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The slur of being called a ‘liberal’ and what is exactly is an activists role?

This morning I had post. First time in a while. Alas it was an energy bill but along with that was my new cashcard. HSBC had sent it to somewhere I last lived nine years ago and although they have my new address as all other correspondence comes here they still send my new cashcards to my Dad’s – nice one HSBC. So I ring up my old man to say thank you and to see how he was and all that jazz.

Unsurprisingly he’s dealing with aches and pains, he’s always dealing with aches and pains although he didn’t complain of a cough for once so that is good news. He asked me what I’ve been up to. I said that I met and interviewed Nick Clegg, he told me that he’s an idiot. I then told him that I’m considering running for council in May and this is what he said to me on the phone, ‘Son, don’t tell me you’re one of those liberals’. Trying to make out that being a liberal (and Lib Dem) is a bad thing. I know there’s no point discussing politics with my dad but I did ask him why it’s such a bad thing and he said, ‘well I can only go by what I read in the paper’ and that is an issue we have to face up to.

My dad isn’t the most worldly person around but he’s no idiot. He knows roughly what is going on in the world. He watches the news daily and first thing he does every morning is read teletext. Yes some people still read teletext. I say first thing but he usually has a smoke first but that’s not important. He also goes out every morning and buys a newspaper – the Daily Mail – and that is how he forms a large part of his view of the world.

Now in all honesty my old man isn’t a potential voter. He thinks all politicians are a bunch of crooks. I wonder what he’ll think if I do run for office and even worse if I get in. Will he think I’m a crook too or will his opinion change? That I don’t know and it’s not of utmost importance for the purposes of this log. What is important though is that a generation of voters still see the world mostly through the words they read in the media. People still go out and buy newspapers and these people often do vote.

So if they form their view of the world through such a narrow spectrum then we as a party – and we as a nation – have issues. Matthew Gibson wrote a piece about the Daily Mail and the Lib Dems a couple of months back showing that the newspaper actually brings in the third highest amount of votes for the party compared to all the other newspapers. This has far more to do with the amount of readers than it does percentage of the vote we get from them but people can read the Daily Mail and still vote Lib Dem.

I often wonder how many people would vote Lib Dem if the media showed absolutely no bias and just reported the facts. I’m going to hypothesise here and say far more than currently vote Lib Dem. Far too many people choose not to vote at al or don’t vote for the Lib Dems because what they read, see or hear in the media. I wrote a long piece the other day (over 2,500 words and not even 100 people bothered to read it – sad times) and how the media are not to be trusted or believed when it comes to anything. They will treat a story with whatever angle compels more people to read, see or listen to it. The truth is secondary to the financial bottom line and that is hard to swallow.

This is why I think it is so vital that good people of all parties – but with particular respect to the Lib Dems as I am one – engage with people about politics. Tell them what is really happening. When I go door knocking I’m not going to say about how great the Lib Dems are and how awful everyone else is. I try to understand where the person behind the door is coming from and see what issues they have and try to put straight any untruths they might believe.

I don’t believe it is my job to make people vote for my party. Others might believe so but personally I don’t see this. I think it is my role as an activist to engage people with politics and give them the information to make up their own minds about what to do. I think if I do this far more people will vote for the Lib Dems as I believe under all the media guff the party has the most to offer people of all generations and classes.

If we can show the people that politicians aren’t all evil and are actually just human beings trying to better life for the people they represent then we are moving in the right direction. If I do run for local council in May then I won’t be standing on a ‘We are Lib Dems and we are better than everybody else’ ticket but more of a ‘Here is how everything is, if you are truly interested in helping your local community then here are the facts and make up your own mind but don’t moan when you don’t get what you want if you don’t vote’ ticket.

Being a liberal and a Liberal Democrat to me is allowing people the opportunity to make up their own minds as long as they have all the information possible. If they do that and vote for me (or the party if I don’t stand) then great. If they read all the information but decide the Tories, Labour, the independents or whoever else is their man or woman and they go out and vote for them then I’m fine with that too. As long as people who vote take time out to find out who and why they are voting for a candidate then I think that’s progress.

Whatever happens I think the higher the informed turnout for all election then the closer we get to someone speaking for a community. That is how I see it anyway and I do wonder what others think. All I know is I’m proud to be a liberal despite when my old man thinks about us and Nick Clegg. Hopefully the more people we can engage with then the more people will come to see what we truly stand for and who we truly represent instead of the bastardised version the media portrays.

