
- Join the NO to AV group on Facebook or follow them on Twitter

Together, we can win this referendum and save our voting system.

Thank you,


William Hague
Foreign Secretary

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A14 Again...

Tailbacks hit A14
Published: 16/02/2011
Motorists suffered long tailbacks on the westbound A14 this morning after a series of incidents during rush hour...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Fix My Street? Duplicate a Service?

Will someone explain fully why the County Council has decided to duplicate the successful Fix-My-Street system with one of their own? Fix-My-Street is a one stop shop for all local problems, without people having to work out which council to take it to. It could even be called a tool of joined up government.

This new website is not clear about what ‘new’ services it offers and looks like product of a department that is ego-driven and out of control. Whoever advised the council leadership to do this should publish the full figures and justification for this website rather than the thin press release (see below).

For the record, the new council site is welcomed by the Lib Dems, for example Amanda Taylor ,Clair Blair and the West Chesterton and Romsey branches; as well as by some Tories, notably Martin Curtis and the councillor who announced it, Mac McGuire, both of whom were backers of the ill-fated TIF bid and its compulsory congestion charge for Cambridge.

--
The ‘Fisked’ press release:

Cambridgeshire County Council has introduced a new interactive on-line reporting system for highway problems which will ensure the person reporting a fault is kept fully up to speed with its repair.
- This was available on Fix My Street.The Highways Reporting Project allows people to:
• Report a fault using a web-based mapping system to ensure the exact location is identified and notified to repair teams
- This was available on Fix My Street.• Check on-line to see if the fault has already been reported
- This was available on Fix My Street.• Let the customer go on-line to check progress on repair work
- This was available on Fix My Street.
• Does away with the need for the public to use other reporting systems such as ‘fixmystreet’ which will save staff time and free up resources for road repair work
- This should have been the focus of the press release in the first place. There could be a good news story here, but we won’t know until some explains it.• In addition people will still be able to report faults by telephone on 0345 045 5212
- Not new, does not count as news.
Other benefits include:

• Better information and communication for customers
- How? More detail is needed here…• Time saving for county council staff through reduced numbers of e-mail/telephone calls, freeing them up for other tasks such as programming repair work
- How? Some more detail is needed here…• More accurate fault reporting which will help reduce repair times
- How? It is the same people doing the reporting?

A14 Again...

Sheep and lorries lead to A14 closurePublished: 15/02/2011 08:39 - Updated: 15/02/2011 08:57

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Letter to Cambridge News on the Prisoner Vote

This letter should appear in the Cambridge News... watch how long it takes to appear.


13th. February 2011

Dear Sir,

I observe that our Member of Parliament, Julian Huppert, has voted to give prisoners the right to vote.

Let's go to fundamentals. Prisoners are in prison because they violated other people's human rights. They killed other people, or wounded them,or stole from them, or defrauded them.

They have lost the right to liberty, and they should lose the right to vote.

Yours sincerely,

James Strachan

Friday, February 11, 2011

Let Prisoners Vote for Him…


Cambridge’s MP Julian Huppert joined nine other Liberal Democrat MPs to support the implementation of the European Court ruling to enfranchise convicted felons. He voted against last night's motion to retain the ban.

Here's the list from Conservative Home.

The usual label for the Cambridge Lib Dems in this blog is 'fencewatch'. Perhaps it should now be 'out of touch'?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

News From A Good Cause


Dear Richard,


Thank you for your support to our Every Child Belongs in School campaign! By sharing our films throughout your network, making tribute gifts in honour of friends and family and donating so generously, you helped us raise £550,000—enough money to send 41,866 children to school. This is an incredible step toward fighting poverty and AIDS in Africa in 2011.

Through our film series, we introduced you to Katumi, a girl in Ghana who left home at age 13 to work as a street porter in a dangerous and exploitative environment. However, with the help of Camfed supporters like you, she was able to return home and enrol in secondary school.

This week, Camfed Ghana Executive Director Dolores Dickson spoke to Katumi to share how many people watched her story (more than 120,000) and learn how she was doing in school. “I am so proud that people all over the world now know me,” Katumi said. “In school my favourite subjects are economics and mathematics, and I compete on the track team as a long distance runner.” She’s also helping lead a girls’ club that works to help younger children stay in school.

“A door opened to me through Camfed, and I now have the opportunity to fulfil my dreams and become a nurse,” she said. “I am trying to be a role model to the girls in my community who do not have anyone to look up to. I tell them they can make it in life if they believe in themselves.”

