Friday, August 27, 2004

Harvest, Holkham & Holt

Whay a typical dingy bank holiday weekend. I'm off to see my parents near Saffron Walden today to help my Dad with the harvest. Weather permitting of course. I'm looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the combine for the first time this year. This weekend in Norfolk has been a bit of washout. I never did get to Holkham but we took the dog to a beach near Mundesley instead. Gio had never seen the sea before and didn't quite know what to make of it. Not sure he liked it, especially when he didn't get out of the way of a wave! Politics has taken a back seat over the last few days. The only thing I have done is attend a Holt Conservative coffee morning and catch up on some overdue correspondence, much of which concerns the dreaded wheelie bins. The Council really are acting in such a high handed manner over the introduction of these bins. Some of the language in letters to residents has to be seen to be believed. One or two of the Council officials ought to bear in mind that it is the residents who are their employers.

Damp Days

Spent a damp morning in Felmingham. I'm supposed to he on holiday this weekend but it seems a candidate never entirely escapes! I'm going over to Holkham this afternoon to take my Jack Russell Gio for a walk along the beach. I suppose the odd ray of sunshine is a bit too much to hope for!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Letter in the EDP

My letter about phone masts was in the EDP today. They had a surprisingly good editorial on Tuesday about David Davis's attack on the compensation culture and Human Rights Act. Indeed, they were effusive in their praise until they said we should have gone further and said we should withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights. But still they added for good measure that we were being opportunistic. Is there no satisfying some people?! It must be nice being a newspaper leader writer. They can say what they like without any fear of ever being held accountable for what they say. They should try politics sometime...

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Those naughty LibDems

Nick Cohen, a left of centre columnist for the Observer, has an interesting column in today's Observer about the use of racist tactics in by-elections. In July I sparked off an interesting debate with a regular reader of this Blog about a LibDem leaflet in Leicester South which in Asian areas called the candidate Parmjit Singh Gill and in predominantly white areas left out the Singh. I described this as overtly racist and was amused to see the tortuous defence mounted on behalf this LibDem tactic. Nick Cohen goes one step further. Here's a quote from his article...

The Liberal Democrats often provoke their opponents into going over the top. They pose as saints while fighting campaigns which are as dirty as anything Labour or the Tories can manage - often dirtier. They shift their shape depending on which constituency they're contesting. Are they right or left? Pro-privatisation or anti? For the overthrow of Saddam Hussein if the weapons inspectors had been given more time, or against? Answers to these questions have more to do with geography than ideology. For the duration of a campaign, the Liberal Democrats are whatever a contested constituency wants them to be. Thus in Hodge Hill, a Lib Dem leaflet sent to predominantly Muslim wards featured a picture of Charles Kennedy surrounded by Asians. The same leaflet was pushed through the doors of predominantly white wards, but only after a quick bout of ethnic cleansing at the printers had removed all trace of the brown faces.

For more LibDem campaign tactics visit LibDemWatch.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

On the Radio

I'll be on the radio for three hours Friday night from 10pm to 1pm on the Brian Hayes Show on 5 Live. 909 & 693 AM or on digital radio. It's a god mix of politics, sport and humour. Just my thing! If you tune in let me know what you think.

Holt Youth Centre

I've just come back from the opening of a new Youth Centre in Holt. What an uplifting evening - a real display of a community coming together to achieve something real. Well done to everyone involved. It's cost more than £150,000 and all raised locally. Needless to say there was nothing from the lottery. If this wasn't deserving of a lottery grant then God knows what is.

Buck up EDP

I banged off a letter to the EDP about their ridiculous editorial yesterday. I honestly despair of them sometimes. Why is it that they sneer at anything a political party proposes, calling it "opportunistic" or horror of horrors "populist". Far be it from a politician to propose something popular which also happens to be right. They were slagging off our new proposals to give local people and councils proper powers over the siting of mobile phone masts. Funny that the EDP itself has campaigned for this. It's at times like this that I really do think the media are just as much to blame for our political malaise as politicians. They forster a culture of cynicism. The end. Well almost. Here's the letter...

