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View Article  You shouldn't encourage them........
So said a passer by when I was buying the Big Issue yesterday.
Shouldn’t encourage what? Encourage people to work their way up from the very bottom of societies ladder? Does he think that people choose to be homeless?
Attitudes like that sicken me. No doubt he went back to his cosy home. Let’s be honest, it is in no small part down to luck that I’m not homeless, there but for the grace of God…..
Some of these people are earning their own money for the first time in their lives – it is hard to imagine what that must be like.
The Big Issue has provided a means for homeless people to work their way off the streets for many years – it would not be an exaggeration to say that it has saved lives. But, hey let’s not encourage them.
I for one will keep on buying the Big Issue, and if that means keeping on encouraging them, then so be it. I happen to think that Big Issue sellers need all the encouragement they can get.   more »
View Article  United we stand
The labour movement includes a broad range of people, from ordinary working people, through the organised trade unions, to the Parliamentary Labour Party.
One thing we all do, or should, have in common is that we believe that “by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more together than we do alone”.
 
It is thus disquieting to hear such things as union leaders attacking Ed Miliband, saying that there is no difference between the main parties, especially in the light of Ed Balls’ recent announcement that we may not be able to end the public sector pay freeze immediately in the event of Labour forming the next government.  (He wasn’t agreeing with the cuts, he was saying that we will be in such a poor state after 5 years of Tory led misrule that we won’t be able to undo all the damage immediately).
 
The union leaders and the PLP need to talk to each other – they are both the representatives of the organized labour movement.  In-fighting helps no-one except the Tories. 
 
If there are any disagreements, they must stay in private – in public, everyone must show a united front – we need to be fighting the Tory led coalition, not each other.
 
I’m not asking for a return to the so-called “beer and sandwiches” days of the 1970s, and the perception that the union leaders were in control of Downing Street, I’m asking for all unions to support the Labour Party, and for Labour to return to its roots as the political arm of the working people.
 
The Tories spent most of the 1990s fighting amongst themselves, lost power in 1997, didn’t learn form that, kept fighting and still haven’t won an election.  Let them stand as a warning. 
 
Can I end this piece with a plea?
Union leaders – support the leader of the Labour Party – only through the Labour Party do we have a hope of getting a government that will look after the workers.
 
Ed Miliband – listen to the union leaders.  Unions are the life and soul of the organised labour movement – only through them will the voice of working people be heard.
View Article  I'M SPARTACUS
The recent Responsible Reform Report, also known as the Spartacus Report, concerning proposed changes to disability benefits has been launched to an almost deafening silence from the mainstream media.  A more than slightly biased interview on Newsnight being one of the very few mentions.
 
I have suffered from depression for many years.  Whilst it is currently being controlled by medication, if that medication were to stop working, I would struggle to be able to leave the house, never mind hold down a job.  If that were to happen, the proposed cuts to disability benefits would leave me in a very vulnerable position.
 
Leaving my own situation aside, is it not disgraceful that some of the most vulnerable people in our society are being made to bear the brunt of the Tories ideologically motivated cuts in order to pay for the crisis caused by greedy bankers and their ilk.
 
A lot of hard work has gone into the Spartacus report by some very dedicated people – the recent defeat inflicted on the Government by the House of Lords is one example of what campaigning can achieve.
 
The battle continues – the Tories have vowed to reverse the Lords decision – the pressure needs to be kept on.
 
I’m proud to, in my own small way, nail my colours firmly to the mast, and say I’M SPARTACUS
View Article  An Open Letter to Nick Clegg
Dear Mr Clegg,
Last night, the House of Lords rejected proposals to means test the benefits of young disabled people and cancer patients.
This morning, Chris Grayling has said that the Government will seek to reverse the Lords amendments.
You have been in coalition for nearly 2 years. This coalition has involved many difficult decisions, as does any form of government. You cannot fail to be aware that the credibility of your party has suffered as a result of some of your decisions, however, here is your chance to regain some of the credibility that you have lost.
By oppposing the reversal of the Lords amendments, you and your party can show that you are not in thrall to the Tories and their cuts agenda, that you are still your own party.
This is an opportunity for the Liberal Democrats to re-assert themselves, please think long and hard about the stance your party (YOUR party, not David Cameron’s) is going to take on this vital issue.
Please support the Lords amendments.

Yours,
A Well Wisher
View Article  Remembering the Fallen
Yesterday, in my capacity as mayor of Braunstone Town, I was honoured, and a little humbled, to attend the annual Battle of Britain memorial service held by the Royal Air Force Association.
With the passage of time it would be easy to forget just how close we came to being invaded during those dark times.  It is important that the sacrifices made by the RAF during the Battle of Britain are remembered, and that we pay our respects to the fallen.
 
The service itself was very good, with 2 Air Cadets giving a potted history of the Battle of Britain, and to add a bit of jollity, the Enderby Youth Band playing “Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines” as we departed the church.
 
I was privileged to be amongst the party taking the salute as both Cadets & Veterans took part in the parade after the service.  One veteran making his way slowly behind the rest of the parade with absolute determination to march past the saluting base, no matter how long it took.
An inspiring sight indeed.
 
