Wednesday, October 31, 2007

An Almighty Clock-Up

Last Saturday the clocks went back...sorry, what did you say? It should have been Sunday? Well I know that, you know that. Unfortunately for some, Sutton Council's Parking Services didn't. Eighteen parking meters had their clocks turned back during Saturday resulting in at least one resident who had to spend extra on another ticket.

When the Lead Councillor for Parking Services , Colin Hall, was discussing the matter with two of our councillors on Tuesday in the Civic Offices, it had to be pointed out to him that the clock in the room had not been changed a full three days after British Summertime had finished.

The parking mistake is not the first. Fifty three parking tickets were issued on New Year's Day after Councillor Hall had assured residents that parking charges would not be levied on public holidays.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Salisbury Road Orchard Reprieve

As many residents in the Salisbury Road and Carshalton Park Road area will know, the site of 32a Salisbury Road was an orchard. I have written before how the open green space created by the layout of neighbouring gardens has maintained this heritage. The recent application to build four houses on it has been rejected. Although I wrote to neighbours a little while ago, it is worth detailing the reasons for refusal in order to combat similar inappropriate developments:-

(1) The proposals by reason of plot size, scale and building form would be out of keeping with the prevailing character of the surrounding residential area, and be harmful to its character and appearance. The application is therefore contrary to Policies BE1, and HSG1 of the Sutton Unitary Development Plan.
(2) The proposed development by reason of its scale and backland siting, would have an adverse effect on the amenities and outlook currently enjoyed by neighbouring residents contrary to policies BE14, BE18 and HSG1 of the Sutton Unitary Development Plan.
(3) The drawing no(s). relating to this decision is/are LBS01, SR-1-102, SR-1-103, SR-1-104, Design and Access Statement.
(4) The proposed development would provide a poor standard of accommodation for future occupiers through the likely substandard size of proposed bedrooms, bathrooms, and living/dining/kitchen areas, contrary to Supplementary Planning Guidance 7 - Internal Housing Standards.
(5) The proposed development would lead to an increase in traffic movements to and from the existing rear access with substandard width, inadequate geometry and layout, which would cause danger and inconvenience to all users of the proposed access. The application is therefore contrary to policies TR21 and TR29 of the Sutton Unitary Development Plan, and Supplementary Planning Guidance 12 - Design for the Layout of New Streets.

The applicants are able to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol so the battle is not yet over. Thanks to everyone who sent their objections to the Council.

Monday, October 15, 2007

BBC Should Have Gone To Specsavers

In the week that Political Correctness came to Sutton, the BBC showed that they still had what it takes. The newspapers have been covering the story of the sacking of Peter Fincham, the BBC Executive who has been made scapegoat for the dodgy editing of the documentary about the Queen. Speculation suggestst that he has taken the rap for the most senior woman at the BBC, Jana Bennett, Director of Vision.

Why has no-one asked the obvious question which is what on earth is a Director of Vision? Since the BBC is still largely a television company, I would have thought the vision thing would have been a given. Oh well, someone ask the monkey.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Keynote Speaker at UKIP Conference

Whilst I'm enjoying some partisan party politics, someone sent me this clip from last week's UKIP party conference. Not sure about the bit when he claims that UKIP MEP, Godfrey Bloom stood on his head but at least he was allowed to say his bit. Hurrah for freedom of speech.

Save Our Seats

This table appeared on Electoral Calculus yesterday. This is a website that averages out recent polls to make a prediction on how many seats would be won at a General Election.

Maybe it was the dismal news for the LibDems that led to this
call for reinforcements?

Surely, I'm allowed a political free hit every now and again?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Totem Pole Caption Competition

You may have seen this competition featured on the front page of last week's Sutton Guardian or in my last ward newsletter.
Regular readers will know that the totem poles are my pet subject with £23,000 of taxpayers' money (via landfill tax credits not council tax, but taxpayers' money nonetheless) wasted on public art looking out of place opposite a hospital that is in danger of closure through a lack of cash. At the last council meeting we were told that we shouldn't refer to them as Totem Poles for fear of offending Indigenous North American natives.
Imaginary offence to North American Indians is not a reason to rename them. Maybe the fact that they haven't got a series of heads sitting on top of each other is reason enough. Let me know what they should be called. The best entry as judged by me wins a bottle of House of Commons Whisky signed by David Cameron. Send your entries to (substitute the AT for the usual sign, I don't want a whole load of spam in the meantime.) Leave a suggestion or two in the comments section as well.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Burma Updated

On the day that people marched through Westminster to continue the protests against the atrocities against peaceful demonstrators in Burma, an article went up on the Sutton Guardian website about my experience at the Burmese Embassy at the end of September. I am very grateful to journalist Heather Darlington and the Sutton Guardian to diverting from their normal diet of local news to highlight such an event. You can read the article here.

