Friday, June 30, 2006

Five Ways to contact Eric & Paul

We are always keen to hear from our neighbours. In order to make it as easy as possible, there are five ways to contact us.

1. Write to us at Members’ Room, London Borough of Sutton, Civic Offices, St. Nicholas Way, Sutton, Surrey, SM1 1EA

2. Call Paul on 020 8770 5416

3. Email p.scully at

4. Log onto to see what we’re up to and let them know what you think they ought to be up to.

5.Visit us at our surgery held at the Ecology Centre, Festival Walk, Carshalton (north west of the ponds, next to Honeywood Lodge (see picture)) on the 2nd Saturday of the month between 10am and 12pm.

Action on lorries in the Grove

Paul Scully and the Conservatives voted to approve the planning application to convert Paul’s Cash & Carry into residential use at Wednesday’s Development Control meeting bringing an end to the perennial problem of large lorries parking in Carshalton Grove.

Eric Howell said “In the lead up to the election, several residents in Carshalton Grove complained about the lorries and wondered why a previous application had been refused. I am pleased that the road can return to a peaceful state.”

Paul said “I first became aware of the problem whilst speaking to residents back in 2002. Having heard the submissions and examined the plan it was apparent that this helped both the owner of the business and the residents. I asked for assurances that there would be no site fires during construction and checked that a condition would be imposed restricting the hours that the builders could work as it would be jumping out of the frying pan into the fire with food lorries being replaced by night time building trucks."

Let us know what you think.

Tight Squeeze in Bromley

I was up at 4am yesterday to help my friend Bob Neill in Bromley. In the couple of days that I spent there late in the campaign, I could see that it would not be a walkover. Any campaigner will tell you that a message only resonates with the public once you have got bored of repeating it. The two comments that I heard most frequently were "I have never seen so much paperwork and interest in an election here" and "I'm not happy to have an MP that does not live locally."

Bob has pledged to move into the constituency but has represented Bromley for six years now as a London Assembly Member. Local connections are important but these will count for nothing if an MP is not effective. I was appalled by the negative campaigning of the LibDems, who always take a holier-than-thou attitude whilst laying the boot in. The defeated candidate doesn't live in the constituency either, published a photo of him cleaning graffiti only for someone else to notice that the same graffiti was there the day after and claimed to have worked in an orphanage that he, in fact visited for a couple of hours.

None of this would matter if it was part of a wider campaign showing positive messages as to how the lives of Bromley residents would improve by putting their cross next to that candidate's name. Whereas Bob campaigned on crime and back garden development, there wasn't a sniff of a policy in the LibDem literature. It just means that in Carshalton & Wallington we will have to take note and redouble our efforts to explain what differences we can make for all of us.

Finally looking at the wider picture, much of the LibDem gain from a much-reduced turnout was from a squeezed Labour vote which plummeted by over 15% to put Labour in fourth place behind UKIP.

(Photo: Guido Fawkes)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Anne Frank & Me

Last night, my 8 year old daughter and I attended the opening of the "Anne Frank & You" exhibition in Sutton Library. The exhibition was a major coup for the Borough and a testament to the retiring Head of Library Services Trevor Knight OBE, as it is in great demand and so only makes it to a few UK cities each year.

It is aimed at teenagers, though Josie punched the air when her older brother was too ill to accompany me as she had studied Anne Frank at school. Anne's story is familiar to many of us and has been an inspiration to generations following the Holocaust. The exhibition breathes new life into the memories of a teenager balancing a normal teenage life with friends and boyfriends with the horrors of the age, hiding for two years in an annexe in the house in Amsterdam. Photos taken by her father and stepsister provide a remarkable archive, something taken for granted today but a rare view of those years.

Eva Schloss, Anne's stepsister opened the exhibition adding a further insight into the desperation and anguish suffered by so many Jews, though the exhibition itself moves further in drawing parallels with modern-day conflicts such as Ireland and Darfur.

