Monday, 30 November 2009

'McCartney Direct' Meetings Starts Lincoln's General Election Campaign

Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Lincoln, Karl McCartney, will be holding Public Meetings in every ward of the city over the next two months kicking off the Campaign to turn Lincoln blue again at the next General Election.

The meetings will be held between 6:00pm and 7:00pm where local residents will be given the opportunity to question him. Presumably in the style of a 'Cameron Direct' event which has seen the Conservative Party leader visit communities across the country letting them question him, unscripted and unmoderated.

The meetings will be advertised by a delivery of leaflets to local residents in the week preceding the meetings.

Giles McNeill Responds to Local Residents

A number of local residents have taken the time to comment on this blog or else e-mail me regarding the position I took at the Parish Council meeting held last Wednesday where the Parish Council agreed to object to the planning permission application by Lincoln Rugby Football Club.

One anonymous comment said:
"How can you as an elected representative of our village hold straw polls on you blog and blatantly go against the views and concerns of a very large proportion of village folk?"
And accused me of wanting to destroy our quiet village and of not being sufficiently disinterested in the matter.

In response I would like to say I e-mailed eight local residents to make them aware of the poll. Two I knew to be against, two in favour and four who I did not know there view. They were at liberty to circulate the e-mail. I was pleased and proud that over one hundred and seventy individuals took the time to find my blog and vote on the poll. Polls, like petitions, are always indicative; however, it supported what I was getting on the street when I talked to people in the village - there were those in favour and those against. I believe that a large proportion of the village oppose the Rugby Club's proposals. I also believe that a large proportion of the village support the Rugby Club's proposals. Which is the greater of the two It would be hard to say - although if anyone would like me to pursue a parish referendum on the matter I am prepared to investigate this. Secondly, I have no desire to turn Nettleham into a suburb of Lincoln or for the village to lose its charm and character - In fact I and my fellow councillors often feel we are fighting a losing battle against the planning authority, which often seems in chaos. Finally, I am entirely disinterested in the matter. I in no way benefit from the development nor do members of my family or close friends.

I would like to thank 'Eddie R' and 'Martin, Nettleham' for commenting in support of my actions. At the meeting the Chairman, Cllr. Terry Williams, outlined three possible motions: The Parish Council takes either a positive, neutral or negative view. In the end we only voted on a motion to object to the proposal. I voted against. Had we been given the opportunity to vote on the other suggested positions I would have voted in favour of a neutral position and against a positive position.

'Mikey' posted:
"Whatever Giles's belief is, it remains the case that Britain's planning laws cleary state that highway safety, noise and possible disturbance are all grounds for planning refusal - and these were all valid concerns raised at the meeting."
So let me be clear. I am not in favour of, nor am I opposed to the development, on grounds of planning.

I do not believe that there are planning grounds on which to object - there are certainly concerns, chief of which is traffic, but I suspect that as the Rugby Club's consultants purchased their data from Lincolnshire Highways Department I suspect that the review being conducted by the highways agency is unlikely to come to a vastly different conclusion.

I am not in favour of the proposal, however none of my objections relate to planning permission.

'Mikey' later says:
"My concern is that Giles pursues the democratic process to the best of his ability and does his utmost to put the Parish Council's case for refusal even though he would like to see Lincoln City Rugby club's new regional centre added to the village. I am sure he will."
I hope I have answered the point about my view on the Rugby Club. Mikey is entirely correct. Once the Parish Council has taken a vote on a matter members of the Parish Council should represent what the view of the Parish Council is when challenged. A certain level of collective responsibility, in my view should exist. Sadly our district representative, Cllr. Malcolm Leaning, has disagreed. Whilst I understand and accept his need to remain neutral as he serves on the planning committee at West Lindsey, nevertheless I feel their is room to represent the views of the collective Parish Council without jepardising his neutrality.

I hope that this more clearly sets out my view on this matter.

Accident on A46 at Welton Hill

A motorist has died after skidding on black ice on the A46 Welton Hill bypass.

The accident, which happened just after 6:00am, involved a blue Citroen C2 and a Volvo V40.
Road closures are in place between Nettleham Roundabout and Middle Rasen, along the A46.

It is just one of eight accidents due to icy road conditions on the county's roads this morning.
Other danger spots reported by the police have also include the A158 which runs through North Greetwell.

Inspector Gordon Richard, of Lincolnshire Police, said:
"Now we are entering the winter season the temperatures and weather change dramatically.

"And with black ice you won't have the first inclination it's there until you hit it, so we are urging motorists to take extra care on the county's roads this morning."
UPDATE: 8:30am Monday, 30th November 2009

The Lincolnshire motorist who died following a crash on the A46 bypass on Friday morning has been named.

Neil Smith, 44, of Fern Drive, Market Rasen, died when his blue Citroen C2 collided with a green Volvo V40 at Welton Hill just before 6.45am on Friday.

It is thought the accident was caused by black ice. Mr Smith, who is married, was travelling towards the town and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Volvo driver was said to be travelling in the direction of Lincoln and firefighters were called to pull him from the wreckage of his car.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Edward Leigh Demands Answers Over £61.6bn Secret Loans

Local Parliamentarian, Edward Leigh MP, Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, has today written an angry letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling MP, demanding to know why the £61.6bn loans to Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) have only just been made public.

Mr. Leigh has asked Alistair Darling to clarify if this is the case. His letter says:

"Thank you for your letter of 23 November informing me that the Treasury granted the Bank an indemnity in October 2008 against losses it might incur in providing emergency support to RBS and HBOS. I followed this up with you in the House today and I must say that I cannot regard your answer as a full and sufficient explanation. I shall therefore await your further advice before deciding how to properly discharge my responsibilities in this situation.

"While the Banking Act 2009 (which was not in any case in force at the time) allows Ministers to delay or dispense with the need to report to Parliament in relation to Treasury support for banks paid directly from the Consolidated Fund, in my view this does not override long established protocols governing contingent liabilities.

"Under established rules, which are codified in the Treasury’s own guidance for departments, "Managing Public Money", Parliament would expect to be notified at the time an indemnity is granted. In circumstances where the existence of an indemnity needs to be kept confidential, the rules specify that such notification should be made to the Chair of PAC and the Chair of the relevant Select Committee. In practice under these rules, I and former Chairs of my Committee have been notified of indemnities and other liabilities on a confidential basis and none of us have breached the trust placed in us.

"I am greatly disturbed that the decision was taken to by-pass the rules in this case and would appreciate a full explanation from you. The rules also require Ministers to notify Parliament formally when the need for confidentiality lifts and I would like to know whether in your view this was the earliest opportunity for these matters to be brought into the open or whether it had more to do with the timing of the NAO work on the banking support measures which I understand is to be published next week. I look forward to your early response."

Parish Council to Object to Rugby Club's Proposal

Nettleham Parish Council last night agreed to formally object to the proposal by the Lincoln Rugby Football Club, in their role as a statutory consultee.

At a packed meeting held in the village hall, Parish Councillors voted 4 to 3 (with two abstentions) on a proposal to object.

At the beginning of the meeting Cllr. Terry Williams, Chairman of Nettleham Parish Council, made introductions and welcomed the large number of the public who had made the effort to attend and participate.

Cllr. Williams gave a brief summary, by way of a background, to the activities that had led to the meeting last night.

Ultimately, despite pleas from the Chairman that all councillors should attend only seven participated in casting a vote one way or the other. Cllrs. Sellers and Hill were away on holiday and Cllr. Mrs. Davidson was absent on urgent business. Cllrs. Frith and Leaning both abstained as is their tradition in matters relating to planning.

The vote in the end was very close and represented very much the clear division that exists within our community between the 'yes' and 'no' camps.

I believe that the Parish Council will ultimately struggle to provide a substantive set of planning reasons for objecting. For now however all eyes turn to West Lindsey District Council's Planning Committee who will make a decision now expected as late as Wednesday, 3rd February 2010.

Beware Council Tax Scam

Residents throughout West Lindsey are being urged to be on their guard against fraudsters operating a council tax scam.

In other parts of the country there have been reports of people being approached on the doorstep or by phone by thieves who tell people they have either paid too little or too much council tax.

West Lindsey’s Revenues and Benefits Manager, Alan Robinson said:
“The scam works because people are asked to disclose details of their bank
account so that either a refund can be made or a fine for late payment

“In reality all the fraudsters want to do is get access to
their victims’ bank details.

