Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

Just a quick note to wish everyone a healthy and happy 2007 before we head for the party circuit! Children in bed, red wine open and ready to go...

2006 was a very eventful year - in terms of national politics, my own political experiences here in Norwich and for my family. I wonder what 2007 will hold?


Saturday, December 30, 2006

Great new blog

Want to combine Tory politics with allotment know-how and gardening tips? Easy, click here.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Blears should resign

I believe in Ministerial responsibility. I believe in Collective responsibility. If an MP doesn't agree with a government policy or its application then they should resign from that government. So why is Hazel Blears (and, for that matter, a few more besides) still in office whilst campaigning against their own side. I'll say nothing more but leave you with Blears-hunter-in-chief Cllr Iain Lindley here and here.

LibDem trio defect to Cameron's Conservatives

LibDems has better reach for that sherry bottle again as news breaks that three more LibDem candidates quit their party and join the Conservatives. Most pleasingly - for Cameron and the Conservatives that is - is that the three make up a union steward, a doctor and the man who wrote the LibDem LGBT manifesto. In a statement that must stick in the throats of all LibDem activists, one of them calls Sir Ming a "has been" and warns that the party is in "reverse gear". Furthermore, another says that only the Conservatives can help the NHS.

This makes seven LibDem candidates to join the Conservatives this year, in which some LibDem blogs have been calling their "annus horriblis". However, I have yet to find a single LibDem blogger who has commented yet - as Iain Dale points out, if this was a spate of Tory defections the gloating would be deafening.
I said that the polls didn't matter for the LibDems but the trend does. This latest news certainly adds to that trend. Sir Ming might yet be in trouble.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

How festive are the party websites?

I know that is the question that we have all been asking over our turkey sandwiches. Just how much of a festive theme has each main party thrown into their on-line campaigning?

The LibDems are the party who desperately need a sherry-fueled episode to mask their dismal 2006 - a year in which they have dumped a leader and end up rock bottom in the polls. Yet their website - here - seems to have totally ignored Christmas altogether. There is one story about the number of people eating turkey on their own this year but precious little else. You will be aware that I feel the national LibDem website is awful when compared to some really rather better local efforts, but this really is rather poor. Festive rating: 1/10

I am greeted at Labour's site - here - by a pop-up which asks me to join the party so I can vote for the new leader. I wasn't aware that Blair had resigned, but hey-ho. The frontpage has a lovely big festive message that offers us "best wishes for Christmas and the New Year". There is also a flashing graphic of Christmas tree lights that then displays an achievment of the current government. Pretty good, fitting with the current party image, contemporary design. Festive rating: 7/10

Is Christmas too traditional for the modernisers at Cameron's Conservatives? Hardly as their site - here - includes a very flashy graphic which shows snow falling over the hill sides which are littered with Christmas trees. It is a shame that where you would normally expect a message to pop up (like "Merry Christmas") it doesn't and you end watching the graphic waiting for something to happen which then doesn't. A bit disappointing but it is the most technical of all the sites and, somewhat ironically, the most traditional. Festive rating: 7/10

Oddly there is no festive message on any of the sites from any of the party leaders - the Conservatives lead on Labour Chairwoman Hazel Blears challenging her own party's health policy, whilst the LibDems stick to a story about Iraq and Labour advertise their programme of Spring Events.

Come on parties - let's have a bit of Christmas cheer about you all!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

The presents are wrapped, the turkey is stuffed, the stockings are hung and a certain little girl is looking forward to a midnight visit from a very special man.

Merry Christmas everyone and may tomorrow be as wonderful as you dreamed it would be.

LibDems down to 15% in latest YouGov poll

I don't believe individual opinion polls *at all* and I put my faith rather more in the trends of pollsters. However, the sight of LibDems across the blog-o-sphere squirming about the latest YouGov is too much for a blue-blooded Tory like me to resist.

