Thursday, 31 January 2013

Immerse Yourself in the Hyper-Real at Eastbourne's Towner

Kelly Richardson: Legion

2 February – 14 April 2013 at Towner

Canadian artist Kelly Richardson unleashes the hyper-real at Towner this February with a new international solo exhibition of highly charged landscapes in ‘Legion’.

Using large scale video installations, Richardson is one of the leading, new-generation of artists working with hyper-real digital technologies, combining the real and imagined to visually arresting effect.

Regarded as one of the most exciting people working in her medium today, Richardson’s international tour comes to Eastbourne from 2 February to 14 April, with Towner being just one of three UK galleries chosen to display the exhibition before its debut in the United States and Canada.
Each of Richardson’s works take months of painstaking labour to create. She starts by filming some of the world’s most spectacular wildernesses and then uses digital technology and animation to distort them, until they appear foreboding and other-worldly.
Encompassing an array of possible futures, the theme of a dystopian post-apocalyptic world runs throughout, reflecting our current environmental unease and creating a delicate tension between the beautiful and the ominous.
Walking through Legion is an utterly immersive experience. Expect to be transported from radioactive swamps concealing a suggestion of unanticipated life (Leviathan), to a dense forest, confronted with the green spectre of a stag – a majestic forest sentinel who may have been the victim of a nuclear catastrophe (Twilight Avenger).
Amongst the dense multi-screen forestscape of ‘The Great Destroyer’, your ears attune to a series of unnatural noises which punctuate the sounds of the wild – gunshots, chainsaws, car alarms and the clicks of a camera shutter: the calls of the mating lyrebird, who imitates the noises of his natural habitat. We can only assume that the ‘great destroyer’ is us.
This Towner exhibition is the third and final UK leg of a major international tour which initiated at Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland, supported by Arts Council England and the Canada Council. Kelly Richardson will then tour solo shows to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York and the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver.
Legion opens from 2 February to 14 April, open from 10am to 5pm (Tuesday to Sunday) and entry is free. For more information visit .


Stitch for Victory Returns to Eastbourne's Redoubt Fortress in Brand New Touring Exhibition

A Heritage Lottery funded project which first began at the Redoubt Fortress Military Museum, will soon be on display at a selection of venues along the East Sussex coast, as a brand new touring exhibition kicks off from 7 February starting in Eastbourne.

The Stitch for Victory Community Project began life at the Redoubt during the fortresses own Stitch for Victory exhibition in 2011. The project, led by an army of 12 dedicated volunteers, aims to research, document and celebrate the intriguing social and military history of ‘wartime stitch’.

The exhibition encompasses everything from the Home Front ‘make do and mend’ campaigns and the working parties who knitted comforts for the troops, to the women who stitched tirelessly in the factories and the soldiers who stitched English scenes as part of their rehabilitation.
The project began at the Redoubt in 2011 thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund ‘Hidden Histories’, with the fortress calling on enthusiastic volunteers to come forward and help shape the project in exchange for valuable training in museum heritage skills.
The scheme included inter-generational projects, educational workshops and reminiscence sessions, along with oral history interviews across the county with people who have memories of sewing, knitting and embroidery during wartime.
The exhibition shares much of the information gathered and provides an historical account of the use of stitch during World War II from both a national and personal perspective, using images of textiles made by the interviewees at this time, reproduction letters and photographs.
The tour will take in a range of museums, libraries, schools, care homes and community centres throughout 2013, including venues in Eastbourne, Seaford, Newhaven and Hastings.
During the tour the exhibition can be viewed at the following Eastbourne venues:
7 – 8 Feb WRVS Russell Centre
20 Feb Age Concern, The Venton Centre
29 – 31 Mar The Redoubt – FREE entry for opening weekend
6 - 18 May Eastbourne Library
8 – 9 June The Redoubt – ‘Blackout & Bunting’ event
For more information on the exhibition visit
For more information on the Redoubt visit or telephone 01323 410300.


'Whitewash' storm as watchdog rules out petrol price inquiry because there was no evidence drivers were ripped off

Motoring groups accused the Office of Fair Trading of ‘a whitewash’ yesterday after the watchdog ruled out a full inquiry into petrol prices.
The OFT, which launched a probe last year, claimed there was no evidence drivers were being ripped off.
For years motorists have complained that pump prices soar when the price of crude oil rises, but fail to drop if it then falls.

But in a surprise decision, the OFT ruled out a full inquiry – saying there was ‘very limited evidence’ that prices were being kept artificially high.
Despite acknowledging ‘widespread mistrust’ by motorists, the OFT ruled ‘competition is working well’ in the petrol industry.
It said price rises were mostly caused by rising crude oil costs and tax rises.
The ruling was slammed as ‘a whitewash’ by critics. They said the decision was ‘bitterly disappointing’ and ‘a missed opportunity’ to give a fair deal to drivers by making the issue of fuel pricing more transparent.

FairFuelUK spokesman Quentin Willson said: ‘Every motorist and business in Britain instinctively knows that something’s not right.
‘UK consumers will be bitterly disappointed. The nation will feel let down. Quite frankly, I’m shocked.’
Road Haulage Association chief executive Geoff Dunning said: ‘We asked for transparency but all we got was a whitewash. The OFT acknowledges that high pump prices are a result of high crude prices, not competition.

‘So why when the barrel price drops, is that not reflected at the pump?’
And the AA noted that since the start of the year, the cost of filling a tank has risen with petrol now costing 134.08p per litre and diesel 141.42p.
AA president Edmund King said drivers will be ‘bitterly disappointed and frustrated’ by the OFT. He said: ‘Wholesale price surges that shot up 10p a litre and collapsed just as quickly appeared at the pump in days – but took weeks to fall away.’
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said many would find the OFT report ‘hard to believe’.

But he noted the OFT was right to identify that British motorists pay the highest fuel tax in Europe, at 60p in every pound.
‘The OFT does identify the true cause of drivers’ misery – the Chancellor and crude oil prices,’ Professor Glaister said. ‘About 60 per cent of the pump price is accounted for by fuel duty and VAT.’
The Petrol Retailers’ Association ‘condemned’ the OFT ruling, which left garages having to ‘explain the unexplainable’ to angry motorists on their forecourts.
Tory MP Robert Halfon, who spearheaded the Commons campaign against rip-off fuel prices, said the scandal still needed to be addressed.
He insisted: ‘Whatever the OFT says, high prices at the pump are crushing families across Britain. Oil companies bear responsibility as well as the Government.’

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

On TrAC to boost job prospects for young people

A scheme that helps young people to gain apprenticeships and supports local firms has been officially launched.

East Sussex County Council has been working with seven other local authorities with the aim of making it easier for employers in the construction industry to take on more apprentices.

A special training agency, called ‘TrAC' - Training and Apprenticeships in Construction – is now up and running.

Councillor Nick Bennett, lead member for learning and school effectiveness, launched the scheme on behalf of East Sussex CC at an event at the House of Commons last week.

“This is a really good scheme – a win-win that supports businesses and helps to boost the job prospects of young people,” said Councillor Bennett.

“Many of our companies are small or medium sized and they may struggle to meet the costs of hiring an apprentice. The beauty of this scheme is that TrAC will directly employ the apprentices and then hire them out to local firms, much like a temp agency, thereby reducing the costs of the businesses concerned.

“East Sussex County Council already promotes work experience and apprenticeships through its procurement process and this TrAC initiative is a really positive addition to what we do.”

Young people looking at the construction industry as a career will benefit from the TrAC scheme, which will be rolled out in all the partnership areas – Kent, Medway, Essex, Thurrock, Southend, Norfolk and Suffolk.

