Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Empty Shops and Empty Pockets?

Now, some people might think that I'm a bit tight. (I prefer to think of myself as appropriately frugal). Anyway, I went shopping for a Christmas present today for one of my God Sons. We'd agreed not to see them until the New Year and I had, genuinely, not had time to find the present prior to Christmas.

I therefore spent a couple of hours at Castlepoint and the shopping centre on the old bus depot site opposite.

What was astounding was firstly how few people there were about, the car parks were busy but by no means full and the shops were equally busy but there were virtually no queues at the tills.

More surprising for me was the lack of stock on the shelves. Admittedly, we are at the end of a week in which there is little stock coming in to the stores, but even so there was a very limited choice of goods. This wasn't just the case in the electrical stores, but also in the food shops as well.

It's a poor augry for the coming year. Little money to spend, both by consumers and by retailers stocking their shelves will surely have a circular and knock on effect, one thing leading on to the other. It doesn't bode well and it proves how wrong the Government's policy of borrowing wildly to pay for tax cuts that have had little effect and to bail out the banks who continue to refuse to lend is.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day

James had to go to work this morning, just for a couple of hours to do a ward round. He was met with his first patient, a frail elderly lady, having arrested.

Despite his efforts and those of the team of nurses and doctors present I'm afraid she died.

The staff, particularly the nurses, were very upset. They had called her family, who arrived too late to see her. James had to speak to her daughter to explain what had happened. Her elderly husband was at home.

Christmas is a happy time for so many of us. We spent Christmas with our families, who spent the day with us at our home.

James' experience this morning though provided a timely reminder that Christmas can be a very sad time for some of us. My thoughts and prayers are with you if the festivities provide you with a reminder of sad times.

Monday, August 18, 2008

AFC Bournemouth Planning Application

A fresh planning application has been made for housing adjacent to the AFC Bournemouth Stadium.

As with the application last year the plan is to demolish a family home in Thistlebarrow Road to provide an access road to the site.  Speaking to local people their feelings haven't changed.  There is little concern about the housing development.  There is enormous concern at the additional traffic and light and noise disturbance caused by demolishing the house and creating an entrance to the development at that point.

For these reasons we'll be helping local people oppose the application and will be circulating our normal letters in the next few days.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

RIP Harry

My dog Harry died this morning.  He was nearly 17 and if he had lived until the end of the week then we would have been together for 16 years.  

I couldn't have had a more faithful and loving friend during that time.  I don't mind admitting that I'm heartbroken.

Harry came from Battersea Dog's Home, where he had been re-homed three times before we rescued him on a sunny Friday afternoon in 1992.  He was full of character and life; mischievous, obedient and stubborn in equal parts.  
He became known throughout Littledown and Iford as he was the mascot in 2005 of the campaign to oppose the green belt development proposed there, appearing on posters in people's windows across the ward.  

I loved him very much, and I'll miss him terribly.

Monday, August 11, 2008

1300 Christchurch Road

We heard today that the appeal made by the developers against the council's refusal of planning permission for flats at 1300 Christchurch Road has been refused.  This is great news and means that the applications for flats on this site have all failed.

The Council have approved an application by the same developer for conversion of the house in to two units and for two semi detached houses to be built in the garden facing on to Colemore Road.  This is a sensible use of the site in my opinion, providing adequate on site parking and in keeping with the area.  Let's hope that the developers are able to proceed with these plans quickly and that they are able to sell the homes once they have been built!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

AFC Bournemouth - A question of fairness?

Rotherham football club will start the new season with a 17 point deficit as a consequence of their not coming out of administration in a proper manner.

Apparently the same threat hangs over AFC Bournemouth and the fate of the club will be decided by the Football League today.

Deducting points from the club would seem to me to be completely retrograde. They were already relegated last season and if the club is to have any chance of survival, let alone thriving, then success on the pitch is an, if not the, essential component.

