Sunday, 26 July 2009

Anton River Clean-Up

Today I joined some fellow Councillors, Asda staff, helpers and Test Valley Borough Council employees - in a clean-up of Anton river between the two bridges by the Asda store.

It gets cleaned once every two weeks by our environmental services department - but today we blitzed it with about 12 of us. We retrieved 14 dust bin sacks full of rubbish, 2 trolleys, a bike and a traffic cone. The wellies I was wearing didn't exactly serve their purpose when I encountered the deep bit and the water flooded over the top. Despite this it was a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon - whilst doing our bit to clean up the local area.
Cllr Lynn & Myself in Anton River

Friday, 24 July 2009

Chloe Smith Wins Norwich North

Chloe Smith has just been elected the new MP for Norwich North with a fantastic majority of over 7,000. That is a swing from Labour to the Conservatives of about 16%. Chloe and the team fought a fantastic campaign and with much support from the voluntary party across the whole country.

I visited Norwich on Tuesday to help deliver pledge leaflets - it was an excellent well organised campaign. I am sure Chloe will fulfill her promise of being a strong, independent voice for Norwich. A clear message has been sent to Gordon Brown today - that not only are the Conservatives ready for Government, the people also want them to Govern.

Chloe Smith giving her acceptance

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Norwich North

Yesterday I accompanied Juliet Henderson & Rodger Jones from the North East Hampshire Constituency to Norwich North to help in the by-election.
It was a wet a muggy summers day, but it was a great day and with fantastic camaraderie we got through a lot of work helping our excellent candidate Chloe Smith. After a good 3 and half hour drive from Hampshire to the Sector 2 office in Norwich - we set about delivering pledge letters. Fighting through the on off showers and stopping for a quick sandwich we managed to do a good four hours delivery - to help get Chloe's message out to the people of Norwich.

The News of the World published these results of an ICM Poll on Sunday on how they predict the percentage of the vote to break down;

Tories – 34%

Labour – 30%

Lib Dems – 15%

Greens – 14%

It is very close and still all to play for - I expect a Conservative Victory overturning the 6,000 - Labour majority though. I will put the results on here when they come in either late Thursday night or Early Friday morning.
Chloe Smith

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

The Bravest & The Best

This afternoon I hot footed it back down to the South of the Borough (after being in Stockbridge this morning), to join some of my fellow Councillors in Romsey Abbey to Welcome back home the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment after tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was a very moving service - especially remembering those three Soldiers of the regiment that never came back. After the Abbey it was back out onto the street to watch the regiment exercise their freedom to march through Romsey. Every shop was decorated with the Union Jack and school children and adults alike waved the Union Flag as the troops received a well deserved round of applause. Our troops serving our Country - are the bravest and the best in the World.

March Past in Romsey

Job Clubs & Youth Groups

This morning I was at the Grosvenor Hotel at Stockbridge and sat in on the Test Valley partnership education & learning meeting. I was there to discuss and to help bring forward the setting up of two jobs clubs serving the boroughs residents as a result of the responding to the recession conference in which I raised the idea. Things are taking shape and with the help of a lot of people and organisations who have put in an awful lot of work - we are looking to go live in September. watch this space for more information.
After the meeting I shot back down the Valley to Andover to drop in on the Askalot community shop in King Arthurs Way. It was full of young teenagers using the computers, and the staff there are doing a wonderful job. After that it was down to Roman Way - to visit a resident who has been asking me about some sort of further community provision on Roman Way - which I am also working on. Again that will be updated here.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Cantari & Carnival

It was once again a busy weekend, Councillors Surgery on Saturday morning, where I spoke to many people and helped them out with issues that they raised. Remember if you wish to visit Councillors surgery we are in the Guildhall the 1st and 3rd Saturday in the month and in the Rendezvous every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month. It starts at 10am and goes on to midday.
On Sunday I went to the Winton Conservative Branch fundraising event - and enjoyed an afternoon of cantari singing. The Cantari singers were fantastic and did a good job battling the wind, rain and sirens to deliver a great performance. After a quick chat with every one over a scone and a cup of tea - I hot footed it into town with the Deputy Mayor to watch the carnival procession come into Vigo Park. The carnival was great this year and there was a real party atmosphere. One of the highlights had to be 'Thats Centretainment' winner Jamie Walsh - singing on stage, she was excellent. After chatting to the stall holders it was over to the beer tent for a swift half and to shelter from the inclement weather, before heading home.