If you're a business and would like to know more call 07973 141302 or email

If you're interested in becoming an apprentice you can apply online:

Training and apprenticeships in construction
or call 01263 735486 or email

Further information
TrAC has been developed in East Sussex through the existing Build East Sussex initiative. Build East Sussex is a network of construction companies, sub-contractors, business support organisations and local councils set up to make it easier for small and medium sized businesses to win contracts with the big construction firms.

Bexhill-to-Hastings road protesters finally brought down

The last of the protesters at the site of the proposed Hastings-Bexhill link road have been removed.

A handful of people who had remained locked to branches high in the trees at Crowhurst have now been brought down.

The final protester was arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass and obstructing police, bringing the total number arrested to 26.

Police said that 17 of the 26 have been charged, mainly with obstruction, assault and aggravated trespass.

Activists have been trying to delay the building of the road - which will link the A259 and B2092, crossing Combe Haven Valley near a site of special scientific interest.

East Sussex County Council says protests have already delayed it by a year and cost council taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The council and business leaders say the road is vital for the region's commercial future, but opponents say the case for the road is not proven, and the £93.8m could be better spent on other projects and services.

It's Great to be Beside the Seaside as Eastbourne Conferences Reach 10 Year High!

2013 is looking great for Eastbourne Conference Bureau with the highest number of conferences and exhibitions booked into the Devonshire Park Centre in over 10 years.

Bringing an estimated £11 million in economic value to the town, Eastbourne is set to welcome a total of 21 overnight conferences and exhibitions this year, filling up hotels and guest houses with over 15,000 delegates during the spring and autumn months.
New for 2013 includes the Royal College of Anaesthetists bringing their annual conference to Eastbourne for the first time, and the International Hearing Loop Conference is set to bring attendees from all over the world for their global event.
The news comes hot on the heels of a successful autumn season which included high profile politicians and a cabinet minister speech at the National Children’s & Adult Services conference, and more recently the Youth Works Conference which proved so popular, the event was trending on UK-wide on Twitter.
With many conferences now embracing social media, organisers often display tweets and blogs live on screen throughout their conference. Youth Works in particular used this technology to maximum effect, reaching thousands more delegates unable to attend in person, with hot topics and news of the day spreading the word from Eastbourne.
Eastbourne Conference Bureau actively build relationships in social media as part of their marketing strategy, attracting new clients to the town and currently have over 700 followers on Twitter. New clients sourced via Twitter have also included the UKIP party conference, who brought over 800 delegates to the town in 2011.
For further information on conferences in Eastbourne, telephone Eastbourne Conference Bureau on 01323 415437 or visit To get latest updates from the team visit or follow on Twitter @ConferenceEB.

Coalition set to clash over removal of 'greatest black Briton' Mary Seacole from National Curriculum

Senior figures in the coalition government are on a collision course over the fate of the “greatest black Briton”, The Independent has learned.

Sources close to the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he is determined to put a stop to plans reportedly put in place by Education Minister Michael Gove to remove Mary Seacole, renowned for giving sanctuary to soldiers during the Crimean War, from the National Curriculum.

Leaked documents which surfaced at the end of last month appeared to detail Mr Gove’s plan to replace Seacole with more traditional, white, male historical figures; such as Admiral Lord Nelson, Winston Churchill and Oliver Cromwell.

But Mr Clegg is prepared for a clash with the Education Minister to keep her on the list of classroom suggestions.
Mary Seacole, who topped a poll of black Britons in 2006, appears on the Curriculum in a list of people it is suggested teachers use to illustrate the Victorian period in their classrooms. A Liberal Democrat source close to the Deputy Prime Minister said Mr Clegg “supported her continued inclusion on the list” when the Curriculum is rewritten.

And he said that Mr Clegg was prepared to fight her case as the discussions go on. “We do not want her to be replaced. If what was put to him was that she was going to be downgraded in relation to others we wouldn’t agree,” the source added.

According to Liberal Democrat councillor Lester Holloway, Mr Clegg has also privately insisted that the removal of Mary Seacole from the National Curriculum is “not going happen”. And a group of 24 MPs from all three major parties, as well as others, have signed an Early Day Motion declaring themselves “greatly alarmed” at Mr Gove’s plans.

Seacole’s contribution during the Crimean War has been held up as one of the earliest examples of black Britons’ impact on the nation’s history by her proponents. Operation Black Vote started a petition against her removal earlier this month, which has been signed nearly 35,000 times.

Simon Woolley, Director of Operation Black Vote, said she was one of the only black people in British history whose life was not talked about “through the prism of racism”. He said: “It is fantastically important to have people such as Mary Seacole taught in our classes.”

“Without the social history of people like Mary Seacole, our children, black and white, get a very distorted view of black people and of Africa. Our continent is more than a picture of extreme poverty. Our history is more than just slavery. This narrow view serves no-one in giving a full picture of collectively who we are, and how we see the world.”

But others have argued that her medical achievements have been overstated for political purposes. Historian and writer Guy Walters said: “She was a very worthy woman, it would be churlish not to hold her up as a good role model. The problem is that, because of her colour and because of political need, her achievements are massively oversold."

He said her achievements in running the British Hotel – which he likened more to a guest house than a hospital – should not be underestimated. But, he said she was someone who comforted soldiers, not a medical figure.

And he argued that Seacole is a figure who is talked about “in terms of race”. He said: “There is no doubt that, had she been white, we would not be talking about her today and I think it is disingenuous to claim otherwise.”

Operation Black Vote members said they have tried unsuccessfully to set up a meeting with Mr Gove, and Mr Woolley said that Mr Clegg could also come under pressure over the issue, should he fail to deliver. “I think this is very brave of the Deputy Prime Minister who has said he will no longer make pledges he knows he can’t keep. Let’s just hope that Gove listens to him and to the tens of thousands who want Mary Seacole on a curriculum that reflects our rich history,” he said.

Mr Woolley added: “If Clegg keeps his promise it will ensure not only that Mary Seacole, and Olaudah Equiano stay the National Curriculum but the principal of our rich diversity remains key to our children’s education. Saving Mary Seacole equates to ensuring cultural diversity on the Curriculum.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “The Department does not comment on leaks.”

Conservative run Braintree District Council cuts Council Tax

Congratulations to Braintree District Council on their announcement of a 1% cut in the Council Tax this year.

Cllr Graham Butland, the Leader of the Council says:
“In an age of austerity, it is all too easy to generate more funds by increasing taxes, the challenge lies in improving service provision by being more efficient and performing better. The proposed reduction ensures that families and pensioners in the district have one less rising bill to worry about. We have worked hard to make savings whilst prioritising our front line services and continuing to deliver value for money for our residents.”
Of course the cut is modest (especially as most of the Council Tax bill is made up of essex County Council's share) but it is a wonderful example to others. No cuts in services. It is combined with no cuts in services and no increase in car parking charge.

They also encourage people back to work with a deal that the first £40 of earned income for Council Tax benefit claimants will be exempt.

The Council savings include:
  • New leisure management contract saving £900,000 per annum.
  • New ICT services contract saving £250,000 per annum.
  • Increased income from the letting of Mayland House, Witham - £450,000 per annum.
  • Increased income from the sale of recyclable materials - £150,000 per annum.

A fantastic achievement.

East Sussex Cabinet agrees capital investment and council tax freeze

A budget that provides huge capital funding for economic development, roads, schools and broadband in East Sussex – and a freeze on council tax for the third year in a row – has been approved by the County Council's Cabinet.

