Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Don't waste your vote, this Thursday is Election Day

This Thursday, County Councils all over Britain are holding elections that will decide how millions of pounds of your taxes are spent so what you do with your vote is really important and will shape how much tax you will pay over the next four years and the sort of services you will receive.

These elections will have no effect over immigration or Europe as UKIP might want you to believe so its really important that you take time to look at what your candidates are proposing to do. A vote for UKIP will simply make it more likely that Labour and their Lib-Dem chums will risk the progress made by existing Conservative run authorities or prevent you from benefiting from a Conservative council if you don't currently have one.

Here in East Sussex there is a lot at stake, the Labour group proposed to increase your council tax by nearly 2% at the budget setting meeting a couple of months ago and here in Eastbourne, the ruling Lib-Dems rejected Conservative proposals for a 2% cut in the local portion of the tax. Only the Conservatives in East Sussex can be trusted to keep your tax low whilst continuing to invest in communities, technology, infrastructure and employment.

If you live in Eastbourne, here are your Conservative candidates for each division:

Devonshire - Colin Murdoch
Hampden Park - Simon Howe
Langney - Gordon Jenkins
Meads - Barry Taylor
Ratton - Colin Belsey
Sovereign - David Elkin
St Anthonys - Patrick Warner
Upperton - Tom Liddiard

If you live in the surrounding areas, here are your candidates:

Alfriston - Nick Bennett
Hailsham & Herstmonceux - Bill Bentley & Roger Thomas
Pevensey & Westham - Tony Freebody
Polegate, Willingdon & East Dean - Douglas Murray & Simon Popek

In this area of East Sussex, it's a straight choice between the Blue and Yellow teams (perhaps with the exception of Willingdon where our main opponents are the Independent Shing Family). It's a straight choice between a Conservative Council that since 2001 has cost you less and delivered more after taking over from the Lib-Lab coalition that had virtually bankrupted the authority. But if you can't remember when we last had it so bad, just take a look at the Lib-Dem run Council in Eastbourne for a sneak preview of the carnage that awaits us all; a crumbling public property portfolio that already looks set to cost residents over £10m to repair with the eventual figure likely to rise much much higher, expanded car parking schemes with higher charges for motorists and a dependency on spin of epidemic proportions that has seen EBC spend a whopping £5.5m in total on consultants since coming to power in 2007.

Only voting Conservative can stop East Sussex suffering a similar fate, a vote for Labour, The Green Party, Independent or UKIP will simply allow the Lib-Dems back to spread the chaos across the County and we simply cannot afford it.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Ed Miliband asked 13 times whether Labour would borrow more

Ed Miliband struggled to explain his party’s economic policies when he was asked repeatedly whether Labour would be borrowing more money to spend on public services and tax cuts.

During a chaotic radio interview, the Labour leader was questioned 13 times over the details of how he would afford policies intended to boost economic growth including building projects and a VAT cut.

Mr Miliband’s aides were also later forced to clarify the party leader’s policy on benefits for pensioners after he suggested that Labour would consider limiting winter fuel allowances and free TV licences to the poorest older people.

The 15 minute set-piece interview was part of a series of features with party leaders running this week on BBC Radio 4’s World at One. Nick Clegg and David Cameron are also due to be questioned.

Mr Miliband clashed repeatedly with the programme’s presenter, Martha Kearney, who at one point resorted to asking him for a “straight answer”.

During the most frantic exchanges, Ms Kearney put 13 separate questions to Mr Miliband over his tax and spending policies and whether they would require the government to borrow more money to increase public spending.

She suggested his evasive responses meant Labour was failing to win the public's trust on the economy.

“Would it be fair to say looking at your plans overall that you think that the government needs to borrow more now and that’s in order to boost growth in the economy,” she asked.

Mr Miliband replied: “No, well I would say that we need to get borrowing down. Look what’s happened is that this government came to power and we are borrowing £245 billion more than they said.”

Ms Kearney asked again what Labour would do in power now: “Your solution to producing more growth is to spend more is it not?”

The Labour leader, who had earlier outlined an alternative Queen’s Speech, refused directly to answer the point, saying only that in the “medium term” borrowing would be lower under his party because economic growth would improve.

Ms Kearney said: “All I am asking you is to explain how you are going to boost growth and that is by spending more and that is by borrowing more if you were Prime Minister at the moment, I just want a straight answer to that.”

The Labour leader replied: “Well, I am giving you a very straight answer. I think borrowing would be lower under a Labour government over the medium term.”

A temporary one-year VAT cut would cost the Treasury about £12 billion but Mr Miliband could not say exactly how this would be funded in the short term.

"The whole point about a VAT cut is that it would get growth moving and if you get growth moving you get more tax revenues in and therefore you get borrowing down," he said.

Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, has previously accepted that Labour would borrow more in order to invest in economic policies designed to boost growth but Mr Miliband refused to endorse his colleague’s statement.

The Labour leader rejected the suggestion that his personal unpopularity was damaging his party’s fortunes.

He said he was “not much interested” in the fact that his approval rating was lower than the former Labour leader, Lord Kinnock’s had been at the same stage in the election cycle.

“Let the polls take care of themselves. As I go around the country I feel people responding to Labour’s message,” Mr Miliband said, insisting that he would not predict how the party would perform in Thursday’s local elections.

“I don’t know how many seats we are going to win.”

Mr Miliband said the existing system of giving all older people free TV licences, bus passes and winter fuel allowances “needs to be looked at”.

He said the party supported the payments but would reconsider whether they should be means tested and restricted to the poorest people.

Later, Labour aides said the policy had not changed and that Mr Miliband would ensure that the benefits were paid to all, regardless of income.

Via www.telegraph.co.uk

Keep calm, everyone – now is not the time to do a Nicolas Cage

Far from being bad news, the rise of Ukip is actually a good sign for the Conservative Party

It is common ground among the younger members of my family that the greatest actor of this (and possibly any) epoch is the 49-year-old Hollywood veteran Nicolas Cage, whose set-piece freak-outs are studied with cultish devotion – as brilliant and unintentionally comical masterclasses in how to lose your rag on screen.

In case you have not yet enjoyed Cage’s displays of yowling, bug-eyed, wild-maned overacting, I can direct you to any number of splendid YouTube compilations, including “Nicolas Cage Freaks Out” and “Nicolas Cage Loses His S---”. He excels himself in Con Air, where he freaks out and kills someone for the minor offence of playing with his fluffy toy (“Put the bunny back in the box,” he says, several times and with increasing hysteria).

It is common ground among the younger members of my family that the greatest actor of this (and possibly any) epoch is the 49-year-old Hollywood veteran Nicolas Cage, whose set-piece freak-outs are studied with cultish devotion – as brilliant and unintentionally comical masterclasses in how to lose your rag on screen.

In case you have not yet enjoyed Cage’s displays of yowling, bug-eyed, wild-maned overacting, I can direct you to any number of splendid YouTube compilations, including “Nicolas Cage Freaks Out” and “Nicolas Cage Loses His S---”. He excels himself in Con Air, where he freaks out and kills someone for the minor offence of playing with his fluffy toy (“Put the bunny back in the box,” he says, several times and with increasing hysteria).

Nigel Farage attacks Ken Clarke for calling Ukip voters racists
People who vote Ukip are closet racists, says Ken Clarke
Ukip has thrown British politics into the most marvellous chaos
And yet, of all his many glorious roles, I would single out Face/Off (1997), in which he somehow contrives to have his face surgically removed and swapped with that of one of the world’s nastiest super-criminals, played by John Travolta. The enemy looks like he does, sounds like he does. Worse, the gangster takes his job and takes his car; takes his whole life. He sleeps with his wife! Aaaargh!

Nicolas Cage does what he does best. He freaks out. He knows that there is an impostor at work – making his daughter laugh, earning popularity in the office. He wants to expose the fraud – but no one will listen to him. He wants to tell the world that he’s the nice one, he’s the real deal – but it’s no use; they have turned against him.

And that is the problem we Tories face when confronted with these chaps from Ukip. Take Nigel Farage, whom I met years ago and who has always struck me as a rather engaging geezer. He’s anti-pomposity, he’s anti-political correctness, he’s anti-loony Brussels regulation. He’s in favour of low tax, and sticking up for small business, and sticking up for Britain.