The carnival parades into Vigo Park

Monday, 6 July 2009

Cut the Quangos

Last week - whilst I was once again on my soap box arguing that Quangos should be cut down and accountability returned to politicians - somebody asked me what a Quango was. No just what it stood for - it may be hard to remember that the acronym stands for Quasi Autonomous Non Governmental Organisation, but what they actually where. It is surprising that in a day when Quangos have so much of an effect on peoples lives they don't know what they are.
Today David Cameron will lay out his plans to cut down on Quangos - to return the Policy making function to politicians - not unelected bureaucrats.

Friday, 3 July 2009

How can we make Local Governmnet more accountable?

I have a letter published in the Andover Advertiser today about making local Government more democratic and accountable. Here it is;

Dear Sir,

It was great to see in a recent edition of the Andover Advertiser the ideas of Conservative politicians Daniel Hannan MEP and Douglas Carswell MP were being talked about. In their book the Plan; twelve months to renew Britain they set out a whole range of reforms to make sure Parliament is more accountable not just a creature of the executive – they promote the shifting of power from the state to subjects; from the government to parliament; from Whitehall to communities; from the EU to Britain and one of the most important, from Central Government to Local Government.

In this very newspaper we saw a bit about their campaign for more effective Local Government. At the moment and thanks to a decade and a bit of Labour, Local Government is on its knees. They have transferred power to unelected & unaccountable regional agencies; they have transferred power to the quangos. Much of what local government does – not by any means all - is to have to take a lead and listen to these unelected bureaucracies in which government has entrusted its power. The result of this is a decision making process that isn’t local – and all local politicians say is “we had to do this we had no choice – it has been forced on us by government”. In this scenario no-one is accountable and we wonder why there is little turnout in Local elections. I am sure local politicians of all parties and none would support a more democratic outlook. Carswell & Hannan are proposing we change this and I for one support their ideas, to; Abolish regional development agencies, regional government offices and transfer power to local councils; scrap the department of communities and local government and pass its powers to local authorities; grant English Counties and Cities responsible for all areas of policy which under the 1998 Scotland Act are devolved to the Holyrood Parliament – thus solving the West Lothian Question.

You may think I am supporting this because I am a Local Councillor and I want more power – nothing can be further from the truth. I want Local Government to be more responsible, more accountable, if the electorate believes that a particular governing party (whoever they may be) are not doing a very good job – then they can throw them out at the ballot box – because ultimately with increased powers that authority would be responsible.

Cllr Phil North

Alamein Ward

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Yes Vote in Town Council Referendum

The results of the Community Governance Review (referendum) were declared today, in which Test Valley Borough Council asked the people of Andover whether or not they wanted an Andover Town Council. Andover is currently the only un-parished area in Test Valley. Test Valley Borough Council were required to carry out the CGR (referendum), after receiving a petition of over 10% of Andover's electorate who said they supported the idea of a Town Council.

My view all along and I have voiced it on a number of occasions is that I am not convinced that Andover needs a Town Council. It has its benefits, it would inevitably create some civic pride, it could make comment on planning applications, it could raise funds and provide some local services however it would create an extra level of politicians, may cost more and have a limited say on major issues. While my own personal view is not a strong yes it also not a strong no - and I said if the people of Andover wanted a Town Council then I would be prepared to support one.

Today we have seen that 61.2% of the people that responded to the referendum support the setting up of a town council compared to 38.8% who have said no. I am of course disappointed that turnout was only just over 15% - but that tells me that 85% aren't concerned either way or they would have taken the time to reply. Therefore I am prepared to accept that it is the will of the Andover people to set up a Town Council and will be voting that way when it goes through to full council.

50K re-furb for King Arthurs Hall and Atholl Court Area

At a meeting of Test Valley Borough Council's full Council on Monday I asked the Housing Portfolio holder Cllr Sandra Hawke about a capital grant to be spent improving the Atholl Court shop area in King Arthur’s way as part of the Turnaround project. The Turnaround project has been a great success and I very much welcome this cash injection of 50k to improve the area. I asked her, what was being done? What consultation had taken place? And when the work was due to start?
This was her response;

"This money is allocated for repair and refurbishment of King Arthurs Hall, and the enhancement of the area around Atholl Court shops. These properties are owned by TVBC, and since the start of the Turnaround Project, and subsequent formation of the Community Association, the Hall and the successful Askalot shop are increasingly used as expanding community facilities for the Alamein ward.

Informal consultations were held with the Community Association and local people using both the Hall and the shops, to ask what they saw as most needed, and as a result the upgrade will include new windows, with shutters, the main entrance, upgrade of toilets, external lighting and general improvement to the outside areas. The first phase of the upgrade will begin as soon as the plans and costings are completed”.

When the plans are completed I will update you on when the work is due to start and the exact details of what is proposed.