The plans, which will now be debated at the full County Council meeting next month, aim to boost economic prosperity, keep a lid on council tax and make £60m worth of revenue savings over the next three years.

Deputy Leader Keith Glazier said: “We plan to continue our budget for growth to boost the East Sussex economy – with better road links, such as the Bexhill Hastings Link Road, and better broadband through our go-esussex initiative.

“We're also planning to freeze council tax and if agreed it will be the third year in a row that we'll have capped the tax. We know that times are hard for many people, and every pound counts in household budgets, so we need to do our bit to help.”

Councillor Glazier is however, warning of tough times ahead when it comes to the council's revenue budget.

“Like every council in the UK, we face some really hard decisions on our revenue budget,” said Councillor Glazier. “Our plans to save £60m over the next three years will mean changes and reductions in some services and more job losses.

“We'll do our best to mitigate any cuts and protect our key frontline services and we are clear that the most vulnerable in our county will continue to be protected.”

The Council received a wide variety of views from residents during a recent budget consultation and these will now be taken on board.

Watch the budget debate – videos of council meetings

Cabinet meeting papers for 29 January (see item 5)

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Bernard Jenkin MP: Clegg's hypocrisy on boundary changes

Bernard Jenkin is the Member of Parliament for Harwich and North Essex and Chairman of the Public Administration Select Committee and he believes that the vote to delay fair boundaries by 334 votes to 292 has shortened the coalition’s life.
“Up and down the country, constituencies can vary enormously in size, and that's a major cause for concern... For example, 87,000 voters in the East Ham constituency together get one say in the government. The 66,000 voters living 10 miles away in Islington North get one say too. So, if you live in Islington, your voice counts for more. But why should the vote of a person living in, say, Holborn, Brentford or Kingston be worth less than a person living in Putney, Greenwich or Kensington? And why was the last election held on boundaries that are 10 years out of date? Redrawing the boundaries lets us make constituencies more equal in size and more current, and it's an opportunity to cut the number of MPs."
So said the Deputy Prime Minister in August 2010. And we Conservatives all agreed! Why do politicians say things they don’t believe? Is it any wonder the public despair of our principles? The principle of fairness in elections is obvious. It has been the basis of Nick Clegg’s appeal for electoral reform throughout his career. What changed his mind?

All constituencies send one MP to Westminster. Yet the mainland constituency with the largest electorate, East ham, has 91,531 registered voters, while the smallest, Wirral West, has just 55,077. The largest and smallest constituencies in the UK are both island constituencies: the Isle of Wight with 110,924 and the Western Isles with 21,837, respectively. Redrawing boundaries to make constituencies more equal in size would help give votes equal weight. As would reducing the time between boundary reviews, because ten years between reviews means they are based on out-of-date population data. Otherwise, As Nick Clegg himself told MPs:

“It is one of the founding principles of any democracy that votes should be valued in the same way, wherever they are cast. Over the years, all sorts of anomalies have developed, such that different people's votes are simply not worth the same in elections to this place. That surely cannot be right."
That’s why Nick Clegg and his LibDems voted for the boundary review process.

Yet, when he announced that the Government was no longer pursuing the House of Lords Reform Bill, he also made it clear that the Liberal Democrats would no longer be voting for the boundary changes. What sort of principle is this? His argument was that the Conservative Party had broken a 'deal'. When did the principle of fairness become subject to such a ‘deal’?
Leave aside the incidental fact that the Conservatives did in fact deliver on the commitment in the Coalition Programme for Government to " establish a committee to bring forward proposals for a wholly or mainly elected upper chamber on the basis of proportional representation." This was done. And boundary changes were not linked to the implementation of Lords reform in the agreement.

Leave aside the new boundaries by 2015 were explicitly linked to the AV referendum: "We will bring forward a Referendum Bill on electoral reform, which includes provision for the introduction of the Alternative Vote in the event of a positive result in the referendum, as well as for the creation of fewer and more equal sized constituencies." The AV referendum was delivered. The fact that the Yes side lost does not alter the fact.

Far more important is the principle of fairness, which Nick Clegg says he believes in. Neither the AV referendum result, nor the failure of House of Lords reform, can alter the simple principle of fairness: that votes should be of more equal weight, so constituencies should be of more equal size, so a vote matters the same where ever it is cast. Now Liberal Democrats find themselves in the invidious position, having argued for a ‘fairer’ and ‘more proportional’ electoral system, while they are blocking the reform they have voted for and which would deliver what they say they believe in.

Nick Clegg is the minister in the government who has personally overseen this boundary review. He committed taxpayers’ money to get it done in double quick time – in time for the 2015 election. In succeeding in today’s vote in delaying implementation of that same review which he championed, he has deliberately chosen to have next election fought on boundaries that he himself has argued is unfair, and which they had the chance to make fairer. Is that what ‘coalition in the national interest’ is all about?

There was always something astonishing about the emergence of this coalition. This incident cements in the mind of Conservatives that this coalition was more about expediency than principle: that the national interest is just a soundbite to those who hold power more dearly than integrity. Deficit reduction, schools reform, reduced welfare dependency, a referendum on Europe – all these show that Conservatives hold the moral high ground - and we should stand on it. If the LibDems flounce out, who will the voters respect more? Their lack of principle simply shortens the life of this coalition.

Monday, 28 January 2013

New British Citizenship Test - Take The Quiz

Changes to the Life in the UK citizenship test, which must be taken by all migrants wanting to settle permanently in Britain, have been unveiled.

The Home Office said the revised exam, which is being introduced in March, will focus less on the practicalities of daily living in Britain and more on the nation's culture and past, with topics such as sport, music and key historical facts featuring heavily.

New British Citizenship Test - Take The Quiz

Last Updated 09:48 28/01/2013
Changes to the Life in the UK citizenship test, which must be taken by all migrants wanting to settle permanently in Britain, have been unveiled.

The Home Office said the revised exam, which is being introduced in March, will focus less on the practicalities of daily living in Britain and more on the nation's culture and past, with topics such as sport, music and key historical facts featuring heavily.

Citizenship Figures 2011-12
For example, while foreigners will be expected to know British history stretching back to the Stone Age, through to the Romans, Norman Conquest and the Magna Carta, they will also be tested on last year's Olympics and "Britons' unique sense of humour and satire".

The Two Ronnies and Monty Python are even on the syllabus, according to the Guardian, while British cultural and artistic heritage, from the music of composer Henry Purcell to the worldwide influence of the Beatles and Andrew Lloyd Webber, and the nation's national parks all feature in the 45-minute test.

Foreign nationals will also be asked about the nation's artistic achievements, Britain's love of gardening and garden design and the work of influential architects including Christopher Wren and Norman Foster.

Questions on literary masterpieces by poets and authors such as Geoffrey Chaucer, Jane Austen and Wilfred Owen, as well as the lives of some of Britain's most celebrated writers, scientists and politicians, from William Shakespeare and Robert Burns to Isaac Newton and Winston Churchill also feature.

Ministers said the exam and its accompanying handbook, released today, will cover events and people "who have contributed to making Britain great".

Immigration minister Mark Harper said: "We've stripped out mundane information about water meters, how to find train timetables, and using the internet.

"The new book rightly focuses on values and principles at the heart of being British. Instead of telling people how to claim benefits it encourages participation in British life."

More than 150,000 Life in the UK tests were taken nationally last year, including 77,000 in London.