The Air Cadets & the Enderby Youth Band playing their part in the service reminds me of how much good work is done by young people.
The media are all too quick to talk about “feral youth”, however little to no coverage or acknowledgement of the positive side.
 
Anyway, the event was something I was proud to be involved with.
View Article  I'm sorry Mr Letwin, but you're not on.
I find the recent comments from Oliver Letwin to be repulsive. To state that what the public sector needs is fear & discipline in order to increase productivity is the kind of language I would expect from an 18th century mill owner, not from a 21st century politician.
I have worked in the civil service since 2005 - I have come across some very good people, doing their work well, often under severe pressure. Is it desirable to increase the pressure by making them “fearful for their jobs”? No.
Some of my friends and relatives work in the teaching profession. They are already “fearful” of OFSTED, in some cases “fearful” of their own pupils. Do they need yet more pressure added? No.
The word “discipline” gives me cause for concern - disciplinary procedures are all to often used to decrease staff numbers (and therefore the wage bill) without having to go through all that tedious business of justifying and paying redundancy.
It’s all well and good for Letwin and his ilk - their jobs are safe until the next election - the possibility of fixed term parliaments giving even more job security. And if people do wise up to Letwin and his cohorts, they will no doubt be parachuted into a safe by election at the earliest opportunity, not to mention the fact that they will no doubt pick up a handful of lucrative directorships to keep the wolf from the door.
Both public & private sectors need support during these difficult times, not mindless pronouncements from politicians, made solely for ideological reasons.
View Article  Credit where credit's due
The Credit Union movement in the UK has made great advances over the last decade, however we still lag behind many other countries.

In 2009, 3 million Australians were members of a credit union - 24.0% of the economically active population.
In the USA, the figures were 91 million - 44.3%. Canada - 10 million - 47.0%.
Ireland had 2 million members - 75.4% of the economically active population.
In the UK however, there were just 788,000 members - only 2.0%. (source: World Council of Credit Unions).

Credit unions provide an ethical, responsible means of borrowing money without resorting to high interest money lenders. However, they received next to no publicity, meaning that many people are unaware of their existence.

In a society that put people before profit, credit unions would take their place on every high street, and would be the first place people would go for financial advice or assistance.

Sadly, we have instead seen a proliferation of businesses lending money at exorbitant interest rates, making profits out of people’s misfortune and hardship.

Any potential socialist government must make the promotion and development of credit unions an absolute priority.

As I said above, the movement has grown over the last decade. Here’s to further growth under a new government.
View Article  Miliband must keep up pressure on Cameron
The debate in the commons about the takeover of BSkyB was the first time since I don’t know when that the leader of the opposition has led the prime minister.  Led, in fact, to the point where the PM shied away from the debate.
 
Ed Miliband now needs to capitalise on this situation – he has gained the political initiative, and this is not an opportunity to be wasted.
 
The furore over public sector pensions is still ongoing.  Whether condoning strikes or not, now is the time for a clear vision as to how pensions can be made fair for all workers, both public and private sector, without disadvantaging either sector, or robbing anyone of pensions that they have paid into. 
 
A strong vision for communities in this country, a vision which includes the state playing its part, and essential services being provided properly will bury the flawed Big Society idea once and for all.
 
Changes to the benefit system, especially those changes that will hit the disabled hardest must be opposed with renewed vigour.
 
There may be opportunities to reach out to the Lib Dems – their reputation is in tatters, their opinion poll ratings are on the floor.  Only by re-discovering a progressive agenda can they hope to gain back any credibility,
 
Ed Miliband’s strong stance on News International has started to put Cameron on the back foot.  It is vital that he is kept there.
View Article  "Hackgate" - where now?

The recent “hackgate” revelations have served to illustrate, among other things, how far the media will go to influence politics and the political leaders of our country.

This influence has largely gone unchecked for at least the last 20 years – mostly due to public disillusionment with politics, with the result that those in power have been left to get on with it.

“Hackgate” has started to wake people up to what has been going on in the corridors of power – maybe we will see a new interest in how our country is governed, and a new enthusiasm for holding politicians to account.  The recent local elections showed an increased turnout from previous years.  Who knows how this will increase in the future?

A largely right wing press has had an influence on voting over the last 15 years, now their methods (and with them, their credibility) are being questioned.

The press influence must surely now be waning.  As others have commented, social media is now beginning to increase its influence.  Politicians (both local and national) can send messages direct to those they represent, without any interference from spin doctors.  Although the cynics may say that a politician’s twitter / facebook account need only be a front, and all messages can still be sent by spin doctors, I believe that any politicians found doing this would be on very shaky ground.

This also works both ways – people have always been able to contact their elected representatives, by post and at surgeries, more recently via e-mail, social media lends more immediacy.  Additionally, letters and e-mails are private, whereas social media has a more public aspect, meaning that a politician’s responses can be examined by the wider public.

One thing is certain, politicians can no longer rely on the press, and on low turnouts to keep their seats – could safe seats become a thing of the past?
View Article  Surgery
I am holding a surgery at the Thorpe Astley Community Centre on this Saturday, 5th Feb, from 10.00am - 12 noon.