We Tories look at him – with his pint and cigar and sense of humour – and we instinctively recognise someone who is fundamentally indistinguishable from us.

He’s a blooming Conservative, for heaven’s sake; and yet he’s in our constituencies, wooing our audiences, nicking our votes, and threatening to put our councillors out of office. We feel the panic of a man confronted by his Doppelgänger. Omigaaaad, we say to ourselves: they’re stealing our schtick! And we are tempted to do a Nicolas Cage – to overreact, to freak out, to denounce them all as frauds or worse. I think there may have been a few ill-advised insults flying around in the past couple of days.

Well, I would humbly submit that there are better ways of tackling the Ukip problem, if indeed it is really a problem at all. The rise of Farage and Ukip tells us some interesting and important things about what the electorate wants – and it is by no means bad news for the Conservatives. It tells us that the voters are fed up with over-regulation of all kinds, and especially from Brussels. Well, who is going to offer a referendum on the EU? Only the Conservatives – and the trouble with voting Ukip is that it is likely to produce the exact opposite: another Labour government and another five years of spineless and unexamined servitude to the EU.

Or take the Human Rights Act, and yesterday’s astonishing story about a fellow who has been here illegally since 2000, and has just tried to persuade a court that he may not be returned to Iraq – in spite of repeated convictions for drug dealing – because he has tattoos. These tattoos apparently include one of a naked lady, of a kind that may allegedly cause offence in a Muslim country.

As it happens, there is no evidence whatever of anyone being persecuted in Iraq because of his tattoos – even in the Islamist chaos that has followed the removal of Saddam. Why shouldn’t he wear a T-shirt? Why can’t he get the tattoo changed to look like a porpoise or something inoffensive? Why are British courts sitting through this kind of drivel? Why are British taxpayers paying hundreds of millions for the whole carry-on? You read that kind of story, and you can see exactly why people are tempted to go for Ukip – just to give the whole cosy and complacent political establishment a kick in the pants.

It is tempting, but there is only one party that has the remotest chance of getting a grip on this sort of politically correct nonsense, and that is the Conservatives. If you want the party that finally got a grip on mass illegal immigration – after Labour deliberately let the brakes off – it is the Tories. If you want to cut the burdens on small business, it is only the Tories who have a hope of governing and actually doing something about the problem.

Rather than bashing Ukip, I reckon Tories should be comforted by their rise – because the real story is surely that these voters are not turning to the one party that is meant to be providing the official opposition. The rise of Ukip confirms a) that a Tory approach is broadly popular and b) that in the middle of a parliament, after long years of recession, and with growth more or less flat, the Labour Party is going precisely nowhere.

Ed Miliband and Ed Balls were the people who advised Gordon Brown most intimately throughout his profligate reign. It was they who said they had taken Britain “beyond boom and bust” and then produced a spectacular bust.

They have absolutely nothing to say or to offer except to take the Labour Party far to the Left of where it was even under Gordon Brown. Their lead has been cut to single figures in the past few weeks, and if – as I strongly suspect – the economy starts to recover well next year (and perhaps as early as this summer), then that lead will be obliterated.

Now is not the time to do a Nicolas Cage and freak out at our Doppelgängers, or to slag them off just for appearing to think, in large part, what many Conservatives think. Now is the time to keep calm and carry on being Conservative.

Via www.telegraph.co.uk

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Boris Johnson can do anything, David Cameron says

David Cameron has declared there is no limit to the potential achievements of Boris Johnson - sparking renewed speculation the London Mayor may return to the Commons.

The Prime Minister used a newspaper interview to insist he "loved" Mr Johnson and to insist that the Mayor could do "anything" he wanted in politics.

Mr Cameron's warm words came despite years of rivalry between the two Old Etonians, with many Conservative MPs believing Mr Johnson is manoeuvring to try to succeed Mr Cameron as Tory leader.

That would depend on Mr Johnson becoming an MP once again - possibly before the next general election - a prospect Mr Cameron appeared to entertain in his remarks.

The Prime Minister said: "Boris can do anything, that's the moral of the story of Boris.
"Boris is one of the greatest assets the Conservative Party has. I love Boris."

Asked whether the London Mayor could one day become prime minister, Mr Cameron replied: "I'd never want to put a limit on what Boris can achieve."

Mr Johnson has been linked with several possible Tory constituency, including Louth and Horncastle in Lincolnshire where the incumbent MP, the veteran Sir Peter Tapsell, has informed Mr Cameron he is "keeping the seat warm" for the mayor and could stand down at the next general election in 2015.

It would be a trickier task for Mr Johnson to return to the Commons before the election, as his mayoral term runs until 2016 and he would have to do both jobs simultaneously.

Mr Johnson gave his strongest hint yet in a recent BBC TV progamme that he would like a tilt at the top job, telling his interviewer, Michael Cockerell: "If the ball came loose from the back of a scrum, it would be a great thing to have a crack at."

Speculation earlier this year that Mr Cameron could face a leadership challenge before the next election has faded recently, with the Conservatives reuniting after the death of Lady Thatcher, and the Prime Minister extending the hand of friendship to some of his disaffected backbenchers.

However, senior figures in Downing Street are aware that concerns about Mr Cameron's future could re-emerge if the Tories suffer a very bad set of results in local elections in May.

Last week, the Prime Minister appointed Mr Johnson's younger brother Jo Johnson, the Tory MP for Orpington, head of his policy unit at No10 in a surprise move.

Via www.telegraph.co.uk

Friday, 26 April 2013

Life in a goldfish bowl for Harbour residents, now over following intervention

Residents of Sovereign Harbour have been getting frustrated by the presence of an increasing number of large Touring Coaches driving around residential roads during the last few months and many believe that in addition to the invasion of privacy caused by the loads of tourists being driven around peering through residents' windows, the large coaches (sometimes with three axles) have contributed to the deteriorating condition of some of the cobbled pinch points which were recently repaired by East Sussex County Council's Highways Department.

The Chairman of the Sovereign Harbour Residents Association, Jan Weeks contacted me recently to ask what influence could be brought to discourage the Touring Coaches from driving around the residential roads. I made contact with the major operator who seem to operate the majority of the coaches involved and stressed the fact that there is little for passengers to see when being driven up and down our residential streets but made clear how welcome the visitors are to businesses, retailers and restaurants & cafes on The Waterfront. I suggested that an ideal stop off point for passengers which would not only enable them to support our local businesses but also provide an ideal viewing point to experience marine life at our Harbour, would be to park up on the service road behind the Cinema.

I am pleased to advise that following a period of recent monitoring, the coach operators do now appear to be respecting residents's views but I shall continue to monitor the situation in the future.

David Cameron: 'We need to help hard-working families with their household bills'

The government is taking “good measures” to help families who work hard, David Cameron insisted today.

Responding to recent criticism after a Tory minister told MPs that families “ought to be wasting much less food," Mr Cameron acknowledged the Government should in fact be helping families who are struggling.

“The real truth here is we need to help families with their household bills,” Mr Cameron told BBC Breakfast.

“That is why we’re freezing the council tax for the third year in a row, that’s why we’ve delivered a tax cut for 24 million working people by lifting the amount you can earn before you start paying tax, that’s why we’ve cancelled fuel duty increase, we’ve cut the duty on beer.

“We’re getting behind working families who work hard and want to do the right thing.”

Richard Benyon, a minister at the environment department sparked outrage after cricising families for "wasting food" at a time when personal finances are “squeezed”.

“We have been needlessly throwing away enormous amounts of food when it is perfectly safe to eat it,” the Conservative MP said.

Responding to criticism from MPs and campaigners over the minister's comments, the Prime Minister said: “Obviously, that does not look good.”

Mr Cameron argued Mr Benyon was just taking part in a debate in which he was “giving an answer on issues to do with food waste and supermarket packaging and all the rest of it”.

The Prime Minister insisted the government was making efforts to help households, including the clarification of energy tariffs.

“We are legislating so that energy companies have to put people on the lowest tariff,” Mr Cameron said.

“We are taking more action than any government has ever done previously, this is a major intervention.

“If you look across the piece – freezing the council tax, taking people out of income tax, now over two million people who used to pay income tax, because we’ve lifted the threshold won’t be paying income tax at all - those are all good measures to help people who are working hard and doing the right thing.”

