Friday, April 28, 2006

An evening's campaigning in Lytchett Matravers

A very interesting evening in Lytchett Matravers yesterday.

Our decision has been to try not to politicise the library closure issue. The County Council Committee that considered the officers' recommendation to close libraries comprised both Lib Dems and Conservatives who backed the proposal apparently.

Our leaflet therefore has some narrative about our candidate and our district councillor opposing the closure and a request to display a poster (pictured) that forms the back of the leaflet.

A really good turn out of people, 13 in all, to deliver the leaflet across Lytchett Matravers and Morden last night. Within minutes of delivering it the posters were going up in peoples' windows. I counted 5 in Wareham Rd alone after I'd finished delivering it.

Then we bumped in to the Lib Dems, looking very very unhappy. They were getting out their own leaflet about the closure proposal. Poorly prepared, with the ubiquitous Annette Brooke photo and highly political. I wonder which one people will be taking more notice of? Let's just say there are an awful lot of 'Save Our Library' posters up in windows along the main road as I drove home!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

BNP send me hate mail!

I've receiced a rather worrying letter in this morning's post.

Some kind sole sent me a BNP Newspaper. If you're reading this, please don't waste either your paper or your postage next time.

I've never seen anything so hateful before in my life.

I'm slightly concerned that this has just been sent to me; no covering letter, no note inside it. Has it been sent to other councillors? Conservative or not? I'm not sure. Why I should be singled out if it's not a general mailing I'm not sure.

Anyway, it is as you might expect pure hate filled drivel.

The interesting thing though is that it clearly has cost a fair bit to produce. It makes you wonder who is providing the cash for this? Someone behind the BNP must have quite deep pockets. That investigation might make an interesting expose for a journalist.

Apologies to Iain Dale for stealing the image from his site to accompany this post.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Who are you kidding Patricia?

Someone e-mailed me this, this evening. I enjoy the irony of how the comic opera of the Saddam Regime's publicity machine now seems so appropriate when applied to the Government who lied to us to persuade us to go to war.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Dorset Library Closures

Budget cuts have been forced on Dorset County Council by central government.

The Administration at County Hall have floated the idea of closing a number of libraries in small towns and villages in order to save money. Included in these is Lytchett Matravers Library (pictured). My colleague Colin Gibb, who's the excellent Conservative District Council candidate for Lytchett Matravers and Morden is spitting about this.

The library is an integral part of the village and Colin will be fighting tooth and nail to keep it open. I'm with him 100%. You can't replace this with a mobile library service.

We'll be lobbying the Conservative Group on the County Council tomorrow to fight to keep the libraries open. Let's hope we get the result we want.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Nanne Grönvall rocks!

I'm so excited! I've just ordered Nanne Grönvall's new album from Skivhugget which is the main online swedish music store.

Nothing to do with politics or being a councillor, I know.

But Nanne rocks, she really does! She has another claim to fame. She's the daughter in law of Benny Andersson, the one with the beard from ABBA.

Anyway, if you have the opportunity to download any of her stuff from the internet I thoroughly recommend it. 'Håll om mig', 'Cirkus Homosapiens' and 'Avundsjuk' are particularly good in my opnion. Of course, it helps if you speak Swedish as she hasn't done that much in english.

Oh, and I'm absolutely certain that she must support Moderata Samlingspartiet, there that's the political link.

You can find out more about Nanne here

I sound like a bunny boiling groupie. Time to go to bed.

Mark Oaten & Me

Me & Mark Oaten (I'm the one with less hair)

Apparently I look a bit like Mark Oaten. Judge for yourselves above.

Read a rather unsettling report today in the Independent on Sunday. According to them he is going full tilt to rehabilitate himself with interviews by both him and his wife in 'Hello!'

It's been just under three months since the rent boy revelations. Shouldn't he be waiting a little longer? It's hardly any wonder that politicians are held in such low esteem by the public when you can be involved in a financial/immigration/party funding/sex scandal, resign and then rejoin the cabinet/Liberal Democrat front bench within a few months.

I really don't want to know anything further about Mr Oaten thank you. He's committed some fairly unpleasant acts and deserves to spend some time away from the limelight reflecting on his deceitfulness no matter how talented he may be.