:: Take the test. Here are some of the possible questions and multiple choice answers:

1. Which landmark is a prehistoric monument which still stands in the English county of Wiltshire?

A) Stonehenge

B) Hadrian's Wall

C) Offa's Dyke

D) Fountains Abbey

2. What is the name of the admiral who died in a sea battle in 1805 and has a monument in Trafalgar Square, London?

A) Cook

B) Drake

C) Nelson

D) Raleigh

3. In 1801, a new version of the official flag of the United Kingdom was created. What is it often called?

A) The British Standard

B) The Royal Banner

C) The St George Cross

D) The Union Jack

4. Who is the Patron Saint of Scotland?

A) St Andrew

B) St David

C) St George

D) St Patrick

5. What flower is traditionally worn by people on Remembrance Day?

A) Poppy

B) Lily

C) Daffodil

D) Iris

6. Which of these sporting events was hosted in London in 2012?

A) The Commonwealth Games

B) Cricket World Cup

C) European Football Championship

D) Paralympic Games

7. At her Jubilee in 2012, how many years as Queen did Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrate?

A) 25

B) 40

C) 50

D) 60

8. The second largest party in the House of Commons is usually known by what name?

A) The Senate

B) The Opposition

C) The Lords

D) The Other Side

9. From what age can you be asked to serve on a jury?

A) 16

B) 18

C) 21

D) 25

10. What is the title given to the person who chairs the debates in the House of Commons?

A) The Speaker

B) The Chairman

C) The Leader of the House

D) The Prime Minister

Answers: you need 75% to pass

1. A 2. C 3. D 4. A 5. A 6. D 7. D 8. B 9. B 10.A

MINI Bond Street unveiled

MINI has announced its latest London inspired model, called the Clubman Bond Street. Named after the famous and busy London shopping street, it’s to go on sale in March 2013 and will be sold for a limited time, costing from £20,275.

To differentiate it from its standard counterparts, the Clubman Bond Street wears black metallic paint with Champagne door pillars and roof – a combination used on the 17-inch alloy wheels. Inside there is carbon black leather with contrast stitching and champagne finish surfaces.

Standard equipment includes front fog lights, chrome line exterior package, climate control, onboard computer, Bluetooth, USB connectivity, automatic wipers and automatic headlights, storage pack, and lighting pack. The MINI Clubman Bond Street is available in Cooper, Cooper D, Cooper S and Cooper SD forms, with prices from £20,275 to £24,045 for the Cooper SD diesel.

John Slavin, Honest John

Boris Johnson: Only a coward would deny the people their voice on Europe

The Labour leader’s rejection of an in-out EU referendum is blatantly undemocratic, says Boris Johnson.

Well, folks, the choice is clear — and I suppose there must be some people out there who approve of the bizarre and defeatist policy of Labour leader Ed Miliband.

There must be at least a couple of readers who think the EU is just maaaahvellous in every respect. Perhaps you are one of them? Perhaps you think the whole Brussels set-up is beyond improvement, and that it is somehow vulgar to try to get a better deal for Britain. You may be one of those people who think the EU Commission has a perfect right to regulate everything from the working hours of junior doctors to the maximum permissible odours of dungheaps to the exact colour of a Danish frankfurter — and that none of these regulations is promulgated in a way that is remotely burdensome or expensive.

You may be so deluded as to believe that the performance of the European economy is a cause for rejoicing, and that the euro is a masterpiece of economic planning. When people suggest that things could be rearranged or improved, you may be one of those whose instinct is to spring forward angrily, like some whiskery babushka in a communist museum, crying, “Don’t move it! Don’t touch it! Don’t touch a thing!”

Are you such a person? Do you think there is nothing we can do now to reform the economic model of the EU? Do you think it is impossible to negotiate a better deal and to reduce some of this profusion of non-wage costs — in the interests of Britain and Europe?

Are you so utterly despairing of Britain, and of Britain’s persuasive power, that you don’t think we in Britain could lead such a negotiation? I cannot believe that you are, or that you hold any of these nonsensical opinions.

But if you do, then you will certainly want to vote Labour at the next election. If you want to keep the EU exactly as it is — vote Labour. If you want to do nothing to improve Britain’s relations with the EU — vote Labour. If you’re scared of a negotiation — vote Labour. If you’re frightened of the verdict of the people — vote Labour. If you want to keep the whole gourmandising Michelin-starred expense-account conspiracy away from anything so horrid as democratic scrutiny — vote Labour.

I was amazed when Ed Miliband announced last Wednesday that the Labour Party was ruling out a referendum. I don’t know whether his response to David Cameron’s speech was long-meditated — like the speech itself — or whether it was a kneejerk thing.

Either way, he has blown it big time. He has painted himself into a corner. He has entered a lobster pot, and he is going to find it hard to back out with any kind of dignity — though I have no doubt that he will soon begin to try.

His position, first, is so flagrantly and absurdly anti-democratic. Plenty of countries have had referendums — but not Britain. The French, the Dutch, the Danes, the Irish — they have all been apparently grown-up and well-informed enough to be allowed to vote on a European treaty. We haven’t been allowed to say yes or no to the EU since 1975. We were teased and then disappointed over the Lisbon Treaty, when a cast-iron promise proved to be legally impossible to deliver.

Now is the moment: because it is quite clear that the EU is evolving into something very different from what we joined. The institutions we pay for — the Commission, Council, parliament, court etc — are being used to support the creation of a federal state: the fiscal union that is deemed necessary to save the single currency. That was not on the agenda in 1975. It is entirely right that we should have a renegotiation and then put the result to the people — and the weakness of Ed Miliband’s position is that the so-called People’s Party will do anything to keep the people out of the discussion. Worse still, his do-nothing posture is complacent.

Look at the global economy: America is on the verge of a recovery; China is growing at 8 per cent. There is one great area of low pressure, one zone of gloom and despond — and it is the old and greying continent of Europe.

The problem is not just the dreadful procrustean bed of the euro. As David Cameron rightly said — quoting Angela Merkel — the problem is the whole shape of the European economy, an area that has 7 per cent of global population, 20 per cent of global GDP, and must raise 50 per cent of global social spending.

Surely to goodness there must be scope for reforming the EU and helping it to become more competitive. A lot of these extra non-wage costs are contrived at the Brussels level — and when Britain calls for reform we find support from around the table, from Germany, from Scandinavia, and from Holland — among others.

It is, finally, utter cowardice of Miliband to refuse to allow Britain the chance to improve things — to get a better deal for Britain and Europe. He pretends to be nervous that Britain would leave the EU, and that the people — them again! — would be so irresponsible as to say no to whatever new treaty was produced.

As it happens, I think most people would want to stay in the single market, and that that is the most likely outcome. But it is also clear that the world has changed unimaginably in the past 40 years; that Britain’s destiny is to build links with the BRICs and other emerging markets, as well as Europe and the US. Provided we protected free trade — in the EU interest as much as in ours — I am not sure exit would be quite the catastrophe some people claim.

Miliband has ruled out a referendum not because he cares about the UK or Europe, but because he wants to avoid the kind of split that sunk Labour in the 1970s and 1980s. It won’t work. He will either do a humiliating U-turn, or go into the election with a suicidal commitment to ignore the British people. Britain, and Europe, deserve better.

Eric Pickles: why councils should heed our quiet revolution

Across the country a quiet revolution is under way. We've devolved powers and devolved finances to local government, so people have more flexibility than ever before to transform their services.

And trailblazers like our Community and Neighbourhood Budget pilots are proving that if councils shake things up there are savings to be made.

Essex believes it can reduce re-offending by 5 per cent and make net savings of £124 million by the end of the decade.

Greater Manchester reckons £224 million of savings are possible over the next five years just by sorting out their troubled families.