I edited my previous video in a hurry before rushing to Blackpool so I have re-edited it with better sound. You can watch it here. Finally whilst I'm linking to everyone, have a quick scoot around the Burma Campaign UK website to see how you can add your voice.

Farage Joins Cameron's Conservatives?

Iain Dale reports that Sam Farage, son of UKIP leader and MEP Nigel, has joined Exeter University branch of Conservative Future. One sensible chap in the family then.

One Brown Bottler Sitting On The Wall

Gordon Brown hasn't exactly covered himself in glory this week. Having just published a book called "Courage", he chooses not to show any himself in ducking an election.

It has been an unedifying sight to see the Prime Minister allow election fever to continue in the media and in Westminster when he could have snuffed it out weeks ago. His trip to Iraq during the Tory Party Conference was nothing but electioneering as illustrated by the announcement that he was bringing 1000 soldiers home, depite the fact that 500 of these had already been announced and 270 were already home. The following day he "opened" a new medical centre in Basildon that had, in fact, opened three months earlier.

He has now alienated many journalists as evidenced by ITN's Daisy McAndrew telling viewers that GB had called his "pet interviewer" (Andrew Marr) into No. 10 to tell him that there would be no election. In this interview he assures us that he never meant to have an election all along and that the polls showing a 7% swing in a single week, had no bearing on his decision. These polls included one for the News of the World showing the Conservatives ahead in the marginal seats that will swing an election. He has spent the first 100 days trying to show himself as a Statesman, dealing with admittedly difficult situations such as the terror attacks, the floods and foot and mouth. However he has undone this work in a few crazy days, when he has shown that when push comes to shove, he is just another politico that wants to play party politics. Unlike the previous situations, his love of party politics meant that he found himself like a child in a sweet shop unable to resist the temptation.

Two things shine out from this debacle. Firstly, if the PM can treat the truth and therefore the public with such disdain and condescension what will he be doing when it comes to other serious state affairs. Secondly, he has confirmed what those in Westminster knew, that he is cautious to the point of losing his best opportunity to win. This happened in 1994 when he did not contest the Labour leadership after the untimely death on John Smith and haunted him through the Blair years. The Conservative Party now has plenty of time to complete its policy review and come up with a comprehensive plan for change over and above the excellent proposals for cutting Inheritance Tax and Stamp Duty. Things won't be getting any better for Gordon.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Resignation Is In The Post

So, the postal strike by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) began today against modernisation of the postal service. The Royal Mail loses 5p per letter delivered but the unions want to keep their heads in the sand. Instead of efficiency savings, the net result is further cuts in Post Offices hitting the elderly and those in rural areas hardest.

I daresay, the same people will be selling copies of the Socialist Worker that I saw at the protest outside the Burmese Embassy. It was indicative of their headstrong failure to keep a sense of reality that they failed to see the irony of the fact that we were protesting against a socialist dictatorship.

Meanwhile Bob Crow is still flexing his muscles with his London Underground colleagues and the Local Government Pay award has not been agreed. Should be an interesting winter.

Picture: Beau Bo D'Or

Monday, October 01, 2007

Business Questions

Last Monday, I sat on a panel for a Business Question Time session organised by Sutton Council and Sutton Business Forum. The other panellists were local MPs Paul Burstow and Tom Brake, council leader Sean Brennan and Roger Mills, MD of Newsquest, the publishers of the Sutton Guardian.

Although it wasn't the bearpit of television's Question Time, there were clear differences in our approach to Sutton High Street. Tom Brake advocated taxing the pubs on the High Street. Whereas I believe that it is a good idea for the businesses to take on more responsibility in keeping their neighbourhood safe and tidy, simply taxing them smacks of the politics of envy. He explained weakly that the large pub chains make a massive profit, they could afford it. This fails to take into account that such a move only perpetuates these faceless corporations making our town centres identikit High Streets. How would a single landlord survive such a move? Back to the drawing board for that policy, Tom.