For a party that stands for "winning here" and being the "growing party", such a rebuff to the dynamic leadership of Sir Ming must be hard to take.

Seriously though my little LibDem chums - calm down, take stock, this is one poll so don't panic. If a 6 or 12 month trend shows you in the 15-18% box you can panic then, but not now.

Happy Christmas!

Friday, December 22, 2006

My top 7...

Iain Dale has tagged me to answer the blog poser - "7 best things I've done this year." I'm only allowed 7?!?! Here goes...

1. Created life - bringing Olivia into our world.
2. My first act as Councillor was to get a family in which the Mum was severely disabled re-housed from a totally unsuitable property in Clover Hill into a purpose built DDA access bungalow.
3. Proved that Conservatives can win in council estate areas ... if we campaign right, work hard enough and prove ourselves to local people.
4. Achieve the best value-added score in our department (again).
5. Change my first fuse on a plug (unbelievably so)
6. Buy a Family ticket to Wroxham Barns.
7. Set up and run the first Government & Politics course in Notre Dame.

I am now tagging Linden Parker, Iain Lindley, Antonia Bance, Gavin Ayling, Norfolk Blogger, James Cleverly and Ali Miraj.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Ming's reshuffle

Ey, gads! You take a couple of days out with the family, you then find out that in your political absence a major political reshuffle had taken place ... oh, no, sorry it was Sir Ming's LibDems shuffling a couple of people you've never heard of around in jobs that didn't matter.

Professor Steve Webb (anonymous rating: who?!?!?!) has been asked to write their manifesto - this is, despite the thick trowl of sarcasm, very significant as Prof. Webb is very much considered to be on the left-leaning SDP wing of the LibDems.

Webb's old position as LibDem Health Spokesman is taken by North Norfolk's Norman Lamb (anonymous rating: haven't I seen you somewhere before deary?!?!). This is a good move for the LibDems as Lamb is one of their better performers but it could be a bit of a poision challace for Mr Lamb as his own constituency faces some pretty deep NHS cuts.

Lamb's old job as Chief of Staff to Grandpa Sir Ming goes to youthful Kingston MP Ed Davey (anonymous rating: ah, it's thingy...). I had heard whispers that Ming was a bit fed up with Lamb's apparent pisspoor efforts and this may be the result of that feeling ... Lamb has certainly failed to give any spark or drive to Ming's leadership but to fair that is a pretty tough task. I don't know if this is true - Lamb does seem pretty good at any job he turns his hand to, but you never know what goes on behind closed doors ... especially LibDem doors.

Davey's old job as Trade Spokesman goes to Susan Kramer (anonymous rating: hmmm, looks familiar but no idea who she is) and her old Internation Development job goes to newly elected London MP Lynne Featherstone (anonymous rating: nope, no idea).

So totally underwhelming then, just like poor old Ming himself.

Anyway what has got my goat a little is the continual use of the phrase "LibDem Shadow Health Secretary". Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. I think not, my little deluded yellow chums. Check the official definition of shadow cabinet or shadow positions - reserved for the principle opposition party, which is ... ah, the Conservatives!

Delusions of grandeur methinks. Get it right LibDems!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tragic ... very, very tragic

I got all the answers on the Guardian Political Quiz of the Year correct. Am I more ashamed of being a political junkie or reading the Guardian website? Try it here.

Greens are "ill informed" claims Clarke

Charles Clarke doesn't write to the Evening News often so when he does, it is often on a politically sensitive or crucial issue. Today his letter dominates the paper with a quite remarkable attack on the "characteristically ill informed" Green Councillors.

Labour have, for quite some time now, plodding along ignoring the Greens whilst our eco-friends destroyed the LibDem vote and stole their seats. Labour are in power in City Hall now because the Greens have won over a lot of traditional LibDem areas. So for Mr Clarke to bite back like this is quite remarkable - maybe a few jitters over the next parliamentary election but far more likely is that political heavyweight Mr Clarke is fed up of the Greens being allowed to get away with peddling any old nonsense without being held to account.