“We are investigating one case of
someone locally who may have been affected and I would urge everyone to on their

There are a number of variations on the scam. People in Bury have been told they are due to a refund because their property had been rebanded and residents in the North East were offered a no win no fee service to claw back £1,500.

Mr Robinson added:
“It would be very unlikely that the Council would approach someone either on the
doorstep or by telephone with information relating to council tax.

“I would advise anyone who is approached to offer to ring us back
on (01427) 676676 to establish if the call is genuine or not.”

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Giles McNeill's Statement on Lincoln Rugby Football Club’s Planning Application

Nettleham Parish Councillor, Giles McNeill, at a Parish Council Meeting convened to discuss the Lincoln Rugby Football Club's planning application at Nettleham Village Hall, has said:

"West Lindsey District Council, who we know are the planning authority, can only take into account relevant planning considerations. These include: Structure and local plan policies, government planning guidance, planning law and previous decisions, highways safety and traffic issues, noise, disturbance & smells, design, appearance & layout, conservation of historic buildings or trees, residential amenities and environmental impact.

"They can not take into consideration any matter covered by other laws (such as alcohol licensing), private property rights (such as boundary or access disputes), The applicant’s morals or motives, suspected future development, loss of view or effect on value of property, personal position of applicant or objector.

"Let me be clear, planning permission is granted or refused based on planning reasons. This provides the basis for my view.

"We know that a report will be prepared by the Planning Case Officer including all the relevant information and a recommendation to either grant or refuse planning permission.

"Statistics available from the council tell us that the majority of applications – around 91% – are determined under ‘delegated powers’. This means that the Director of Resources has the authority to make a decision based on the information provided by the Planning Case Officer. The remaining 9% of applications are considered by the Planning Committee which meets monthly. Applications will go to committee if; they have received a significant number of objections – which I suspect to be the case in this instance; if the Officer’s recommendation is contrary to the issues raised by objectors; or at the request of a Ward Councillor. I would like to seek a guarantee from our district representatives Councillors Leaning and Frith to ensure that the decision is going to be put before the Planning Committee and not made by the Director of Resources as has happened at their direction in the past – to the frustration of some on this council.

"A lot of nonsense has been banded about in the press and in letters & e-mails. For instance I do not know where the rumour started about there being eleven flood-lit pitches but for those who have read the planning application this is patently untrue – two flood-lit pitch and one mobile secondary system.

"Those who say ‘no’ hold their beliefs every bit as strongly those who say ‘yes’. However, the ‘No’ camp would have us believe that their view prevails across the entire community – a petition collected at the public meeting held by Mr. Perkins at the start of November, indicated that those attending were 96% against and 4% in favour (on a sample of 104). This contrasts sharply with the poll conducted on my blog where figures at the close of the poll earlier today showed only 14% against and 85% in favour (on a larger sample of 171) – our community is divided on this issue.

"In the Nettleham Parish Plan 2007, adopted in May of that year, one of the key objectives identified was the acquisition of land for recreational purposes. The Parish Council had hoped to obtain use of the Police Field, but in a recent letter to the Parish Council from the Police Authority they have firmly rebuffed the idea. The plan made clear this was a preferred option but that alternative options may be considered. Residents who responded to the draft action plan broadly supported encouraging further development of sports fields in the community. 46% agreed with the statement, 36% expressed a neutral view whilst only 18% disagreed.

"I have looked at, in detail, the planning application documentation. I have visited the site. I have followed the coverage in the local press. I have received and responded to correspondence.

"Based on the criteria previously cited I believe that this application is in line with structure and local plan policies, government planning guidance together with planning law and previous decisions. I do not believe that the development would cause any undue disturbance or smells and has no impact on the conservation of historic buildings or trees. I believe that the development would represent a significant addition to residential amenities.

"I like many residents have my concerns about this proposal’s impact upon traffic, both within the village centre and at the junction onto the A158 at the top of Lodge Lane. I have looked at the Transport Statement by Turvey Consultancy Limited and I am sure many residents will be concerned that it forecasts a doubling of traffic on Lodge Lane heading towards the junction of the A158 at peak times. However, as the report makes clear the increase will still leave traffic flow levels at a rate below that which is considered to be capacity for the highway. The only failing of this report is the seeming omission of consideration of the impact of the use of the site by students from Lincoln University on Wednesday afternoons – when traditional inter-mural sport is played. However, I do not foresee that the traffic generated by this activity would be greater than at times of peak flow at the weekend.

"In my view any noise generated at the site will not significantly add to the noise currently generated by activities currently undertaken by Football, Tennis and Cricket at Mulsanne Park. With regard to the design, appearance & layout of the site it is my view that the use of redbrick and timber larch boarding is a good choice to maintain the character of a rural setting. I would prefer that the roofing be terracotta pan-tiles to tie in with local Lincolnshire architectural traditions. I have read with interest the comments made by Defend A Northern Green Environmental Rim (DANGER) who have been at the forefront of protecting this village from coalescing with Lincoln for many years. Whilst I understand their desire for a single story building, the fact remains there is at least one property contiguous with the land of the proposed development which has two stories. There is clear need to provide an adequate platform for spectators, minimise the footprint of the development and measures taken to reduce the visual impact of the site seem thoughtful and appear sufficient.

"I am concerned by one paragraph in the Ecological Survey and would like assurance that development of the site will either take place outside of the nesting season or a thorough search for active nests will be undertaken prior to development beginning . Assuming that this assurance is forthcoming I can see no reason why environmental impact would be a consideration – in fact as Cllr. Hill notes in his representation the development will substantially improve, in his view, the environmental situation.

"In conclusion, it is my belief that there are no planning reasons on which the Planning Authority would have grounds to refuse planning permission."

Parish Council's Decision Day for Rugby Club's Planning Application

This evening Nettleham Parish Council will meet to consider the planning application, submitted to West Lindsey District Council (the Planning Authority), by Lincoln Rugby Football Club at a  meeting being held at the Village Hall, Brookfield Avenue, Nettleham from 7:45pm.

The Rugby Club's proposals first came to light earlier in the year when members of the Parish Council were notified by the Chairman of the Parish Council, Cllr. Terry Williams, that an article would be going in the Nettleham News regarding a proposed development and that an extraordinary meeting would be convened.

Whilst the Parish Council received a considerable amount of criticism for arranging a meeting for mid July - shortly before the school holidays began - at every stage the Parish Council attempted to conduct itself in an open, transparent and accessible way. Unfortunately because of timing, notice of the meeting went out between issues of the Nettleham News meaning that the council's preferred method of publicity was not an option.

Local resident Mr. Steve Perkins, took it on himself to arrange a public meeting in early November and a petition collected indicated that those attending were 96% against and 4% in favour (sample 104). This contrasts sharply with the poll conducted on this blog where figures at the close of the poll showed only 14% against and 85% in favour (sample 171).

The Parish Council's determination is taken in the light of severe troubles at West Lindsey District Council's planning department which has seen one officer put on suspension, at least one officer has left their post, a political storm which is threatening the stability of the ruling Conservative administration & leadership and one Liberal Democrat councillor who is believed to have resigned because of the problems in planning.

Tonight's meeting is expected to draw a considerable crowd. Mr. Perkin's meeting drew a crowd of over 100 and the parish council expect the venue to be swamped by interested parties. The meeting had to be moved following the interest in this issue.

All eyes this evening will be on the Parish Council's decision.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Chief Executive Leaves Amid Growing Crisis at West Lindsey District Council

Update to Investigations Stall at West Lindsey as Liberal Democrat 'Fudge' PrevailsLiberal Democrats Frustrate Investigations at West Lindsey and Fraud Inquiry at West Lindsey..

The Lincolnshire Echo is today reporting that it could be the middle of next year before a successor is appointed to replace West Lindsey District Council's chief executive. Although it was confirmed during last week that Mr. Duncan Sharkey is leaving his post at West Lindsey District Council after nearly five years.

He is expected to remain in post until March 2010 when he will move to become Worcester City Council's managing director. There is some speculation that in the interim he could be temporarily replaced by his deputy Mr. Daren Turner.