Your editorial today (18 August) displays what is wrong with journalism today. You sneer at new Conservative policies on phone masts and transport as "populist" and "opportunistic vote-seeking". I assume this means you think we've hit on policies which might be popular with voters. What a mistake for a political party to make! We believe that local decisions are best taken by local people and their representatives so the slogan (You decide where they go) on Phone Masts is not misleading at all. Local councillors will be given greater powers to decide the siting of phone masts. I thought this was something the EDP had been campaigning for. Strange. You properly record the fact that West Suffolk MP Richard Spring has been leading the campaign against phone masts in rural areas so for us to take this up as an issue can hardly be called opportunistic.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Monday, August 16, 2004

Cromer Gridlock

I sent out a press release last night on traffic problems in Cromer. I did interviews about it on North Norfolk Radio & Radio Norfolk today...

Conservative Parliamentary Candidate Iain Dale has called for urgent action to be taken over Cromer's growing roads paralysis.

Iain says: "Gridlock affects everyone - local residents, holidaymakers, local businesses, buses and taxis alike. But it is threatening to ruin local livelihoods, especially among local taxi drivers. A normal journey of 3-4 minutes from Safeways to the Doctors Surgery on Overstrand Road is taking on average 23 minutes. One day last week it took a particular taxi driver 42 minutes to cover that journey. The last thing we want is for anyone to steer clear of Cromer because of traffic jams."

Iain describes the traffic jams in the town as "environmental madness". He says: "More that £2.5 million has been spent on the regeneration of Cromer yet the result of the changes in traffic management has been stationary cars spewing out tons of pollutants. We need to get Cromer moving again. One of the main problems is the pedestrian crossing outside Woolworths, which clearly needs to be reset."

Iain is urging anyone with ideas to solve the gridlock in Cromer to contact him. "I will be discussing this issue with my district and county council colleagues to see what can be done."

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Violence, Blunkett & Cherie

Made a speech to Stalham Conservatives on our crime initiatives at lunchtime today. Violet crime has gone up 88% in North Norfolk since 1999 - a frightening figure. I've also just sent out a press release on traffic gridlock in Cromer. People are getting very frustrated indeed. I'll add the press releases to the website in the next 24 hours.

So David Blunkett is having an affair with a married woman. Isn't it odd that the BBC hasn't mentioned it on any of their news bulletins? I suspect it might have been different if it had been a Conservative politician. And why on earth isn't there a national outcry against Cherie Blair's £30,000 a time speeches in America. Just imagine the media frenzy if Denis Thatcher or Norma Major had done it. She ought to be ashamed of herself. Still, I suppose she'll be writing the speeches while she is sunning herself at Berlusconi's palace in Italy. What a national embarrassment she is becoming.

Violent Crime up 88% in North Norfolk

I've just issued this press release...

Iain Dale, Conservative Candidate for North Norfolk this weekend supported new Conservative proposals to tackle soaring levels of alcohol-related violence and yob behaviour in village and town centres across North Norfolk. Analysis of Home Office crime statistics has revealed that the number of offences of ‘violence against the person’ across North Norfolk have soared by a massive 88% per cent since 1999, up from 545 to 1022 a year – with alcohol a key cause. Iain Dale explained in a speech on Sunday to Stalham Conservatives: “I am all in favour of people having a good time out. But in Sheringham, Cromer and Fakenham, like in towns and cities across Britain today, we are creating not a cafĂ© culture, but a yob culture. The right to have a drink brings with it a responsibility – the responsibility not to ruin everyone else’s evening. I have lost count of the times that hard working, law abiding couples have told me they’d rather stay in now than run the gauntlet of the binge drinkers who have taken over their town and feel intimidated by the growing levels of yob behaviour.” Under the new policies proposed by Conservatives local councils will have greater discretion over licensing hours, rather than having to follow Whitehall diktats. This will mean local residents will have a greater say. There should be stronger powers to control late licences to prevent ‘disorder hotspots’ where they are too many bars or pubs in a vicinity. Councils should have the ability to prohibit ‘all you can drink’ promotions, where young people are encourage to binge drink on free drinks after paying a one-off entrance fee. Iain Dale continued: “Binge drinking and under-age drinking has a direct link to soaring levels of violent crime – no wonder that violent attacks across North Norfolk have soared by 88% per cent since 1999. This is not just due to statistical manipulation – the face of North Norfolk has changed. It is time to reclaim our streets and make them safer for everyone at night.”