Via www.express.co.uk

Sir Winston Churchill to appear on new £5 banknotes

Sir Winston Churchill is to appear on the next £5 note, the Governor of the Bank of England announced today.

The wartime leader will become the first politician of the modern era to feature on a banknote, when it is issued in 2016.

Sir Mervyn King made the announcement during an event at Chartwell, Churchill's former home in Kent, attended by members of his family.

The design will feature a renowned portrait of the prime minister in defiant pose, taken by photographer Yousuf Karsh in December 1941.

Behind him is a view of the Houses of Parliament, with the hands on Big Ben showing three o'clock.

It reflects the approximate time of a statement to the House of Commons on May 13 1940 when he famously told MPs: "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat."

The quote itself is also shown on the design.

A background image shows the Nobel Prize for literature, with citation, awarded in 1953 to Churchill - who apart from being a politician was a prolific historical writer.

Sir Mervyn said: "Our banknotes acknowledge the life and work of great Britons. Sir Winston Churchill was a truly great British leader, orator and writer. Above that, he remains a hero of the entire free world.

"His energy, courage, eloquence, wit and public service are an inspiration to us all. I am proud to announce that he will appear on our next banknote."

Churchill's image replaces that of Elizabeth Fry, the philanthropist and penal reformer, who appears on current notes first issued in 2002. These will be phased out over two or three years, leaving no notes featuring the face of a famous woman - other than the Queen.

The choice of Churchill reflects the fact that, though a political figure, he is widely revered across the spectrum as the man who saved Britain in its darkest hour from the fearful advance of Nazism across Europe.

Another war hero, the Duke of Wellington, is the only other prime minister to have featured on a banknote image - the old £5 phased out in the 1990s.

Churchill had a long parliamentary career during which he served as home secretary and chancellor before a spell in the political wilderness in the 1930s when he warned of the increasing threat of German rearmament.

In May 1940, he replaced Neville Chamberlain as prime minister in the newly-formed National Government. His leadership and brilliant oratory were credited with helping to steer Britain to victory.

Defeated by Labour in the 1945 general election, he served again as prime minister from 1951 to 1955, when he retired aged 80. Churchill died in 1965 and was given a full state funeral, the first commoner to receive such an honour since Gladstone in 1898.

He was also the first commoner to feature on a British coin - the 1965 crown or five-shilling piece.

Via www.express.co.uk

Thursday, 25 April 2013

New campaign targets young people who missed out on MMR vaccine

Public health officials in East Sussex are backing a campaign aimed at targeting the ‘lost generation' of young people who have not been fully immunised against measles.

While instances of the disease in East Sussex are low – with 92 confirmed cases last year – measles rates nationally have been gradually rising over the last two years, and the disease has gained widespread attention due to the current epidemic in Swansea.

Public Health England experts say the legacy of the public concerns over the now discredited links between the vaccine and autism in the 1990s is largely to blame, and have launched a national campaign aimed at reaching the 10 to 16-year-olds who were not fully vaccinated at the time.

East Sussex County Council is backing the campaign and plans to work with schools and children's centres to ensure as many youngsters as possible are vaccinated.

Diana Grice, director of public health at East Sussex County Council, said: “This campaign is vital in making sure that the lost generation who missed out on the MMR vaccine when they were younger are fully protected. It's never too late to be vaccinated.

“Measles is very unpleasant and in serious cases can be fatal. We'll be working closely with colleagues in the NHS to encourage unvaccinated children, teenagers and young adults who have missed out on MMR to arrange to be vaccinated by their GP.”

Having the first dose of the MMR jab offers 95 per cent protection against measles while the second dose leads to almost complete protection.

Matt Dunkley, county council director of children's services, said the authority planned to work with local schools to promote uptake of the vaccine among children and young people.

He said: “We will be doing everything we can to support colleagues in the NHS to help them eradicate what is an entirely preventable disease.”

The council launched its own campaign – Remember MMR – earlier in the year, with more information available online:

Share a Smile – Facebook

Meanwhile, a Facebook page and Twitter account have also been set up to support the national campaign:

Get Vaccinated England – Facebook

Official figures show Crime is down by 10%

Encouraging crime figures have been released by the Office for National Statistics.
The figures show that crime has fallen in every police force area in England and Wales and is now down by over 10% since the General Election.

Figures across individual crime categories are also positive. Violence against the person fell by 6% in the latest figures, which are for the year to December 2012, robbery is down by 13% and criminal damage is down by 15%.

The fact that crime has fallen despite the necessary cuts being made to policing budgets is particularly encouraging. It shows that the Conservatives in Government’s decision to reduce bureaucracy for the police and to sweep away multiple targets in favour of one – reducing crime – are working.


Harbour Bus Service Complaints - Meeting Report

Following a number of complaints about unreliability on the Stagecoach Service 51 to Sovereign Harbour, I arranged a meeting with Jeremy Cooper, Operations Director for Stagecoach South East and we held that meeting last week at their local Birch Road offices.

On Service 51, Jeremy’s team have identified a variety of different issues that have caused these problems, including local traffic congestion, essential major road surfacing projects and repairs across the County, traffic accidents further out of town on the Tunbridge Wells corridor and a couple of training errors but he has asked me to pass on his apologies to passengers who have been inconvenienced.
In an effort to tackle this problem, Stagecoach will be monitoring GPS data closely to track vehicle movements and identify any regular areas that slow buses up, look to add more time in the timetable where necessary and address any training needs. Furthermore a new Controller position based in Terminus Road has been recruited to provide passengers with more information and where possible, arrange a replacement bus to cover buses leaving the Town Centre if long delays are experienced without warning.
We also spoke about the long awaited Sovereign Harbour Bus Gate and whilst the Harbour Retail Park regeneration does look like it is being delayed, East Sussex County Council are looking into proceeding with the final designs, planning application and construction independently of the Retail Park and Jeremy confirmed that once this is open, Stagecoach remain committed to increasing the frequency of Harbour bus services with as soon as they can run straight through from the South to the North Harbours.
Other comments from residents concerned the provision of low floor buses with buggy and shopping trolley access. Jeremy confirmed that whilst it is not possible to divert low floor vehicles away from other services in the town which carry far higher numbers of passengers, every effort will be made to reduce operation of high floor step entrance buses on the Harbour services to a minimum and in addition to the heavy investment made in fleet replacement in Eastbourne since Stagecoach purchased Eastbourne Buses, further investment in future will enable the gradual retirement of these older buses.
In an effort to ensure that any further complaints, comments or feedback is tracked efficiently, Jeremy has suggested that residents should direct all contact through their Customer Service Centre as follows:
Telephone: 0871 200 22 33
Or in writing to:
Stagecoach South East
Bus Station
St George’s Lane
Please also feel free to copy me in to any future comments by e-mail at councillor.warner@eastbourne.gov.uk

Five Acre Field Investment starts with Twenty New Trees

Sovereign Ward Councillors have been campaigning for security improvements and further tree planting on popular local amenity space, Five Acre Field in Langney Point since being elected in 2011 and are pleased that improvements are now finally starting with the planting of twenty new trees.

Residents in the area have suffered from traveller encampments on the field over the years and football matches which used to be played regularly had to stop last year due to the deteriorating rutted surface of the field. Residents and Ward Councillors also worked together last year to force the Council into a u-turn over plans to hold the Circus and other events on the amenity space, these went ahead on the more appropriate events fields at Princes Park following our intervention.

I am pleased to announce that our campaigning for Five Acre is starting to pay off with the forthcoming improvements starting with twenty new trees which have been planted around the perimeter from the Sovereign Centre Roundabout down Princes Road towards the junction with Middleton Drive. The sapplings will receive extra care and watering during their first two years but should really start to become established within a couple of years as the twin line of trees which were planted along the Lottbridge Drove side of Five Acre Field as part of the section 106 agreements linked to the redevelopment of the old Coach and Lorry Park at Wartling Road.

Further work due to take place this year on Five Acre should include levelling of the sports field and enhanced security measures to reduce the risk of further illegal encampments.

The twenty new sapplings recently planted from the Sovereign Centre Roundabout along Princes Road towards the junction with Middleton Drive

The first of the new sapplings is in the right hand side of this image but continues the line from the more established dual avenue of trees which were
planted on the Lottbridge Drove side of Five Acre Field as part of the revelopment of the former Coach & Lorry Park at Wartling Road.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Head to the polls and make your vote count

Have your say – that's the message from East Sussex County Council as polling day approaches.

