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Month: May 2012

Southend Council are discussing streaming full meetings live on the internet

There has been some chatter amongst the Southend politico blogosphere in the past fortnight or so about having the council meetings streamed on the internet so people can watch what is going down at the Civic Centre for full meetings of the council.

I think we can all safely say that it is the most excellent idea. I know some will they that those who are seriously interested will go down to the Civic and watch and listen in the public gallery but in reality if it was available at the home or on the move then many more would take an interest. Even if it doesn’t it will give more access to those who are interested and they can then holds councillors to account via some of the excellent politico blogs in the town.

Ms Jack Monroe has blogged today that in the local rag last night it was reported that this could be on the cards for Southend Council. I haven’t read the piece and I can’t nip out and get a copy as I can’t leave the apartment as I’m awaiting the DX who are supposedly going to deliver my passport today after they ‘tried’ yesterday but that attempt involved not buzzing the intercom or phoning me and they didn’t even both to leave a calling card – I only knew because they text me to say they had tried to delivery at 10:23AM when I was in fact up and about so I can’t leave the apartment as if I did they would most surely come then. So I haven’t read the piece (and it isn’t on the online version of the rag) but from what I gather it isn’t a proposal yet but it is something that is under discussion.

She is very much down with it as you can see and on the other side of the political spectrum two Tories have also blogged positively about the idea. Both Cllr. Tony Cox and 2012 candidate Del Thomas are positive about the discussion about this potentially happening going forward. One man who isn’t though is new councillor Cllr. Julian Ware-Lane who is worried about the cost.

Like everything it comes down to the dollar dollar bills y’all but in reality the cost would be negligible and it would be far less than what the council are spending on Diamond Jubilee medals for the kids of the town which to me is a bit of a joke. I’m a monarchist. I have no problem is saying that but this is just a flat out waste of money. Sadly a lot of things the council do is a waste of money. If more people were holding the councillors to account then maybe the councillors wouldn’t keep making dumb decisions with our money.

So it would cost a few quid to set up. Big deal. Just having it there and knowing that they were being scrutinised by many more sets of eyes and ears than they were befre would easily repay the (very low) start-up costs. You can stream on the internet for free and there is wifi already set up at the Civic so the cost of a camera and maybe some microphones strategically placed around the council chamber and that would be it.

Money is always important but this will pay for itself within a year – of that I have little doubt. It will also make politics more accessible to people who cannot go to the council meetings due to having children or being disabled or elderly or whatever. Anything that makes politics available to the wider audience is a positive and at such a low start-up cost and the positives that would come of this makes it – to me – a no brainer and if this discussion turns into a proposal then I’d be very disappointed if people voted against it.

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City AM helps us answer the question of whether we want hot food for lunch VAT style…

In this morning’s City AM they help answer the lunchtime conundrum of what to have for lunch. Some of us like our hot food but what do we pay VAT on? Please read below and all shall be revealed…

City AM Pasty VAT flow chart
Do you want hot food for lunch today...?

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Politics but not that kind of politics…

Many of you reading this will know that this blog talks about politics a lot but politics isn’t just confined to political parties or elected officials but politics can also describe what is going on in my apartment block at the moment.

I live in a nice, quiet block of 24 dwellings in Thorpe Bay in Southend-on-Sea. I have lived here for two years now and I like it here. However there has been a cold war between certain people and that is reaching its peak and whilst I was away wondering where the hell the fountain in Waterlooville precinct had gone (seriously that is just mad – I know I briefly wrote about it yesterday but that is mad) but anyway whilst I was doing that there was a bit of a shin-dig in our communal area and it hasn’t gone down well with some others who live here.

The block is pretty much split with many retired people who own their properties and many younger professionals who rent. It is near enough an even split but the younger renters actually do outnumber the retired folk although they get zero say in how the apartment block is managed.

On Saturday the (I’m told and there is no dispute) event went on to nigh on midnight and was rather loud and involved plenty of loud swearing. This caused complaints and now there is a movement by one section of the residents to get rid of the communal area and BBQ and replace it with more plants. This is an attempt to stop people gathering in the communal area at any time of day and to basically made the block into a quiet residential (retirement?) block in my view however as I only rent I have no say in anything that happens.

