Friday, April 30, 2004

Open class snobbery in my class! Cannot believe it, but apparently having an "o" in your name is common, according to a certain year ten pupil...

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Today I had the pleasure of meeting Malcolm Moss MP, Shadow Minister for Tourism, Arts & Culture. He greatly enjoyed a tour of "The Garage", a local youth arts project funded by the New Deal. The facilities were excellent and the organiser should be so proud of what they have achieved, but the real task is making this valuable resource more used. It is a pity to see it empty so Malcolm and I worked on ways of increasing usage. We then quickly went around The Forum, to see the BBC Studios and the new library facilities. He was very impressed with the way Norfolk is handling itself on that front - so well done Norfolk County Council!
Looks like the Euro campaign has started in earnest:

The election battle for June’s European Parliamentary elections began (today/this week) with the publication by Conservatives of their election manifesto. Antony Little, Conservative Parliamentary Spokesman for Norwich, welcomed the manifesto pledges of cutting red-tape on businesses in Norwich, restoring national control of Britain’s fisheries, and guaranteeing local voters a say via a referendum on any future laws which would transfer power away from Britain.

Antony explained to a group of local residents:
“The election gun has been fired in the race for the European elections in June. I encourage everyone to take the opportunity to have their say on the way they are governed rather than letting apathy rule.

“Conservatives want a new deal to create a flexible, competitive Europe. I am particularly concerned about the unnecessary and excessive Brussels red tape that is hindering enterprise and job creation in Norwich. This is why I welcome Conservatives’ proposals that all future European regulations should have time-limiting ‘sunset clauses’, making European officials work out how much regulations will cost business before introducing them, and allowing MEPs to repeal laws rather than just create them.

“By contrast, Labour want to sign up to a European Constitution and scrap the Pound. Liberal Democrats would go even further – abolishing Britain’s veto on tax harmonisation, despite the huge damage this could do to our competitiveness, and creating new taxes levied directly by Europe on people across Norwich. ”

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

A well spent evening tonight I would say - spent a few hours in the office writing letters to all the people and organisations that have allowed me to visit and speak to them in the last fortnight. It's only when you come to pen the letters that you realise how many it is! Then we hit the phones to canvass around Three Score about the lack of facilities - a real good response and some useful feedback. Also got time to speak to a few residents in Cloverhill about the shopping trolley issue that is hitting the area. Rounded off a useful political evening with some extensive ironing and marking year 8's newspapers about the Plague. Nice and gory!

My week ahead includes going to a dinner with Prof. John Charmley, Dean of the School of History at UEA, tomorrow. He will be giving a speech about the new rise of the Conservative Party. Thursday I am meeting Malcolm Moss MP to discuss bringing the arts alive and we'll be announcing new local Conservative policies on tourism and culture. Saturday I am helping the Fairtrade stall at the King Street Festival and meeting some of the organisers and stall holders to discuss various issues. All good fun!
An apology: I am afriad that in recent weeks (nay, months) I have neglected to pay tribute to some of the finest minds put on God's green earth. It seems that, on this very site, I have praised the work and courage of nearly every other class I teach, I have missed the sanguine hard work and dedication that is my year 10 history class. I am truly blessed in having such a class full of teenagers so passionate about the study of chloroform and various devious medical disorders. Their essays entertain, their source analysis questions wonder and their gossip (to be fair) amazes. Where would I be without (in seating plan order): Beth, Rosa, James, Calam, Fran J, Amelia, Abi, Katy, Danielle, Sophie, Fran H, Jo, Jonathan (Stoggers!), Naomi & Charlotte. I owe them all a huge debt of thanks for their positive attitude and work (so I am told). And now, kiddies, you're famous.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

It's been a busy old weekend (but then aren't they all?). Saturday morning I went to the Bradecroft homes in Cloverhill to meet residents and talk about the many issues concerning them - I'm afraid that too many people like to categorize senior citizens. Subjects covered included education, wonky paving stones, Iraq and the need for a Norwich concert hall. The afternoon was spent in the lofty heights of Thorpe Hamlet, survey canvassing about the situation with parking. Now that Norwich are in the Premiership it can only get worse, say local people. Great reception on the doorsteps!