Friday, August 13, 2004

A Busy Weekend

Just got back from the Cley Branch seafood supper at which my old friend Sir Alan Haselhurst was the guest speaker. We had a turnout of more than 100 which was excellent. I've known Alan since I was a 15 year old school kid in Saffron Walden. Interestingly there were quite a few ex residents of Saffron Walden there tonight.

Earlier in the day I was at Rebecca House Dementia Care Unit in North Walsham to hear the latest from the Mental Health Trust on their plans for the home. It was quite an emotional meeting with several of the patients' relatives expressing their deep concerns about the future. They are right to be worried and I have got to think very carefully about the next move. It's quite clear to me that government policy is to blame for this situation and that the Mental Health Trust's policies are being drive directly from Whitehall.

This afternoon I visited a homeless project in Cromer where I met a fascinating group of people who run a hostel for homeless people.

Tomorrow I start the first of my village tours. I am going to Aylmerton, Gresham, West Beckham and Bodham, before going over to Hempton and Sculthorpe in the afternoon. Then it's off to a do in Southrepps in the evening.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

RAF Coltishall

Keith Simpson has been keeping me informed of developments regarding the future of Coltishall. There was a well attended public meeting in Coltishall village tonight which Keith spoke at. People are afraid of the unknown and it's now we've all got to make our views heard. I see the way forward ideally as keeping the base for a military use, but it's early days. Until we find out what the MoD are thinking this air of uncertainty will continue. I am glad the County Council are taking this extremely seriously and I have had several exchanges with the Head of Economic Development.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

This weekend

What a gorgeous day. I've spent much of it delivering surveys to the villagers of Swanton Abbott. This evening I'm off for dinner at a friend's house in Drayton. Yesterday I went over to Swanton Novers and later in the afternoon spent a very enjoyable couple of hours on the Broads with Keith & Pepi Simpson. Went for dinner at the Walpole Arms at Itteringham.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Bits & Pieces

On Thursday I went to Upper Sheringham Parish Council, where I learnt that the cost of maintaining and insuring 7 lampposts has increased from £100 to £800 a year in twelve months. Ridiculous. How on earth are Parish Councils supposed to come up with that sort of money? Many people do not know this but Parish Councils have a very small budget, mostly only about £2,000. I would like to see them strengthened. At the moment they have few powers, and little influence.

Yesterday I visited the Muckleburgh Collection at Kelling. It's a sort of mini Duxford with a wonderful collection of old second world war vehicles, including a tanks, jeeps, guns etc. Their most recent acquisition is a Swiss army tank, which has recently been decommissioned. Can't think it saw much active service!

Yesterday afternoon I spent visiting several old people's homes and in the evening drove over to Fakenham to see someone who had responded to my newspaper. Had a very interesting discussion about education and international aid. Talking of the latter, I have invited our Shadow International Aid Spokesman John Bercow to come to North Norfolk on 21 October, so if anyone interested in the subject would like to meet him, do get in touch.

Today I'm out on the streets this morning and then later on we're going out on the Broads with my friends Keith & Pepi Simpson to celebrate her XXth birthday - oops, the keyboard got stuck there...

On the Radio

I much enjoyed the radio show on Wednesday night. Matthew Bannister was away so it was hosted by Anita Arnand, who's a lot like Fi Glover, with whom I used to present Sunday Service on 5 Live. Highlight of the evening was when we asked listeners to come up with 10 Sporting Commandments. I thought I'd be helpful to Sven and came up with "Thou shalt not covet thy secretary's ass". Cue raucous laughter. Wonder if I'll be invited back? Actually, I already have been - on 20 August. 10pm-1am. Put it in your diary!

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

I'm going to be on 5 Live tonight from 10pm to 1am on the Matthew Bannister Programme. Tune in on 909 or 693 medium wave or 855 on Sky Digital.
 Posted by Hello

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Good God...

Amazing, I've finally worked out how to upload photos onto the Blog. There's no stopping me now... You have been warned.

With Michael Howard and 'George' outside Icarus Hines butchers in Cromer. Posted by Hello

Here, There..

I spent most of Sunday in Fakenham visiting people who has responded to my latest newspaper and attending a lunch held by Fakenham Conservatives. Lovely weather and a brilliant turnout of more than 70 people. Yesterday I visited a major fruitgrower in the constituency and spoke at a dinner at the Feathers in Holt. Today it was back to earning a living...