On Thursday 2 May 2013, voters across the County will head to the polls to choose who represents them on the County Council – and people can follow the results live as they emerge.

The Council's website features an interactive map of East Sussex, which will show the results in real time as they are declared.

The authority covers a population of more than half a million and controls an annual net revenue budget of almost £380 million.

Chief Executive Becky Shaw said: “As a Council, we exist to serve the public of East Sussex, dealing with vital issues ranging from highways to education, social services and libraries, so it's important that as many people as possible get involved by voting in the local elections on May 2.”

Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm, with counting to be carried out in Hastings and Eastbourne boroughs on election night and in Lewes, Rother and Wealden districts during the following day.


Monday, 22 April 2013

We will scrap planned petrol duty increases, says Cameron

David Cameron is drawing up plans to help motorists with tax breaks or subsidies for “really fuel efficient” cars – and a further block on future rises in duty on petrol.

The Prime Minister said that the Government has “got to do more” to encourage the spread of the next generation of electric hybrid cars, which are now becoming realistic alternatives to traditional vehicles.

Speaking during the local election campaign in Derbyshire today, he also pledged to “keep going” to block future fuel duty rises.

It is now understood to be unlikely that there will be any duty rises before the next general election in 2015, unless petrol prices fall sharply.

In the run-up to the next election, Mr Cameron will focus on measures to tackle the soaring cost of living in Britain, which is now seen as the key political issue.

Official statistics to be released this week are expected to show that economic growth is slowly increasing. However, there is a concern among Conservative strategists that voters will not notice the economic recovery as the cost of living continues to rise, while wages stagnate.

Mr Cameron said: “The truth is this, when we got in, the previous government had set out a whole lot of plans for fuel duty increases. It was like a whole lot of unexploded bombs which we have had to try and defuse.”

“We have cancelled and delayed almost all of these fuel duty increases. We even cut fuel duty on one occasion. We will keep going to try and keep those fuel duty increases off, recognising that it is the really big bills that people really care about and want help with.”

However, with oil prices forecast to remain at record levels, Mr Cameron is also keen to introduce incentives to encourage motorists to switch to electric vehicles.

He said that regardless of a freeze on fuel duty, “you’ve still got international oil price rises, the price at the pump is still very high”.

“We’ve still got to do more to encourage really fuel efficient cars,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure the new generation of electric, hybrid cars come through.

“They are beginning to produce electric cars that can go a serious distance and actually then you are paying £5 or £10 a week to charge them, rather than a really high price at the pumps.”

Mr Cameron did not specify what extra incentives he may offer to encourage more green motoring although it is likely to involve making the vehicles cheaper than their traditional counterparts.

The last Labour government introduced a fuel duty escalator in its final budget which involved increasing the tax on petrol and diesel by a penny per litre above inflation until at least 2014-15.

The Coalition has already blocked 13 pence worth of rises on fuel, at a cost of about £6 billion to the Exchequer. Further rises of at least 4p or 5p per litre would be expected before the next election without renewed action.

Via www.telegraph.co.uk

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Ed Miliband admits to meeting George Galloway prompting backlash from his own MPs

Ed Miliband has met maverick Respect MP George Galloway, prompting a backlash from his own party.

The Labour leader invited Mr Galloway, a former Labour MP, to his House of Commons office for what was described by one source as an hour long “cordial and friendly conversation”.

Mr Galloway was expelled from Labour a decade ago in a row about the role of British troops in Iraq.
Writing about the meeting on Twitter, the micro-blogging website, shadow Cabinet minister Ivan Lewis joked: "Re Galloway being allowed to join Labour,more chance of finding Lord Lucan riding Shergar! @Ed_Miliband abhors his values+divisive politics."
Mr Galloway replied: “Better not tell lies about the meeting Ivan. Or I will have to tell the whole truth...”.
The possibility of a rapprochement between the party’s hierarchy and Mr Galloway was criticised by some Labour MPs. One MP said: “It is political suicide to have anything to do with George Galloway.”
The meeting, which was held towards the end of last year, prompted suggestions that Mr Miliband was tempted to bring back Mr Galloway into the fold to give him an extra seat after the next general election, which is forecast to be close-run.

Labour tried to play down the meeting, after details emerged in a Sunday newspaper, insisting it was part of an attempt to reach out to other parties such as the Greens and Northern Irish parties ahead of a vote on MPs’ constituency boundaries.

A spokesman said: “There is no attempt to bring George Galloway back into the Labour Party as many of his views are unacceptable and extreme. Ed met him purely as a courtesy to discuss the recent vote on changing parliamentary boundaries. No communication has taken place since.”

The debt-ridden EU stares bankruptcy in the face

All the EU crises go back to the most widely misunderstood of all the treaties, the Single European Act, which Margaret Thatcher was ambushed into accepting in 1985.

Shouldn’t it be making more headlines than it has that the European Union is today insolvent – since its astronomic debt in unpaid bills is nearly twice as large as its annual income? Such is the crisis lately highlighted by its parliament’s budget committee, which finds that the EU now owes 217 billion euros, or £182 billion, as compared with its current year’s income of just £108 billion. Much of this represents “cohesion funding” relating to Eastern Europe, in contracts agreed under the EU’s current budgetary arrangements. But when, at the end of this year, those arrangements come to an end, the rules strictly prohibit the EU from rolling forward its debts from one period to the next. So, in eight months’ time, it will lurch into bankruptcy.

Wherever we now look at the EU, its affairs seem to be in an astonishing mess. There is the ongoing slow-motion train crash of the euro. There is rising panic over the policy of unrestricted immigration, which threatens at the year’s end to flood richer countries such as Britain with millions of Romanians and Bulgarians. As Europe’s economies stagnate or shrink, the EU’s environmental policies fall apart, with the growing refusal of many countries, led by Poland and Germany, to accept curbs on fossil fuels.

What all these signs of breakdown have in common is that the policies giving rise to them all go back to the most widely misunderstood of all the European treaties, the Single European Act, which Margaret Thatcher was ambushed into accepting in 1985. This was the treaty she said was not necessary, because initially she thought all it was about was making the workings of the original Common Market more effective under the existing rules.

What she didn’t realise, because she was not properly briefed by her officials, was that it was always intended to be about very much more than just a “single market”. As its name indicated – and as Richard North and I for the first time set out in detail in our book The Great Deception – the Single European Act was always planned, by Jacques Delors, François Mitterrand, Helmut Kohl and the other European leaders who ganged up against her, to be the first of two treaties that would take the old “Community” a further giant step forwards to being a “Single Europe”. The other, the Treaty on European Union, was to be agreed at Maastricht five years later.

The Single European Act was the treaty that set in train the plan to create a single currency (which was why, up to the last minute, Mrs Thatcher considered vetoing it). It opened the door to unrestricted immigration by turning Europe into “a space without frontiers”. It created that Cohesion Fund, and it was the treaty that gave the EU the power to dictate environmental policy, under which, as early as 1991, it drew up its Strategy to Limit Carbon Dioxide Emissions in response to the panic over global warming.

Via www.telegraph.co.uk

Tories urge PM ‘do a Maggie’ to end union vote chaos

Tories last night demanded tough new Thatcher-style laws to stop unions wreaking summer strike chaos.

Militants are plotting a crippling mass walkout — despite some stoppages being supported by just 17 PER CENT of members.

Now London Mayor Boris Johnson has joined calls for the PM to ban strikes unless they are backed by 50 per cent of those entitled to vote.

He told The Sun: “The idea that a strike can be called by a majority of those that vote, rather than a majority of all those balloted, is farcical.

“It often results in a strike backed by just one in 10 members, antagonising commuters and costing billions.
“I’d urge the Government to act with Thatcherite zeal and legislate against strikes supported by less than half of all union members.”

TUC union barons meet on Wednesday to discuss plans for Britain’s first general stoppage since 1926. But Tory MP Dominic Raab rapped: “Margaret Thatcher injected a dose of democracy into unions to empower their members.
“We now face a hot summer of discontent. It’s time we had extra safeguards to protect the hard-working majority from this militant minority.”
Fellow Tory Priti Patel added: “Legislation could put workers’ rights above the vested interests of the Left and union barons.”