The Greens now hold 9 out of 39 council seats and, if experts and polls prove to be correct, they will at least hold onto those and maybe even grow again in 2007. They are a major political force in Norwich (at least) and we should scrutinise what they have to say. I know that the LibDems find it hard to attack the Greens, so maybe this Clarke letter is the start of a Labour offensive against City Hall's third party?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Brown's snap election?

The BBC, amongst others, is current speculating about the posibility of a snap 2007 poll following Brown's coronation as Labour Leader. Labour Chairman Hazel Blears - currently engulfed in her own fight to be selected in a parliamentary seat following the abolishion of her current Salford berth - has even put out the feelers to Labour workers that it could come sooner rather than later. I'm very dubious about this - not for historical comparisons or anything of that like, but for one very simple reason.

Money. Labour doesn't have it and neither, to be totally honest, do the other parties. Labour would have to be fund raising much faster (and selecting PPCs too, but that is another matter) than they are at the moment to fill the finanical gap. I have always argued that Brown's best chance is by using the post-Blair bounce that is bound to happen - but a few housekeeping realities may stop that from happening.

Party finances need stability - and that is why all parties run in four year cycles. The bureaucracy loves regularity and snap polls could give a few party accountants heart attacks (on all sides). As money and finance become a bigger and bigger part of each subsequent election campaign the choosing of the date is more a question for the Treasurer than the Prime Minister.

The money men would much rather have fixed term parliaments and, I have to say, that is where my thinking is taking me too.

Last Day at "Skool"

I have been laid up for the last 48 hours as the latest victim of the whole Winter Vomiting thing. Apologies if calls and e-mails have gone unanswered. I was, however, back at school for the last day - if a little like being dragged from my death bed. Now I have just the fortnight to recover! Today is always a special day in schools and most of us with have positive memories of the last day of term. At ND today we had a kind-0f-mass and a carol concert ... always roof raising stuff although for the seven hundreth year running I ballsed up the words to "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas."

Friday, December 15, 2006

Better to stay silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt

If politicans have to stop pretending to be cool then pop stars should stop pretending to be intelligent.

The latest celebrity to enter the complex world of politics is Cheryl Tweedy, of Girls Aloud, who said Cameron should stop trying to be something that he isn't. She then went on to treat us to the following words of wisdom with regards to her own political views:

"There should be adverts in the breaks during Coronation Street spelling it out in bullet points: This is what the Conservatives stand for. This is what Labour stands for. You know that basically Labour is the working class and the Conservatives are kind of upper class, and then everything else is... I have no idea ... I only vote Labour because me mam does."

In the same way that I'd never suffer the nation with my signing I wonder if Miss Tweedy could save us all her pathetic rantings on politics in future? Or even better, our media could not report such stupidity. Cheryl ... this says more about you than it does about David Cameron.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Shaving foam bra (or my first day back at work)

Thanks to my part-time paternity leave, for which I am most grateful, I returned today to work in order to keep up the pressure on (er, I mean, teach) my exam classes. Year 13 were pathetically invovled in something called "panto" ... an excuse for boys to wear makeup and take off their clothes if you ask me. So I launched myself into my Year 12s and got an unexpected treat for my hard work (the title of this post should give you some ideas.) Glad to be home to the relative normality of two screaming babies and, of course, the news of the day!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Hands-on Dad

Day Three in the world for the new Miss Olivia Little and I rather feel that I haven't seen much of her. Various visitors monopolise her time and even I cannot compete with the lure of her food source. I got a good cuddle this morning and a lovely one this evening but most of my day has been dedicated to Emily who, I fear, is feeling a little bit shoved to one side. Not so, I cry, for she has Daddy on hand 24-7.