The exhibition is free and in Sutton for a month. If you have the opportunity, take it, enjoy it. You cannot fail to be moved.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Imagine having to go to Blackpool for Council Meetings

Indulge me for a few minutes; you certainly have been indulging the French for sometime now. Strasbourg has hosted a few EU meetings for decades now, but in 1992 member states decided to introduce a system whereby all MEPs decamp to Strasbourg from Brussels for one week a month, 12 times a year. This farcical trip entails hundreds of boxes of MEPs' papers being loaded up and taken the 260 miles from Brussels to Strasbourg. All 732 MEPs have offices in both buildings. Coincidentally (!) this was agreed at the same time that the French were objecting to John Major's attempts to negotiate an opt-out of the social chapter.

Whatever the politics then, this costs us £120m each and every year. The MEPs hate it, the staff hate it. Nobody seems to remember who actually likes it. Several MEPs from all political persuasions have got together in an attempt to compile a 1,000,000 petition across Europe pushing for one single seat of Parliament. They are over halfway to this goal. Help them acheive it by registering your support here.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Messing about on the River

Well in it, actually. As I sit in my relatively comfortable office, it is difficult not to have a pang of guilt when thinking of my fellow ward councillor, Eric Howell (centre, standing) getting his hands dirty whilst cleaning up the River Wandle that runs through our ward. This was one of the events in Sutton's "Take Part, Take Pride" series. We've spent the last few months telling everyone how we wanted to look after the place and so it is good to spend a couple of hours (oh yes, not just a photocall,) keeping it clean.

LibDems in Sutton, as they do across the country, speak as though they have cornered the market in green issues. Although some wrote of David Cameron's "Vote Blue, Go Green" message as touchy-feely spin, the facts do bear out this message. Sutton is feted as a good Council for recycling. They are 36th in the country. Out of the 35 that recycle more than Sutton, 23 are Conservative controlled.

To my mind, one of the most fundamental differences between the Conservatives and the other two parties is that where Labour and LibDem legislate for a world that they would like to see, Conservatives deal with the world as it is, bringing real-world solutions to real-world problems rather than hoping that everyone will fall into their way of thinking and making assumptions in the meantime that rely on everyone falling into line. Tax is an obvious example but we are talking here about the environment so I shall keep off that other thorny subject.

Most of us have an understanding of the need to protect our environment, recycle more and pollute less. Sutton Council have adopted every prototype and pet project that has passed their desk. They ordered several gas-powered refuse trucks at £400k eack. They sat idle as they didn't work. They started a Car share pool called "Urbigo". This ended up as Urbi-won't go as only 14 people or so signed up to the scheme within the first few years. The list is endless. The Council Tax payer is entitled to worry about where his or her money is going when they hear about such waste. Our waste management contract costs around £2m per year more than it should. This equates to the total Council Tax bill for the 1500 houses in the polling district centred on Carshalton Village. Each and every year.

Our spokesman, John Kennedy and his team are always looking at ways that we would use basic commonsense management to reduce this cost substantially. Renegotiating the contract would be a start. Any money saved could be used to cut Council Tax and/or improve our services such as rolling out doorstep glass collection.

Anyway, the Wandle's looking nice. (photo: Sutton Guardian)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Burma. The forgotten country.

My father was born in Burma and came to England when he was 18. My grandparents, uncles and aunts came some years later. Though I have never been, I am immensely proud of my heritage and family history and would dearly love to travel to Rangoon to see the docks where my grandfather worked for the Port Commissioners, the Strand Hotel where my gran collared various government dignitaries whilst working on the reception to persuade them to let my father take a little money with him on his journey to England and the surrounding streets that I have heard so much about. Unfortunately this just cannot happen whilst it is in the grip of one of the most closed, oppressive dictatorships in the world.

For the past few decades Burma has been controlled by military dictatorship. It has sunk from one of the most educated nations in South East Asia to one of the least with its wealth of natural resources being plundered. The last democratically elected leader, Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi has spent the last 3 years under house arrest. Minority Ethnic groups are being killed and displaced from their homes.