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Early (possible) by-election alert – Southend West

I hope Peter Welch is in the weights room working up a sweat for all the doors he’ll be knocking on a year or so’s time. Ok maybe I am getting a little (read: way) ahead of myself here but Southend West MP David Amess is on the front page of the local paper today and not talking about female newsreaders smiling too much. A headline screaming, ‘Amess Told: Explain Your Council Tax Claims’ probably isn’t a good thing for the man.

Southend Echo David Amess

Inside the local rag details the claims Amess made and the amount he should have claimed for and here is the breakdown:

2004/2005 – £900 claimed and his allowance was £907 – good start for the taxpayer.
2005/2006 – £1,146 claimed and £946 allowed – less good for the taxpayer.
2006/2007 – £1,750 claimed and £946 allowed. Er…
2007/2008 – £1,700 claimed and £1,026 allowed. Uh oh…

For the three tax years from April 2008 through to 2011 the amounts are identical between claimed and received. The difference is before 2008 no receipt was required.

The local rag has done it’s research with Tower Hamlets finding out the council tax (plus allowable reductions) for the property which was allocated as Mr Amess’s second home. The investigation has showed up that the MP claimed £1,700 more than he was entitled to over that period. This number does not include claims on utility bills which are also under investigation by the Met.

David Amess has been a Conservative MP since 1983 representing Basildon from 1983-1997 and Southend West since. This is not the first time his expenses have been under close scrutiny and in 2009 on the campaign trail he sought refuge in a hairdressers from the local media wanting answers to the fact during the same four year period the MP claimed over £19,000 on food. I have been known to shop at M&S and even I don’t spend that much. In fact I spend nowhere near that much. You could get a takeaway every night on that type of money near enough.

Obviously there is a lot to play out here but there are questions to answer at the Met have opened up an investigation. Should charges follow then I suspect he’ll stick it out until the end of his trial. If found guilty though then Southend West will face a by-election on the current boundaries and if that happens then it might be a lot of fun…

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Delighted at extra funding for Southend children who need it most – Welch

The man who got a little x from myself in a ballot box in May 2010 is happy that the Pupil Premium is going where it is needed locally and sent out the following Press Release this evening that I am (possibly lazily) going to copy and paste in full:

The announcement that Liberal Democrats in government have been able to increase the Pupil Premium has delighted their standard-bearer in Southend West at the last election.

Peter Welch said “Raising the cash that schools receive for educating children from the poorest backgrounds was a key pledge in the General Election. I’m convinced it was one of the reasons we got such a strong result in Southend West. And I am delighted that schools in Southend will be receiving more than £2m through the pupil premium – £488 for every child on free school meals.

“It is my firm belief that we have wasted too much talent in this country. We need to open up jobs and opportunities to everyone, no matter what their back ground. the Pupil Premium is part of the answer.”

In year two of the scheme, every school is guaranteed an extra £488 (last year £430) from the Government for every child on free school meals and every looked-after child.

In Southend-on-Sea this should mean around £2,072,000 in extra cash. In neighbouring areas the impact will also be significant. In Castle Point, for example, schools expect to receive £688,000 in the coming year.

Commenting, Sarah Teather, Children’s Minister said : “it’s a distinctively Liberal Democrat policy. Liberal Democrats designed it, campaigned for it, and made it a priority in the Coalition negotiations. Liberal Democrats in government have found the money to make it happen.”

The Liberal Democrats fought the election on four priority policies: creating Green jobs, introducing the pupil premium, raising income tax thresholds to £10,000, and reforming the political system so that politicians are really held to account.

Massive progress has been made on three of these priorities. The Green Investment Bank has been agreed. Income tax thresholds have been increased. From £6475 at the time of the General Election they will be £8345 from April – a move that means hundreds of thousands of people on modest incomes will no longer need to pay income tax. And the pupil premium will make a big difference to the schools with the kids who need most support. Hopes for a better, more accountable political system were, however, hit by the defeat of the referendum on a fiarer voting system.

Good stuff as always Peter. It is something we have brought to pupils around the country that wasn’t going to happen without us. When people ask ‘What have the Lib Dems done for us?’ then this is something we can proudly point at. This is a start of a journey that hopefully will lead to equality of opportunity for everyone and that is something I think we all wish for.

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Southend-on-Sea schools to get £2,072,000 in Pupil Premium – Lib Dem Win!

If you are a parent with kids anywhere in England then today you can find out just how much how local schools will receive thanks to the Pupil Premium which was a staple of the Liberal Democrats manifesto. The Pupil Premium is there is give extra money to schools for every student who comes from a disadvantaged background to help ensure they get just as much of a chance of an excellent education as those who come from a more advantaged background.