Making the team start with a points deficit from which they will find it difficult if not impossible to recover doesn't seem fair to me. More importantly it seems terribly unfair for the players and the fans. They shouldn't be penalised for problems in the boardroom.

Friday, July 25, 2008

No takers for chips in bins are reporting that no councils have signed up to Labour's proposed trials of the 'bin tax'.

This would be exactly the kind of scheme that the 'chips in bins' were designed for. I've been opposing the use of this technology and the proposals for this kind of taxation since I was first elected to Bournemouth Council back in 2005.

The removal of refuse from the home is one of the fundamental services provided by local councils. It's one of the services that's been consistently provided by local authorities and it is exactly for this kind of service that local taxation (be it rates, community charge or council tax) has been paid by residents.

If your council doesn't take away your rubbish as part of your local tax, then why have a local tax in the first place?

Good on those councils who have refused to join in the scheme. Let's hope the refusal of local authorities to cooperate with the Government over this will kill the idea for good.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Future 3000 in trouble

Apparently the Wednesday edition of the Daily Echo sold out. This is largely due to the fact that Richard Carr was on the front page of the paper here.

There appears to be a good deal of schadenfreude around Bournemouth and Poole at this news.

I don't share in it. I know from bitter experience how hard anyone in business for themselves has to work in economic times like these. I also know how difficult the decision to take the company in to administration must have been for its directors.

I disagree with Richard Carr about very many things. That's no reason to revel in his troubles, as some are doing. He faces a difficult enough few months ahead attempting to keep his businesses afloat in such uncertain times. As do we all. He deserves our respect for creating a profitable business and our sympathy now that it has run in to problems.

I wish him and all his staff all the best. Let's hope there is a way out of this situation for them.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

King's Park Travellers' incursion

Thank you to all of you who were in touch yesterday to warn of the Travellers who had arrived in King’s Park and next to the doctor’s surgery in Harewood Crescent.  My apologies for not getting back to everyone, however as you can imagine we were active in doing what we could to stop the situation escalating and ensure that we began to move them on as soon as possible.


To give you a full update on what has happened to date:

A group of 7 traveller caravans arrived in Kings Park early yesterday afternoon. Before they had been reported to us, they had already gained access to the lower part of the Park and had began setting up in the middle of the old railway track on the all-weather pitch. Upon inspection it appears that they somehow ‘dug’ their way through the earth bunding.

Parks Officers reacted quickly to closing the Kings Park gates and soon learned another group of around 6 had driven on to the open space on the corner off Springbank Road and Harewood Crescent. The second group were meaning to join the main group on Kings Park and suggestions of bribes and veiled threats were used during the next 3-4 hours to attempt to gain entry. At this point the Police were called. The other group of travellers from Harewood Crescent then appeared at the top of Littledown Avenue and a van approached the gates from inside the Park – this is a manoeuvre used to require an Officer to open the gates to allow the exiting vehicle to leave, and at this point the incoming travellers would attempt to force entry – however a PCSO arrived on the scene and the 6 caravans went back up Littledown Avenue. I and my colleagues split in order to cover all three gates into the Park.

We were then advised (at around 7:30pm) that these remaining travellers had gained entry to Kings Park and had met up with the other group. The point of entry was found adjacent to the play park opposite the Nursery at the Clarence Park Road end, a traveller was seen chain-sawing a knee-rail post at ground level and removing a section large enough to drive the remaining vehicles through. The Police asked people in the Park if they could identify the man and although it was clear it was one of the travellers, I do not believe (at time of writing) that the Police have sufficient evidence to take any action against the individual.

My apologies for the amount of detail but it is just to show that every reasonable step was taken to prevent this incursion from growing.

From a first look, it appears that this is the same group that occupied the same area last year (August 2007). This group generally frequent the area to stay locally for the Steam Fair at the end of August. As these were working travellers there was a lot of garden and other waste left behind, unlike the other recent group on the East Overcliff. Because of the behaviour of some of this group and the damage that was caused in order to get on to the space, this may be reflected in the speed we can reclaim the land, however the minimum is usually within 7-10 days.