Teachers, London Tube staff and civil servants all plan summer industrial action. But none has majority backing — with the Whitehall strike backed by just 17 per cent of PCS union members.

Last night a Government source said of the crackdown calls: “If unions push irresponsible action, the suggestions are harder to resist.” But TUC chief Frances O’Grady said it would be “hypocritical” as MPs do not need 50 per cent of voters’ support.

Lady Thatcher smashed the unions’ stranglehold on 1980s Britain with laws demanding secret ballots and axeing closed shops and flying pickets. c.woodhouse@the-sun.co.uk The Sun Says — Page 14

Read more: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/politics/4896953/Tories-want-change-to-strike-laws.html#ixzz2R5516twS

Labour down to 35% while Ukip surge continues – Opinium/Observer poll

Labour's poll rating has dropped to just 35% and the party is now less trusted to run the economy than it was last September according to the latest Opinium/Observer survey.

The findings will dent Labour morale and are bound to lead to renewed calls from within the party for Ed Miliband to deliver a clearer message about its future direction, particularly on spending and welfare policies.

While the Tories are still in the doldrums, up 1% at 29% compared with a fortnight ago, David Cameron and George Osborne will be cheered that Labour's lead has been cut to just six percentage points.

The 35% tally for Labour is one of the lowest since Ed Miliband became leader. The UK Polling Report website shows it has dropped lower – to 34% – in only four polls since September 2010.

With less than two weeks to go before the 2 May local elections, Ukip, which is fielding a record number of council candidates, has maintained its surge and is up 1% on 17%, while the Lib Dems remain on 8%.

Most worrying of all to Labour may be the findings on the economy. In September last year 26% of people said they trusted David Cameron and George Osborne most to run the economy, while 24% preferred Ed Miliband and Ed Balls.

Seven months later, despite the economy teetering close to a triple dip recession, the Tories' 2% lead has now stretched to 7% with 29% preferring Cameron and Osborne and just 22% putting their faith in the Labour duo.

• Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 1,969 GB adults aged 18+ from 16 to 18 April 2013. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria

Via Guardian on Twitter

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Abu Qatada could face prosecution in the UK, says Home Secretary Theresa May

Abu Qatada could face prosecution in the UK over alleged possession of extremist material, Home Secretary Theresa May told MPs today.

The Conservative Politician spoke of her 'deep' frustration with a Court of Appeal decision last month that allowed him to remain in Britain.

The 56-year-old told the Home Affairs Select Committee she blamed European courts for issues in kicking Qatada out after they 'moved the goalposts'.

The Tory MP said: "Abu Qatada is in Belmarsh, he was arrested for breach of his bail conditions and obviously consideration is being given in looking at the material discovered to see whether that leads to prosecution."

In March, the Court of Appeal backed an earlier ruling that Qatada could not be deported over fears evidence obtained through torture.

Yesterday, the Home Office said it had asked permission to take its fight to remove Qatada to the highest court in the UK - the Supreme Court.

The Government has been trying to deport the radical cleric to Jordan, where he was convicted of terror charge, for nearly eight years.

Earlier, committee chairman Keith Vaz grilled the Home Secretary over the length of time it is taking to deport Qatada.

He said: "Why is he still here 12 months after you've said the words 'shortly put Qatada on a plane'?"

Mrs May said: "It is deeply frustrating that he is still here. We thought we had the assurances we needed from the Jordanian authorities."

Via www.express.co.uk

Education Secretary Michael Gove calls for longer school days and shorter holidays

Education Secretary Michael Gove has called for pupils in England to have shorter holidays and spend more time in the classroom today.

Mr Gove said children in Britain are at a "significant handicap" compared to those in East Asia who receive extra tuition and support from teachers.

The Conservative MP has warned the current education system is out of date and children should have longer school days and term times.

Mr Gove said: "If we look at the length of the school day in England, the length of the summer holiday and we compare it to the extra tuition and support children are receiving elsewhere then we are fighting, or running, in this global race in a way which ensures we already start with a significant handicap."

The 45-year-old said some schools have already started to recognise the need to change the structure of their terms.

He added that those from poorer families are losing out the most from longer holidays.

He said: "We've noticed in Hong Kong and Singapore and other East Asian nations that expectations of mathematical knowledge or of scientific knowledge at every stage are more demanding than in this country.

"In order to reach those levels of achievement a higher level of effort is expected on behalf of students, parents and teachers.

"School days are longer, school holidays are shorter. The expectation is that to succeed, hard work is at the heart of everything."

The Education Secretary insisted that any changes to term times and the school day would be 'family friendly'.

Via www.express.co.uk

Young footballers fly the flag for anti-homophobia project

A youth football team which represents an East Sussex-based project targeting homophobia has made it through to the final of a national competition.

The Tackle Homophobia under-16s will represent the county in the Gillette 5-a-side Tournament in Manchester in May after triumphing in the south region round of the competition in Basingstoke at the weekend on 13 April.

The team was formed as part of the Tackle Homophobia project, a partnership between East Sussex County Council, Albion In The Community – the charitable arm of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club – and The Justin Campaign, set up in memory of Justin Fashanu, Britain's first openly gay professional footballer.

The under-16 were one of three sides from the project, based in Seaford and Peacehaven, to reach the semi-finals in their respective age categories, including the Tackle Homophobia under-14s.

The teams had progressed from the Sussex round of the competition, organised in partnership with Sussex Clubs for Young People, which was held in Seaford last month and attended by more than 100 young people.

Sam Whittaker, county council targeted youth support worker, said: “All the teams from East Sussex did really well and the under 16s showed real strength and skill against older teams to reach the final.

“As well as giving the team the chance to take on sides from around the UK, their presence in the final will help raise the profile of the project and spread the message that discrimination in sport, whatever form it takes, is not acceptable.”

Jacob Naish, head of community cohesion at Albion In The Community said: “This project has challenged the stigma surrounding these issues and created a platform for young people to target discrimination in grassroots sport.”

More information, and details of how to support the project, are available by calling Sam Whittaker on 07876 037545 or emailing sam.whittaker@eastsussex.gov.uk

Measles epidemic highlights importance of MMR jab, say health chiefs

Thousands of children in East Sussex are still not immunised against measles, mumps and rubella – according to a county health expert.

Diana Grice, East Sussex County Council director of public health, said the measles epidemic in Swansea offered a timely reminder to parents of the importance of children receiving the MMR jab.

Several hundred cases of measles have been reported in the South Wales city, reigniting interest in the vaccine, uptake of which was hit by now discredited research published in 1998 suggesting a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

Dr Grice said: “Because of the controversy in the late 1990s, generations of children have grown up not being fully immunised against these life-threatening diseases.

“Confidence in the MMR vaccine has been fully restored and I would encourage parents to get their children vaccinated.”

The council launched a campaign – Remember MMR – earlier this year aimed at increasing uptake, but many children in East Sussex are still incompletely immunised or not immunised at all.

Two vaccines are needed for a child to be fully immunised. While ideally children should receive the MMR vaccine at 13 months and again at three years and four months, it is never too late to be immunised.

Currently, 87 per cent of five-year-olds in East Sussex have received both doses but the World Health Organisation says uptake should reach 95 per cent to ensure the community is protected from outbreaks.

Dr Grice said: “The response to our campaign has been very positive but there are still many others who need to be vaccinated. The more children who are vaccinated, the less chance there is of a measles outbreak.”

People whose children have not been fully vaccinated are urged to make an appointment to see their GP, or talk to their health visitor or practice nurse.

More information is available on the Share A Smile Sussex Facebook page, set up in conjunction with the Remember MMR campaign:

Share a Smile Sussex on Facebook


Further information

More information on the MMR jab:


Social enterprise gears up to help unemployed 'get on their bike' for work and training in East Sussex

The daily commute is about to get a lot easier for residents of East Sussex thanks to the launch of a new social enterprise scheme.

East Sussex Wheels 2 Work will provide the loan of a moped or electric cycle along with training, insurance and safety equipment to those people in need of help getting to work, education or training.

The vehicles loaned will be checked every 6 weeks to ensure they are safe and reliable and there will be an option to buy the vehicle after a minimum of three months.