Sunday morning I visited a different church - the Norwich Reform Church - which meets on South Park Avenue. Then onto a wonderful Sunday lunch at the home of Mr & Mrs Quinton of Le Strange Close. It was good to meet and talk to such a dedicated group of Christian and community minded people. This afternoon? Well, a DVD copy of "The Longest Day" has kept me occupied.

p.s. Received a Labour leaflet today - the first since last August - taking credit for getting play equipment upgraded which had nothing to do with them. Apart from anything else the leaflet looked awful, but the cheek to say that Section 106 money was spent on the insistence of Labour councillors is scrapping the barrel for news.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Perhaps its just me but these last four days teaching may well qualify as the hardest ones in my career yet. Don’t ask me why – the silly season has started (water fights etc) but nothing out of the ordinary. Got to teach my favourite year 9s today – normally my student teacher has them – which was good fun. We answered the “what-if” style question – which year should Britain have gone to war with Germany in. Most of them argued for 1936! Year 8 have started the Romans so lots of pretty maps of Europe being conquered was the order of the day – plus, oddly, a rendition of “under the sea” from the Little Mermaid. As for year 7, well, the Peasants Revolt – plus, oddly, a rendition of the chicken dance. Cannot believe year 12 leave in two weeks. Aaaarrrgghh! Will have the course sorted by next week and I am pushing revision, revision, revision, but am not sure who’s listening.

This week in Norwich politics has been slow, because we’ve all shut off due to heady glory of returning to the Premiership! Hurrah! Busy night on Wednesday watching teletext! Canvassing continues and we launched a direct mail survey to the good people of Cloverhill asking their views on the oft-discussed issue of the bus lane. Tomorrow I am stepping up the Three Score Services debate and meeting other members of the City Conservative Group to discuss the North Earlham and West Earlham Projects.

As for the national picture, it is great to see the Express back on board having seen through this shameless Labour government. Watch how Mr Blair will try to get out of his referendum dilemma – if Britain votes NO, will Blair accept the result (as Michael Howard) will or will he keep going until he gets a YES? Either way we need an answer now!

p.s. Has anybody noticed in the last week how completely irrelevant the Lib Dems are? So have I.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Sorry I haven’t blogged for a while but Easter was a bit hectic, so too getting ready for school next week. Other than over-indulging on chocolate and various other legal substances (in fact, you should see my stash – eggs still all over the house. I deeply believe you don’t put on as much weight by eating them slower.)

The campaign got back into the swing of things this week, with the Lib Dems launching their first (and most obvious) attack on me, claiming that I am used to coming third in elections. Only problem is that the new Lib Dem agent came third in Ipswich last time and Andrew Aalders-Dunthorne has come third in Norwich twice before! At least I go for election where I live – where I know the people and problems and stand up for my area and my neighbours.

Today I launched a new survey of homes in Cloverhill to ask about their views on opening up the bus lane. I hope to take the answers to the council within the next two weeks. The arguments are quite complex to follow so it will be very interesting to follow the views of people according to where they live. People near the bus lane want it open for easy access to the Earlham Road. Those slightly further our fear rat runners’ll blight them. Those on the Earlham Green Lane side are split on the issue of traffic calming. We’ll see, it’ll be most interesting to get the results!

Today is so sunny and bright, I feel a night of pure pleasure ahead, so where was that chocolate…

Thursday, April 08, 2004

I'm off for the Easter weekend at the in-laws and then onto see my parents. Have a fantastic Easter all - eat, drink and don't do anything I wouldn't do!
The only thing funnier that the thought of the Lib Dems delighting themselves with laughter over the surname of Conservative MP Richard Bacon - as reported in today's EDP - was the mere assertion that they were in with a hope of winning his constituency of South Norfolk.

On the whole funny-surname-of-MP bit, I think Iain Dale would have a thing or two to say about his opponent and I don't think I'll ever get off scot-free (the huge possibilities / cruel jokes of having a candidate called "A Little..." goes without saying).

However, the mere thought of the Lib Dems - who were utterly crushed last time after it was revealed that their "local" candidate was a Surrey councillor - even touching Richard Bacon is nonsense. They simply cannot turn limited local government success into parliamentary triumphs (for evidence, see Norwich South!) Too far behind and - it must be said - not trying hard enough to win. Norfolk South? It' s a one-horse race and I'm betting on .Bacon!

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Those might folks at Lib Dem Watch are reporting on the same litter-related disaster for the Lib Dems as I did below. I also had a letter in the Evening News yesterday pointing that out. On the very same letters page was another writer saying he was going to vote for me because I only I can defeat Charles Clarke!