A search for a permanent successor will not take place until a review of senior management at the authority has been completed. The Liberal Democrat leadership has raised concerns that two of the three councillors given the task of carrying this out include Leader of the Council, Cllr. Bernard Theobald, Conservative (Wold View Ward) and his deputy Cllr. Adam Duguid, Conservative (Market Rasen Ward).

Cllr. Duguid caused controversy at last week's extraordinary meeting of the council after admitting he had met a officer from the planning department suspended as part of an on-going fraud investigation.

Further Cllr. Theobald refused to confirm or deny whether he was also present and labelled the claims from opposition leader Cllr. Reg Shore, Liberal Democrat Group Leader (Stow Ward), to be
"vague accusations".
But Cllr. Theobald is reported to have said there should be no worries about the involvement of himself or his deputy in the review and their sole aim was to secure best value for taxpayers' cash.

The Liberal Democrats would be required to put forward a member for the senior management review but Cllr. Shore said this would not happen until changes took place. The leader of the opposition described the process as giving him 'serious concerns'.

A reporter at the Lincolnshire Echo has also been fishing for comment on Cllr. Theobald's leadership of the Conservative Group and the Council. A West Lindsey District Council Conservative Group Meeting may be held as early as this week.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Lincolnshire Conservative Future Chairman Removed From Office

Mr. Simon Cavalier-Jones, a Deputy Regional Chairman of Conservative Future, East Midlands wrote to local party activists today saying:

"Following recent incidents, on Wednesday the 18th of November Mr. Fraser McFarland was removed from the position of Chairman for Conservative Future, Lincolnshire. We had hoped to make a formal announcement shortly, although Mr. McFarland continues to present himself in post, despite knowing this is not the case."
From the information available it appears that this decision was made by Regional Chairman for Conservative Future, East Midlands, Mr. Hamish Stewart and has been approved by Mr. Michael Rock National Chairman of Conservative Future.

Above: Mr. Fraser McFarland

Mr. Cavalier-Jones commented further:
"The decision to remove Mr. McFarland from post is not one that was taken lightly, due consideration has been given to a wide range of factors and this has been discussed at the highest levels within CF. It would not be appropriate for me to comment further on the background to this decision in a public message. On behalf of East Midlands CF, I would like to thank Mr. McFarland for his efforts and wish him all the best with his Political Activities."
At the Party Conference, in October, senior members of the party, including members of the East Midlands European team, County Officials and Association Officers expressed their concerns over Mr. McFarland's suitability for the role.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Investigations Stall at West Lindsey as Liberal Democrat 'Fudge' Prevails

Update to Liberal Democrats Frustrate Investigations at West Lindsey and Fraud Inquiry at West Lindsey.

A member of West Lindsey District Council has admitted meeting a planning officer who was suspended as part of a fraud investigation. Cllr. Adam Duguid, Conservative (Market Rasen Ward), made the revelation during a tense two-hour council meeting last night, which saw the Tories defeated in their attempts to push ahead with the authority's investigation of the allegations.

Cllr. Duguid, Deputy Leader of the Council, said the meeting was not planned and that he was ‘ambushed’ by the officer – but confirmed he did speak to him.

The staff member was suspended as part of an on-going inquiry into fraud and mismanagement allegations made against the authority's planning department.

Liberal Democrat leader Reg Shore asked Cllr. Duguid whether he could confirm rumours of senior council members meeting with the suspended officer. Cllr Duguid said:
"I did meet a suspended member of council. However, I did not solicit that meeting and it was unavoidable. I declared that meeting to officers at the earliest opportunity."
Responding to Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Cllr. Reg Shore (Stow Ward) and Cllr. Malcolm Leaning, Liberal Democrat (Nettleham Ward), Cllr. Bernard Theobald, Leader of West Lindsey District Council, Conservative (Wold View Ward), commenting on the proposal to expand number of members and the remit of the 'Investigations and Disciplinary Committee' said:
"I think, I stand here in the same role as every other member of this council and that is to act in the best interest of the council taxpayer. We are charged to represent them. That's what we do, the council is really owned by the public and we are their elected members to come and run the council on their behalf, for their benefit. That is to ensure that we deliver the services they require at a cost that is affordable. And to try also to promote things that act in the well-being and interest of the council tax-payer.

"I heard with interest from Cllr. Leaning who said 'the mess we've got ourselves into'. I'm sitting here trying to think how we've as elected members have got ourselves into this mess because we've had no input into it. This is a mess we had no input into and think that's a problem. We will certainly be held accountable by the public, because we're their members. Therefore it is very important that when we are asked questions by the public we can give them an honest, open and transparent answers. And the only way we are going to be able to do that is by looking at what's happened within the council.

"Now I don't know about this disciplinary matter that was on-going, and I don't know how big an issue it is around other investigations that have taken place or not taken place. The Auditor, remember, is in at our invitation... I've met with the auditor there are issues that were raised in paper G that he said to me, quite categorically, that that is for the Council to look at."
Cllr. Theobald also criticised the way in which the Liberal Democrats' leadership appeared to be trying to gain some political advantage:
"I am sad if this gets turned into a party political football to make political capital out of.

"The auditor said to me that on what he'd seen so far 'their was no question of fraud', in his opinion, in the planning department... But in the meantime we still have a headline batting about out there that says 'Fraud and Mismanagement in the Planning Department'... [The Public] they've seen the headline, it's been put out there, they want to know what's going on."
Ultimately Cllr. Theobald said:
"This is the concern, this council belongs to the members, and the members need to reassure themselves of the conduct of each and everyone of us.. whether by election or whether by employment. We need to know we are all pulling together in the right direction in the best interest of the public, the people we serve."
Cllr. Leaning later responded to Cllr. Theobald's comments about the crisis not being of the members making by saying:
"I am in complete agreement."
In response to a fudge of delaying tactics that the Liberal democrats deployed Cllr. Theobald said:
"This is about being strong and decisive, it's about saying if their are issues here we want to find out what they are and understand them."
Recently re-elected Cllr. Jackie Brockway, Conservative (Saxilby Ward) who crossed the political aisle earlier in the year, gave a strong case for moving forward with the committee, not for the benefit of the councillors, but for the council's employees who do not need the additional burden of holding consecutive, rather than parallel investigations.

Cllr. Reg Shore gave notice that the three Liberal Democrat members would not attend until such time as the Audit Commission report had been received.

Cllr. Theobald, who with 22 Conservative Councillors, 13 Liberal Democrats, 1 Independent and 1 Vacancy (not expected to be filled until May 2010), should have been able to find enough support to carry the motion; but he failed to do so. In the end the motion fell 12:14 with 2 abstentions – Cllr. Theobald declared the issue ‘dead in the water’. Whilst only 28 of the 37 members of the council were able to be in attendance to vote - a number of the Conservative benches must have stayed away.

The Conservative Group Leader said he was disappointed that the opposition group would not allow the investigations committee, which included Cllr Duguid, to expand from five members to eight.

The increase was proposed after the Liberal Democrats refused to provide two members until the independent Audit Commission has completed its review on governance at the authority.

The Liberal Democrat opposition believed the Conservatives were trying to internalise the process by creating this committee.

How this will affect Cllr. Theobald's continued leadership of the Council and Conservative Group is unknown at this time.

Cllr. Theobald told the Lincolnshire Echo the allegations needed investigating to answer public concerns and accused the opposition of a cover-up.
"I am not sure why the Liberal Democrats don't want the matters investigated.

"Losing the vote does not question my authority but does question whether the Liberal Democrats should be in the authority. They are acting in other interests. The taxpayer has a right to know what is happening."
Cllr. Shore said there was ‘no chance’ of a cover-up from his party.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Local County Councillor Appears on BBC's Newsnight

Lincolnshire County Councillor, former Parliamentary Candidate for the Lincoln Constituency in 2001, Cllr. Mrs. Christine Talbot, Conservative (Bracebridge Heath and Waddngton Division) appeared on last night's Newsnight programme on the BBC 2 television channel commenting upon the South West Norfolk Constituency's meeting to deselect Liz Truss who a few weeks ago was selected as their parliamentary candidate.

Introducing the item, iconic Newsnight presenter, Jeremy Paxman, said:
"If someone told you a year ago the greatest challenge to David Cameron's Tory leadership would come from a bunch nick-named the 'turnip taliban' in rural Norfolk, you'd have had trouble being believed.