There are two paid directors who manage the building and they are split on this. One wants the whole area to go whilst the other is less sure. The one who wants it to go says that if it doesn’t go then they will. It is politics on a real subject at a very local level. Should there be a communal area in an apartment block? Some say yes but some say no. It is all rather dramatic and should it go then the dynamic of the block would change.

I’m firmly in the ‘there is room for compromise’ camp. The communal area and BBQ can stay as long as people agree to move things into their own apartments at a certain time. The lease agreement says 11PM but some say that is too late and want that time brought forward to 8:30 or 9PM, which to me is too early. I’m no party animal but I have no problem with people having a shin-dig but again I’m not allowed a say in these matters.

I have taken a video which I have embedded below to show the communal area as a whole to show what it is like and I think it certainly shows that we don’t need any more plants. It is sad that it has got to a stage where it has to be one thing or the other. Compromise should not be a dirty word and there is room for both groups of people to be happy but it seems like the line has been drawn into the sand so we’ll see what happens.

Politics is real folks in all forms of life…

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Why the UK Uncut mob were selfish in their protest outside Nick Clegg’s home on Saturday

I was sunning myself in Jubilee Park and wandering through Waterlooville Town Centre on Saturday afternoon mostly wondering where the hell the fountain had gone and when I got back to my sisters she asked me if I had heard about the protest outside Nick Clegg’s house. I hadn’t and with no internet at my sisters and no 3G (how do people live in such conditions?) I wouldn’t get up to speed on the issue until the best part of 48 hours after it had started.

So having read up on the issues I’ll say that the UK Uncut mob weren’t doing anything illegal or nasty but they once more showed themselves to be the selfish lot we have all seen before. They think they speak for everyone but we all know that isn’t the case. No-one can speak for everyone. A few weeks ago I got tweets from people attacking me for what the Southend Liberal Democrat Councillors did. Now unless the count saw a monumental cock-up I am not a Southend Lib Dem Councillor but several people thought because I was a candidate that I was fair game for abuse on situations that I had no control over or say in. That is idiotic and so is the claims by K Uncut that they speak for everyone and/or the majority of people.

So I have established (well I haven’t but I have said) that the protests didn’t do anything wrong per se but what they did do was cause distress to people who weren’t the target of the protest. Nick Clegg and his family have neighbours and some of them probably don’t like Nick Clegg so thought ‘good on you’ but others will have seen their kids upset and scared by all the kerfuffle outside where they lived. Do the UK Uncut mob think of anyone else or did they just not think of possible collateral damage?

They clearly thought that Clegg’s three boys were fair game otherwise they wouldn’t have protested outside his home and would have caught him somewhere away from his kids. That was pretty disgusting in itself but it effects other people and other children as well.

Two of my excellent Lib Dem colleagues have already blogged about this (well probably more than two have but I have read these two) The 2012 bookies favourite for Lib Dem Blogger of the Year Caron Lindsay has written UK Uncut should not have been protesting at Nick Clegg’s house and the man who won best new Lib Dem Blog last year and was later than Nick Clegg to the interview with the man himself Richard Morris is taking stick over at The New Statesman for his piece entitled Targeting Clegg’s family home was plain wrong. Both are worth a click and a read if you want more views on this subject.

I am going to write about another situation though and try to draw some parallels. Sometimes you do things that you don’t see as a problem but others might and the example I am going to use is nudity. I live alone and work from home. I also don’t tend to wear too many clothes if the weather is nice around my apartment. I have no problem with nudity but I understand that others might and therefore I don’t go outside in the nip or sunbathe with no clothes on in my patio area. I also don’t have the patio doors open in general (my patio backs on to the communal area) if I’m in my birthday suit and if I do then the curtains will be shut. If I’m cooking or washing up or whatever then I’ll ensure I pull down the blind in the kitchen.

