Thursday, 31 December 2009

New Year Message

As we enter a new year and many of us make resolutions, I as a candidate will of course be preparing for the election which we know must come within months.

I suspect that a larger than normal number of people will also be looking forward to that election as their first and, one suspects, only chance to say what they think of Gordon Brown.

The past year has been a very bad one for us as a country. Most obviously, the value of what we produce as a country economically has fallen by far the largest amount ever recorded.

Despite that though I would like to note that in one area the economic news was less bad than feared although, unfortunately, one group may have suffered because of that.

Early in the year many commentators were forecasting that unemployment would now be more than three million but, thankfully, they were wrong. Thanks to a labour market that is still relatively responsive and flexible in spite of increased regulation, the rise in unemployment has, so far, been barely half as bad as feared.

That is because many workforces, including my own, have been prepared to accept pay freezes. In many cases employees have been prepared to work four days a week, rather than five, for reduced pay, or take sabbaticals, so as to protect their and their colleagues' jobs.

This has reduced the amount of job losses and meant that unemployment has increased less but, unfortunately, it has not done anything to help another group, young people seeking to enter the workforce, whether from school or from university.

A million young unemployed

It has been this group that has suffered most from the extraordinarily deep recession we have suffered under a government that boasted of no more boom and bust. Their lack of work may be less visible than that when there are mass lay-offs and many, still living at home whether by choice or not, will be supported through unemployment by their parents.

However, we must not underestimate the consequences of having a million young unemployed both socially and, if it were to carry on for any length of time, in terms of the skills and future prospects of our young adults.

I am surprised that, as a country, we are not talking more about the plight of the young unemployed. If, as I hope, a Conservative government is soon elected, I believe that we must and will ensure that their needs are put at the heart of what we do.


Xtremity - Stockists of Windsurfing, Snowboarding and Skateboarding Hardware and Fashion Items for Men and Women
2A Crow Lane, Rochester, Kent ME1 1RF
Tel: 01634 402944


Tuesday, 29 December 2009

David Cameron's New Year Message


The Rochester Armoury - Bringing The Past Back To The Future
2B Crow Lane, Rochester, Kent ME1 1RF
Tel: 01634 845526


Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Wishing You A Merry Christmas


Nimbus Lighting, 144 High Street, Rochester, Kent ME1 1ER.
Great Lighting At Great Prices.
Tel: 01634 407724


Monday, 21 December 2009

Where's The Justice In That?

A Message from Conservative Home and Chris Grayling, Shadow Home Secretary

Sometimes Britain seems to be going quietly mad. A country where an elderly lady can be prosecuted for poking a teenager in the chest, where a police force can be prosecuted under health and safety laws when an officer is injured chasing a criminal, where a mother is driven to suicide by years of unchecked menace by a gang of troublemakers, where a vicious attack on a stranger is all too often dealt with by a caution, is a country that is getting things badly wrong.

How did we ever get ourselves into such an extraordinary position?

How did we get ourselves into a position where it is the criminal whose rights seem to come first, and where the victim is all too often forgotten or ignored?

And how did we get ourselves into a position where all too often the offender just gets away with it?

The picture set out in the most recent figures released to the Conservative Party by the Government is stark. They blow the lid off Britain's caution culture, and of a system that is sending all the wrong messages to offenders.

- Over the past decade, the number of offenders let off with a caution has risen sharply and now stands at nearly 1,000 a day.

- A third of those committing violent offences are now dealt with by a caution. That proportion has also more than doubled since 2001.

- A smaller and smaller proportion of offenders ever come before a court. Nearly half of all offences are now dealt with by a warning, a caution or a fixed penalty notice.

- Even sexual offences are treated in this way, with nearly one in three sex offenders let off with a caution. Detection rates have plummeted too.

- Only ten per cent of burglaries are solved.

- The detection rate for sexual offences has dropped by a quarter.

- So has the detection rate for violent offences - down by around a fifth.

Small wonder that so many people have lost faith in criminal justice in this country.

short document sets out some of the reasons for the failings. It paints a picture of police stuck behind computer screens and not on the streets. Of unwieldy bureaucracy. And a system where justice is not being done.

It is a snapshot of a system that desperately needs a fresh start.


The Rochester Coffee Co. 45 varieties of tea, freshly ground coffee, freshly made Panini and so much more. 146 High Street, Rochester, Kent. ME1 1ER (Opposite Eastgate House)
Tel: 01634 540032


Monday, 14 December 2009

Southeastern Must Do Better

"Hoping for the best, but expecting the worst" is probably the phrase that best describes the attitude of local commuters regarding the introduction of the new Southeastern timetable, and the full launch of the commuter HS1 service from Rochester and Strood to St. Pancras.