More importantly, if he keeps a low profile then I don't have to put up with people saying, 'do you know you look a bit like that Mark Oaten' whilst trying to stifle a snigger.

David Cameron's huskie

I found this cartoon on the web this morning, it amused me and therefore I thought I'd include it here in the light of the comment on our environmental policy yesterday.

Right move of David Cameron not to don the silly hat though for the photo shoot on the Norwegian glacier. Another William Hague at the Notting Hill Carnival moment skilfully avoided.

Hat Tip: ConservativeHome

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Vote blue, Go green

I've been very impressed with the Conservative Party's latest advertising campaign. The election broadcast this week was brilliant, even my parents commented how good they thought it was. This isn't remarkable because they don't normally take note of Conservative broadcasts, rather because they aren't really that environmentally aware. They are after all both in their late 70's

I was even more impressed whilst out canvassing in Wareham today. A number of people, mostly previous Liberal Democrat voters mentioned they were considering changing their vote this time as a direct result of our environmental campaigning.

I'm very proud to be a representative of a party with such a vital, sensible and progressive message.

Iford Bridge Flooding

Flooding in the area of Iford Bridge has been of some concern for some time. In the area is Iford Bridge Home Park, a mobile home park which is situated alongside the river. Many of the inhabitants are elderly and vulnerable.

There are a number of arguments about extent and effectiveness of flood prevention and relief measures in the area. I don't know enough about these to be able to get involed in the debate about them at the moment.

However, a very clear Flood Evacuation Plan is in place for the Iford Bridge Home Park in which places specific tasks at the door of the Council, Police, Fire Brigade and Social Services if flooding is expected.

There was some concern last November when a flood warning was issued and no help was forthcoming from any of the named agenices. When elected, I made a commitment to pull the agencies together to review the plan and obtain clarification of each of their roles in such an eventuality.

This I've had some success in doing and I hope that we are headed towards a meeting to confirm the situation later next month, to which all the park residents and my ward colleagues will be invited.

Easter Weekend Holiday Trade a Disaster?

A local night club owner in the town has started an e-mail lead debate with councillors about the poor trading conditions over the Easter weekend.

To this point, because I'm so closely involved, I’ve stayed conspicuously silent on the debate despite the Liberals trying to drag me in to it. It's a difficult issue, essentially the complaint being made is that the Council's Tourism and Leisure department has not been pitching our advertising at the correct market.

I have some sympathy with what he is saying. Business was very poor for the night time sector over the Easter weekend. But then, Easter is never a great weekend for us, you tend to get your normal summer holiday weekend trade but spread over four nights rather then two or three.

Business hasn’t been great since last autumn though. This has much more to do with the state of the economy as a whole than with the marketing of the town in my opinion.

That said, for me the town’s marketing is very narrowly focussed and should be the subject of some debate and scrutiny by the Strengthening our Economy Scrutiny and Review Panel. There are many groups that do not seem to be captured by our marketing. Not least amongst these are the residents of the conurbation itself, who are in general reluctant to enter the town centre in the evening because of the perception of it being full of rowdy hen and stag parties.

We heard updates on some excellent initiatives for the evening economy in the town centre at the SRP last Thursday. In the light of these changes there are huge opportunities to alter the towns marketing to attract a much broader range of visitors on one level, and to target market individual communities (not least our own) on another.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Scrutiny & Review Panels - What's the point?

Just returned from tonight's Council Meeting.

It was the one where we all get to decide who sits on what Scrutiny & Review Panel or Statutory Board for the next year.

Before we go any further I should explain, for the avoidance of doubt, that Bournemouth is run by the Liberals. The current make up of the Council is:

Liberal Democrat: 30
Conservative: 19
Labour: 3
Independent: 2

Given that the role of the Scrutiny and Review Panels is to scrutinise the work of the Council you would think that opposition members should take the chairmanship or at least the vice chairmanship of each of these committees.

Strange thing is that we don't. With the exception of the Education and Life Long Learning Panel all of the chairmanships and most of the vice chairmanships were taken by Liberals, using their majority to outvote the opposition each time.