What is being done? Well, Burma is not as strategic to western nations as it was when Alec Guinness was busy saving the day. The Middle East occupies the minds and the column inches of the West. China have no great desire to involve themselves and ASEAN, the South East Asian group of countries stand by watching. There is an ineffectual Common European Policy which will never have any teeth as long as TOTAL Oil are pumping their £400m investment into the country to pump their oil out. (The French, you might remember, were fuelling the spin that the Iraq invasion was all about American oil interests. Easy to say whilst you are benefitting from child labour, and a dictatorship that pays many of its manual workers in heroin.) The British having left in haste take the view that it is not worth raising the issue as they will not get agreement at the UN Security Council. This is an interesting take on the situation. If that argument was extended to this country, the Conservatives and LibDems would not raise any issue for fear of losing and the Burmese would not be the only ones with a dictatorship. Whilst being demonised elsewhere, it is the US that are the heroes of this piece. They brought the issue of Burma to the Security Council for the first time in years primarily on the basis of a report written by Jared Genser.

Working in the House of Commons, I get the opportunity to go to some very interesting meetings (and many dull ones), none more so than the All Party Parliamentary Group for Burma, chaired by John Bercow MP. At one such meeting last year, we heard from Jared who showed us his report written as part of probono work carried out by Jared and his law firm on behalf of Vaclav Havel and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He examined all past Security Council resolutions and found that there were five precedents for action. They are the overthrow of a democratically-elected goverment, conflict between central government and ethnic factions, widespread internal humanitarian/human rights violations, outflow of refugees and other factors including the spread of HIV/AIDS and drug trafficking. It was shown that out of all of the world's hotspots including Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Rwanda, only Burma satisfied all of these conditions.

This is only the first step in a very long journey. Only yesterday I met a refugee from the Karen who live in the jungle in the East of Burma. She fled the country 10 years ago. At the same time, the British were attending a trade fair in Rangoon. 16,000 of the Karen have been slaughtered or displaced with rape used systematically as a weapon by the military. I can go on, I should go on, but I am late for work and there are others who are more knowledgeable that can tell you more. Please if you do nothing else, get out a map and find out where Burma is. Tell others and collar any decision maker that you come across. Let us shame France and others if need be but we must act and we must act now.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Residents v CAFC - Everyone’s a winner.

Not sure why the photo has purple writing. It didn't when it left my PC. Maybe it's the away logo. Anyway, Eric and I had a meeting last night with the board of directors of Carshalton Athletic and we were both impressed by the positive message that we were given. Relations between the club and its neighbours have been strained to say the least over the last few years. This boiled over when the last chairman submitted plans for a £12m redevelopment of the ground driving a road through a park next to a girls' school, opening out onto a dangerous road and covering allotments with astroturf for floodlit pitches. Suffice to say, the Conservatives sided with the residents. The development never happened and the chairman at the time threatened to liquidate the club's assets. Shortly after this, a new board was formed made up primarily of genuine local Robins fans. I went to the meeting when it was announced that the last chairman was off and I was optimistic about what I heard from the supporters and their intentions to bring the club back to being a local team rather than a rich man's plaything. Their actions since have borne out this optimism. Regular meetings with residents have kept them in the loop and dealt with any complaints and misgivings quickly. There will always be a divergence of opinions between what is good for residents living on the club's doorstep and the club itself but it is a matter of give and take. As the club has been on this ground since 1926, there can't be too many residents that didn't know that it was there. On the other hand, the residents should be able to enjoy the peace and tranquility of the Poet's Estate and expect the club and supporters to respect this. It seems that this difficult balance has now been reached and long may it remain. Eric will be in regular contact with the club as Conservative Spokesman for Sport as well as ward councillor and we are often in touch with the residents in Brookfield Avenue, Mead Crescent and Shirley Avenue. Do let us know if any problems arise or if you have any questions. The chairman, Harry Driver, has offered to meet residents at anytime to tackle issues as they arise.