‘But wait – being seen in the nip is indecent exposure’ I hear you cry. Well actually it isn’t. It is generally believed so but it is a common misconception. According to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 Section 66:


A person commits an offence if—

(a)he intentionally exposes his genitals, and

(b)he intends that someone will see them and be caused alarm or distress.

So walking around my apartment naked might get point a but it would never get point b. I would never intend to cause alarm or distress to anyone by seeing me sans clothes but just to be sure and because I’m not selfless I will close curtains/blinds if I think there is any possible chance of someone seeing me and inadvertently causing them distress. So even though being naked in the home and being seen isn’t illegal unless you intend to be seen and intend to cause alarm and distress I will not put people in this situation because I think of others. This is where the UK Uncut mob differ from me as they didn’t think of others and only themselves and their desperate attack on Nick Clegg.

I’ll end with from quotes from a piece in the Telegraph with my rebuttals in normal text:

Jean Sandler, 42, a UK Uncut supporter, said: “Nick Clegg is one of the architects of austerity; he’s a millionaire and lives in a million pound home.

Did you know that his wife is extremely successful and earns way more than Nick Clegg? No. No you didn’t did you Jean?

“The cuts are a political choice of this Government and the Cabinet of out of touch millionaires, they are not necessary.

Yes they are a choice. We could choose this or we could choose ignoring the debt and going the way of Greece. Everyone would have cut. No-one wouldn’t have cut it is just a question of how much and in all honesty the difference because how it is being done now and how Labour would have cut isn’t exactly a chasm.

“No one voted for Cameron and Clegg’s disastrous plan that means that we end up paying for the banks’ crisis.

Well actually more MPs did than didn’t. We vote in MPs to make the decisions on our behalf. Not every Bill goes before a national vote. That is how our democracy works…

“These cruel cuts are designed to destroy our public services, the NHS, the welfare state and our future.

What bullshit. I’m guessing the sun was affecting this man/woman – heck Jean could be either so I’m not guessing here.

“The cuts are getting personal and so are our protests.”

So this person is basically saying that you can get personal as long as you believe you are in the right. Er…not too sure that is the best way to go. History has taught us that much.

Why do UK Uncut let people talk for them who are clearly deluded or is that just par for the course of many within this movement?

I think that is a good question to end this on. I’m going to get a drink but I’m wearing underwear so no concerns about indecent exposure.

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My feelings on the flag of St. George

This post is being written on my iPhone on the move so please excuse the typos

I’m sitting on a surprisingly cool train having had a great run through the underground and am actually thirty minutes ahead of schedule. I can hear three things. I can hear the air con which is mist certainly welcome. I can hear the tip tapping of the keypad as I have the headphones in and the reason I have the headphones in is so that I can hear Aggers and chums on Test Match Special although at the moment nothing is coming through as I’m on a train and trains often go through zones where there is no 3G. Sad times.

So anyway the point of this blog post. I was travelling between Upminster and Barking about an hour ago and I saw lots of flags in gardens and I kinda shuddered in a disapproving way and then I thought to myself why had I done this?

I suppose I don’t link the flag of St. George to anything good. I link the flag of St. George to the BNP and the people who are at best xenophobic and at worse racist. The union jack I still link to sport and am proud of. I shouldn’t feel this way and it saddens me that I do but I feel as though the flag of St. George is not a symbol of Englishness but in fact a symbol of people who dislike anyone who isn’t English.

I wonder how others feel when they see the flag of St. George flying from a car or from a window or even from a flag post in someone’s garden? Do they feel the same as me or am I abnormal and looking into this a wee bit too deeply?

The flag of England should be something that we are all proud of but to me it just a symbol of those who dislike foreigners and as someone who loves our multiculturalism then it is something that instead of helping my national pride in fact does the exact opposite.

The flag to me has become a symbol of all that is wrong with England instead of all that is right.

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Reasons why people are jerks #118

Last night I am ambling along the seafront between Thorpe Bay and Shoeburyness minding my own business relatively happy. I was walking home because my stomach has decided food was needed and I went to cross over the road. My iPod was in and on and I’m waiting to cross the road and a car cruises past me. I know once this car passes I’m going to start the arduous journey across the two yards to the traffic island.