I live in Southend and as area we will receive just over £2million extra for the school year 2011/2012. My constituency of Rochford & Southend East will receive £1,267,000 to go around it’s schools. When you think of it in those terms then this is real money making a real impact at schools and not just a bit of fluff. Yes we’d all like it to be more but I think an extra two million across the town in terms of schooling is a pretty darn decent start.

I makes no bones about my background coming from a council estate where you could see talent out there but it was hard to tap that talent because people lacked ambition. Many think that they can’t amount to anything so they don’t bother trying. It is a culture that we need to address. Anyone has it in them to become whatever they so desire. Talent needs to be nurtured and given time to flourish. People from disadvantaged backgrounds may need more time because swimming against the grain sometimes is hard but you have to give everyone the same chances in life as possible and that is something the Pupil Premium is looking to address (albeit in a small way) but it is better to take one step forward than to take no steps at all.

The Pupil Premium is a great start in my opinion but that is all it is – a start – but to finish a race you have to start it and now the gun has fired on giving everyone whatever their background the same opportunities in life and that is a race I hope we’ll be able to finish at some point in my lifetime.

Please see below for a full breakdown of funds by constituency.

Aldershot £928,000
Aldridge-Brownhills £1,004,000
Altrincham and Sale West £565,000
Amber Valley £937,000
Arundel and South Downs £318,000
Ashfield £1,281,000
Ashford £1,005,000
Ashton-under-Lyne £1,367,000
Aylesbury £683,000
Banbury £889,000
Barking £2,611,000
Barnsley Central £1,289,000
Barnsley East £1,344,000
Barrow and Furness £1,009,000
Basildon and Billericay £847,000
Basingstoke £969,000
Bassetlaw £1,009,000
Bath £576,000
Batley and Spen £1,150,000
Battersea £1,050,000
Beaconsfield £431,000
Beckenham £546,000
Bedford £1,320,000
Bermondsey and Old Southwark £2,852,000
Berwick-upon-Tweed £518,000
Bethnal Green and Bow £4,892,000
Beverley and Holderness £699,000
Bexhill and Battle £713,000
Bexleyheath and Crayford £1,065,000
Birkenhead £1,986,000
Birmingham, Edgbaston £1,932,000
Birmingham, Erdington £2,318,000
Birmingham, Hall Green £2,484,000
Birmingham, Hodge Hill £4,188,000
Birmingham, Ladywood £4,764,000
Birmingham, Northfield £2,259,000
Birmingham, Perry Barr £2,634,000
Birmingham, Selly Oak £2,176,000
Birmingham, Yardley £3,262,000
Bishop Auckland £1,293,000
Blackburn £2,083,000
Blackley and Broughton £2,610,000
Blackpool North and Cleveleys £1,281,000
Blackpool South £1,411,000
Blaydon £901,000
Blyth Valley £1,061,000
Bognor Regis and Littlehampton £554,000
Bolsover £1,082,000
Bolton North East £1,258,000
Bolton South East £1,798,000
Bolton West £1,094,000
Bootle £1,728,000
Boston and Skegness £867,000
Bosworth £617,000
Bournemouth East £811,000
Bournemouth West £915,000
Bracknell £636,000
Bradford East £2,597,000
Bradford South £2,070,000
Bradford West £2,395,000
Braintree £704,000
Brent Central £2,316,000
Brent North £2,149,000
Brentford and Isleworth £1,607,000
Brentwood and Ongar £403,000
Bridgwater and West Somerset £1,034,000
Brigg and Goole £645,000
Brighton, Kemptown £954,000
Brighton, Pavilion £789,000
Bristol East £1,019,000
Bristol North West £1,439,000
Bristol South £1,840,000
Bristol West £1,144,000
Broadland £468,000
Bromley and Chislehurst £929,000
Bromsgrove £567,000
Broxbourne £1,002,000
Broxtowe £684,000
Buckingham £279,000
Burnley £1,499,000
Burton £1,010,000
Bury North £919,000
Bury South £996,000
Bury St Edmunds £703,000
Calder Valley £913,000
Camberwell and Peckham £2,423,000
Camborne and Redruth £840,000
Cambridge £652,000