The scheme, which is being funded using Local Sustainable Transport Fund money secured from Government by the County Council, will be run by Devon Wheels 2 Work, one of the only not for profit organisations of its kind in the country.

“East Sussex County Council is looking forward to be working with Devon Wheels 2 Work who are market leaders in operating this type of scheme having over 12 years experience,” said Rupert Clubb, Director of Economy, Transport & Environment.

“The scheme will be a real boost to our local economy, making it easier for those out of work to get to a job, or to get to education and training. Not only will the scheme help local people, but local people will be employed to run it.”

Max Jowett of Devon Wheels 2 Work said: "We are very pleased to have won the contract to deliver this brand new Wheels 2 Work programme in East Sussex. We are bringing with us many years of practical experience of working in this field and look forward to working in partnership East Sussex County Council and with other local groups to deliver this programme for local people."

Devon Wheels 2 Work will be engaging with local colleges, training providers, work programme providers and job centre plus to offer the scheme to potential clients.

Anyone interested in applying or finding out more about the scheme can email admin@eastsussexwheels2work.co.uk or call 0845 0944 308.

East Sussex Buy with Confidence schemes prove they are more than just a logo

It's more than just a logo – that is the message from the hundreds of businesses and care providers who have signed up to East Sussex Trading Standards schemes.

More than 500 businesses and service providers have signed up to the Buy With Confidence and Support With Confidence schemes, with more applying all the time.

Some of the newest members were officially welcomed to the schemes at a ceremony in March.

People looking for anything from a plumber to someone to walk their dog can find approved businesses using the Buy With Confidence, while Support With Confidence can point people in the direction of approved care and support providers and Personal Assistants.

“It is important for the public to understand the checks in place for these businesses and service providers, it is not just a case of including a logo on your company stationery,” said Rupert Clubb, Director of Economy, Transport and Environment.

“Both schemes have a robust vetting procedure in place to ensure anyone who joins either scheme is trustworthy and does not have a history of causing issues for their consumer or client.”

Checks include financial history, qualifications, a basic CRB for applicants that work in and around people's homes, customer references and relevant insurance as well as compliance with legal standards.

There are currently around 400 members of the Buy With Confidence scheme, launched in 2004, and more than 110 providers approved for the Support With Confidence scheme.

Care and support providers and Personal Assistants interested in joining Support With Confidence can fill in an application form:

How to join the Support With Confidence scheme
Businesses interested in joining Buy With Confidence can contact Trading Standards on 01323 463440 or email buywithconfidence@eastsussex.gov.uk.

How to join the Buy With Confidence scheme
Consumers looking for reliable businesses or wishing to have the new 2013-14 edition of the Buy & Support With Confidence directory can contact Trading Standards on 08454 040506 or email buywithconfidence@eastsussex.gov.uk.

Further information
Members joining the schemes in the last quarter

Buy With Confidence:

Battle: Top Coat Painters and Decorators

Berwick: Early Oak Reproductions Ltd

Bexhill: AJ Mobility, The Tidy Tree Company

Eastbourne: PEN Construction Ltd, The Best of Eastbourne, Wealden & Eastbourne Lifeline

Hailsham: AJ Mobility, Oasis Window and Doors Showroom

Hastings: BMG Builders, Hastings Van Centre, Parkwood Construction

Newhaven: David Foster Associates

Ninfield: Foxhills Tree Services Ltd

Polegate: Clearwell Mobility Ltd

Seaford: Clearwell Mobility Ltd

St Leonards: Dashwood Design, Ghyllside Healthcare, In Touch Survey, Design and Management Service

Support With Confidence:

Bexhill: Astral Decorating Company, Barry Janes, Penny Hawkins ITPD, Share and Care

Crowborough: Homelife Care Ltd

Eastbourne: CAYPS Ltd, Chores and Paws, Homesmaid, Housemartins Support Services, Lushington Chiropractic, Misgana Berhane, Steven Young, Susan Lahache Coaching, Wealden & Eastbourne Lifeline

Hailsham: Jean Hedges, Paul Rees, The Build Works Ltd

Hastings: Simply Holistic

Lewes: Sophie Larsen

Newhaven: Livability Lifestyle Choices South East

Polegate: Susan Smith-Taylor

Seaford: Nicola Fisher

St Leonards: Support From Debra

East Sussex County Council's Cllr Peter Jones on big decisions and sticking to his guns

Cllr Peter Jones, who is standing down as leader of East Sussex County Council, says why he stuck to his guns on a new incinerator and a new road

As I prepare to stand down as leader of East Sussex County Council, I can celebrate two victories over scare mongering protestors; one several years ago in relation to building an incinerator and just recently final Government approval and funding for a new road to link the towns of Bexhill and Hastings.

Both projects involved long and complex consultation, planning, public enquiry and court processes and both ignited a storm of protest from so-called environmentalists. The incinerator gave us protestors climbing up cranes and our short (3.5 mile) new road has so far seen them camping up in trees and holes in the ground. Both projects bring great advantages to our communities; the incinerator means effectively 90% recycling and electricity for 25,000 homes while the road will drive regeneration through the construction of 2,000 houses and new business parks providing at least 3000 jobs.

Our latest road project is the first of a hundred plus schemes nationwide to start construction and so has become the focus for a vicious campaign of opposition by anti-road groups, mostly peopled from outside our area. They have targeted us presumably to try and undermine the determination of others as well as trying to stop us. As with the incinerator, we have so far been able to defeat the antis latest antics
and would be happy to share our experiences with others who are yet to start their projects.

The essence of our message is that there are no short cuts to success; that you have to be meticulous at every stage in the process of consultation, planning and public enquiry procedure because you will
almost certainly have to defend your actions as a result of judicial review or other court challenges.
You need to recognise that you will be up against well-funded and legally advised groups with huge "protest" experience who will use any local opponents of your scheme as a front.

A few key points include:

1. Clear and consistent leadership from politicians and professionals - designate one/two spokesmen and remember the old Tammany Hall mantra of "say it simple and say it often". We have won overwhelming local support which must be disheartening our opponents.

2. Use the best in-house and external expertise especially when it comes to security of sites and people; work closely with your police partners

3. Endorsement from others - business, voluntary, community and other external groups - is worth many times what you can say.

4. Be prepared for personal threats and nuisance calls/letters/e-mails and all manner of unpleasant tactics but stay within the law because the minute you don't your opponents will exploit that to your great

If you are beginning to wish you hadn't started your scheme don't lose heart; you know that it makes huge sense and that it is what your population need and want - isn't that why you came into public life anyway?

Good luck and call us if you want to hear more of our experiences so far.

Via ConservativeHome

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

EU 'losing £4 billion of taxpayer cash to fraud'

More than £4 billion of taxpayer cash is "disappearing" from the European Union budget every year because officials are failing to get a grip on fraud, a damning parliamentary report said today.

Peers on the European Union Select Committee found fraud against the taxpayer could be up to 12 times worse than Brussels officials will admit.

The committee said it believes frauds ranging from cigarette smuggling to bribery and corruption "never see the light of day" because the EU has failed to grasp the scale of the problem. This is because some member states are reluctant to report suspected cases and others fall through the gaps of a "tangled web" of EU investigation agencies.

It estimated against the European Union budget is likely to be around €5 billion (£4.3 billion) every year, or "maybe even more".

Official European Commission figures reporting fraud of €404 million show just a "glimpse" of the scale of the problem, the committee said.

British taxpayers are affected because they contribute just over one in ten pounds spent every year by the EU - making the fraud against the UK Treasury almost £500 million.

The committee criticised the fact that Brussels officials seem to have "no reliable estimate of the extent of fraud committed against the EU's budget".

Lord Bowness, a Conservative who led the sub-committee in charge of the report, said the UK Government should do more to help.

“Money is tight for everyone, right across the European Union," he said. "It is extremely worrying that so much money is disappearing from the EU’s budget without anyone really having a handle on where and why it is happening and – most importantly – who is responsible.

“That we have no control over how other member states organise their affairs is a given, but what we can – and are failing - to do, is to monitor what is happening on our own doorstep. The Committee were extremely alarmed at the lack of both engagement from and, seemingly, interest in the huge financial problem that fraud committed against the EU budget is in the UK."

A spokesman for the European Commission said the vast majority of fraud and error "occurs at member state level, rather than in 'Brussels'".