Yesterday we went to the Toddlers Christmas Party at St. Albans Church Hall and it was absolutely brilliant. Today we went to Louise's baby club lunch and I finally got to meet some of Emily's friends. Between going out for lunch, changing library books and obsession about advent calendars the day has flown by - and I admit that I have loved every moment.

My two observations for the day are...
1. No wonder sometimes Louise (and other Mums) get little done around the house - playing is far more fun and the washing can (and does) wait.
2. How long is takes to do everything. Even a wander down to Tesco Express take a lifetime when you stop to look at every dog / flower / Christmas decoration on the way.

Louise remarked of me today that I have been much more hands on with Olivia and Emily now than I was when Emily was born. Am I more confident, a bit older and wiser or do I just realise how fast they grow up and how each moment is precious? Even Olivia's nappies seem a treat to me...

LibDems want to abolsih competition in school sports

LibDems around the country who want to be taken seriously as a force in British politics - even one that is a third party - must hold their heads in their hands and weep everytime something like this happens.

From the party that wanted rights for fairground goldfish comes the notion of abolishing competition in school sports, just as the rest of the nation finally agrees it is a good thing.

LibDem MP Sandra Gidley made the point in a recent House of Commons debate and I hope that the leadership of her party make her suffer for this. Why, I hear you think?

I am about the only person in my school who doesn't think that sport is the absolute cure-all for every problem in the system - including under-achievement and poor behaviour. I think PE is a nice run around a few hours a week, helps towards health and fitness and gives the kids a much needed laugh. I was the fat kid who was always last to be picked - but I didn't care because generally I enjoyed the sport despite being absolutely awful at it. But that aside I think the one thing it does teach the pupils is that you can't win all the time ... unlike academic subjects where "deferred success" has replaced "failure" in our lexicon, PE remains a bastion of reality. You win some, you lose some. Fact of life, etc etc.

Only the LibDems, who are becoming increasingly illiberal on such issues, want the blandness of "everyone wins a prize" to be injected into school sports.

I wonder what former Olympic runner Sir Ming Campbell would have to say about this...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

New Addition

Whilst I was typing the post below, my wife was in fact having contractions but failed to inform me of this. When she did inform me of this I failed to believe her thinking it was cramp / indigestion / phantom contractions. By around 11.30 Louise was getting one contraction roughtly every 5 minutes and by 12.30 this was down to one every 3 and a half minutes. It was then I lept into action.

Following a mad dash from Drayton to Trafford Road, the in-laws bravely came round to ensure that the child we already had was safe and sound, whilst Lou and I trundled off to the N&N.

Apparently most women worry about going to hospital in case they aren't really in labour and end up wasting people's time. We were determined not to be those kind of paranoid parents who think that the first twinge is the onset of labour and launch themselves at every passing medical practioner. This could, after all, be the start of many days of unpleasantness and we wouldn't want to block our maternity system. However by the time that Louise had to use the doorframe for support, we thought it best to seek some professional advice.

By 2am we were at the hospital and a lovely midwife called Sue confirmed that Louise was, despite Daddy's best attempts to block this from his mind, having a baby. No need to go home or feel ashamed at wasting precious NHS resources, this was the real thing (copyright, Coca Cola).

Things slowed down between 3am and 8am during which time I was seriously considering some kind of breakfast. Louise, on the other hand, seemed rather more in a hurry than I and decided to get a move on. The poor, unfortunate (but rather good) trainee midwife got the shock of her life when Louise's contractions went on some kind of turbo-charge and by 10.15am the baby was ready to be born. Cue lots of plastic things, a gaggle of women in the room and pain so bad that Louise actually bit the end of the gas'n'air tube off.

10.26am and baby Olivia Grace Little came into the world - much quicker, certainly easier but with the same amount of love as her big sister Emily.

Admittedly, she had a sort of Lord-of-the-Rings Orc like quality, but after a wash and brush up she looks just like Emily, beautiful - although slightly smaller at just 6lb 7oz.