And if you can save millions by improving services locally, nationally we can save billions. Billions to be reinvested in protecting vulnerable communities, keeping vital services in place for hard working people and building the homes people need. Not to mention paying off Labour's credit card bill.

When you think about it, it is staggering that Labour politicians like Hilary Benn oppose every single cut when Alistair Darling set out 52 billion pounds of cuts in his March 2010 budget.
You would think listening to the BBC that sensible savings and improved services were a bad thing. To them every saving is a cut. It’s high time the BBC curbed some of her wasteful ways and became more transparent with our cash.

Public sector monoliths and town hall titans need to heed the old financial adage with “great power comes great responsibility”.

But our quiet revolution is overturning the established order of things. Localism won’t give councils any excuse to shirk their responsibilities. Increasingly, it won’t be decisions taken by the centre that determine what authorities get but decisions made locally.

Authorities have a duty to support their residents. I don’t have a problem with councils that want to put up council tax if they have a good reason – to fund local opportunities. But I do have an issue if they don’t ask permission first. They have to man up. Be straight with people. Take them into their confidence. If the public believes you’ve got a sensible case they might well listen. But councils should also stop treating residents with contempt. That’s why we’re making sure local people have their say by lowering the referendum threshold for council tax.

Democracy dodgers who try creep in under the radar, putting up their stealth tax by 1.99 per cent in a bid to avoid our 2 percent referendum threshold, need a reality check. We will take into consideration anybody cheating their taxpayers. Anybody using loop holes will lose out next year.
Instead, authorities need to ask the right questions. Are we doing enough to cut out the waste? Are we doing enough to innovate? Are we putting our people first? Then they will realise cash strapped taxpayers, don’t deserve needless tax rises.

What residents really want is cuts to taxes not bin collections; potholes filled not pockets. Councils that put their people first, will get the idea. To those that don’t we’re sending out a message loud and clear. The days of the knee jerk tax and spend hike are over. And there is a clear dividing line here. We want to freeze council tax and save on average families 72 pounds a year on a band d property. Labour scoff at this and brand it a gimmick. It just shows how out of touch they are.

A growing band of quiet revolutionaries are starting to heed our call. Districts like Stroud and Teignbridge or West Sussex and Wolverhampton are freezing again. While Windsor and Maidenhead, Hammersmith and Fulham and South Oxfordshire are going further still and actually reducing bills.

Already we know of 115 can do councils who will freeze council tax for a third year from Derby to Dorset, Northampton to Norfolk and Wolverhampton to Worcester. It’s a good start but we can go further. So let’s see authorities, fired up with that revolutionary spirit, savings in their sights, stepping up to ball and scoring a hat trick for their residents.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Seaside Councillor takes BMW UK to task over cheeky Mini 'GrubbyBritish Beaches' Facebook jibe

Seaside Councillor, Patrick Warner who represents Sovereign Ward in Eastbourne - arguably one of Britain's most famous Seaside resorts which regularly tops the sunshine charts, is challenging Mini's owners BMW UK.

On Friday 25th January, on the Mini UK Facebook page, they show an archive image of a red Classic Mini with a caption that reads 'Check out this cheeky chappy. The Mini 850. Adding glamour to grubby British beaches, since 1977'.

Cllr Warner said "I'm a big fan of British products and very respectful of the success of the Mini brand, in fact I regularly publish news stories on my blog and 'share' a variety of Mini Facebook posts with my followers but this latest post seems in poor taste".

Above: the image used by BMW in the offending Mini campaign.
Cllr Warner added "The new Mini family of cars are proving very popular in and around the Eastbourne area and they deserve to but I would welcome the opportunity to invite BMW & Mini to Visit Eastbourne and change their view of the Great British Seaside".

BMW should change their view of British beaches

The previous 'Change your View' campaign run by Eastbourne did a great job of challenging perceptions and stereotypes and since then, Eastbourne has been very successful in getting people of all ages to sample its delights.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Bexhill-to-Hastings road protesters 'caused year's delay'

Protesters campaigning against a new link road in East Sussex have delayed building work by a year, the county council leader has said.

Last week about 30 activists were evicted from two camps set up in Combe Haven Valley to halt the construction of the £93.8m Bexhill to Hastings road.

They have vowed to fight on and have since set up a third camp nearby.

Councillor Peter Jones said the actions of the protesters had cost the council hundreds of thousands of pounds.

"A lot of these people come from all over the country... there is deep, public local opposition to what they're doing," he said.

Patrick Nicholson, from the Combe Haven Defenders, said activists were planning to remain at the third camp for some time.

Trespass and obstruction

"If we do get moved out of this camp we're going to continue protesting in the valley with other camps and protest action.

"Our argument is that this is the wrong way to spend £100m," he said.

"We are trying to make the council rethink and spend that money on things that people really need."

Sussex Police said 19 activists had been arrested since work on the link road began last December.

Twelve of them have been charged with offences including aggravated trespass and obstruction.

Some have protested by building tree houses and digging tunnels and then securing themselves with locks which had to be dismantled by bailiffs.

The new road will link the A259 and B2092, crossing Combe Haven Valley near a site of special scientific interest.

Recently an e-petition was started encouraging residents, businesses and other interested parties to call for Government action against the protesters. It reads "We want the government to realise the majority of UK citizens are against the wastage of taxpayers' money by the so called 'protesters' at the Bexhill Hastings link road and to take steps to remove them".

If you feel strongly that action should be taken against the protesters, clikc the following link to sign the petition:


My View: The PM's Europe Speech & the proposed Referendum

I have always been on the more traditional, eurosceptic wing of the Conservative Party and I share the frustrations of many in the country at what seemed over the Blair/Brown years to be an EU strengthening its grip on member states, interfering more and more in our daily lives and rendering our national politicians powerless to make many of the decisions that could improve our lot for fear of lengthy and costly battles in the ghastly European Court of Human Rights.

I have to admit to being concerned in the run up to Prime Minister, David Cameron's long awaited Europe Speech. Had he understood what the ordinary man and woman on the street thought about the EU?, would he have been persuaded by European Leaders to water down his comments? or would he be seen merely as trying to pull off a trick that dealt with the threat from UKIP?

What I heard (and have since published on this blog as the full text of the PM's speech) was a speech that was more appropriate than I could have hoped for. He paid respect to those who in previous wars have fought for all of Europe to enjoy the freedoms we are fortunate to enjoy in Britain. He paid tribute to the peace that has prevailed in Europe since those sacrifices were made. He pointed out correctly that whilst peace had been achieved, the challenge was now to secure prosperity. Prosperity that will he says only be achieved by making the EU more fit for purpose and by responding to the challenges that come from outside the EU from surging ecnomies of the east and the south.

The facts recognised by many are that the EU is no longer fit for purpose and must change, both to deliver prosperity and to retain the support of people all over Europe. The Prime Minister went on to point out the differences between the Continent and those of our United Kingdom and I believe he put this just right when he said "We have the character of an island nation - independent, forthright, passionate in defence of our sovereignty. We can no more change this British sensibility than we can drain the English Channel". But this was not merely sabre rattling, he went on to describe the many historical links we have with Europe that could never be wiped away and how Europe needs Britain.

Whilst David Cameron made it clear that he still believed Britain's future would be best served by remaining a member of a revised EU that gives the people of our great nation a fairer deal in so many areas, he has been brave enough to say that if a Conservative Government is re-elected in 2015, once he has done his best to create a strong case to stay, he then trusts the people to say yes or no in an in/out referendum within the first two years of the new parliament.