Cannock Chase £1,010,000
Canterbury £947,000
Carlisle £831,000
Carshalton and Wallington £1,163,000
Castle Point £688,000
Central Devon £481,000
Central Suffolk and North Ipswich £555,000
Charnwood £509,000
Chatham and Aylesford £1,102,000
Cheadle £638,000
Chelmsford £678,000
Chelsea and Fulham £1,425,000
Cheltenham £751,000
Chesham and Amersham £365,000
Chesterfield £953,000
Chichester £517,000
Chingford and Woodford Green £1,137,000
Chippenham £692,000
Chipping Barnet £1,197,000
Chorley £856,000
Christchurch £480,000
Cities of London and Westminster £1,073,000
City of Chester £845,000
City of Durham £792,000
Clacton £1,121,000
Cleethorpes £887,000
Colchester £1,176,000
Colne Valley £1,142,000
Congleton £513,000
Copeland £675,000
Corby £1,030,000
Coventry North East £2,007,000
Coventry North West £1,349,000
Coventry South £1,591,000
Crawley £884,000
Crewe and Nantwich £1,085,000
Croydon Central £2,014,000
Croydon North £2,071,000
Croydon South £1,111,000
Dagenham and Rainham £1,922,000
Darlington £1,353,000
Dartford £875,000
Daventry £606,000
Denton and Reddish £1,062,000
Derby North £1,398,000
Derby South £1,833,000
Derbyshire Dales £343,000
Devizes £850,000
Dewsbury £1,365,000
Don Valley £1,293,000
Doncaster Central £1,397,000
Doncaster North £1,424,000
Dover £1,042,000
Dudley North £1,409,000
Dudley South £898,000
Dulwich and West Norwood £1,690,000
Ealing Central and Acton £1,146,000
Ealing North £2,155,000
Ealing, Southall £1,542,000
Easington £1,460,000
East Devon £551,000
East Ham £3,924,000
East Hampshire £499,000
East Surrey £577,000
East Worthing and Shoreham £617,000
East Yorkshire £869,000
Eastbourne £1,041,000
Eastleigh £641,000
Eddisbury £639,000
Edmonton £2,754,000
Ellesmere Port and Neston £924,000
Elmet and Rothwell £751,000
Eltham £1,894,000
Enfield North £2,777,000
Enfield, Southgate £986,000
Epping Forest £685,000
Epsom and Ewell £503,000
Erewash £1,075,000
Erith and Thamesmead £1,869,000
Esher and Walton £418,000
Exeter £884,000
Fareham £601,000
Faversham and Mid Kent £665,000
Feltham and Heston £1,731,000
Filton and Bradley Stoke £605,000
Finchley and Golders Green £1,165,000
Folkestone and Hythe £1,240,000
Forest of Dean £589,000
Fylde £469,000
Gainsborough £737,000
Garston and Halewood £1,665,000
Gateshead £1,318,000
Gedling £912,000
Gillingham and Rainham £1,055,000
Gloucester £1,363,000
Gosport £1,109,000
Grantham and Stamford £743,000
Gravesham £1,048,000
Great Grimsby £1,341,000
Great Yarmouth £1,223,000
Greenwich and Woolwich £1,721,000
Guildford £522,000
Hackney North and Stoke Newington £2,188,000
Hackney South and Shoreditch £2,662,000
Halesowen and Rowley Regis £1,006,000
Halifax £1,514,000
Haltemprice and Howden £685,000
Halton £2,039,000
Hammersmith £1,766,000
Hampstead and Kilburn £1,374,000
Harborough £687,000
Harlow £1,012,000
Harrogate and Knaresborough £510,000
Harrow East £1,337,000
Harrow West £1,065,000
Hartlepool £1,741,000
Harwich and North Essex £615,000
Hastings and Rye £1,548,000
Havant £1,144,000
Hayes and Harlington £1,887,000
Hazel Grove £602,000
Hemel Hempstead £991,000
Hemsworth £1,273,000
Hendon £1,926,000
Henley £461,000
Hereford and South Herefordshire £737,000
Hertford and Stortford £601,000
Hertsmere £841,000
Hexham £344,000
Heywood and Middleton £1,568,000
High Peak £662,000
Hitchin and Harpenden £450,000
Holborn and St Pancras £2,775,000
Hornchurch and Upminster £937,000
Hornsey and Wood Green £2,224,000
Horsham £314,000
Houghton and Sunderland South £1,162,000
Hove £863,000
Huddersfield £1,226,000
Huntingdon £802,000
Hyndburn £1,433,000
Ilford North £1,536,000
Ilford South £2,224,000
Ipswich £1,181,000
Isle of Wight £1,359,000
Islington North £2,658,000
Islington South and Finsbury £2,216,000
Jarrow £1,340,000
Keighley £978,000
Kenilworth and Southam £341,000
Kensington £1,140,000
Kettering £856,000
Kingston and Surbiton £768,000
