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The outdated and inefficient annual budget system will be replaced with an open and transparent system to manage the nation’s finances.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


- 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

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

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
Telephone: 01223 712184

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

Arbury Library, 17 February 10.30 to 12.30 - coffee morning
Arbury Road

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

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

Ely Library, 25 February 1.30pm to 3.30pm - coffee afternoon
The Cloisters
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