I've held off writing this blog so that I could observe reaction. I was encouraged to see how well it was received by business leaders, amused at the difficulty experienced by British political opponents who don't appear to have any valid challenge and thoroughly heartened by the response of people I speak to on a daily basis in the many different walks of my life. I was however surprised by the comments made by German Chancellor, Angela Merkel for whom the measured positive response she issued seems to show that for her at least the penny has dropped and I hopes she manages to get some of her less careful neighbours to think more carefully before making offers to roll out the red carpet for our departure.

So what of the future? I have no doubt at all that David Cameron will be a man of his word and along with his ministers, set about negotiating a better deal for Britain. Do I believe that he will be able to negotiate enough concessions to convince the people to vote to stay in after 2015? I must say that I doubt that the cumbersome, hugely inefficient EU organisation and its most passionate advocates of no change, will be able to move far enough to make me vote to stay but I don't think that anyone will be able to do any better than this Prime Minister in trying and I genuinely wish him the very best in these negotiations.

How will I vote in the proposed referendum? I think it is highly likely that I will feel the need to vote to pull out but I shall promise to consider carefully all of the facts at the time before deciding. Just as I am prepared to wait this little bit longer to see what can be achieved however, I would also like to see detailed planning take place as to how we would manage outside the EU if the public decide to vote leave. I would like to see a nation that is not only proud of its history but confident about its future and ever more determined to suceed it what will surely be an even more competitive marketplace.

Finally, I would also like to see legislation passed from the current UK Parliament to reduce the number of MP's from 651 to 600 and even up the size of constituencies so that the General Election result in 2015 is a more representative one of the British people's wishes and finally, I would appeal to those members of my party who have previously been frustrated enough to leave for UKIP, to consider coming home to make a Conservative victory more possible and to ensure that the British people get to decide our future at the referendum.

The Labour Party will do anything for the workers – except trust them

While David Cameron puts his faith in the people, Ed Miliband clings rigidly to belief in the state

Perhaps the best part of David Cameron’s Europe speech was Tony Blair’s baffled reaction to it a few hours later. Why, Blair asked, would any prime minister be so vulgar as to propose a referendum and put the public into the equation? The way to work in Brussels is to have a quiet word with fellow members of the elite and cut a deal. By holding a popular vote, he continued, Cameron was in effect putting a gun to his own head and declaring: “If you don’t do what I want, I’ll blow my brains out.” To Blair, the British public are there to be invoked in speeches. To actually consult them is a form of suicide.

Absence, it seems, has not made the former prime minister’s heart grow any fonder of Britain or its voters. When seeking election in 2005, Blair did find it necessary to offer a referendum – as Cameron has – but he quietly tore that plan up, like a good European. Now his successor, Ed Miliband, promises to tear up this referendum pledge if elected in 2015. Germany’s biggest newspaper, Bild, brilliantly parodied Cameron’s critics: “Most EU countries have tacitly agreed to build Europe above the heads of the people,” it wrote. “The European project is simply too important for democratic participation. And then along comes this Cameron!”

All of a sudden, “this Cameron” finds himself armed with a very powerful question to ask his opponents at election time: “We trust the people. Why don’t you?” On schools reform and NHS liberalisation, Cameron can say that the Tories are in the business of taking power from the few and giving it to the many. Just as Labour opposes these changes, so it seems to shudder at the idea of what voters might get up to if left alone in a referendum polling booth. Mr Miliband seems just as terrified by the idea of patients choosing their hospitals or parents their children’s schools. Under his leadership, the Opposition has become the party that will do anything for the working class – except trust them.

There is a fatal flaw with Labour’s policies, as Blair – in his more lucid years – understood. Britain is losing faith in hierarchies of all kinds. Voters want choice and power. It is difficult to accuse Cameron of merely appeasing the swivel-eyed wing of his party, given that a referendum removes the decision from the hands of any political party and leaves it up to 46 million voters. The Prime Minister has not, yet, been accused of shamelessly pandering to the British public – but it may just be a matter of time. His referendum has captured the mood of the age, while Labour seems trapped in the politics of the last century.

On the high street, a power shift has been under way for many years. From clothes to coffee to television to music, people want far greater choice – and will go to the companies that offer it. Those who fail to provide choice collapse. HMV was a fine music retailer and its stores may have stocked hundreds of different records, but consumers started to want to choose from thousands. The digital era makes choice almost infinite. The old hierarchies are being flattened. The BBC has lost its power over what we watch, and Marks & Spencer over what we wear.

At the same time, faith in elites has collapsed. A YouGov poll last November showed how police officers, politicians, union leaders and even school teachers are trusted far less than they were a decade ago. The old political proposition – vote for me, and I will fix things for you – holds less weight than ever. Barack Obama campaigned on precisely the opposite pledge. “I’m asking you to believe,” he likes to say. “Not just in my ability to bring about real changes… I’m asking you to believe in yours.”

Cameron understood all this from the outset, but has always struggled to articulate it. He had the right agenda, but kept giving it daft names. His first attempt was “Politics 2.0”, then “the Post-Bureaucratic Age” – both of which were instantly forgotten. “Big Society” came next, which is remembered, but for the wrong reasons. As an abstract concept, the “empowerment” agenda was an utter failure for the Tories. But steadily, in government, Cameron has been able to demonstrate what he means. So far he has given the chance of a better education to 10,000 families, and choice in health care to thousands more NHS patients. The decision to allow a vote on Europe fits in with an encouraging trend.

If Miliband wants to run for office in 2015 saying “trust me”, then good luck to him. He will be seeking votes in a country where politicians are considered about as reliable as cheap burgers. Cameron will run for office saying: “I trust you, and here is a referendum on Europe to prove it.” In this way, the EU vote is not just a tool of foreign policy, or party management. It can now be used as a symbol, showing that Conservatives tend to place their faith in the people, while Labour places its faith in the state. And this is not just political waffle, but the principle that has produced hundreds of schools and NHS clinics. And even the odd tax cut.

To Miliband’s Labour, the notion of trusting people means worrying unpredictability. Stephen Twigg, the shadow education spokesman, talks with a bureaucrat’s dread about the “chaos and waste” of dozens of new schools opening at a time when there are still – damn it! – places to fill in bad ones. When Ed Miliband denounced the health reforms as a “free-for-all”, it was as if everyone shared his horror at the concept. The Prime Minister can now rightly claim that the Conservatives are the party to whom “free-for-all” is a boast, not an indictment.

Fraser Nelson is Editor of 'The Spectator’

Tory ministers may vote against staying in EU if Cameron fails to claw back powers

Boris Johnson and other senior Conservatives are warning David Cameron that they may not vote to keep Britain in the European Union unless there is a “significant” repatriation of powers from Brussels.

More than 100 Conservative MPs, including several members of the Cabinet, are prepared to vote “out” in a referendum unless Britain’s relationship with the EU is fundamentally changed after the next election.

Earlier this week, the Prime Minister pledged to renegotiate Britain’s membership and then allow the public a referendum on the revised deal – if he is re-elected in 2015.

Yesterday during a series of interviews at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Mr Cameron repeatedly stressed that he wanted Britain to remain a member of the EU.

However, he has not yet set out which powers he would like to repatriate to Britain – and the only specific example he has stated is restrictions on the working hours of doctors.

Although his landmark Europe speech was warmly welcomed by most Conservatives, senior figures in the party have indicated that they will seek a British exit from the EU if significant powers are not returned.

Yesterday, Mr Johnson, the London mayor, asked if he would vote to keep Britain in the EU, said: “I can’t say now, but my overwhelming instinct would be that we can get sufficient changes, reforms and improvements to the treaty to make it sensible for most people in my country to vote to stay in the single market.”