Our parks officers will be carrying out the initial needs assessment later today with a Police Officer and our lawyers will be briefed on Monday in order to start the legal process.

I’m very grateful to Brian Heppenstall from the King’s Park team who has provided much of the detail for this information.

You may be aware that Jane has already arranged for wooden stakes to be placed around the green space in Harewood Crescent to stop incursions in the future, to be paid for from our ward fund.  We will be pressing the Council to put these in place as a matter of urgency next week to ensure that once moved from the park the travellers can’t move there.

I’ll of course keep you up to date with any further developments.

Friday, July 04, 2008

David Cameron and the Regional Spatial Strategy

David Cameron was in Bournemouth today, to speak at the Local Government Association Conference at the BIC.

I had to pick him up from Bournemouth Airport and take him to the conference centre. I therefore managed to get 20 minutes with him to talk to him about how important the Regional Spatial Strategy is to our area. He was horrified to hear about the proposals from the Examination in Public which would result in enormous incursions on to the Green Belt in East Dorset, Purbeck and Bournemouth.

He agreed entirely with our campaign to ensure that local people, through their local councils decide where, how many, of what type and for whom this housing should take place. He also agreed to confirm that a Conservative Government would overturn these plans if we were elected in time to stop the planning permissions being granted.

When we reached the BIC demonstrators from Lytchett Minster and Lytchett Matravers were already outside the building. I had a chance to talk to them while David Cameron went in to do his speech. It was great to see both Conservative and Liberal Democrat Councillors from Purbeck and the County Councils there demonstrating side by side. They were joined after a little while by people from Bournemouth, Christchurch and East Dorset.

David gave an interview to the Daily Echo, which I understand is going to be front page news tomorrow. He confirmed our position over the RSS in the interview. Good for him.

More importantly he also took a few minutes to meet and speak with the demonstrators outside. Again he emphasised the party's opposition and told the demonstration that if we're elected in time we would over turn the plans. He also confirmed that a Conservative Government would do away with all regional bodies, handing responsibility back to local councils to decide what kind of development should take place in their own areas.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mobile phone mast protest

Thanks to everyone who came along to the mobile phone mast protest on Monday.  It was reported in the Echo today.

The link is here.

The proposal is to build a mast at the busy junction of Holdenhurst Avenue and Christchurch Road. We've suggested an alternative site, about 800 yds away in Riverside Avenue, at the back of Tesco, which would give similar coverage but would be well away from any local housing and close to the masts built by other companies.

We've succesfully fought off other applications in Southwick Road, in this location and by the Iford Tavern.  Hopefully we'll have the same result again. 

When will the mobile phone companies learn that rather than taking the easy option they should properly consult with local people first to ensure that they are taking their opinions on the site in to account. It would cause them (and us) a whole lot less trouble!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Holdenhurst Avenue/Christchurch Road Mobile Phone Mast Protest

We're holding a short protest against the proposed mobile phone mast on the corner of Holdenhurst Avenue and Christchurch Road tomorrow afternoon, (Monday 16th June) at 2pm. We're meeting at the proposed site, opposite the Post Office on Christchurch Road.

Hopefully the Daily Echo and local radio stations will be there to report on the objection.

Do please come along (and bring a sign showing your opposition) if you can.

Congratulations to Iain Dale

Quite possibly the best known political blogger in the UK, Iain Dale, is getting 'hitched' to his long term partner John Simmons at their civil partnership ceremony today.

Congratulations and best wishes to them both.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

I am Legend?

We've just watched 'I am Legend' on the DVD. It was scary (I'm not a fan of scary films - Shrek, Love Actually and the Railway Children are more my type of thing).

I vaguely remember an old Charlton Heston film called, I think, 'The Andromeda Strain', this film appeared to be a remake of that.