So it came as a great disappointment to myself and my fellow commuters who arrived at Strood station this morning to catch the 07.42 high speed service to find it had been cancelled because of a missing train crew. To say I am furious is something of an understatement, particularly given the fact that it is going to cost passengers from Strood £106.52 a week for the privilege of being late for work as I was!

Southeastern have been allowed to increase their fares exponentially over the past few years in order to, as they say, meet the costs of introducing the new HS1 service, though they still can't get their story straight on this. If that is the case then I think the least we should expect from our investment is to have a service that runs on time and as stated. Let us hope that today's disruption is not a sign of what is to come.


Rochester Fireplaces - Home Sweet Home
139 High Street, Rochester, Kent ME1 1EW
Tel: 01634 408 007


Wednesday, 9 December 2009

A Labour Election Victory Would Mean Higher Taxes And Interest Rates

Today, Alistair Darling delivered the last Pre Budget Report before a General Election.

Because he failed to take the tough decisions on spending before the election, there will be higher taxes and higher interest rates if Labour win the election.

The central measure was a tax on jobs that hits everyone earning over £20,000 - well below the median wage. That is Labour's definition of the "well off". Of all Labour's tax rises this will be the one that it is the Conservatives' priority to avoid.

Because Labour is weak they failed to deal with the £178bn deficit, cancelled the pre-election Comprehensive Spending Review, and instead said that a Labour victory at the election would mean:

- £7.8 billion higher taxes - £370 more per family - after the election
- Of this £6.5 billion - £310 more per family - is a rise in National Insurance - a tax on anyone earning over £20,000.
- Labour's planned tax on jobs is now £200 a year on someone earning £30,000 a year, or £60 on average earnings of around £23,000
- And the ring fencing means a real terms 10% cut in all other Departments over just two years

Other tax increases include:

- A £440m inheritance tax rise
- A new £440m phone tax
- £220m on workplace canteens
- £500m pension tax rise
- No help on business rates; and failed to abolish small corporation tax rise

Yet even with the tax rises there is no credible plan to deal with the deficit:

- Still no honesty on spending as the Spending Review has been cancelled until after the election
- No credible plan to deal with the deficit. Debt stabilises in 2015/16 - a year later than at the Budget
- Borrowing £789bn over the next six years - doubling the national debt again to £1.5 trillion
- The pledge to halve the deficit in four years has already been dismissed as not enough by Mervyn King, the CBI and the OECD - it would leave the deficit higher in 2013/14 than when Denis Healey went to the IMF

The PBR has been slammed by business:

Richard Lambert, Director-General of the CBI: "The Chancellor has made a serious mistake imposing an extra jobs tax at a time when the economic recovery will still be fragile. Increasing the National Insurance contribution will hold back job creation and growth. He has also missed the opportunity to increase the UK's credibility by reducing the public deficit earlier. We are no clearer today as to how the Government plans to reduce public expenditure."

David Frost of British Chambers of Commerce said that the National Insurance rise is: "Terrible news...It's an additional cost for business when they can least afford it."

Miles Templeman, Director-Generalof the Institute of Directors: "The key theme of this year's PBR is prudence postponed... A further tax on jobs at a time like this is madness."

John Wright, FSB National Chairman on the tax on jobs: "this is extremely damaging for employment in the UK."


Xtremity - Stockists of Windsurfing, Snowboarding and Skateboarding Hardware and Fashion Items for Men and Women
2A Crow Lane, Rochester, Kent ME1 1RF
Tel: 01634 402944


Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Rochester Catalpa Tree Appeal

My colleague Cllr Sue Haydock is leading a campaign to preserve one of Rochester's most endearing landmarks, namely the Catalpa Tree which sits proudly outside the entrance to Rochester Cathedral.

Believed to be one of the oldest living examples of an American Indian Bean Tree, or Catalpa Bignonioides to give it it's proper botanical name, our iconic specimen in Rochester is in urgent need of conservation work to prevent it's current state of health from deteriorating further. An appeal has been launched to raise awareness of the tree's plight and to find the £22,000 that is required to get the necessary work done. These include:

- A new propping system
- Cable bracing
- Mulching (protective cover for the soil)
- Removal and replacement of railings
- Propagation of a replacement tree for the future
- Repair to ledger stones

There are a number of ways you can help with the Appeal from displaying a poster or highlighting the campaign on your own website, to buying a book from Baggins Book Bazaar on Rochester High Street. But the most effective way of helping save our tree is to make a donation and you can do so online by visiting the Appeal website at;

The Rochester Catalpa Tree has been enjoyed and admired by literally millions of people over many years, including our very own Charles Dickens. On the eve of this year's Dickensian Christmas festival what better way to honour his memory than by helping to preserve one of Rochester's most important landmarks.

Please join me in supporting the Rochester Catalpa Tree Appeal.


The Rochester Armoury - Bringing The Past Back To The Future
2B Crow Lane, Rochester, Kent ME1 1RF
Tel: 01634 845526