Please come along if you have any questions, concerns etc, I'll do my best to help.
View Article  Land on Cobbett Road, Thorpe Astley
There has been much concern from residents about the proposal from David Wilson Homes to build on the open space on Cobbett Road.

David Wilson are citing problems with anti-social behaviour as one of the reasons for this.  The local police are not aware of any problems in this area, residents of Cobbett Road are also perplexed as to what this anti-social behaviour entails.

I have written to David Wilson Homes to express my concerns, and have also been involved in a dialogue with Blaby District Council - both parties are well aware of residents' concerns!

Hopefully, this concerted action by the community will make David Wilson think twice about putting in a planning application - I shall continue to monitor this situation closely.
View Article  I know it's only January.......................
Braunstone Town Council have held the first planning meeting for this year's summer fete.  A good meeting - everyone keen to build on the sucess of last year's event.

The fete will be held on 23rd July at Mossdale Meadows - more details to follow in the months ahead.
View Article  Smartwater
I spent some time yesterday with the local Police promoting the Smartwater security system http://www.smartwater.com  (see photo in album.)

There was a good response, hopefully we will now be able to get signs on lamp posts etc showing that we are a "Smartwater area", which also helps as a deterrent for burglars.


View Article  Gritting
I have been in contact with the County Council about gritting of roads in Thorpe Astley.  After a few phone calls / e-mails from myself and other Thorpe Astley residents, the County Council have agreed to grit the roads in Thorpe Astley - at least the main bus routes.

So far, I haven't seen any grit - I'll continue to monitor the situation..........
View Article  Surgery
I will be holding a surgery at the Thorpe Astley Community Centre this coming Saturday (6th) from 10am - 12 noon.

Please come along and let me know of any concerns you have - I'll do my best to help.
View Article  Thorpe Astley News
A meeting was held with various local representatives last Thursday evening.  We were informed by Blaby District Council that the land currently owned by David Wilson Homes will hopefully be adopted by the council in the next 4 - 6 weeks.

Also discussed was the community centre.  We were informed of the bookings that have been made so far, a wide variety of groups providing activities etc for children and adults alike.

The "yellow brick road" around Thorpe Astley is in a state of disrepair - this is currently being looked at by Leicestershire County Council.
View Article  Proposed Urban Extension
Just back from the consultation event at Winstanley for the proposed new town in Lubbesthorpe.

It was good to meet up with the Leicester Forest East Action Group (www.leicesterforesteast-residentsactiongroup.co.uk)  They also have concerns about this development, due to the increased traffic noise, air pollution etc.

They have a meeting arranged for Monday 8th November - 19.45 at LFE parish hall - Kings Drive, Leicester Forest East.

All are welcome to attend, and hear more about the proposed action to try and prevent this massive development.
View Article  The Big Society
A lively debate took place on Monday at the Community Forum about the Big Society.

This is the government's new initiative to encourage people to get involved in their communities.

A good idea on the surface, but as ever, the devil is in the detail.  And the details are lacking at the moment.  There is much talk about how much volunteers can provide, but no mention of actual funding for training, resources etc.  There was an opinion expressed that it is not neccesary to provide any funding, just let the volunteers get on with it.

The voluntary sector does much that they can be proud of, and should be celebrated.  However, the voluntary sector should not be used to provide essential services on the cheap, enabling the government to reduce funding.

Overall, a cautious welcome for the Big Society, but I will be watching the details as they emerge very closely.
View Article  Proposed Urban Extention
Blaby District Council are proposing a development of 4500 new homes to the west of the M1, which will have an impact on our area.

One of the proposed access points is via a bridge over the M1  leading onto Meridial Way.  This would lead to a large increase of traffic on that road, with an impact on noise, air quality, safety etc.

The consultants are holding a series of events to consult the community on this development.

There is an event at Winstanley Community College on Tuesday 26th October 4pm - 8pm.

Anyone concerned about the impact of this new development can go along and put their views forward.
View Article  Surgery Dates
My surgery dates for the next 3 months are:

6th November
4th December
8th January

10.00 - 12.00 at the Thorpe Astley Community Centre.


View Article  Blaby North Community Forum
The next meeting of the Blaby North Community Forum is this Monday, 11th October at:
Kirby Muxloe Free Church,
Main Street,
Kirby Muxloe,
LE9 2AN
starting at 6.30pm.

This is an opportunity for anyone in the Blaby North area (which includes Braunstone Town) to come along and have their say about any concerns etc.  There are often presentations from various organisations e.g. police, health services etc.

Please take this opportunity to find out about things that are happening in our area.


View Article  Diary of an Independent Councillor
Welcome to my blog!

I'm going to use this space to let everyone know what I am doing to represent our area on Blaby District & Braunstone Town Councils.

The Thorpe Astley Community Centre is now up and running - we had a fantastic day last Saturday at the grand opening.  This is the result of many years of hard work by local residents, and councillors.  I am planning to hold surgeries at the centre on the first Saturday of every month - please come along and let me know any concerns you can have, and how I can help you - I'll do my best to get any problems resolved.