"Tonight's meeting about whether to de-select Elizabeth Truss as candidate because they didn't know she had an affair with a married Tory MP, Mark Field, a few years ago was surely the most exciting thing to happen in Swaffham since a cardboard box was seen blowing down the High Street.

"In the event a majority backed her, and back down from a confrontation with Mr. Cameron."
After a video package by political correspondent Michael Crick, including footage of Sir Jeremy Bagge - named as leader of the turnip taliban - and the suggestion that if Mrs. Truss was not de-selected he may stand for parliament for a newly created party - Christine Talbot emerged with Sue Catling, a management consultant, Conservative candidate for Calder Valley in 2005 who was de-selected and replaced by Mrs. Truss. Cllr. talbot was asked about the disconnect between the membership of the party and the wider electorate. She responded:
"The problem we face within the party is this centralised control that's going on. And when the rule changed in July that only six candidates could go forward to the selection process it narrowed it down. In the good old days at least twenty went to the first interview and the Association picked those themselves."
Later Cllr. Talbot, responding to criticism of the narrownes of the membership of the Conservative Party says:
"At the end of the day their is a cross section of members in this country which are now in associations they are the people who have got to work with people."
More than two hundred members of South West Norfolk Conservative Association turned-out to participate in the meeting. The final result was 132 for and 37 against keeping Mrs. Truss as the candidate. Speaking following the confirmation of her selection Mrs. Truss said:
"I am absolutely delighted to have been confirmed as the Parliamentary Candidate for South West Norfolk and very much look forward to working with everybody with in the Conservative Association to kick the Labour party out at the election."

Watch the BBC Newsnight's Report on Liz Truss here.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Liberal Democrats Frustrate Investigations at West Lindsey

Update to Fraud Inquiry at West Lindsey.

Investigations into fraud and mismanagement in West Lindsey District Council's planning department have been frustrated by Liberal Democrats failing to participate in an investigatory process.

The five member 'Investigations and Disciplinary Committee' had to adjourn their first meeting after four minutes frustrated because the Liberal Democrat members refused to take part. Liberal Democrat Group Leader Cllr. Reg Shore (Stow Ward), leading the council's opposition, has said the committee alone was not sufficient to examine the matters. The Audit Commission is also conducting it's own investigation at the district council.

Leader of the Council, Cllr. Bernard Theobald, Conservative (Wold View)

The West Lindsey Conservative Group are proposing to expand the investigations committee to include eight councillors at an extraordinary full council meeting to be held Tuesday, 17th November 2009. If the changes are approved, it will allow the committee's five Conservative members to get on with investigations, regardless of whether the three Liberal Democrat councillors agree to join in.

Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Reg Shore has said the Liberal Democrats would only take part after the Audit Commission has completed its investigation. Cllr Shore said:
"The Conservative leadership is desperate to get this all out of the way.

"They cannot do this with the present numbers because they will be inquorate. Therefore they have got to manipulate the system in order to get their own way."
Leader of the Council, Cllr. Bernard Theobald, said tomorrow's meeting was nothing more than an effort to allow the committee to start progressing with its work.

On the West Lindsey District Council Website you can watch the meeting of the Council back in Sepetember when this was discussed.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Exclusive: Local Couple In Favour of the Rugby Club's Development

Local Couple speaks out in favour of Rugby Club Development
A Nettleham couple,has sent their views regarding the Lincoln Rugby Football Club's proposed development.

They say:
"As Secondary School PE teachers, we believe that any development that encourages children to get involved in physical activity and gives them another focus is to be welcomed. In this instance children from four years old to eighteen years old will be actively involved, and the nature of rugby itself promotes self discipline and respect which are admirable qualities."
In their communication they point out their veiw that the 'green belt' will in effect be kept green, with only one building and a relatively, proportionally small tarmaced area for parking. Secondly that there is already an established sports ground abutting the proposed development - namely Mulsanne Park. Thirdly they believe the Rugby Club will make the effort to engage the community and become part of it, whilst not imposing themselves.

The couple attended the residents meeting organised by Mr. Steven Perkins and the following were raised at the recent meeting, they respond that: Regarding increased traffic. Whilst the Rugby Club claim they will direct the traffic on to the A146 (and we do believe they will, as it is in their best interests), the fact is some traffic will go through Nettleham. In their opinion this will not impact greatly on the village. The two busiest times for the Rugby Club are Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, and should people decide to drive through Nettleham when there is a Church wedding or Service on then they will quickly realise there is already a bottleneck and the A158 would in fact be the easier option. Mention was also made of buses coming through the village – there already are school buses and others on a daily basis rather than once a week.

Secondly, regarding the potential for increased light and noise pollution. They believe that when put into context there seems little impact on the surrounds when taking into consideration the light and noise pollution that already exists from the traffic on the A158, the football pitches on Mulsanne Park and street lamps. Taking into account that the light pollution would only be there two nights a week.

Thirdly they mention that there were other complaints at the meeting which seemed rather frivolous, although we are sure no less important to the people involved, for example the impact on horseriding on the bridlepath and the effect the new development will have on those that overlook it; assuming they can see over the existing football pitches!.
"We do know that some residents of the village are concerned about the village ‘growing in size’ or becoming a ‘town’. Once the University decided to expand in Lincoln then expansion has become inevitable. The owner of the land in question is presumably willing/wanting to sell, therefore one must assume there will be a development of some sort in the future. Whether residents are willing or not, change may be on its way in the near future.

"...[W]e are wholeheartedly in support of the proposed development of Lincoln Rugby Club."

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Exclusive: One Resident Against the Rugby Club's Development

Local Resident with Experience of Rugby Club Development Voices Her Concerns
A Nettleham resident, with experience of living near a szable rugby development, has sent her views regarding the Lincoln Rugby Football Club's proposed development.

She says:
"My views on the proposal reflect our years of experience of the Rugby Union development at Twickenham! Thank Goodness we have left all that behind and the chaos which ensued on match and pop concert days/evenings."
The points made can be summerized as an assumption that if development at Lodge Lane goes ahead, it will open the floodgates for evening events, helping to pay for the redevelopment (Subject to a licence being issued by the council for each performance - residents will not be consulted at all and many people will just have to put up with loud music whether they like it or not). Residents should not have to endure this inconvienience. The village that local residents are familiar with will change almost overnight.

Further she expresses concern over unsubstantiated rumours that the Rugby Club will not use all the land owned by the University; that a housing development is likely alongside the A158 following the Rugby Club development.

On match days when, visiting teams arrive, in coaches, with their supporters, it should not be forgotten that the fast food outlets will also pitch up in their vans. They will provide plenty of unwelcome aromas for hours from fish & chips, burgers, onions, hot dogs and so on and so forth. From her experience she states:
"I know that rugby players and supporters do not care for club housecatering and require a regular intake of fried food from mobile vans!"
A further disadvantage of mobile caterers is that they will produce, all be it indirectly, a serious litter problem; particularly in Lodge Lane and potentially beyond - no matter how many refuse bins are provided.

Noise and light pollution will carry for some distance.

Her final point is that traffic will increase drastically, she believes, throughout the village as not all cars will arrive from Lincoln via the A158. Some drivers from further afield will want to save petrol by using their Satnavs to access Lodge Lane via Scothern Road and Vicarage Lane, and also via Brookfield Avenue. They will return the same way as, even now, no-one now wants to queue to turn right for Lincoln from Lodge Lane. Lodge Lane she believes is an extremely dangerous T-junction and will require traffic lights, thus rendering delays to passengers driving towards the City from Sudbrooke, Wragby, Market Rasen and Skegness as well as villages east of Nettleham.

One suggestion that is made is:
"Why can't the Rugby pitches be built at the Showground? There's plenty of land there with few neighbours around to be disturbed!"

Friday, 13 November 2009

Referendum on Electoral Reform Bad Idea with a General Election

I am very surprised that proponents of electoral reform are supporting the idea of a referendum on election day.

Campaigners pressing for a vote on electoral reform have welcomed news from Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw MP that:
"it would be a missed opportunity not to have a referendum on Election Day."
In an interview with the New Statesman the Mr. Bradshaw broke with the government’s stated policy of pushing talk of a referendum into the next parliament. Mr. Bradshaw said:
"if we’re serious about the voters as grown-ups, then let them decide, and I think they’d be perfectly capable of making a decision."
The Vote for a Change campaign and the Electoral Reform Society, two organisations that have been leading calls for a change in how Britain elects parliamentarians have said
"there’s all to play for."
Tessa Jowell MP was among a number of cabinet ministers who earlier in the week mounted a last-ditch effort to include a referendum on electoral reform in the Queen's speech next Wednesday. It is understood that she saw the reform as part of a wider package including directly elected mayors, votes at 16 and primaries for the election of parliamentary candidates.