As the wife of one of the Labour councillors shouted from the gallery at the end of the meeting: "So they are scrutinising themselves?"

There's been some talk that we should behave the same way if we win control of the Council next year. I hope that we don't. We should be above this sort of naked partisanship and use the Scrutiny Panels for the purpose they were set up. Which is to independently scrutinise the workings of the council and ensure that opposition representatives take at least the chairman's or vice chairman's position in order that they can influence the agenda of each.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Council Tax: What are the Liberals on?

Purbeck is the only District Council in Dorset to be having elections this year. The Liberal Democrats there have just put out an election leaflet boasting that they would do away with council tax and replace it with a tax based upon ability to pay.

Forgive me for being very confused, but didn't they make a big thing of voting to scrap their plans for a local income tax at their conference last year?

Research this week showed that working familes in London would pay on average a further £1,500 per year in tax under a local Income Tax scheme.

Not only would the Liberals have us paying more tax, but they would want it adminstered by the regional assembly. It really makes you wonder what is going on? It's all very well attacking the local Conservative Council for supporting the principal of Council Tax as the least unjust system in principal. But the Liberals really need to sort out what positive measure they are proposing to put in its place. Perhaps their time would be better spent supporting us in demonstrating against the totally unfair reallocation of national grant from southern districts to northern ones.

Your Littledown & Iford Conservative Team

I have been very remiss in not introducing you to my fellow candidates (some would say partners in crime, but I couldn't possibly comment!) for our ward in next year's elections.

Jane, Claire and I have been friends for some years, we've been through the 2003 local elections, two by elections and the General Election together. They are both very hard working, conscientious and most of all fun to work with.

Jane runs her own care homes business, while Claire works with her husband in their PR and marketing business.

Both Jane and Claire have young families as well as their own careers. Working for themselves they, like me, are able to work politics in around their busy lives.

Their experiences in both business and in raising their families in the area make them uniquely qualified to understand the problems facing the residents of our ward. More importantly having built their own businesses they have the qualities needed to ensure that things get done and that the usual 'that's just not possible' response we get to so many initiatives isn't accepted.

I'm sure that if we are all lucky enough to be elected next year we'll make a formidable team in the Council and will finally be able to bring about some of the improvements our area so desperately needs!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

'Time on Glass' Campaign

The Daily Echo has been building the story of glassing attacks in Bournemouth Town Centre for some time now. Last night they finally made their move to support a ban on the use of glasses and glass bottles by town centre bars and clubs with the announcement of their 'Call Time on Glass' Campaign.

The police have been pushing for this since last autumn.

An excellent initiative, one as a town centre bar owner I fully back.

The impression the publicity gives though is that this is a huge problem throughout the town centre. In my experience, it isn't. There have been some problems, the results of glassing attacks when they have happened have been terrible. However these have been contained to a small area of the town centre.

Rubyz began the transition from glass to plastic in January. We replace our stock of glasses throughout the year and the plan sees us using completely plastic by the autumn.

Certainly on the Westcliff and in the Triangle most of the other bars, pubs and clubs are doing the same thing. None of the problems reported have come from our area. It would be a shame for The Echo not to recognise that sensible moves are already being made by many businesses to remove the risk of glass being used as a weapon in this way.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Easter News E-mail

Just sent out the latest e-mail to residents of the ward about various issues effecting us. It struck me that this would be a good place to publish it too. It's therefore reproduced below.

It's amazing the power of e-mail, I'm able to reach a number of people equal to almost half those who voted for me last year at the touch of a button!

Nick's Easter E-mail:

Proposed Mobile Phone Mast by Tesco on Castle Lane East

I’m very pleased to say that our campaign to oppose the siting of a mast by O2 on Castle Lane East by Tesco has been successful. I heard from the planning department on Thursday that the planning application to site the mast here has been turned down. The Planning Department are now going to ask O2 to look at the two alternative sites we put forward. These being to the rear of Tesco, by their goods entrance, or at the top of Castle Lane East where there are already some other masts in a small compound by the Littledown Centre football pitches.

Thank you to everyone who wrote in opposition to the mast being sited in the proposed location. I will of course be in touch with the Planning Department to ensure that they both do actually send the letter informing O2 of their decision in time, and that it has the correct wording within it!

