Wednesday, January 23, 2008

22 Reasons Not To Vote LibDem

Excellent article on the Sutton Guardian website this afternoon which you can read here.

The Sutton LibDem MP has sent out a magazine resembling the sort of 'Real Lives' magazine that usually has articles like pets uncovering extra-marital affairs and Britain's Biggest Love Rat etc. Have a look at an example and play spot the difference.

Despite the LibDem Chief Whip failing to save a single post office from closure and, indeed losing the whole postal town of Cheam, twenty two posed photos appeared in the glossy tome. The Guardian article in describing it as exhibiting new levels of narcissism, pointed out that Rembrandt may have turned out 40 unvarnished self-portraits but at least the versatile Dutch master spread them over half a century.

Sadly I often remind myself of the epithet "Politics is showbusiness for ugly people." Ploughing out this sort of lightweight newsletter doesn't really help politicians from any party raise people's expectations of us.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

GLA Website Used As Ken's Re-election Tool

Beleagured Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone seems to be using the main website covering the Mayor's Office, the GLA and other London bodies as his own personal rebuttal service.

There are 17 rolling links on the front page of the website, 10 of which are defending Livingstone in the face of fierce criticism by the Evening Standard, Channel 4's Dispatches programme, BBC's Politics Show and - let's face it - anyone with a voice.

His tenure of the mayoralty has been shown to be shabby, deep in the mire with some very shady characters stretching well beyond London. Even his triumphant cheap fares for Londoners is being subsidised by some of the poorest people on the planet in Venezuela so that he can strut the world stage and dictator Hugo Chavez can find a friend.

Boris described Livingstone as being like Marlon Brando at the end of Apocalypse Now, yearning for the end. It's an end which can't come soon enough for Londoners.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Conservatives support Nonsuch Mansion

Nonsuch Mansion plays a vital role in the Heritage of the Borough. Sited in Nonsuch Park, Cheam it is administered by a joint committee comprising of councillors from Sutton, Kingston and Surrey Councils. There has been considerable doubt as to its future for a number of years, with Surrey County Council as the owners, the final arbiters.

Recently, the Local Committee for that area under the chairmanship of Graham Whitham agreed an urgent motion supporting the retention of Nonsuch Mansion and its adjacent parkland for public use and access. This attracted the support of Sutton Council's Executive.

Graham Whitham, also a Cheam ward Councillor, attended a public meeting in Ewell where he conveyed both the Committee's and the Council's backing for the campaign to keep the Mansion in public use. The support was welcomed and we are continuing to push for this valued local amenity to be kept within public use rather than be surrendered to private development.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Our New Twin Town?

Salford Council has wasted £75,000 of a regeneration grant on this sculpture on a roundabout in Cadishead, near Manchester. Some say that "Marge and Steel" pays tribute to the town's industrial heritage and that it is an "inspired piece of work," others call it "a giant barbecue with lap dancers on the side."

Personally I think that it looks like two mating wigwams and so links nicely with our very own totem poles. Rather than inspiring warm memories of successful industry, it looks unfinished and shoddy, thus devaluing the efforts of the region's businessmen to keep some semblance of industry in the area.

The final kick in the teeth for Sutton residents is the thought that the poor settlement that our Council receives from the Government is to redistribute funds into areas just like this in the North.

Wait Till Your Father Gets Home

Before Christmas, the Sutton Guardian likened Council Leader Sean Brennan to Scrooge, after the LibDems announced their draft Budget which will lead to yet another inflation-busting rise in Council Tax.

Now, the same newspaper reports a stern warning by the father of one of the Deputy Leaders of the Council to think of pensioners before committing them to finding the extra cash from a pension that won't see an increase anywhere near the tax hike. David Dombey, Chairman of the Sutton Seniors Forum reminded his daughter and her colleagues that "Anyone just on state pension is likely to suffer as council tax represents a large percentage of their spending."

Ken Andrew, our parliamentary candidate has met retired residents who have told him that they have had to choose which meals to miss in order to pay their Council Tax bill. I hope that the LibDems still listen to their parents and heed the warning. Amongst the people that will not fret about their bills in April are the two Deputy Leaders who received an extra £6000 allowance each this year and the residents of Conservative Hammersmith and Fulham who can look forward to a second successive reduction in their bill. Meanwhile we wait with baited breath to see if our increase is less than the 4.9% of last year, the second highest increase in London.

H/T for photo before hamfisted changes, Cllr. Phil Taylor

Westmead Road Residents Getting the Hump

600 residents on or around Westmead Road and Lower Road were consulted on a traffic calming scheme shortly before Christmas. This was as a result of the poor accident record in Lower Road.
Proposals included two mini-roundabouts, changes to junctions and several speed cushions. Ward councillors were asked for comments on the plans following the consultations. Now, I have a well-publicised aversion to speed bumps at the best of times as they are too often used as a lazy-man's way of "doing something". The question was asked of residents "Do you agree with the road narrowing and speed cushions along Westmead Road between the mini roundabout junction with Shorts Road and the junction with Ringstead Road?" 59 people said yes, 82 people said no. In the amended plans, I was amazed to see that all 10 speed bumps remained between these two roads despite a clear rejection. The justification was that accompanying comments only feared that they would lose parking spaces. Since that wasn't the case, it was OK to leave the bumps in.

Needless to say that this was unanimously rejected by us. Since the problems occur up to a mile away from the humps in Sutton Central (whose councillors graciously approved the speed bumps in our patch), I cannot for the life of me see why Westmead Road residents should suffer the extra noise, pollution and inconvenience of speed cushions. Watch this space for updates.

Update: I am informed by Cllr Janet Lowne that the Sutton Central councillors only approved the changes in their ward. I'm happy to set the record straight.