Mrs. Jowell, the Cabinet Office minister, urged her colleagues
"to recognise that the prize to be won is as the progressive party. The challenge is which party is going to be brave enough and foresighted enough to say we are going to go with these issues.

"If we show that boldness, Labour will be seen as the change maker. It takes brave politics to give power away, and helps people feel more powerful."
However, it will not be an easy referendum to win at the best of times. There isn’t a large majority in favour of Alternative Votes as a poll from YouGov this week indicates that 39% thought we should keep the traditional First-Past-The-Post system whilst 22% favoured Alternative Voting a further 22% favoured another form or Proportioal Representation and 18% said Don't Know (YouGov figures here). With the suggested timing it would be extremely vulnerable to a narrative that it is Labour gerrymandering (c. 1812, American English, from Elbridge Gerry and [sala]mander. Gerry, governor of Massachusetts, was lampooned when his party redistricted the state in a blatant bid to preserve an Anti-federalist majority. One Essex County district resembled a salamander, and a newspaper editor dubbed it Gerrymander) the system before they lose office.

Furthermore, it will get tangled up with the election campaign itself – the referendum will influence the election, but the election will influence the referendum too, and the election is by far the bigger game. A 'Yes' vote will be associated with a moribund and unpopular Labour government, a 'No' vote with an energised and resurgent Conservative party. Further it would be very difficult for the 'Yes' campaign to win the referendum if was held on election day, probably killing the issue for at least a generation.

The image questions in the poll show why it is a attractive idea to the Labour party, but I am surprised the Electoral Reform Society (a group I have had some affinity with in the past - good receptions at party conference) are pushing for a referendum under what would probably be very disadvantageous circumstances for the 'Yes' vote. The alternative, if rumours are to be believed is what John Denham MP is suggesting: Passing legislation now for a referendum on Proportional Representation in a year. The 'Yes' campaign would probably stand a much better chance of winning it then, but the Electoral Reform Society would face the the risk that David Cameron would win power and cancel the referendum - politically damaging, but maybe a price he is willing to pay to keep First-Past-The-Post.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Parish Council's Tax Freeze Remains Solid.

Update to Nettleham Parish Council Agree Tax Freeze.
Related Article: Nettleham Parish Council Budget 2010/11.

Despite signs that the Freeze in the monies raised by the Parish Council through the Precept was cracking and melting under the heat and pressure of the loss of subsidy to the Burial Ground, nevertheless the Freeze has held firm and solid.

Tonight Nettleham Parish Council met at Mulsanne Park Pavilion for our November meeting. One of the key items to appear on the evening's agenda was item 11 - Burial Ground Matters - at out Budget Meeting at the end of October the Parish Council had agreed to look at the fees charged for burials and interments of cremated remains at the Burial Ground which following the withdrawal of a subsidy from the district council meant that the parish council needed to find several thousand pounds to cover the loss of this income stream.

I was concerned that one of the options presented to the councillors was to effectively increase the contribution made by taxpayers to the Parish Council by a 1.39%. In hard times, when people are facing the pinch of the recession, and inflation (RPI Measure) running at minus 1.4% that could represent a real terms increase of 2.79%. An alternative was to increase burial and interment fees by 50%

Fortunately the Parish Council felt convinced by figures I presented which supported keeping the fees at the current levels. Further, based on the figures for the first half of the current financial year, and the cuts made to the budget to run the burial ground I firmly believe we will be able to provide the burial ground service at no cost to local taxpayers in the future.

Open Europe publishes 50 new examples of EU waste

Today, the EU's accountants – the European Court of Auditors (ECA) – have published their annual report on the EU’s budget. The ECA has refused to give the EU’s accounts a clean bill of health for the 15th year in a row, owing to fraud and mismanagement in the budget. Like last year, the auditors did sign off the Commission’s own accounts, saying that they accurately represented how much money was raised and spent.

Although the ECA’s report is about the management of the accounts, the occasion represents an opportunity to take stock of the EU budget as a whole. Because while mismanagement of the accounts continues to be problematic, arguably the most important issue is the fact that the EU budget is hugely wasteful and irrational in terms of what the money is actually spent on, and where the money is spent.

The budget is dominated by two failing policies which even the current UK Government is essentially opposed to: the Common Agricultural Policy, and the so-called Structural Funds. The sheer size and complexity of these two top-down spending programmes means the EU's budget is wide open to waste and mismanagement, regardless of whether the blame lays with the Commission or the member states. The budget therefore represents extremely bad value for taxpayers' money.

To illustrate this, Open Europe has produced a list of 50 new examples of EU waste. The list is by no means comprehensive, but designed to show the types of peculiar projects on which EU money has been wasted in the past. They give a light-hearted illustration of what is wrong with the EU budget, and the need for fundamental reform.

Open Europe Research Director Mats Persson said:
"The Commission tries to put the blame for fraud and waste on the member states, but the real problem is the EU budget itself. The EU’s spending programmes are overly complex, irrational and hopelessly out of date. Until they are subject to root-and-branch reforms, or scrapped altogether, waste and fraud will continue.

"Too often, EU money is wasted on inefficient projects which are based on unrealistic expectations or for which there is no real demand. Because of the way the EU’s spending schemes are set up, bizarre or wasteful projects can receive funding which never would have received money if subject only to national spending priorities. Unfortunately, the focus of the EU budget is to get the money out of the door, not to spend the money wisely.

“Surely, in a recession, we can think of better ways to spend £100 billon a year?"
To read Open Europe’s 50 new examples of EU waste see here:

Here are the top five examples of EU waste:

€173,000 for a luxury golf resort €173,274 in EU funds were given to the luxury golf resort, Monte da Quinta Club, in the Algarve, Portugal, where guests can choose between “the comfort of a villa with garden and private pool, or be dazzled by deluxe suites”. There is also a luxury spa, health club, several restaurants and bars, shops and a hairdresser.

€2,500 for Chairman of Porsche’s hunting retreat Wolfgang Porsche, supervisory board Chairman of Porsche, received €2,500 in EU rural development funds for a small estate in Bavaria, Germany, where he goes hunting in his free time.

€100,000 for a luxury Spanish hotel chain €99,877 in EU funds for 2009 alone were granted to Tils Curt, a chain of luxury restaurants and hotels across Spain, established in 1880. The funds were given as part of the Regional Development Fund.

‘Donkeypedia’: the blogging donkey As part of the EU’s €7 million ‘Year of Intercultural Dialogue’ initiative, the European Commission ran an art education project called “Donkeypedia”, in which a donkey travels through the Netherlands, and primary school children meet and greet the donkey. The aim of the project was
"creating a reflection of all European identities. What are the similarities, what are the differences? What is it that makes Europe as unique as it is? Donkeypedia will try to make this feeling tangible by interacting and in dialogue with its surroundings while walking a European route through several countries and collecting data to support this image."
The donkey, named Asino, also maintained a blog throughout the walk. One entry reads:
"We started really early today, Cristian slept in a bed in a house. It was a crazy morning waking up. I was under a chestnut tree sleeping in sand, when I opened my eyes there were animals all looking at me. I was embarrassed! Now I understand a little how people from different cultures may feel in the Netherlands."
€80,000 for a Swedish ‘virtual city’ in Second LifeIn early 2008, Sweden’s third largest city, Malmo, was given an EU grant worth 800,000 Swedish kronor (€80,000), to create a virtual version of itself in 'Second Life' ­- a virtual fantasy world inhabited by computer-generated residents. The project was an attempt to reach out to young people and envisioned some of Malmo’s most famous buildings - such as its library and university - to be mirrored in Second Life. In addition, the project included plans for a virtual 'citizens' office', in which City officials could do their work and meet with those inhabitants of Malmö who were active in Second Life (the number of Malmo residents active on Second Life is thought to be very small).