He said the Commission's official figures are based on reporting by individual countries, which have been asked repeatedly to improve detection.

"The Commission has put forward over a dozen proposals / initiatives to improve the fight against fraud in EU funds," he said. "It is constantly calling on member states to take their responsibilities more seriously in protecting the EU budget."

Pawel Swidlicki, a research analyst for Open Europe, a campaign group, said the EU is "particularly vulnerable to ineffective spending but also fraud and mismanagement".

"This report also highlights the extent to which accountability over EU spending falls into a black hole between the Commission and Member states, with both blaming each other while the problems remain mostly unaddressed," he said.

Philip Bradbourn, a Conservative MEP, said the "hard-hitting report reinforces what Conservative MEPs have been highlighting for a long, long time, that fraud and misuse of money is simply not taken seriously enough within the EU."

Marta Andreason, another Conservative MEP, who recently defected from Ukip, told the committee "all of the [EU's funding] programmes are vulnerable" to fraud.

She said "criminal elements" are able to "game the system".

David Cameron has repeatedly urged the EU to overhaul its civil service and cut down wasteful spending. He is currently trying to make the case for reform with other leaders of EU countries.

Via www.telegraph.co.uk

Margaret Thatcher funeral procession: How applause drowned out the jeers

Michael Deacon reports on the funeral procession for Baroness Thatcher, as crowds crammed the streets from Trafalgar Square to St Paul's.

It seemed to come out of nowhere. No one knew who’d started it – perhaps it was purely instinctual. But as the hearse came into view, the crowds found themselves breaking into applause – applause that followed the hearse all the way along the route, until it drew up at the church of St Clement Danes. Then, once the coffin had been loaded on to the gun carriage, and the horses moved off, the applause started again – and followed the procession all the way to St Paul’s.

Down the roads it spread and spread, gently rippling, a long impromptu chain of respect and appreciation.

The applause wasn’t rowdy; there were no whoops or whistles. It was steady, warm, dignified. But it was also, somehow, determined. At Ludgate Circus, protesters began to boo and jeer – only to find the rest of the crowd applauding all the more loudly to drown them out.

It has often been said that Baroness Thatcher appealed to the silent majority. They weren’t silent now.

It seemed to come out of nowhere. No one knew who’d started it – perhaps it was purely instinctual. But as the hearse came into view, the crowds found themselves breaking into applause – applause that followed the hearse all the way along the route, until it drew up at the church of St Clement Danes. Then, once the coffin had been loaded on to the gun carriage, and the horses moved off, the applause started again – and followed the procession all the way to St Paul’s.

Down the roads it spread and spread, gently rippling, a long impromptu chain of respect and appreciation.

The applause wasn’t rowdy; there were no whoops or whistles. It was steady, warm, dignified. But it was also, somehow, determined. At Ludgate Circus, protesters began to boo and jeer – only to find the rest of the crowd applauding all the more loudly to drown them out.

It has often been said that Baroness Thatcher appealed to the silent majority. They weren’t silent now.

Ever since the news of her death last Monday, we have been told one thing above all else about the former Prime Minister: that she was divisive. Well, maybe she was. But you wouldn’t necessarily have known it yesterday along the route of her funeral procession. From Westminster to St Paul’s, mourners crammed the pavements, in places standing 12 deep.

In the build-up there’d been rumours of violent protests: lumps of coal, symbolising the fury of the miners, would be thrown at her coffin.

In the event, all that was thrown was roses.

Some estimates put the number of people on the streets at 100,000. A low figure, perhaps, if compared with a major Royal occasion; the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is thought to have attracted a million. But this was for a Prime Minister, and on a working day.

On the pavements of the Strand, outside St Clement Danes – the church of the RAF – there was barely room to breathe. Behind the barriers, the crowd had been swelling for over an hour before the hearse was due to arrive. Men climbed railings to see above the massed heads. Children clambered on to the bench of the bus shelter. Office balconies thronged. People shifted restlessly, desperate for a view.

Many people wore suits or dark dress; some were in bowler hats and tweed. One man had brought his pet Chihuahua, Cindy; even she was in black, clad in a tiny coat with “Good night” inscribed across it.

All along the barriers and around the church stood police, hundreds of police. On first glance an intimidating sight, but the effect was somehow softened by the fact that every one of them was wearing spotless white gloves, like magicians’. In front of the church loomed the statue of Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris, chief of RAF Bomber Command in the Second World War. Glaring sternly, hands folded behind his back, he seemed to be wearing a look that said anyone intent on violence would have him to answer to.

The hearse arrived to applause. Then, as the coffin was carried into the church by the bearer party, there rose a sea of arms, as each mourner struggled to establish a clear view for his or her cameraphone.

While the service was under way inside, the crowds stood silent. A breeze fluttered through their hair. Raindrops dabbed their cheeks.

Then there sounded the dolorous clang of the bell. The coffin was carried out of the church and placed on the gun carriage. And, as the procession began – to the pound, pound, pound of a cloth-muffled drum – there was applause once more.

I glanced at the elderly woman standing alongside me. Her face was a mask of tears.
After the procession had moved on, many people stayed where they were, reflecting on what they’d seen. “It was wonderful,” said Richard Barnes, 69, a retired farmer. “From all the stories this week you’d have thought there’d be twice as many protesters as supporters – but it’s been nothing like it. I saw one [anti-Thatcher] placard across the road, and that’s it.”

He’d have seen more protesters further along the route – but not many. Some turned their backs on the procession. Some brandished placards, attacking the cost of the funeral. Some waved milk bottles, as a reminder of the old taunt, “Maggie Thatcher, milk snatcher”. Some shouted, “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, dead, dead, dead.” A few, bizarrely, squabbled with each other (“You’ve ruined this protest!”).

Baroness Thatcher’s enemies, fighting among themselves: it was like the 1980s all over again.
For each and every minute of the journey from St Clement Danes, a gun salute was fired. At last the procession came to a halt at St Paul’s. At 11am sharp, the 2,000 guests inside the cathedral – including the Queen, the Prime Minister, and Lady Thatcher’s children, Sir Mark and Carol Thatcher – rose as one. Lady Thatcher’s grandchildren – Michael, 24, and Amanda, 19 – walked ahead of the coffin.

Following the first hymn, He Who Would Valiant Be, Amanda Thatcher gave a reading, from Ephesians 6 10-18. How young she looked up there, tiny and alone. To begin with, her voice cracked and quavered – but she did not let the occasion, or the emotion, overcome her. “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil,” she read, voice strengthening with every line. Her words echoed through the huge, booming silence.
The second reading came from David Cameron, John 14 1-6 (“I am the way, the truth and the life”). He read steadily and solemnly. His wife Samantha, wearing a pussy-bow blouse in tribute to Lady Thatcher, watched him from the pews.

The address was given by The Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres. It was well judged, well written, well spoken. “After the storm of a life lived in the heat of political controversy,” he said, “there is a great calm. The storm of conflicting opinions centres on the Mrs Thatcher who became a symbolic figure – even an ‘ism’. Today the remains of the real Margaret Hilda Thatcher are here at her funeral service. Lying here, she is one of us.”

The television camera cut to George Osborne, the Chancellor. Down his cheeks, tears glistened.
Out in Ludgate Hill, while all this was going on, a small group of the most dedicated admirers gathered round a portable radio. Clutching printed copies of the order of service, they sang along to every hymn.

After the prayers, the choir in St Paul’s sang In Paradisum, from the Requiem Mass by Gabriel Fauré; then the congregation joined them for the patriotic hymn I Vow to Thee, My Country. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, gave the blessing. “Support us, O Lord, all the day long of this troublous life,” he intoned, “until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over and our work is done. Then, Lord, in your mercy grant us a safe lodging, a holy rest, and peace at the last.”

Finally, as the Queen looked on, the coffin was carried out of the cathedral by the bearer party.
Then, something remarkable. As the coffin was borne down the steps into the light of the day, the crowds outside gave three cheers. Like the applause that had followed the coffin on its journey to St Paul’s, the cheers were spontaneous.

As much as appreciation, they may have been an expression of relief – relief that a day that had been threatened by protest and violence had instead passed with dignity. A respectful procession followed by a moving service. No hysteria, no hyperbole. Of course there had been pomp and pageantry: the uniforms, the military bands, the towering grandeur of St Paul’s. But in its own way the occasion was understated – or as close to understated as a ceremonial funeral can be.
In late afternoon, when the hearse arrived at Mortlake Crematorium in south-west London, it was met, for one final time, with mourners’ quiet applause.