Kingston upon Hull East £1,924,000
Kingston upon Hull North £1,623,000
Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle £1,266,000
Kingswood £699,000
Knowsley £2,390,000
Lancaster and Fleetwood £787,000
Leeds Central £2,489,000
Leeds East £1,971,000
Leeds North East £1,148,000
Leeds North West £607,000
Leeds West £1,520,000
Leicester East £1,651,000
Leicester South £1,709,000
Leicester West £1,988,000
Leigh £1,209,000
Lewes £587,000
Lewisham East £1,544,000
Lewisham West and Penge £1,756,000
Lewisham, Deptford £1,684,000
Leyton and Wanstead £1,653,000
Lichfield £598,000
Lincoln £1,159,000
Liverpool, Riverside £1,440,000
Liverpool, Walton £2,360,000
Liverpool, Wavertree £1,759,000
Liverpool, West Derby £1,653,000
Loughborough £758,000
Louth and Horncastle £912,000
Ludlow £443,000
Luton North £1,981,000
Luton South £1,638,000
Macclesfield £506,000
Maidenhead £468,000
Maidstone and The Weald £764,000
Makerfield £966,000
Maldon £458,000
Manchester Central £2,804,000
Manchester, Gorton £2,530,000
Manchester, Withington £1,588,000
Mansfield £1,391,000
Meon Valley £423,000
Meriden £1,459,000
Mid Bedfordshire £472,000
Mid Derbyshire £417,000
Mid Dorset and North Poole £538,000
Mid Norfolk £748,000
Mid Sussex £372,000
Mid Worcestershire £599,000
Middlesbrough £2,770,000
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland £1,231,000
Milton Keynes North £1,118,000
Milton Keynes South £1,427,000
Mitcham and Morden £1,184,000
Mole Valley £324,000
Morecambe and Lunesdale £1,057,000
Morley and Outwood £800,000
New Forest East £617,000
New Forest West £424,000
Newark £678,000
Newbury £644,000
Newcastle upon Tyne Central £1,876,000
Newcastle upon Tyne East £1,322,000
Newcastle upon Tyne North £1,016,000
Newcastle-under-Lyme £851,000
Newton Abbot £732,000
Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford £1,222,000
North Cornwall £696,000
North Devon £811,000
North Dorset £598,000
North Durham £1,067,000
North East Bedfordshire £623,000
North East Cambridgeshire £1,013,000
North East Derbyshire £688,000
North East Hampshire £390,000
North East Hertfordshire £642,000
North East Somerset £533,000
North Herefordshire £507,000
North Norfolk £513,000
North Shropshire £786,000
North Somerset £424,000
North Swindon £1,016,000
North Thanet £1,038,000
North Tyneside £1,287,000
North Warwickshire £777,000
North West Cambridgeshire £1,259,000
North West Durham £937,000
North West Hampshire £611,000
North West Leicestershire £648,000
North West Norfolk £855,000
North Wiltshire £586,000
Northampton North £1,472,000
Northampton South £859,000
Norwich North £911,000
Norwich South £1,139,000
Nottingham East £1,641,000
Nottingham North £2,464,000
Nottingham South £1,249,000
Nuneaton £995,000
Old Bexley and Sidcup £518,000
Oldham East and Saddleworth £1,489,000
Oldham West and Royton £2,466,000
Orpington £650,000
Oxford East £1,247,000
Oxford West and Abingdon £621,000
Pendle £1,096,000
Penistone and Stocksbridge £591,000
Penrith and The Border £398,000
Peterborough £1,731,000
Plymouth, Moor View £1,728,000
Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport £1,224,000
Poole £584,000
Poplar and Limehouse £3,772,000
Portsmouth North £1,364,000
Portsmouth South £1,274,000
Preston £1,204,000
Pudsey £715,000
Putney £1,070,000
Rayleigh and Wickford £513,000
Reading East £632,000
Reading West £1,357,000
Redcar £1,485,000
Redditch £958,000
Reigate £526,000
Ribble Valley £515,000
Richmond (Yorks) £880,000
Richmond Park £679,000
Rochdale £2,283,000
Rochester and Strood £941,000
Rochford and Southend East £1,267,000
Romford £852,000
Romsey and Southampton North £637,000
Rossendale and Darwen £1,084,000
Rother Valley £996,000
Rotherham £1,540,000
Rugby £683,000
Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner £846,000
Runnymede and Weybridge £537,000
Rushcliffe £545,000
Rutland and Melton £496,000
Saffron Walden £435,000