In May 2009, Malmo was launched as a 'virtual city'. By then, the budget had been busted – and the project had been subject to massive criticism, as Second Life was no longer regarded as the future of social media – particularly not amongst young people. One of the politicians involved in the project said:
"Malmö wants to be at the forefront of IT, but we’re aware that Second Life is probably not at the absolute forefront anymore."
Joakim Jardenberg, of Swedish IT company Mindpark, added that he thought the project was a 'bizarre joke' at first.
"Second Life has never been particularly popular in Sweden. Facebook would have been a better tool"
. In March 2010 the project will be evaluated. If virtual Malmo does not have enough visitors by then, the project will be shut down.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Nettleham Woodland Trust Plan Record Attempt

Nettleham Woodland Trust is making hoping a record-breaking attempt will soon be sprouting in a local wood as the they try to plant their name in the record books.

Local residents will attempt to break a record by taking part in 'Tree O'Clock' – a nationally organised event that will attempt to break the record for the most trees planted in an hour.

The current figure stands at 18,124 trees planted in one location and the Nettleham Woodland Trust is hoping it can help smash the record and help the environment at the same time. Monks Wood, which is part of the Ashing Lane Nature Reserve near Dunholme has been selected as the site for the tree planting, which takes place on Saturday, 5th December 2009 from 11:00am until 12:00noon.

Left: Giles McNeill with local volunteers planting trees at 'PC Wood, Nettleham', February 2008.

The event is being organised through BBC Breathing Places and the number of trees people have pledged to plant around the world currently stands at 209,953 across 66 counties.

Nettleham Woodland Trust is asking any willing volunteers to arrive by 10.15am at Monks Wood and bring their own spade to ensure there is enough equipment to make the bid possible. Giles McNeill said:
"I wish everyone the best of luck with this record breaking effort and hope to be able to participate."
Rachel Shaw, spokesman for Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, said:
"Hot food will be provided by Nettleham Scouts on the day. There will be a toilet on site and people should remember to wear warm clothing, gloves and boots, as the site is very muddy.

"There will be a bit of a walk from the car parking areas to the tree planting site. This will be about half a mile."

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Rememberance Sunday 2009

Today I was responsible for ensuring the Union Flag was flying at the Old School, Mill Hill, Nettleham to mark Rememberance Sunday, as I did last year.

I am pleased to report that the flag was raised at 7:11am to coincide with sunrise and lowered at 14:14pm to coincide sunset.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Report on Lincoln Rugby Club Residents Meeting

Update to Opposition to Lincoln Rugby Club Mobilises - Update 3, Opposition to Lincoln Rugby Club Mobilises - Update 2, Opposition to Lincoln Rugby Club Mobilises - Update and Opposition to the Lincoln Rugby Club Mobilises.

Readers of this blog will be aware of the Lincoln Rugby Football Club's intention to develop a site on Lodge Lane. An ad-hoc meeting of local residents was held at the Village Hall, Brookfield, Nettleham at 7:30pm on Tuesday, 3rd November 2009 on the matter of the Rugby Club plan.

It is understood that over two hundred people attended. The man who convened the meeting was a Mr. Steve Perkins, a local resident who lives near the proposed site on the poacher's meadow development. Mr. Perkins is reported to have said he was trying to be even handed about the issue but critics suggest his comments were those of a man opposed to the proposal. To Mr. Perkins credit he certainly was very effective in getting people to attend, even if his presentational style was not too good, unfortunately several people walked out after a about twenty minutes.

The meeting had a very lively atmosphere and on a number of occasions Cllr. John Evens, attending of the Parish Council's behalf, provided clarifications and explained to his best ability the Parish Councils position.

A number of key points were raised during the meeting by the residents.

1. The issue of noise pollution which does not seem to have been covered in the proposal in any detail, deciduous trees will eventually reduce noise as they mature, but this is only when the are in leaf during the summer months, not winter when rugby is played.

2. The issue of traffic turning out of Lodge Lane.

3. Planning creep; the potential for future change of use for residential use.

4. The current West Lindsey District Council Planning Notification states that residents should register any concerns by the Wednesday, 11th November 2009. Ian Dickinson at the district council's planning services has said that submission will be accepted up to the meeting of the Planning Committee on Wednesday, 6th January 2010.

6. It was observed that the Extraordinary Parish Council Meeting in held in July, which resulted in a poor turnout, could have been publicised more widely. Local residents reported that not many people knew about the meeting on Wednesday, 25th November 2009 until Mr. Perkins notices which were hand delivered to homes in Nettleham. It was felt that putting up notices throughout the village was not sufficient.

7. Those present were asked to complete a short questionnaire indicating there support or opposition to the proposal. After the meeting closed at around 9:00pm Mr. Perkins indicated that around 92% of respondents attending the meeting were against the proposal.

What is clear following this meeting is that interest in this issue has been galvanized. The Parish Council has therefore decided to move the venue of their meeting to the larger Village Hall for the meeting on Wednesday, 25th November 2009.

A video package of the public meeting organised by local resident Mr. Steve Perkins on 3rd November 2009 is available here.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Dentist facing fresh sex assault charges in court

Update to "Three Charges of Sexual Assault Denied by Lib Dem".

Dentist and former district councillor, Adrian Heath, is due to appear in Lincoln Magistrates Court again today charged with two further offences of sexually assaulting female patients.

Dr. Adrian Heath is due before magistrates in Lincoln – and also faces an additional charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice. The former Liberal Democrat politician stood trial at Nottingham Crown Court in September on three counts of sexual assault on female patients at Genesis Dental Care in Gainsborough.

But a judge suspended the trial and the jury was dismissed after new evidence was offered to the prosecution.

Dr. Heath – who is a former West Lindsey district councillor and stood for the Liberal Democrats in the Gainsborough Constituency at the 2005 General Election – had denied three charges of sexual assault between June and August 2008.

Now police have revealed that a fourth female made aware of press coverage of the trial has made further allegations concerning Dr. Heath's conduct.

Dr. Heath is now due to appear at Lincoln Magistrates' Court today in relation to these new charges, which are expected to be committed for trial at crown court. A spokesman for Lincolnshire Police said:
"It is anticipated that a new trial date will be set for March 2010. This fourth woman approached police after reading about the trial in the local press.

"Lincolnshire Police are continuing with their investigation into the conduct of Mr Heath while he was working at a number of practices.

"And we would appeal to any person, or former patient, who has any information that they believe may be relevant to the inquiry to make contact."

During the 2005 General Election, Dr. Heath came second to Conservative Party veteran Edward Leigh MP.

Mr. Leigh took a convincing fifth win in a row by polling nearly 8,000 votes more than Liberal Democrat candidate Heath.

During then Cllr. Heath's 2005 general election campaign, he said he wished he had not revealed his day job. He said the worst thing he had ever done was to say he was an NHS dentist on his election material because people had started asking for quotes on root canals rather than talking about election issues.

Giles McNeill Seeks Re-Election

Giles McNeill has announced his intention to stand for re-election as a Nettleham Parish Councillor in local elections scheduled to take place in May 2010.

Giles said:
"I have been proud to serve the residents of Nettleham since May 2006. In that time I have been very pleased by the warm welcome and support I have had from so many local people in the village. It is my intention to seek re-election to the Parish Council so I can continue to work hard for everyone in our community.

"Cautious, sustainable and affordable financial management must be the foundation of everything that we can achieve together. Improving the council's management of public money in Nettleham was my priority and will be, I believe, one of the enduring achievements of my first term. One that I am proud of. One that I will continue to pursue in the interest of the taxpayers of Nettleham.

"I hope that when polling day comes, local residents will support me. There have been some great moments serving the people of Nettleham over the past four years, but I know that better days lie ahead."

Senior Lib Dem Councillor's Comments on Drugs Attacked

A senior Liberal Democrat councillor from Lincolnshire has come under fire after saying that drug possession should start to be legalised.

The mother of a 15-year-old girl from Lincoln who almost died after a suspected drugs overdose blasted county councillor John Marriott's comments as 'rubbish'.

Councillors, the city's MP, the Home Office and a senior lawyer have all lined up to attack his argument.

And even his own party – the Liberal Democrats – has said it does not agree with him.

The Hykeham Forum councillor's comments come after the Government's top drug advisor was sacked for claiming that alcohol and tobacco were more harmful than LSD, ecstasy and cannabis.

Cllr Marriott, an experienced local politician, said that many people would be 'shocked' by his views.

But he thinks current drug laws have failed.