Sajid Javid, a Treasury minister, said in an interview with the Spectator magazine: “I would personally consider our options outside the EU [without renegotiation].”

These views are understood to be shared by Cabinet ministers including Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith, Chris Grayling and Owen Paterson.

One minister said: “There is no division in the Cabinet at all over the position, but there is an expectation among a large group of the party that there will have to be a major renegotiation for ongoing membership to be supported. But, this is now a settled issued until after the election.”

Last night, in an interview with CNN, the Prime Minister said that he would not issue “demands” and then “storm off” if they were not met during negotiations over Britain’s EU membership.

Mr Cameron said: “What we’ve said is we think there’s a whole range of areas where the European Union has legislated too often and gone too far, covering areas like social and employment legislation, environmental legislation…I mean, just one example, the hours that hospital doctors work in Britain is, you know, dictated sometimes by rules [from] Brussels. That really isn't necessary in an open, flexible, competitive Europe.”

He added: “We're not putting a list of demands on the table and saying we'll storm off if we don't get them. What we're saying is we should in Europe have changes that will benefit all of the countries of the European Union, but which at the same time will, I think, make Britain more comfortable with her place in the European Union.”

The Prime Minister spent much of yesterday at Davos lobbying other European leaders to support his position. He met with Angela Merkel after the German chancellor said she would consider Britain’s demands for renegotiation.

“They touched briefly on the Prime Minister’s EU speech,” a Downing Street spokesman said.
Mr Cameron also had short meetings with Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the Danish prime minister, Mark Rutte, the prime minister of the Netherlands, Enda Kenny, Ireland’s prime minister and Mario Monti, the Italian prime minister.

Most European leaders stressed that they wished for Britain to remain an active member of the EU.

Last night, Nick Clegg, the deputy Prime Minister, suggested that although he opposed Mr Cameron’s position he may support a future referendum on EU membership.

However, in an interview with The House magazine, he said he was “none the wiser” about what the “great re-negotiation means” as the Coalition was already committed to changing working time laws.
The Liberal Democrat leader said: “It was a well-crafted speech and obviously very well delivered.

“My own view is that it will be a tactical victory today for a strategic mistake tomorrow. Because actually the whole approach hinges not so much on the referendum, but on prior to that, reinventing and resettling the terms of Britain's membership in the European Union - but I've no idea how.

“Changing the working time directive, even I agree with that, we put that in the coalition agreement; a change on fisheries, fine. But in that case, what on earth is all the fuss about? Because anyone would agree to that.”

But, he added: “Or it means a complete wholesale rewriting of the whole terms of the membership of Britain of the European Union within 18 months flat, which I think is wholly implausible.”

By , Political Editor, Telegraph.

FairFuelUK Campaign needs your support!

Please help us hit half a million supporters before March

Dear Motorist,

When Quentin Wiilson, Howard Cox, Lynne Beaumont and I sat down two years ago to launch FairFuelUK our first email to supporters went to just over 250 people. At that time, we wondered if we’d get the support we needed to fight off the monstrous 5p per litre Fuel Duty hike that was going to hit us in April 2011. Just look at how far we’ve all come together since then – this email that you’re now reading will go to hundreds of thousands of people, not just a couple of hundred. We started this campaign as just 4 individuals.

Now, we’ve got a range of financial backers to help us : The RHA, the FTA, the RAC, The Fuelcard Company, The Association of Pallet Networks (joined 2013) and Aldermore Bank.

Because of your support and the help from our backers, we’ve had a string of great successes. Over the last 24 months, we’ve led the fight to see over 9p per litre of Fuel Duty hike’s scrapped. However, despite those successes, we still pay amongst the highest Petrol/Diesel Taxes in Europe and petrol and diesel are still frighteningly expensive. When we checked on Monday, Unleaded was averaging 132.88 and Diesel was averaging 140.50. And now there are stories in the newspapers today suggesting that prices might rocket by 4p per litre in the next couple of weeks. These high prices are still hurting families and businesses AND, just as importantly, we know that they are holding back the UK economy. Our fight goes on!

So as we build up our campaigning for 2013, we’ve got a simple ‘ask’ of you.

We’ve made all the progress to date with just over 348,000 sign ups on our constantly running online petition at The more we can increase this number, the more media interest and political momentum we can generate – and that means that our chances of getting a cut in fuel duty increase.

To help boost this number, we’re simply asking you to cut and paste the email below and send it to as many contacts as you can. We need as many people as possible to electronically ‘sign up’. It’s completely free and takes just a few seconds.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the next time we email you, we can go into the fight for a fuel duty cut not with 348,000 supporters – but 500,000!

Your support to date is so much appreciated – please help a little more by spreading the email below to all you know…..

With huge thanks. The suggested email to forward on to your friends, family and colleagues is below.

Very kind regards,

The FairFuelUK Team

Quentin Willson
Lynne Beaumont

Follow FairFuelUK on Twitter and Like us on Facebook

Find out why Eastbourne Residents, Chris & Jean Clark support the campaign to #upgradeA27now

Eastbourne residents, Chris & Jean Clark use roads all over Sussex regularly as writers, reviewers and champions of all of the best that Sussex has to offer! They were really pleased to add their support to the campaign this week and here's what they had to say:

Chris said:

"I use the A27 a lot and am constantly frustrated by its narrow sections, windy bits (I'll never know how the Barley Mow hasn't been demolished by a lorry on those bends - with a garage opposite adding to the danger) and tractors leading miles of cars along at 5mph.

But strangest of all is the decision to build miles of executive cycle lanes alongside the road. If that land was available surely it should have been used to widen the road into a dual carriageway, as on the section westwards from Beddingham. If Norman Baker had a hand in that he clearly didn't do any research - on my journeys three or four times a week, the sight of a cyclist is very rare indeed.
And what cyclists want is the open road and fresh air - not cars belching out choking fumes inches away from them. As with the arguments about the A259 to Hastings, a dual carriageway would speed traffic, reduce fuel consumption, boost the local economy, cut the number of crashes caused by delayed drivers overtaking on the stupidest spots .. and stop tractors (doing their essential work in their rural area) having to pull over frequently to let the hordes past".

and Jean added:

"When we considered re-locating from London to Eastbourne in 1996, the only inhibiting factor was the treacherous A27 road between Lewes and Polegate, but we were reassured that a dual carriageway and overall improvements in safety were on the agenda and being prioritised. Just before Christmas 1999, the James Bond Q actor, Desmond Llewelyn, was killed in an horrific head-on crash on the notorious Firle Stretch after a book-signing in Alfriston. And the carnage continues.

Every day I tune in to the travel news on BBC Radio Sussex and listen to reports of slow-moving traffic, overturned vehicles at the Drusillas roundabout, pile-ups around Middle Farm, accidents near Wilmington on hidden bends, collisions at the Polegate traffic lights and, far too often, fatalities.

How long is it going to take before local politicans and the government wake up to the fact that many more lives are going to be lost and families destroyed if this lethal stretch of the A27 isn't subjected to an immediate and urgent review?

In August 2002, the Government Office for the South East commissioned Halcrow to provide a detailed report* of highways in East Sussex with a view to improve safety, reduce bottlenecks, increase accessibility, provide relief to nearby villages and support regeneration. One of the 10 recommendations specifically focused on the road between Selmeston and Wilmington.

And in 2006 Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes, Norman Baker stated that he was, "very pleased that my longstanding campaign for safety improvements [on the A27] is proving successful and that we also now have a timetable for when much of the work will be carried out."