Salford and Eccles £1,809,000
Salisbury £561,000
Scarborough and Whitby £1,038,000
Scunthorpe £1,273,000
Sedgefield £1,147,000
Sefton Central £762,000
Selby and Ainsty £540,000
Sevenoaks £514,000
Sheffield Central £987,000
Sheffield South East £837,000
Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough £2,338,000
Sheffield, Hallam £546,000
Sheffield, Heeley £1,289,000
Sherwood £882,000
Shipley £848,000
Shrewsbury and Atcham £737,000
Sittingbourne and Sheppey £1,375,000
Skipton and Ripon £446,000
Sleaford and North Hykeham £764,000
Slough £1,667,000
Solihull £673,000
Somerton and Frome £668,000
South Basildon and East Thurrock £1,300,000
South Cambridgeshire £543,000
South Derbyshire £607,000
South Dorset £797,000
South East Cambridgeshire £641,000
South East Cornwall £718,000
South Holland and The Deepings £715,000
South Leicestershire £469,000
South Norfolk £533,000
South Northamptonshire £495,000
South Ribble £688,000
South Shields £1,660,000
South Staffordshire £528,000
South Suffolk £565,000
South Swindon £1,068,000
South Thanet £1,166,000
South West Bedfordshire £846,000
South West Devon £735,000
South West Hertfordshire £435,000
South West Norfolk £896,000
South West Surrey £486,000
South West Wiltshire £770,000
Southampton, Itchen £1,501,000
Southampton, Test £1,212,000
Southend West £769,000
Southport £677,000
Spelthorne £665,000
St Albans £655,000
St Austell and Newquay £890,000
St Helens North £1,572,000
St Helens South and Whiston £1,284,000
St Ives £776,000
Stafford £658,000
Staffordshire Moorlands £513,000
Stalybridge and Hyde £1,309,000
Stevenage £1,020,000
Stockport £907,000
Stockton North £1,375,000
Stockton South £1,179,000
Stoke-on-Trent Central £1,245,000
Stoke-on-Trent North £1,652,000
Stoke-on-Trent South £1,295,000
Stone £419,000
Stourbridge £865,000
Stratford-on-Avon £442,000
Streatham £1,800,000
Stretford and Urmston £1,176,000
Stroud £536,000
Suffolk Coastal £527,000
Sunderland Central £1,405,000
Surrey Heath £587,000
Sutton and Cheam £665,000
Sutton Coldfield £749,000
Tamworth £1,035,000
Tatton £436,000
Taunton Deane £793,000
Telford £1,676,000
Tewkesbury £747,000
The Cotswolds £448,000
The Wrekin £923,000
Thirsk and Malton £512,000
Thornbury and Yate £448,000
Thurrock £1,618,000
Tiverton and Honiton £614,000
Tonbridge and Malling £657,000
Tooting £1,310,000
Torbay £1,021,000
Torridge and West Devon £690,000
Totnes £757,000
Tottenham £2,935,000
Truro and Falmouth £668,000
Tunbridge Wells £546,000
Twickenham £739,000
Tynemouth £989,000
Uxbridge and South Ruislip £1,326,000
Vauxhall £2,001,000
Wakefield £1,001,000
Wallasey £1,980,000
Walsall North £1,940,000
Walsall South £1,753,000
Walthamstow £2,151,000
Wansbeck £1,184,000
Wantage £653,000
Warley £1,985,000
Warrington North £918,000
Warrington South £728,000
Warwick and Leamington £644,000
Washington and Sunderland West £1,701,000
Watford £762,000
Waveney £1,111,000
Wealden £475,000
Weaver Vale £1,111,000
Wellingborough £1,043,000
Wells £598,000
Welwyn Hatfield £820,000
Wentworth and Dearne £1,438,000
West Bromwich East £1,412,000
West Bromwich West £1,506,000
West Dorset £610,000
West Ham £4,429,000
West Lancashire £1,081,000
West Suffolk £668,000
West Worcestershire £590,000
Westminster North £2,512,000
Westmorland and Lonsdale £295,000
Weston-Super-Mare £1,165,000
Wigan £1,239,000
Wimbledon £657,000
Winchester £546,000
Windsor £460,000
Wirral South £888,000
Wirral West £883,000
Witham £526,000
Witney £613,000
Woking £596,000
Wokingham £467,000
Wolverhampton North East £1,732,000
Wolverhampton South East £1,863,000
Wolverhampton South West £1,018,000
Worcester £1,000,000
Workington £710,000
Worsley and Eccles South £1,637,000
Worthing West £460,000
Wycombe £665,000
Wyre and Preston North £646,000
Wyre Forest £918,000
Wythenshawe and Sale East £1,895,000
Yeovil £847,000
York Central £757,000
York Outer £451,000