The mother of the teenage girl – who was on a life support machine earlier this year – said: "It's making it easier for people to get drugs.
"Those who get caught with drugs should be punished more, not less."

Parliament's reputation returns to pre-expenses level

In the wake of the Parliamentary Expenses Scandal, public approval ratings of parliament dropped to new lows; whilst political corruption and sleaze became a major issue for voters.

For the first time since the revelations on Parliamentarians’ expenses claims, parliament’s approval rating has returned to the level that it was prior to the scandal, while the importance attached to corruption as a national priority is fading.

The findings come from - the only opinion research organisation to track public approval of the main public institutions every week of the year. Voters are asked to say whether they have a positive or negative impression of sixteen institutions. The negative scores are then subtracted from the positive scores to give a net approval rating.

Prior to the publication of parliamentarians’ expenses claims by the Daily Telegraph on 8th May 2009, the approval rating of parliament was -50%. Over the next six weeks, public opinion dropped, reaching a low of -64% before recovering over a ten week period. The latest available figures show the approval rating of parliament has reached -49%, the highest level since the expenses row broke.

PoliticsHome also tracks which issues the public sees as being the most important. Each week voters are asked to say which, from a list of 23 issues, they see as being the most important facing the country. The perceived importance of 'Political corruption and sleaze' increased during the expenses controversy, but has since fallen.

35% of voters thought it was an important issue facing the country before the Daily Telegraph started publishing details. This rose to 62% over the following three weeks, making it the second biggest issue facing the country. recent figures show 39% of the public see political corruption as an important issue.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Conservatives New Policy Towards European Union

The Lisbon Treaty has now been signed by President Klaus and will become part of European Union law Tuesday, 1st December. Given this situation, the Conservatives have announced a series of measures for which they will seek a mandate at the next general election. The measures are:

Unilateral measures which can be taken without reference to European Partners
An Irish style ‘referendum lock’ on any treaty handing over further powers from Britain to the EU. Achieved through amending the 1972 European Communities Act so that any future treaty which transfers competences (powers) from Britain to the EU would have to be subject to a referendum, as is already effectively the case in Ireland.

A legal lock ensuring a referendum if any British government tries to take Britain into the Euro. The party are pledged never to take Britain into the Euro. But to prevent any future British Government from trying to do so without a referendum, an amendment to the 1972 Act will be made.

A United Kingdom Sovereignty Bill, to ensure the ultimate sovereignty of the UK Parliament. Unlike many other European countries, Britain does not have a written constitution. Given the increasing amount of EU law with which we have to deal, Conservatives would amend the law to insert a sovereignty clause to make it explicit that, ultimately, Britain’s Parliament is sovereign and cannot be overruled by the European Union against its will. This is similar in principle to the situation in Germany whereby the German Constitution ‘the Basic Law’ is ultimately supreme.

Full Parliamentary control over the self-amending clauses in the Lisbon Treaty. The Lisbon Treaty contains a number of ratchet clauses (known also as ‘passerelles’) whereby the powers of the EU could be expanded in the future without a new treaty. Conservatives would change the law so that using any passerelle would require a British government to pass an Act of Parliament (rather than a simple motion and a 90 minute debate, as currently proposed under Labour).
These measures can be brought in unilaterally by an incoming Conservative government without the need to seek approval from our European partners.

‘British guarantees’ on the operation of Lisbon and social and employment legislation, which will require negotiation with our EU partners

It is the Conservative Party’s intention to use the forthcoming general election deliberately to seek a mandate to negotiate ‘British guarantees’ on the application of the Lisbon Treaty and on seeking to restore key powers to Britain.

These would include:
A full opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights (CFR. Tony Blair stated that he had obtained an opt-out from the CFR. He had not. As Ministers have subsequently admitted, he only obtained a ‘clarification’ as to how it would apply. The Conservatives want to upgrade this to a full opt-out so that the CFR, which for instance would interfere with our trade union legislation, cannot be made to apply in Britain.

Greater protection against EU encroachment into the UK’s Criminal Justice System. Lisbon provides Britain with an ‘opt-in’ over criminal justice matters but Conservatives want broader protection provided by an additional protocol. This would protect against EU judges extending their control over our Criminal Justice System, and we also want to ensure that only British authorities can initiate criminal investigations in Britain.

Restoration of national control over social and employment legislation. Lastly, Conservatives want to restore national control over those parts of social and employment legislation which have proved most damaging to the British economy.
The party intends to establish a European Policy Committee of the Shadow Cabinet, chaired by William Hague (currently Shadow Foreign Secretary), to work on the detail of these proposals.

We will seek to give these measures legal effect by adding them to a future accession treaty. This is the same mechanism that will give effect to the ‘Irish guarantees’ and also the more recent ‘Czech guarantees’ and we would seek to mirror it for the above British guarantees too.

The longer term

The Conservative Party will aim to implement these measures over the course of the next Parliament, if they form the government. Further if, over the lifetime of the next Parliament, they do not succeed in negotiating the return of these powers; or if, in fact, the EU does move in the wrong direction, if those circumstances were to occur, the policy announced yesterday states that Conservatives would not rule out a referendum on a wider package of guarantees to protect our democratic decision-making, while remaining a member of the European Union. However, that would be a judgement for the future, not for this election or for the next Parliament.

Perhaps the Conservative Party’s new policy is best summarised as:
"A Conservative government will never allow us to become part of a federal Europe and we have devised a series of specific measures which will protect Britain from this. We will seek a mandate from the British people to implement these measures at the forthcoming general election."

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Gordon Brown's Resignation

A little while ago I signed a petition on the Number 10 website calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The petition simply read:
"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to resign."
The petition, instigated by Kalvis Jansons, closed on Thursday, 22nd October 2009. The petition received 72,234 signatures.

The government's response is:
"The Prime Minister is completely focussed on restoring the economy, getting people back to work and improving standards in public services. As the Prime Minister has consistently said, he is determined to build a stronger, fairer, better Britain for all."
Which in my view doesn't seem to be an answer to the petition. They could have included the line 'The Prime Minister is determined to continue to lead the government...' and then continue with the rest of the original response.

Opposition to Lincoln Rugby Club Mobilises - Update 3

Update to Opposition to Lincoln Rugby Club Mobilises - Update 2 Opposition to Lincoln Rugby Club Mobilises - Update and Oposition to the Lincoln Rugby Club Mobilises.
Ian Dickinson of West Lindsey District Council Planning department has stated comments regarding the Lincln Rugby Football Club's planning permission application that are received from residents will be taken in up until the date of the Planning Committee which is eidely expected to be the Planning Committee's meeting scheduled to be held on Wednesday, 6th January 2010.

Mr. Dickinson has also requested that the Parish Council’s comments be received as soon after the Parish Council meeting on Monday, 14th December 2009 so that they can be included in his report to the Planning Committee.

In another development the Lincolnshire Echo (here)has a piece regarding last night's public meeting at the village hall and quotes President of Lincoln Rugby Football Club Bill Green as saying:
"We addressed several concerns at a previous public meeting that was called by the parish council.

"We've seen the flier going round and they seem to have only selected certain points from the planning application.

"We think the over-spill car park will be used once in a blue moon, we don't think we'll be getting 375 supporters to each game - that is a nonsense.

"As far as traffic goes, the RFU handbook gives directions of how to get to each club and away teams will be directed along a route that does not go through Nettleham. As many of the teams we play won't know the area they will follow RFU directions.

"We have also pointed out the benefits that if we use the ground it won't be developed for housing for 100 years which is a positive for the village and we are planning on planting 4.65 acres of woodland for general use."

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Opposition to Lincoln Rugby Club Mobilies - Update 2

Update to Opposition to Lincoln Rugby Club Mobilises - Update and Opposition to the Lincoln Rugby Club Mobilises.
The Residents Meeting at Nettleham Village Hall seemed to be well attended, from what I observed prior to the meeting, before I had to go and attend the Parish Council's Property Committee Meeting, there seemed to be around 100 residents - a full house - turned out by the time I left.

I spoke to Mr. Steven Perkins, who seemed to be responsible for organising the meeting, and he informed me that one of his main concerns was, in his view, the anti-democratic way meetings had been organised relating to the Rugby Club's proposals.

Mr. Perkins is reported in the Lincolnshire Echo to have said:
"I am not against such a development but no village in the East Midlands, let alone Lincolnshire, should be subject to its peace, tranquility, reputation and character being put in jeopardy.