After a lovely lunch in the City I spent much of the afternoon in the office answering various letters and e-mails from people seeking my views on a number if issues. Amazing where people's different priorities lie - questions ranging from immigration and the EU through to globalisation and pot holes in roads. That's the life of a parliamentary candidate - juggling all issues for all people!

Also today I got a letter from my former MP John Randall - great to hear from him John and a no-doubt avid reader of this site!

Monday, April 05, 2004

In between the rather erratic weather today, I went for a walk around Colney - by far the constituencies smallest community. It is amazing that Colney is by far better known for the BUPA Hospital or football training ground than it is for the people who live there. Small community but very big hearts. Colney is literally a stone's throw from Bowthorpe (I can, in fact, see it from my front room) and will certainly have a champion in me.
Just issued this press release:

Following on from the success of Yarmouth Borough Council in moving dumped cars from the streets, the Norwich Conservatives have said that a new Conservative government would crackdown hard on another blight on our roads- uninsured drivers, who could see their vehicles confiscated for repeat offences.

A six-point plan to curb some of the most dangerous drivers in the UK - those who drive without insurance – will be the cornerstone of the new Conservative transport policies, says Antony Little, Conservative Spokesman for Norwich South. Antony said:

”Proposals include linking the motor insurance database, which holds details of all policyholders, with the DVLA database, holding details of drivers - enabling the identification of most offenders; launching a national campaign against uninsured drivers, starting with a written request for insurance details; teaching the importance of insurance as part of the driving test; encouraging lower premiums for drivers who take extra training; increasing fines for first offenders; and confiscating vehicles used by repeat offenders.”

“Conservatives want to make Britain’s road safer and that means getting tough with those who pose a serious risk to other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. Our plans deal with both detection and deterrence. We want to see stiffer penalties, including the confiscation of vehicles of repeat offenders. We will also cross check the computer records of insurers and the DVLA, to establish the full extent of the problem.”

With one in 20 drivers using vehicles without insurance, and the costs of uninsured crashes costing over £500 million a year - adding to insurance premiums - Mr Little declared: “Uninsured drivers are a menace who make every road in this country less safe. We need to educate them to take out insurance, or they will have their vehicles taken away. We need zero tolerance of those who knowingly put other road users at risk.”

Antony also linked new statistics revealing that speeding is not the main - but the seventh cause of road accidents, with the news that many speed cameras in Norfolk are not sited on safety grounds: “Concentrating too much on speed instead of the whole range of dangers has led Labour to an over reliance on speed cameras. To make our roads safer, we need to crack down on dangerous drivers and look at other measures like junction design and improving driver awareness.

“Conservatives do not believe in using speed cameras to raise money. If a camera is not contributing to road safety, we would take it down.”

Friday, April 02, 2004

Yesterday's meeting with Eaton residents went extremely well. Several concerns were raised about a new housing development in Sunningdale, off the Newmarket Road. Apparently the first estimate was for 24 homes, and now that has grown to 70+ and no access road except a currently quiet suburban cul-de-sac. Looks like planning is going ahead with not much thought to how that number of families are going to be accommodated with the existing infra-structure. Also some families claimed not to have had written notice - despite living opposite the site! Planning is a terminal minefield, but I fear very little strategic thought has been put into this.
Have just done an interview on education for Archant - the company which owns the EDP and Evening News. Spoke to the Deputy Editor who is a former education correspondent about why "New" Labour was such a let down. Education now seems well down the agenda of many in the government. We spoke at length about why Charlie Clarke is simply not liked by the profession because he won't listen to the profession. A colleague told me today that Clarke would not attend the NUT conference (biggest teaching union) because he had something better to do, but didn't quite know what that was yet. I made the point about giving freedom to professionals to do their jobs, opening up the straightjacket of education to allow schools to focus in different areas and getting money to the frontline quicker. If OFSTED found me giving one piece of work to all my student, they'd go mad - not all pupils learn the same way. So why should all schools teach the same way?

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Surprise, surprise ... the Evening News today reports that the streets in Norwich are getting dirtier despite spending close to £1m of tax payers money on their campaign. The percentage of roads cleaned to a certain standard has fallen from 99% to 93%. Perhaps if a full third of the expenditure wasn't spent on council propaganda advertising the fact that they were cleaning streets, and was spent on actually cleaning the streets, it might not be so bad. I recently spoke to a council spokesman who was gushing about the council's achievements with the "Norwich belongs to all of us" campaign. Yes, the achievement is c.£1,000,000 spent producing 6% more dirty streets. A true achievement for the Norwich Lib Dems.