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Tory MP David Amess doesn’t like women smiling

Yes that’s right folks. The man who represented me when I lived in Southend West has been on the attack this week. With so many huge issues flying around about Libya, NHS reforms, Jobs etc… what is at the forefront of David Amess’ mind? You guessed it. It is the fact that female newsreaders on the BBC smile too much.

Now this wasn’t just an off the cuff remark to a journalist this was in a debate in the House of Commons. The MP for my now neighbouring constituency stood up in the House and said about the female news on-air talent:

“I don’t know whether we have brilliant presenters.

“I would just say that it annoys me when one or two female presenters, I don’t know whether they’ve had too much botox or something, when they are presenting the news and it’s a very serious subject, they are smiling, which I find slightly annoying.”

Are you freaking kidding me? On the face of it without a doubt it is just a flat out dumb thing to say. Sophie Raworth and Fiona Bruce are both clearly first-rate newsreaders so if he’s talking about them then he’s clearly a little bit loopy. I’m not a huge Kate Silverton guy but she’s certainly fine at what she does. I just think it’s an insane thiong to come out and say in parliament. Obviously he has an axe to grind with the BBC but do you want to know the worse thing?

Anyone who lives in this area will know that David Amess smiles all the bleedin’ time whenever a camera is near him whatever the situation. He is like how Gordon Brown was trying to be when he took over as PM. The moment a camera was on him the cheesy fake smile would come out only Amess can pull it off and makes it look quite natural. So basically he is slagging off the BBC’s female on-air news talent for doing something that he himself does. If anyone is ever in the area then pick up a local rag and the chances of you seeing his cheery mug in there are pretty high.

I haven’t met Amess but I have heard to give him his due that he is a pretty decent local MP. Obviously I wanted my boy Peter Welch to win and despite increasing the Lib Dem vote by 5.4% it wasn’t to be. Amess is a long-standing politician in the area and it seems as though he has a job for life. Yet another reason why our FPTP system is antiquated although the best example of that is Nadine Dorries as I have a horrific fear she’ll still be in the Commons by the time Portsmouth rise once more into the top flight of English football – and that isn’t happening any time soon.

So shame on Amess for saying this. All it does is take away from his points on the BBC and those sad little comments are all anyone will pick up on. As for Peter Welch who got beat by Amess last time around. I think we’ll see him rise again and represent the Lib Dems somewhere significant….

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Southend Council Car Parking profits soar majestically as the motorist gets screwed over yet again.

We have all had a moan about how much car parking costs these days. When a friend and I pop into town for all you can eat Chinese as we do for lunch every so often we park in a residential area because it’s free and walk ten minutes into town. The cost of parking your car even for a few minutes is obscene and people wonder why folks are being driven to out of town shopping centres where parking in generally free and why in town shops have been suffering all over the country for a fair while now.

Well a The Rambles of Neil Monnery investigation has resulted in the aforementioned website gaining a copy of the accounts for car parking costs/profits in the town. You can download the Excel file here to have a look in greater detail yourself.

As you can see from the spreadsheet should you have downloaded it the income raised through car parking charges has from from £1.317million in 2000 to £3.194million in 2009. This growth has been nearly fully subsidised by a rise in car parking income and not by a reduction in costs. Whilst 2009 was the lowest in terms of costs it was only £313,000 cheaper than in 2000. The huge fall in outlay in costs can be seen between 2008 and 2009 where clearly there was a conscious effort to reduce outlay with over £500,000 saved on this front.

Another clear revenue stream has been the increase of on street car parking charges. From 2000-2007 there was a small increase year on year in the income generated from these charges but in 2008 it rose by just under £200,000 and then in 2009 it more than doubled to a gross income of £1.334million. The costs too have increase mainly to add all the new areas that have to be patrolled for those who aren’t paying car parking charges and of course there is a cost to create these new car parking areas as well. The profits in on street car parking for Southend Council rose from £207,000 to £635,000 from 2000 through to 2009. It will be interesting to see how the accounts stack up over the next couple of years now that the expansion of pay and display has reached near saturation point.

It is the on street boom in car parking charges that has led to the rise in profits generated for the Council. The off-street profits have been relatively stable although the Council saw a significant dip in 2009 from £4.5million in 2008 to £3.8million in 2009. This is either because of the rise in off street parking or the fact that less people are now driving their cars into the town centre or other car parks where you have to pay and display. The reasons the profits soared still on the off street part of the business is the dramatic slashing of costs – from a decade high number of £2.25million in 2002 through to 2008 where there was a cost of £1.990m to the Council only to see that cost get reduced by over a million in 2009 where the costs for off street car park management was a paltry £981k.