This year, we are expanding our programmes in Ghana and working to help thousands more girls like Katumi go to school. And you can help in a very simple way. Share this email with your friends and family and spread the word that girls’ education is turning the tide on poverty in rural Africa.


Thank you so much for your support.
Warm regards,

Ann Cotton, OBE
Executive Director, Camfed International

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A14 Letter in the Local Paper

Date: 2 February 2011 17:06
Subject: Letter
To: letters@cambridge-news.co.uk

How out of touch can Julian Huppert get? First he stabs Cambridge's motorists in the back by killing off the essential A14 upgrade - after years of campaigning against it and then opposing it in Parliament - and now he criticises the national government for having 'wasted' £37 million on researching the upgrade in the first place.

Cambridgeshire's businesses were united in their support of the upgrade, as were all of the county's MPs bar Mr Huppert. If it were not for the Lib Dems' juvenile anti-car idealogy the county's leaders would have presented a united front, and the government may have chosen to save the scheme at the expense of expenditure elsewhere in the country.

The hard-pressed motorists and businesses of Cambridge will be much less concerned about the wasted £37 million than they are about being stuck for another 20 years with the clogged artery that is the A14.

Edward Turnham
Queen Edith's Way
Cambridge

And for the Good News...

The News reports, “Motorists and cyclists face 10 months of disruption in the centre of Cambridge following the announcement last night of a massive gas mains upgrade.” The glib question is how can we tell the difference?

Look on the bright side, at least we won’t be charged by a spy-in-the-sky for the pleasure of sitting in the disrupted traffic.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Digital Switchover

The Digital Switchover for Cambridgeshire is on 30th March. The following learndirect centres will be holding events to provide information and advice about this. People are invited to visit them to find out more:

Cambridge Library. 14 February 10.30 to 12.30 - coffee morning
Cambridge
CB3 0AP
Telephone: 01223 712184

March Library, 16 February 10.30 to 12.30 - coffee morning
City Road
March
PE15 9LT
Telephone: 01354 754764

Arbury Library, 17 February 10.30 to 12.30 - coffee morning
Arbury Road
Cambridge
CB4 2JQ

Whittlesey Library,18 February 1.30pm to 3.30pm - coffee afternoon
31-35 Market Street
Whittlesey
Peterborough
PE7 1BA
Telephone: 01733 208910

Huntingdon Library, 22 February 10.30 to 12.30 - coffee morning
Princes Street
Huntingdon
PE29 3PA
Telephone: 01480 372736

Ely Library, 25 February 1.30pm to 3.30pm - coffee afternoon
The Cloisters
Ely
CB7 4ZH
Telephone: 01353 616160

The Paines Mill Foyer Learning Centre, Wednesday 2nd March coffee morning 10.30am - 12.30
Bedford Street
St Neots
PE19 1HP
Telephone: 01480 214685

One niggle, why the need to run words together like Germans when we create new bodies, as if people can't cope with an organsiation with two separate words? OK, another niggle, why the emphasis on having a lower case 'l' for the name, as if we're going to be intimidated by the sight of capital letters? Even odder if your mission is to help with learning...

Friday, February 4, 2011

A14 Again...

A14 blocked after car hits barrier
Published by the Cambridge News: 04/02/2011 08:38

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A14 Again...

Duck feathers covered a major road in Cambridgeshire, bringing traffic to a standstill, after a fire in a lorry. A ruptured diesel tank caused the fire in the lorry, which was carrying the duck feathers on the A14 near Hemingford Grey. BBC

Time for Somaliland

The referendum for the partition of Sudan was a watershed as it went directly against the long-held view of the African Union, and previously the OAU, that African states were indivisible.

If Southern Sudan is good enough for international recognition then it is high time that the former British Somaliland territory gets its just deserts (in both senses) and seats at the UN and within the Commonwealth.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A14 Again...

A14 shut by lorry fire
02/02/2011 11:59

Monday, January 31, 2011

“Savage Coots”?

The 2010 Spending Review says, “Even after these spending cuts, total public spending (Total Managed Expenditure) in 2014-15 will be higher in real terms than in 2008-09. At 41 per cent of GDP, this will be around the same level of public spending as in 2006-07. Spending on public services in 2014-15 will be higher than 2006-07 levels in real terms.”

Thank you Mark Wadsworth.