This was a day, in short, of tributes untarnished. A day when, to a far greater degree than expected, abuse was overcome by respect, violence by decency, and hatred by love.

Via www.telegraph.co.uk

Local newspapers come to life in East Sussex libraries

Historic local newspapers have been brought into the digital age – as part of a new service available at libraries in East Sussex.

For the first time, library users in the county are being offered free access to a fully-searchable database of old local newspapers online.

The British Newspaper Archive includes titles from across the country, including the Hastings & St Leonards Observer from 1866 to 1912 and the now defunct Sussex Advertiser from 1746 to 1878 and Brighton Patriot from 1835 to 1839, with more newspapers being added all the time.

The archive features coverage of events of local interest including Britain's worst avalanche, which happened in Lewes in 1836, the coming of the railway to Eastbourne in 1849 and the merger of Hastings and St Leonards in 1872.

Zoe Edwards, East Sussex County Council local studies librarian, said: “This new service will be of interest to people who are researching their family history or are just interested in local history generally.

“People may have wanted to search historic local newspapers but not known where to start, or have spent far too many hours trawling through microfilm copies without success.

“The real value of this database is that it's fully searchable, meaning people can find the information they're looking for from birth, marriage and death notices, obituaries, news articles and advertisements for free in their local library.”

The service is on offer at all libraries in the county. People can call into their local library and register their details online to receive unlimited access to the archive, while help will be on offer from staff to anyone unsure of how to start.

The service coincides with the launch of a county council campaign aimed at showcasing the wide range of services on offer at East Sussex libraries, which is being promoted via poster advertising, leaflet drops and through social media.

Anyone interested can call into their local library, call the county council's library service on 0345 6080196 or email library.enquiries@eastsussex.gov.uk

Monday, 15 April 2013

Big Ben to be silenced for Baroness Thatcher's funeral

Big Ben will fall silent on Wednesday as a mark of respect for Baroness Thatcher's funeral.

It is the first time that the bells of Big Ben and the Great Clock at the Palace of Westminster will have been halted in this way since the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill in 1965.

The announcement came from John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, in a statement to MPs, many of whom had asked the Parliamentary authorities to make a special tribute to the former Conservative prime minister.

"The most appropriate means of indicating our sentiments would be for the chimes of Big Ben and the chimes of the Great Clock to be silent for the duration of the funeral proceedings," he said.
"I have therefore made the necessary arrangements to achieve this. I believe there can be a profound dignity and deep respect both expressed in and through silence and I am sure that the House will agree."

Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister coordinating arrangements for the funeral, welcomed the decision.

He told the Commons: "As you know, Lady Thatcher held Parliament in very great reverence in her time both in this House and in the Lords and I am confident that this will be seen as a very dignified and respectful gesture on behalf of Parliament and I am very grateful to you.

"I am confident that Lady Thatcher's family will take it very much in that spirit and be very appreciative of what you have decided."

David Cameron's official spokesman said: "It is not surprising that a good number of people wish to commemorate Lady Thatcher's passing."

The name 'Big Ben' is often used to describe Parliament's famous clock tower, which was recently re-named Elizabeth Tower in honour of the Queen.

However, the name was first given to the Great Bell, which sounds the hour. The Great Clock normally chimes every quarter hour and has done so since 1859, except during routine repair work and when it broke down in 1976.

Via www.telegraph.co.uk

Boris says; Thatcherism is no museum piece - it's alive and kicking

Britain could benefit hugely from the astral guidance of its heroic former prime minister.

Ding dong, the Soviet Union is dead! Ding dong, communism is dead! And so is the British disease. They are all dead as doornails – the myth of this country’s inevitable decline, the habit of capitulating to the unions, the belief in state control of everything from motor manufacturers to removals firms, taxation rates at 98 per cent: all the Lefty nostrums of the post-war epoch.

Ding dong! Old Labour’s dead! The Labour Party has given up its ridiculous belief in the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange – the slogan that used to be printed on the back of every party membership card. Ding dong, Clause Four is dead as a dodo.

But I tell you what, my little Left-wing friends, and all you who think it amusing to break out the champagne at the death of an 87-year-old woman. There is one thing that is alive and well – and that is Thatcherism. Thatcherism lives; and will live as long as there are people in this country, and on this planet, who see how economic freedom can be the servant not just of the rich, but of our whole society.

There is something astonishing about our collective reaction to Margaret Thatchers death. It was sad, but hardly unexpected. Why has the controversy been so frenzied? Why can the papers seemingly think and talk of nothing else? Because we have been suddenly reminded of the clarity and urgency of what she had to say – and we have a guilty feeling that her lessons are being forgotten.

I love museums, and am of course thrilled to read in The Sunday Telegraph that we are going to have a Thatcher foundation and museum in London, world capital of culture. I expect that it will embrace the spirit of this country’s greatest post-war prime minister, and have touches that are both traditional and up-to-date. There will be plenty of old-fashioned glass-case displays of memorabilia.

You know: Scargill’s sweat-stained baseball cap; a Soviet tank of the kind she helped to send scuttling from Eastern Europe; the very milk bottles she snatched from the kiddies. I expect there will be the handbags and the gladrags and the deep cerulean-blue ballgowns, all of them tastefully displayed.

But this must be a technologically brilliant place as well, a museum for the PlayStation generation. So I hope that consultants will be brought in to devise the most sophisticated interactive computer games – in which you not only get to gawp at her clothes, but put yourself in her shoes. What we need is YouThatch, the game that tests whether you have the reflexes and the sheer cojones of the Dama de hierro.

It is no use just asking people to take the decisions that she took, though they were difficult enough. Do you take the hellish risk of fighting Galtieri and the repulsive Argentine junta? Do you continue to subsidise uneconomic coalmines? Do you side with Ronald Reagan and face down the Russkies? In all these dilemmas, her choice has been vindicated by history, and young people will (or so we must hope) know the right answer.

No, what we need is a computer program so cunning that it can work out – from her principles – what Maggie would do in situations she never faced. What, in other words, would Maggie do now? I can already see our budding Sir Politic Would-bes queuing to get their hands on the console, and then mouthing silently as they try to channel her breathy contralto, like Luke Skywalker receiving the astral guidance of the late Obi-Wan Kenobi.

How could we devise a piece of software that would correctly identify the Thatcherian course? It’s easy – you just have to recognise that Thatcherism wasn’t about exalting the rich and grinding the faces of the poor. It was the exact opposite. It was about unleashing talent, and bursting open cosy cartels, and helping people to make the most of their talents and their opportunities. So anyone wanting to work out what Maggie would do today should do whatever it is that helps people make their way in the world – and whatever helps Britain to make its way in the world, too.

As it happens, I think her record on education was far from perfect: she was so heavily engaged in hand-to-hand economic warfare that she did not focus as closely as she did on other dossiers – and if she closed fewer mines than Harold Wilson, it is also true that she closed more grammar schools than Shirley Williams.

But what would she do today? It is obvious. She would do anything to smash down the barriers that prevent talented young people from rising on sheer academic merit; and if the teaching unions had said that they were against narrative history – as they are – I think she would have made sure they became history themselves.

What would she do with the economy? She would do anything to help the small businesses that are the backbone of the nation, and to make it easier for them to take on new workers. She would swing that iron handbag at ’elf and safety and the deranged compensation culture. She would cut business rates, and she would tell the banks that they should either lend to British business or get broken up.

She would naturally keep good and strong relations with America, but she would build links way beyond Europe and the Atlantic – with the Brics, with the African countries that are now showing such amazing growth (many of them Commonwealth members) and with the Middle East. She would be more friendly with Germany these days, but in renegotiating the EU treaty she would make the basic point that sovereignty lies with Parliament, not with Berlin or Brussels.

And yes, as the builder of the last truly transformative piece of transport infrastructure – the Chunnel – I think she would use her fantastic will to cut the cackle and get this country the aviation capacity it needs. We wouldn’t even need to name the airport after her, because 23 years after she stepped down, and after her death, her ideas are still being exported to democracies around the world. Thatcherism lives! Ding dong!

Via www.telegraph.co.uk