Louise and Olivia were allowed to come home by 5pm and here we have snuggled ever since. Emily is loving her "bubba" almost as much as she loves her advent calendar ... but not quite.

Olivia is going what all good babies should - eating, sleeping and being cuddled. I am very proud of our latest addition, but most of all Louise - who after the trauma of last time took all this in her stride (and, for the record, got through the whole labour without resorting to Thundercats Impressions - unlike last time.)

I will post photos when I get them but in the meantime do excuse my sparadoic posts and general inactivity. I have a baby to love.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Overdue Baby

As predicted by absolutely everyone in the world our second baby is now a full 2 days overdue. As Emily was 12 days we aren't holding our breath for an arrival any day soon. Louise isn't as big as she was with Emily but is now at that uncomfortable stage. I am enjoying time with Emily at the moment so really am not fussed, although I think Lou would like it sooner rather than later. If I disappear from this blog, you'll know why ;-)

Do the LibDems know where Norwich South is?

Apparently not.

Now, before I go into this I should say that I did pledge to put less obvious point-scoring posts on my blog and focus more on the work of the council and national politics generally. I have failed miserably on this, and will continue to do so today.

The LibDems appear to have been delivering a newspaper - an awful one to boot - around the place and a neighbour kindly put one through my door this afternoon. Attached was a note which says:

"They don't know North from South and clearly their arse from their elbow."

And ringed on the front of the newspaper, amongst the places this was delivered to (which include Eaton, Bowthorpe, New Costessey etc.) was two words ... Mile Cross.

Oh, dear. Now for the uninitiated, Mile Cross falls into Norwich North, not Norwich South. You might have thought that this was a City wide newspaper then? Well, if that was the case then Catton, Sewell and Crome were mysteriously missing. Only Mile Cross made it into the wrong constituency.

As my laughter drew to a close, after some minutes, I am ready to draw one of two conclusions.

Either the LibDems don't know where the constituency boundary is or the LibDems are as fixated on Mile Cross as Steve Morphew is meant to be. We wonder why ...

Cheap party political point scoring over, begin the angry LibDem posts...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Are we voting for ends or means?

The level of debate in the pastoral office at school has been raisied this week, as we move on from the future of the penny-sweet industry to political ideology and thought.

My good friend, colleague and Eaton resident is threatening not to vote next May. He is classic LibDem fodder (young, caring, pro-environment, basically a bit left wing but hates New Labour) but as I have scratched the surface of his beliefs he shows worrying signs towards authortarian Toryism.

Anyway, his complain was that the parties were "all the same these days." "Nonsense", I declared. I believe that is the lazy answer for people who don't want to think things through. Are you honestly saying, I went on, that all three parties have the same education policies, the same tax proposals or the same ideas on immigration?

"Ah-ha", he quickly rebutted, all of those things are about the micro-management of the system not about broad based ideological differences. Such an arguement got me thinking. In the 80s we had the classic Conservativism versus Socialism debate, personaified (if you like) by Thatcher and Foot. A classic cold-war battle being fought in British politics.

Name any three major party frontbenchers and I'd bet you they'd agree on the projected outcome for the country. We all want a strong economy, good education, a working transport system etc. However, where we disagree is how to achieve that - so politics is becoming about the means rather than the ends.

So, says my friend, he is being asked to vote for slightly differenent versions of management rather than for political leadership. Before he votes he wants to see a real battle of ideas - not the day-to-day policy of school funding, but of where we want British edcuation to go and do.

Maybe he has a point, I concluded. After all, Cameron, Blair and Campbell could probably draw up a "vision statement" on which they could all sign up to. So we, the voters, have no choice about where UK plc is going - just a choice of vehicle to get there.

Any interesting arguement and so much more worthwhile than guessing whatever happened to all those 80s bands you just don't hear of anymore.