So I am preparing to cross the road (I am really padding out this tale aren’t I?) and as this car goes past me the young fellow in the front passengers seat leans and and screams at me and then as he drives off I hear a car full of laughs. This is by no means the first time this has happened to me. No doubt it has happened to the majority of people who are reading this too.

I just wonder what the point of this is. Is it to show off and prove to the people that you are with that you are a big jerk? If so then they are successful but I suspect somehow that isn’t the primary goal of these people.

This type of behaviour really grinds my gears as Peter Griffin would say. What if the person they do it to is someone with a weak heart and they have a turn? What if by doing this they distract someone to the point where they step out into traffic?

Some people just act like jerks and this is just an example.

I sound rather grumpy today don’t I?

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Labour MPs openly mocking the disabled MP Paul Maynard

I know this story is way old but I’ve only just come across it and my blood as they say is boiling…

This lunchtime I was watching Prime Ministers Questions. Nothing new or exciting in that. The Prime Minister was getting a battering from Ed Miliband which shows just how poor the PM’s performance was. However this isn’t was drew my ire. When Paul Maynard, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys stood up and asked a question I looked and listened to him and I straight away thought to myself that he suffered from cerebral palsy and I smiled that someone suffering from this has made it into the Chamber.

So I googled him to check and indeed he does. As someone who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a kid it is always good to see that disability is no barrier. My disability was limited to physical issues whereas this MP also has to deal with a speech defect. As far as my knowledge of my situation goes I had the exact same issue – the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck during birth thus starving my brain of oxygen causing the damage.

So I’m sitting here quite happy and content but then I read more. During his first speech in the House it seems as though a number of Labour MPs were openly mocking him because of his defect. Are you fucking kidding me? All the MPs accused said that they did nothing of the sort but senior Labour MPs who witnessed the attack were not amused.

Mr Maynard said: ‘They were constantly intervening, trying to put me off my stride, which may be normal parliamentary tactics.

‘But some were pulling faces at me, really exaggerated gesticulations and faces.

‘Only they know for certain whether they were taking the mick out of my disability. But it certainly felt like it. That is why politics is held in such low esteem.’

I don’t expect much from MPs but one thing I do expect is that they act is a decent manner. It doesn’t cost anything to have manners and common courtesy but mocking a guys disability, is this really what we expect from our elected officials?

A senior Labour MP told The Mail on Sunday (in the piece): ‘What they did was disgusting. It was obvious that Paul was upset but they sensed a weakness and went for the kill like a pack of hyenas.’

Outraged Labour MP Lindsay Hoyle, the Deputy Speaker, tried to protect Mr Maynard from the jibes and told Mr Hamilton to order Labour MPs to stop tormenting him.

I know this story is well over a year old and nothing more has happened but why did it have to happen in the first place? I despite anyone who mocks people for their disabilities. I dislike Harry Redknapp as much as the next Pompey fan but I cringe every time I hear people calling him ‘twitchy’ following the car accident he was involved that caused the death of a man. Attack people for what they say and what they do but never mock someone for the way they say whatever they say if there is a reason behind it.

I hope the MPs involved spoke to Paul Maynard and apologised for their disgusting behaviour. After the Eric Joyce rejoicing in the fact he is a thug you have to wonder about how some Labour MPs get elected (I know Eric has been kicked out of Labour now). I think even in proper red rose country openly mocking disabled people would lead to the electorate questioning whether they wanted to vote for such a person.

I am fuming.

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A bad error of judgement by the Southend Lib Dems

Not sure this will go down well with the locals but heck facts are facts. Holding on to the three defending seats at the locals was solid albeit our thanks must be given to the UK Independence Party for fielding candidates in Blenheim Park and Prittlewell wards. That is not what this blog post is about.

A week later the council had to vote for a new leader after Cllr Holdcroft resigned following the Tories losing control of the chamber. He always knew he would win re-election due to the two facts of a Lib Dem Councillor being absent from the chamber and the mayor’s casting vote – and the mayor was always going Tory so he couldn’t lose. However the way the vote went down was bad for the Lib Dems.