Littledown and Iford Forum

I’m very pleased to report that the Littledown and Iford Forum has been reformed under the chairmanship of local resident Cyril Baker. The Forum’s job will be to represent your views to the council, to inform you of proposals for the area, allow debate on these and scrutinise the work of the council and local councillors. I very much welcome is reformation, it’s purpose isn’t in any way political, rather to act as a forum for local residents to ensure their views are taken in to account.

It’s first meeting is likely to be in May or June and I would very much encourage you to come along at that time.

Swanmore Gardens

There have been further problems with young people breaking in to Swanmore Gardens at night. I have spoken to the police and parks officers to ask them to patrol the gardens more regularly. If anyone is aware of any disturbance coming from the gardens please either let me know, call the council to inform them (451451) or Boscombe Police Station (303766)

On Street Car Sales

The council have begun a crack down against on street car sales. This is a particular issue along Christchurch Road, Corhampton Road and in many of the side roads in Iford. I am aware of and have reported issues in Corhampton Road, Warnford Road, Christchurch Road and Hambledon Road. If you are aware of any other areas where this has been happening can you please let me know and I will pass the information on to the enforcement officers at the Council.

Planning Appeals

Thanks to everyone who has written letters in opposition to the planning appeals for 163 Harewood Avenue and 2 Ropley Road. The dates have now passed for submissions with over 150 responses for Harewood Avenue and over 40 for Ropley Road. We now have to await a decision which may take a few weeks.

The revised planning application for 2 Ropley Road does not appear on the list for this month’s Planning Board meeting. If it is not refused by officers and goes before the Board it will probably therefore be the May meeting at which it is held. More information about that as I get it.

Finally, can I wish you a very happy and peaceful Easter.


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Phone Masts

If it's not parking it's phone masts at the moment here in Bournemouth!

Today hasn't been a great day. One of those 'concertina' days where time seems to dimish much faster than the work load!

Perhaps I should not have offered to manage the campaign in Wareham and Lytchett Matravers and Morden for Purbeck Conservatives after all!

Anyway, all the frustration of not getting leaflets printed on time, inserting 'Lytchett Matravers' rather than 'Wareham' in the postal voter leaflets and having to drive around Mid Dorset like a mad man tonight has disappeared.

The proposed telephone mast on Castle Lane East has been refused by the Council Planning Department. Hurrah! At last they make a decent decision. Thanks to everyone who bothered to write in to object.

Let's just hope the Planning Appeals in Harewood Avenue and Ropley Road go the same way.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

First Message

Well, here it is, my first posting.

The purpose of this blog? To talk about a very interesting year ahead for Bournemouth as we approach the 2007 local elections.

A little about me?

I'm Nick King. I'm 40 and live in Harewood Avenue, Bournemouth. I'm also lucky enough to be one of the Borough Councillors for my ward, Littledown and Iford.

I'm a Conservative and was elected last year at a by-election, gaining the seat from the Liberal Democrats. The swing was one of the largest for some time from Liberal to Conservative: 34%. I'm quite proud of that!

Many people ascribe the victory not to me but to my dog, Harry. Here he is, in his santa hat as per our Christmas Card:

Harry played a major part in the campaign, being the mascot of our campaign to stop building on the near by Green Belt.

I own a business called Rubyz. We have two cabaret restaurants in the Westcliff area of Bournemouth and we also own and operate the main gay club in the town.

Bournemouth has so much to offer both its residents and visitors. It's such a shame that the opportunity to do this is being squandered by our local, Liberal run, council. Their waste, inefficiency and lack of long term commitment and vision lets us all down in my opinion.

Until such time as I have an opportunity to influence the governance of the town, much of my time is taken up looking after the interests of the residents of my ward. Helping local people oppose planning applications seeking to turn family homes in to flats in Harewood Avenue and Ropley Road; opposing the insensitive siting of mobile telephone masts on the Wessex Way and Castle Lane East; fighting anti social behaviour from the owners of industrial units and garages in Corhampton Road and Warnford Road and helping the residents of Iford where flooding is likely obtain better flood protection and emergency evacutaion plans.