In common with many post apocalyptic films of its type, it had a common theme, that he end of civilisation will be caused by a virus caused by genetic experimentation. It may seem fanciful, but to me it would appear to be a salutary lesson in being cautious with allowing genetic experimentation.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

1300 Christchurch Road

This is the house on the corner of Colemore Road and Christchurch Road which was the subject of an application for varying numbers of flats. I’m pleased to confirm that the council has also turned down this application.

The developers have now made two fresh applications, one for 4 houses to be built on the site, each with one parking space, and the second for a single, large house to be built in the garden. Again, traffic concerns are of paramount importance with the site, being on such a dangerous corner. If you wish to comment on the applications you have until 30th March to make your views know to the Planning Department at the Council.

AFC Bournemouth Planning Application

If you remember there was an appeal lodged against the Council’s decision to turn down the application to knock down the house in Thistlebarrow Road and build a small estate of 10 houses alongside the football ground.


I’m pleased to say that the appeal was also refused.  Given the financial problems at the club, it may be a little while before a further application is made, but I would suspect that a fresh application will eventually be forthcoming.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Environmental Small Grants Scheme

The council has announced that a further allocation has been made available for this financial year for the Environmental Small Grants Scheme funded through the Safer Stronger Communities Fund.

The funding is available for up to £1000 for community groups in Bournemouth. The projects must contribute towards improving the environment, green spaces or promote awareness or contribute to recycling targets. The funding can only be used for capital not revenue (so no wages or services) and the group needs to be a constituted group with a bank account in the name of the group (in some instances we may be able to work around this by asking for invoices to be sent directly to the Council).

Applications can be submitted at any time but the project must happen this financial year. The application process is intentionally simple if you would like to apply then you should contact Cat McMillan

Littledown and Iford Forum

The AGM of the Littledown and Iford Forum will be held at St Peters School next Thursday, 17th April, at 7.30pm. The guest speaker will be John Beesley who is the chairman of the planning board in Bournemouth and also the deputy leader of the council. Everyone is welcome to come along and there will be the usual question and answer session for your local councillors.

1085 - 1087 Christchurch Road

A further application has been made for this site, to include a block of two shops and six flats, with a further block of 5 flats situated behind it. This time there is no parking provision on the site. Again we will be opposing the scheme because of its lack of parking, the potential for road hazard which results from this and the scale and size of the buildings.

1300 Christchurch Road - Application for 9 Flats

Hard on the heals of the planning application for housing on the site, a fresh application for 9 flats with only two parking spaces has come forward. To our mind this falls in to the same category as the previous flat applications. Too little parking, too out of keeping and much larger than the current building.

We would recommend residents oppose the application and have circulated our our usual letters explaining how to object.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Planning Application Notices

Cyril Baker and Roger Ansell, the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Ward Forum have been in touch over a general concern about the length of time planning notices are visible before they are either taken down or disposed of.

I’m taking this up with the planning department.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Seasonal Drunkenness

I read today that, astonishingly, there were a number of churches who held their midnight mass at 6pm on Christmas Eve.

The reason?

Because of the fear of disruption from drunken people.

This fact was used in the context on a commentary about 24 hour licensing policy.

Undoubtedly the introduction of extended licensing hours has played its part in the increasing problem of drink related anti social behaviour and disruption. However, I do wonder how many of those who attend church on Christmas Eve inebriated have at the very least begun their drinking at home, if not completed it there too.

Until we control the sale of cheap alcohol through supermarkets and off licenses we will be unable to control the problems associated with excess alcohol consumption.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Nostalgia for Hartland

I watched part of Sense and Sensibility on BBC1 on New Year's Day.  Good, but not as good as the film version on first viewing.  That's actually an unfair comment probably, the tv version clearly has neither the budget of the film, nor of course the sublime Emma Thompson.
I thought I recognized the cottage to which the family move and indeed my recollection proved correct with this article in the Daily Telegraph today.
I spent my teenage years living on this part of the North Devon coast.  It's near Hartland and made me feel very nostalgic for Summers spent in Westward Ho!, Hartland and Bucks Mills.