The decision was made to abstain from this vote. No Lib Dem put themselves forward to be part of the vote and they didn’t want to endorse either Cllr. Holdcroft (Con) or Cllr. Woodley (Ind). Abstaining is in this member and voters opinion bullshit. You are elected to actually make a decision and not sit on the fence.

If we didn’t want to endorse either of the two candidates then put up our own. However the Lib Dems voted the numbers due to the absence of a councillor and the casting vote of the mayor meant that the result was a foregone conclusion but don’t do nothing. Big props to Cllr. Morgan who did vote and voted for Cllr. Woodley. He was the only Lib Dem to actually vote and has (rightly) received much praise for doing so.

Look I am a Lib Dem and some may say this is disloyal but they made a monumental cock-up here. Did they believe that by abstaining they might be putting themselves in a better position to get a cabinet portfolio due to the minority administration? That is the only way that this plan of action could be defended surely but it didn’t tuirn out that way.

With the news that Cllr. Woodley and his fellow Independent councillors here in Thorpe have entered into an understanding with the Tories to help vote through what the Tories want for specific benefits for Thorpe ward. A wonderful piece of work by Cllr. Woodley it must be said as he has outmanoeuvred more seasoned local politicians comprehensively.

Some have argued how the residents of Thorpe might feel that these independents that they voted in have an understanding with the Tories well lets be honest – they’ll love it. Thorpe is true blue and they’ll love the idea that their councillors have got extra benefits for the ward at the cost of supporting the Conservative administration. I live in Thorpe and I’ll enjoy these extra benefits not that Thorpe needs them. It would be so much more preferable if these extra benefits went to other areas of the town like Westborough, Kursaal, St. Lukes etc… where any extra money should be ploughed into.

I hope the Lib Dems on the Council learn from this. They were outmanoeuvred and in the public eye showed that they won’t vote against a deposed Tory administration. I know they couldn’t defeat the Tories anyway due to the member being absent and the fact an independent also decided to abstain but sitting on your hands and doing nothing.

That isn’t what the public expect and no surprise that the party have taken a kicking in the local media and in the blogosphere. Even in my local Indian last night the management were stunned that the Lib Dems had abstained from voting in the leadership vote (they knew I was a candidate so asked wtf the Lib Dems were thinking).

However there was one piece of good news coming out of the party in the past fortnight. After the sad passing of Nigel Lancaster it has been decided that Cllr. Betson will be the new chairperson of the Chalkwell/Prittlewell/Westborough Lib Dem group. I have a lot of time for Mary and having spoken to her I do believe she will re-energise the group. Changes need to happen across the town for the Lib Dems to prosper because if we continue down this road then in five years time the Lib Dems will be the fourth ‘party’ in the town.

Happily others recognise this as well. However as Cllr. Betson said just the other night ‘we always have these good intentions but we never see them through’ well this time we really have to otherwise Southend is set for many years of Tory control with help from a select group of independents who’ll self-serve their own ward and not the town as a whole.

I suspect this won’t go down well somehow but one thing I am is honest. The Lib Dems made an error of judgement here and hopefully they will have learnt from this and can continue to do many good things.

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Nick Knight is still the Sky Sports Test cricket weak link

I have written before about how great the Sky Sports coverage is but the piece wasn’t just about praise. It was entitled Why mess with nigh-on perfection? *glares at Sky Sports Test Cricket* and the main crux of the issue was the addition of Nick Knight to the rotation of commentators for Sky Sports Test Cricket coverage.

Well the summer Test season started on Thursday and sadly for this (and many cricket fans) Nick Knight is still on the team. I don’t know Nick Knight and I certainly don’t have any personal vendetta against him but the truth is he just doesn’t fit in with the rest of the team. I saw a great tweet yesterday which said ‘Nick Knight just talks too much and likes the sound of his own voice’ which I think is bang on the money.

Cricket is a sport where you don’t really have play-by-play commentary. Instead you have chat about the game and of course those chats are known to shall we say get off the subject. It is part of what makes cricket coverage great and TMS do it just as well as the radio and around the Globe the teams are known to just chat cricket and whatever else takes their fancy. It is a huge part of why the coverage is different to many other sports and it is something we all enjoy.