Oh really, Mr Baker, and when can we be expecting this timetable of works exactly? No doubt you would prefer us all to catch trains that are dirty, unreliable, increasingly and inhibitingly expensive with replacement bus services on Sundays, high days and holiday.

Along with my husband Chris, I wholeheartedly support Patrick Warner's cross party campaign to upgrade the A27 as a matter of urgency".

If like Chris & Jean you feel strongly that action is needed on the A27 now, please click the following link to sign the e-Petition so the Government knows how strongly people feel about it and encourage your friends, family and colleagues to do the same:

You can also 'Like' the campaign facebook page at or follow me on Twitter at @CllrWarner to stay up to date with the campaign.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Yes, Prime Minister! Cameron's EU referendum unites Tories, delights business and even gets Germany on side

David Cameron pulled off the seemingly impossible last night with his historic EU referendum pledge.

It not only united Eurosceptic Tory big beasts and Britain’s business leaders, but even won the support of Germany’s Angela Merkel.

He sent shockwaves through Europe as he declared Britain rejects ‘ever closer union’, the founding principle of the European Union, and gave a guarantee of an in/out vote on our membership if he is prime minister after 2015.

Mr Cameron vowed to campaign for Britain to stay in – as long as Brussels agreed to renegotiate a looser, more trade-based relationship with key powers returned to Westminster – but added: ‘I say to the British people: This will be your decision.’

He has set himself the Herculean task of persuading other EU leaders and Brussels eurocrats to back his calls for reform against strong opposition from the likes of Spain and Italy.

Though he said renegotiation would not begin until the next Parliament, he will now come under pressure to spell out more precisely his repatriation demands. Mr Cameron insisted that a referendum to be held by the end of 2017 would be a deal-breaker in any future coalition agreement with the Lib Dems.

While it had been trailed for months, the Prime Minister’s announcement left Labour in chaos as Ed Miliband told MPs he did not want an in/out referendum, only for other senior figures to insist later that he might.

In direct contradiction of his leader, shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said: ‘Never say never.’ And another Labour frontbencher, Caroline Flint, said of Mr Miliband’s statement: ‘This is our position today.’

In a sign of potential tension within the Coalition, however, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said ‘years of uncertainty’ caused by a future referendum would hit jobs and growth and this ‘was not in the national interest’.

But Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, the Cabinet’s Eurosceptic standard-bearer, told the Daily Mail that Mr Cameron’s long-awaited speech on Britain’s future in Europe was ‘bloody marvellous’.

‘This is a seismic moment,’ he said. ‘The Prime Minister shows real leadership compared to Ed Miliband, who has now confirmed that come the election Labour will campaign against a referendum and against giving people a choice.

‘If you want a referendum, you have to vote Tory. If you don’t want one, you vote Labour.’

In an article for the Mail, former defence secretary Liam Fox – another leading light among Tory Eurosceptics – says Conservative MPs have ‘waited a long time’ for a prime minister to deliver such a ‘hugely significant message’ and promise the British people ‘a definitive choice through a referendum’.

Mr Cameron’s speech was hailed as ‘bang on’ by London Mayor Boris Johnson, who had ‘no doubt’ the British people would vote for the kind of renegotiated membership the Prime Minister envisaged.

‘What most sensible people want is to belong to the single market but to lop off the irritating excrescences of the European Union,’ he said.

He added: ‘There are a lot of other countries around that want to see reform. I think it’s going to be much simpler than people expect to get a better deal.’

Downing Street was delighted and surprised as Chancellor Merkel, Europe’s most powerful figure, responded to Mr Cameron’s speech by opening the door to a renegotiation of Britain’s membership terms.
‘Germany, and I personally, want Britain to be an important part and an active member of the European Union,’ she said. ‘We are prepared to talk about British wishes but we must always bear in mind that other countries have different wishes and we must find a fair compromise. We will talk intensively with Britain about its individual ideas.’
The public remains deeply divided over whether Britain should quit the EU, according to recent polls.
But the latest surveys suggest that support for leaving has faded as the debate over the issue has intensified.
A YouGov survey at the weekend found that 40 per cent of people would now vote to stay in the EU compared to 34 per cent wanting to quit – the first time since the 2010 election that most have said Britain should not leave.
As recently as November, 51 per cent said they wanted to quit and just 30 per cent wanted to stay in.
YouGov’s Peter Kellner said: ‘Our latest results confirm the pattern of the last four decades – that when Europe lurks at the back of people’s minds we would rather keep our distance, but when that talk turns to a decision to withdraw we start to contemplate the prospects of life outside the EU and fear this might not be so attractive after all.'

By contrast, Italy insisted the EU ‘only wants willing members’, while France offered to ‘roll out the red carpet’ for businessmen it claimed would lead an exodus to its shores if Britain left the EU.

French foreign minister Laurent Fabius told Mr Cameron: ‘You can’t do Europe a la carte... to take an example which our British friends will understand, imagine Europe is a football club and you join; once you’re in it you can’t say, “Let’s play rugby”.’

But Britain’s leading business groups backed the Prime Minister’s stance, while 55 business chiefs – including the heads of the Stock Exchange, Diageo and Standard Chartered – signed a supportive joint letter.

John Cridland, director general of the employers’ group the CBI, agreed with Mr Cameron that ‘closer union of the eurozone is not for us’, and said the Prime Minister ‘rightly recognises the benefits of retaining membership of what must be a reformed EU’.

Mr Cameron, who was forced to postpone his speech last week because of the Algeria hostage crisis, set out a hugely ambitious vision of a transformed EU.

Casting himself as a modern-day heretic, he said ‘nothing’ would be off the table when he presents demands for the repatriation of a swathe of powers if he wins the 2015 election.

He cited EU regulations on employment, the environment, social affairs and crime as among ‘so many areas’ where he wanted to ‘examine whether the balance is right’.

He suggested the ‘principal reason’ for Britain’s membership of the EU was ‘our participation in the single market and our ability to help set its rules’ – suggesting he wants a return to something like the Common Market Britain joined in 1975.

He said he wanted to challenge the central tenet of the EU – the commitment in the founding Treaty of Rome in 1957 to create an ‘ever closer union’.

‘We understand and respect the right of others to maintain their commitment to this goal. But for Britain – and perhaps for others – it is not the objective.

'And we would be much more comfortable if the treaty specifically said so, freeing those who want to go further, faster, to do so, without being held back by the others,’ Mr Cameron said.

He said he wanted a new EU treaty, saying he believed one would be necessary to create the closer economic and political union for eurozone countries fighting to save the single currency.

But he insisted that even if negotiations were opened, he would be prepared to follow the example of Harold Wilson, who asked for changes to Britain’s membership terms outside a treaty ahead of the 1975 referendum.

He said his aim was to ensure Britain remains a member of a more ‘open and flexible’ EU, saying even if Britain left it would remain ‘for many years our biggest market, and forever our geographical neighbourhood’.

But in a warning directed firmly at Mrs Merkel, he said the EU would be ‘greatly diminished’ by a British exit.

‘An EU without Britain, without one of Europe’s strongest powers, a country which in many ways invented the single market, and which brings real heft to Europe’s influence on the world stage, which plays by the rules and which is a force for liberal economic reform, would be a very different kind of European Union,’ he added.

Mr Cameron was unclear about whether he would campaign in favour of a No vote in his referendum if he failed to secure his demands. ‘Who goes into a negotiation hoping and expecting to fail? That is not the approach I take,’ he said.

Former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy said he could not envisage his party agreeing to a referendum if the Conservatives failed to win a majority at the next election and wanted to form another coalition.

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