"There are many open spaces away from villages that will accommodate this development."

Giles McNeill Writes to Local Residents' Meeting

Nettleham Parish Councillor, Giles McNeill, has written a letter to a meeting convened by local residents to discuss the Lincoln Rugby Football Club's development proposals and planning permission application. In the letter Giles says:
"To whom it may concern,

"Firstly let me congratulate those responsible for organising this meeting. Democracy is important. Nothing gives our society and community more vibrancy than participation.

"Secondly please let me apologise for not being able to attend in person, unfortunately this meeting has clashed with a Parish Council, Property Committee meeting.

"With regard to the Rugby Club, and let me be clear, in order to have planning permission refused – which I assume is the aim of this group – the objection must be a planning objection. Anyone from anywhere can make a comment on a planning application, either in support of it, or objecting to it, or just making a general observation.

"West Lindsey District Council (who are the planning authority) can only take into account relevant planning considerations, such as: Structure and local plan policies, government planning guidance, planning law and previous decisions, highways safety and traffic issues, noise, disturbance & smells, design, appearance & layout, conservation of historic buildings/ trees and residential amenities/environmental impact.

"The following are examples of issues that are not capable of being taken into consideration: Matters covered by other laws (such as alcohol licensing), Private property rights (such as boundary or access disputes), The applicant’s morals or motives, Suspected future development, Loss of view or Effect on value of property, Personal position of applicant/objector.

"You should further be aware there will be a limited amount of time in which to send comments to the local planning office (West Lindsey District Council). It is very important to meet any deadline or your submission may not be taken into account. If you do decide to make a comment be aware that West Lindsey District Council will not send you an acknowledgement letter unless you request one and have sent a stamped addressed envelope.

"All comments received are made available for public inspection on the application file and cannot be treated as confidential. Letters of comment may be reported to the Planning Committee and if an appeal is made they will be copied to the Secretary of State and the person making the appeal. The Planning Case Officer dealing with the application will consider the issues raised along with all other information about the application.

"Ultimately a report will be prepared by the Planning Case Officer including all the relevant information and a recommendation to either grant or refuse planning permission. The majority of applications, around 91%, are determined under ‘delegated powers’. This means that the Director of Resources has the authority to make the decision based on the information provided by the Planning Case Officer. The remaining 9% of applications are considered by the Planning Committee which meets monthly.

"Applications will go to committee if they have received a significant number of objections, if the Officer’s recommendation is contrary to the issues raised by the objectors, or at the request of a Councillor. Anyone can attend a Planning Committee. All of those people that have made written observations will be notified of the date and time of the meeting and informed how they can become involved should they wish to do so. It is possible to attend committee meetings dealing with planning applications. In many cases members of the public can speak briefly to ensure that the committee is aware of your views.

"You may wish to seek clarification and a guarantee from our District Councillors Malcolm Leaning and Alf Frith to ensure that the decision is going to be put before the Planning Committee and not made by the Director of Resources as has happened at their direction in the past – to the frustration of some of my Parish Council Planning Committee colleagues.

"I hope that this is of some help to you.


"Giles McNeill"

West Lindsey Lib Dems Cotton On - Update

Update to West Lindsey Lib Dems Cotton On.

I have been speaking with a colleague from West Lindsey District Council this morning who has confirmed to me that Cllr. Peter Heath (Scampton) is to resign as a coucillor. The date chosen for the resignation is Thursday, 5th November 2009. This date has been choosen because it means that it is too close to the local government elections scheduled for West Lindsey District Council on Thursday, 6th May 2010 and so the villages of the Scampton Ward will be left without a Councillor until the late spring next year. Apparenty the reason given for this decision is cost, but I suspect that the Lib Dems do not want to loose a third by-election in a row to the West Lindsey Conservatives. Cllr. Heath's resignation will become effective on Tueday, 10th November 2009.

In an additional development it was also reported to me that Cllr. Heath did not inform the Liberal Democrats' Leadership, Cllr. Reg Shore (Stow) or his Group of his decision.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Opposition to Lincoln Rugby Club Mobilises - Update

Update to Oposition to the Lincoln Rugby Club Mobilies.
Cllr. John Downs, Chairman of the Property Committee of Nettleham Parish Council, has today taken the unprecedented step of suggesting cancelling the scheduled Property Committee meeting. The meeting is planned to be held at the same time as a meeting organised at the Village Hall by local residents to discuss the Lincoln Rugby Club's proposals for a development on Lodge Lane.

In an email to members of the Property Committee, Cllr. Downs says:
"This is indeed an important matter and if nobody else is able to attend it might be beneficial to cancel the [Property Committee] Meeting."
UPDATE 12:00 03/11/2009

I have received two e-mails from the Clerk to the Parish Council. The first informs me that the Property Committee meeting will be going ahead as scheduled and the second is from Ian Dickinson, Development Control Team Leader at West Lindsey District Council, and informs us that the Planning Application will go before the Planning Committee on Wednesday, 6th January 2010.

Opposition to Rugby Club Mobilises

A Local resident in Nettleham has begun an active campaign to oppose and raise awareness of the plans of the Lindum Rugby Club to develop a site on Lodge Lane in the village adjacent to the rear of Mulsanne Park.

The campaign got off to a good start with the fly-posing of notices, towards the end of last week, informing residents of a public meeting, organised by local residents, to be held on Wednesday 3rd November 2009 at Nettleham Village Hall at 7:30pm - but also very helpfully assisting in advertising the Parish Council's own meeting to discuss the planning application on Wednesday 25th November 2009 at the Old School, Mill Hill, Nettleham also at 7:30pm - the notice was accompanied with a copy of the planning application.

This was followed by a strong leaflet drop to local households. The leaflet stated:
"A planning application has been submitted to West Lindsey District Council by Lincoln Rugby Club asking permission to build a club house and to create 11 rugby pitches with parking facilities for over 115 cars and an overflow car park with space for more than an additional 250 vehicles on land off Lodge Lane, Nettleham...The tranquility and village atmosphere is significantly under threat. This will affect you! This development is for the benefit of Lincoln University students and Lincoln Rugby Club members!"
It is understood that the gentleman leading this opposition is trying to co-ordinate an response from residents which will be put to the Parish Council and Rugby Club at the Parish Council meeting in late November.

Giles McNeill said:
"I understand that there is a suggestion that it would be very prudent for a member of the Parish to attend the meeting at the village hall. I would have wished to attend the meeting. Unfortunately there is a Property Committee meeting on that evening making it virtually impossible for those of us on that committee to attend. As Chairman of the Mulsanne Park Users Committee I have particular interest in the developments surrounding the Lindum Rugby Club."

Cllr. Hill has weighed in, via email, saying:
"As you know I am unable to attend. I think that as many Parish Councillors as possible should attend but they need to be careful not to prempt or prejudice the [Parish Council] organised event and our eventual decisions... We have a duty to listen but we also have to make our decision in the best interests of the whole village taking into account what is and what is not possible.

"By the way the leaflet gives no indication of the author nor their interest in this matter vested or not!"

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Michael Caine switches allegiance to Conservatives

British film actor Sir Michael Caine has abandoned his support of the Labour party and announced he will be voting Conservative at the next general election.

The seventy-six year old actor, a former Labour supporter, condemned the 'terrible state' that has been allowed to develop in Britain and said he planned to change his allegiance at the next election.

For his latest film, Harry Brown, about violence on Britain’s streets, Sir Michael spent time with a gang from a tough inner London estate, who were hired as extras.
"I'll probably vote Conservative. I mean, we're in a terrible state whichever way you look at it, socially, financially and politically, so just give the other guy a chance.

"I don't know what Cameron's going to do, but in the end you vote out of desperation. You just have to have someone new and see what happens."
The actor added that young troublemakers ought to be educated rather than sent to prison, and that there should be a return of technical colleges teaching practical skills.

Earlier this year, he bitterly criticised the government’s decision to raise the upper tax rate to 50p, saying he would leave the country if it went any higher.

He said in April:
"I will not pay the government more than I get. No way, ever.

"We’ve got three-and-a-half million layabouts laying about on benefits and I’m 76, getting up at 6am to go to work to keep them.

"Let’s get everybody back to work so we can save a couple of billion and cut tax, not keep sticking it on."