People like talking about cake on TMS. They like hearing about Bumble’s missing lawnmower. They like Michael Holding talking about not trusting a bungee rope just as much as they do him talking about how awfully the West Indies Cricket Board have treated Jerome Taylor. The six of them – Gower, Holding, Botham, Hussain, Lloyd and Atherton just work despite Botham being a distinct notch below the other five.

Atherton is becoming the new Benaud and he does this not by talking a lot but by saying insightful things. It is quality over quantity when it comes of cricket commentary on the TV. It really is. Also there is a feeling that Nick Knight – a man who didn’t even average 24 in Test cricket – isn’t the right man to talk about players who were far better than him with regards to their technique. You can understand any of the other six discussing it but it just doesn’t work from Knight.

I get the feeling that he tries just a little bit too hard to be smarter and more insightful than the other guys but it just doesn’t come off. If Sky need an extra voice bring back Paul Allott to the Test rotation as he has an easy style to listen to. Shane Warne has been involved recently and if Sky could bring him on board full-time like they have with Michael Holding then that seven man team would be out of this world.

As for Nick Knight he needs to learn to talk less and remember the pictures tell the story and he is there to add to the story not to tell the story again. That is his biggest problem in this Sky Sports Cricket viewers opinion.

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When Sol went up to lift the FA Cup I was there…I was there

Four years ago at this very moment I was sitting (or possibly standing) inside Wembley stadium watching the Pompey team warm-up for their FA Cup Final appearance against Cardiff City. When I first started following my local team the likelihood of ever winning the FA Cup seemed pretty far-fetched. The run in 1992 was the closest I thought we would come and in all honesty that team deserved to win the competition. That Highbury semi-final was something else but that as they say was that.

We had a couple of runs to the quarter-finals but winning the competition was not going to happen. However four years ago we did. A run through the tournament including somehow winning at Old Trafford has led us to this point. It would go down as one of the most surreal days of my life.

I would wake up at around 5AM but not in my bed. No. I would wake up in the Cotswold’s where I was away on a work weekend away. Everyone else was fast asleep and most of them had only just come in from a night of drunken antics along with some shall we say more non-curricular activities. I had a shower and was wandering around this rather nice holiday home and went outside to the lakes that surrounded it. Just surreal.

I finally got a lift to the railway station which doing my research was Kemble and got on a train to London. The train was full of Cardiff fans but I got a seat and I don’t think I had my iPod with me – or maybe I did. Anyway long dull trip into London. Got to Wembley to meet the guy with my ticket and then watched Pompey win.

The game was pretty awful and the goal was scrappy as anything although not as scrappy as our semi-final winner but still. Cardiff never really looked like scoring. David Nugent hit the bar in the second half but that was one of the major highlights. Sol went up and we lifted the FA Cup but it was just too surreal. I was in a ‘neutral’ area with mostly Cardiff fans and I wasn’t with my mates so it was just weird.

Then I made my way back to the Cotswold’s and my phone battery was just about to die and I managed to get out a text to someone telling them what time I’d be back at the railway station for a lift. I had no idea where the holiday homes we were staying in were and to be frank I still don’t. Although having typed that I have done some research and it looks like it was in South Cerney wherever that is (for the record I have since spent the past half an hour looking for these places and I’m pretty sure it was Windrush Lake and I want to buy a property there. I really really do).

Anyway the end of the day I was back in the Cotswold’s. Just surreal. What I thought was going down then didn’t happen and a few months later I’d be leaving that company. My fortunes have gone up and down since but the fortunes of PFC have pretty much only gone one way. Next season they’ll be playing in League 1 – that is if there is a club at all. I had hoped Southend United would be playing them in the league but alas it wasn’t to be.

Not exactly sure where this blog post is going or whether it has a point. It possibly doesn’t. Just wanted to note that four years ago today Portsmouth won the FA Cup and that day was just totally surreal. Totally surreal. I miss having such surreal days.

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