This shows that the whole department has been heavily bloated for some time that you can reduce your costs by over a half and still increase your profits if not your turn over. One thing is pretty clear from these accounts is that Southend Council (I suspect like most other Council’s) see the motorist as an easy target to engineer profits. To make over three million a year just through car parking shows that the days when you could park for free anywhere or even a nominal amount have long gone. The motorists are taxed heavily on fuel, they have to get taxed on just having a car and now they are getting screwed over heavily if they want to actually go anywhere and park their car. It makes me glad that I don’t drive…

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Local Lib Dem activist dies after dinghy accident

It is with sadness that I can now confirm that the man pulled from a capsized dinghy off Chalkwell was 78 year-old local Lib Dem activist Michael Woolcott.

Mr Woolcott died in hospital having failed to regain conciousness after being dragged from the sea by a passing jogger. The 78 year-old had been active on the local political scene for quite some time and had stood in numerous council elections as well as canvassing for other council candidates and parliamentary candidates.

As someone new to the local Lib Dem scene I personally did not know him but e-mail I have received today show him to have been a man of extremely good character and one that will be missed. If any local Lib Dems to the Southend area want to share their thoughts on Michael then please leave a comment or e-mail me using the e-mail link at the top of the right-hand column.

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Southend Airport set for two more airlines this autumn

Two more airlines are set to join EasyJet as the expansion of Southend Airport is reaching second gear. The Southend Echo are reporting today that Join Airlines and ViaTriskel both have ambitious plans to run flights out of London’s sixth airport.

The Dutch airline Join Airlines plan to have a route map including destinations such as Manchester, Amsterdam, Cologne and Bonn in Germany, Caen in France and Gronningen in northern Holland. Whilst ViaTriskel which hasn’t even started operating yet has a route map plan from Southend of Amsterdam, Cologne, Alsace, Chateauroux, Caen, Devon and Cornwall, Waterford, Dublin and Liverpool. The company plans of being based in three airports of which Southend will be the third behind Chateauroux in France and Waterford in Ireland.

As I blogged about a few days ago The airport expansion is the biggest issue on the doorstep in Southend West and it is not all one way. Some are pro but the majority are against the plans. However the expansion now looks set to go through and residents objections have been ignored.

This ongoing story will be one of the most important politically speaking in the west side of the town throughout the next few years. It is certainly one to keep an eye on. If the Lib Dems want to make progress they might have to find a strong position against the expansion of the airport as without a doubt they are the party on the defence in this town at the moment whilst the independents attack and the Tories consolidate. Labour are an after thought.

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The biggest issue on the doorstep in Southend is Southend Airport and we have big news on that…

If you are a resident in Southend (certainly in Southend West) then you probably have a very strong opinion one way or the other on the proposed expansion of Southend Airport. The once major airport has fallen rapidly in recent decades and now can only to said to be a small regional airport. However for years it has been mooted that the airport was going to expand and news today that it will be the new home of EasyJet shows that it will indeed happen and they are serious about this expansion.

Now personally speaking the airport’s expansion will have very little direct impact on my life. I do not live under the flight path and will not be after any of the 300 or so jobs that the expansion will create. 300 jobs seems low to me for such a major project. This is as always a polarising issue as there are some people who welcome the opportunity for new jobs both in the expansion of the airport and with the airlane but there are those who do not want the noise of planes going overhead. The flight path will go over some 20,000 homes and will obviously impact house prices to some degree.

The fact that one of the three routes already announced by EasyJet of Southend-Ibiza is telling. I can certainly see from a business point of view smaller airlines moving their operations away from the big airports and towards these satellite airports that are still within an hour of the capital by either car or train. For the local area it would be best served for the airport to expand. I have little doubts about that. If Southend Airport was to become the main hub for EasyJet and potentially other airlanes then jobs would grow both within the airport but also for businesses outside the airport to supply goods and services to the staff and passengers of the airport.

Southend as an area has a bad rap but I have lived in this area on and off now for the best part of three years. If they re-branded this coastline as the Essex Riviera then I think it would do wonders. Essex as a whole has a reputation and it is not valid across the whole of the county. Yes there are areas that are slightly worse than others but that is the same everywhere you go. Those who watch The Only Way Is Essex need to understand that whilst the show is real, it is not an accurate portrayal of Essex life. Southend itself is not a bad town at all with some extremely nice areas. The influx of a major airport will attract more business to come with it.

Whilst house prices may be hit in the short-term by the flight path issue, it needs to be noted that if the airport becomes a significant player in the short-haul flight game then the whole area will benefit from more jobs and business. This in turn will raise house prices as it will become a place where people will want to move for work purposes.

Personally I don’t care either way and I can see both sides of the issue. Still I do know that when I go clubbing in Ibiza I won’t have far to travel to get on a plane. Yeah me in Ibiza…

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