She likes the thought but not the reality

Rather like socialism to many people, my daughter Emily has decided that she likes the thought of Father Christmas more than the actual reality.

Today we were up early to queue with the multitudes in Jarrolds to meet the man himself. Emily was happy, looking forward to it and very talkative. She pointed at him through the window, she loved the balloons and the decorations. She grinned manically as we walked through the door. She took one look and ... burst into hysterical wailing and tears. Poor old Santa, I thought. How embarrassing for us all.

By the time we had left and shopped around Norwich, Emily was back to liking Father Christmas and had forgotten all about that nasty moment when her greatest hope become a reality and turned into her greatest fear.

Socialism still exists

Last night I was involved in an investigation of the liscence trade in and around Prince of Wales Road. In order to do this, I had to eat and drink rather a lot and involved myself with as many lisenced premises as possible ;-)

During one of these in-depth looks at the implications of council policy I stumbled (literally, actually) across a bit of a blog fan ... but it turns out he was a Labour member. During our witty, half sloshed, exchanges I asked him if socialism still existed (I'm a hoot after a few drinks) and he told me in great depth about the red-hot beating heart of the Labour Party waiting for the day that Blair leaves office.

Beware Britain - socialism exists and is alive and well hidden in Norwich.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Is Martin Amis the stupidest person in Britain?

Novelist Martin Amis has made himself look absolutely ridiculous on several occasions during tonight's Question Time on the BBC. If you don't understand politics, or life, Martin then don't appear on TV pretending you do. You seem to be a rather sad re-tred of life during the socialist soviet era and I had rather assumed that we had moved on. The worst thing is that he has made Ruth Kelly look measured and sensible.

Clarke's hypocrisy on local government freedom

The EDP has an interesting piece today about Charles Clarke's new call for a spirit of freedom to enter local government. In particular he picks out the increased use of referenda as one way of increasing participation and accountability.

So when Norwich City Council had a chance to vote on a referendum on Unitary, the single biggest issue facing the council, which political party voted against?

Mr Clarke's very own Labour Party.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Could a Unitary Norwich be Conservative controlled?

The recent EDP Report that Norwich City Council is trying to include places like Bawburgh, Trowse, Great Plumstead, Little Plumstead, Horsford, Newton St Faith, Postwick, Rackheath, Taverham, Drayton and Thorpe St Andrew raises the interesting prospect that so many suburbs would be included that it would put a massive Tory block back onto the City Council. In fact, given Tory strength in places like Catton, Bowthorpe, Sprowston, TSA and Hellesdon what chance that the Tories might take overall control? And with it being obvious that the Conservatives can beat Labour, even areas like Eaton might fall.

Still, this dream aside, I am still opposed ... politican putting people before their own party ... bizarre.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Simon Wright, honesty & ID Cards

Being in local government means taking decisions that you might not always agree with. You can only refuse liscening applications on the 4 liscensing objectives and you can only turn down planning applications based on planning grounds.

When the ID Card Centre plans came before the committee, the Greens tried to have them turned down on ideological grounds. However the other parties, led by senior LibDem Councillors, spoke and voted in favour of the plans because there were no planning grounds to turn them down.

So why is LibDem Parliamentary candidate Simon Wright trying to claim that the LibDems were against the plans? He certainly fails to mention that his own Councillors voted in favour of the scheme, and in doing so he suggests that his party didn't approve of these plans.

The public would have far more respect for politicans in general and the LibDems in particular if he told them the truth about these things instead of playing politics and spinning the issue.

The truth is that both Conservatives and LibDems are against ID Cards, but both parties had to vote for this proposal because they had no legal grounds to vote it down.

Why can't Fakenham's Councillor Simon Wright be honest with the people of Norwich?

Now Labour split over Unitary bids

The Chairman of Thetford Labour has made the case against Unitary in Norwich far better than I could have. In the EDP Letters on Saturday, he said that Breckland shouldn't go for Unitary because they couldn't exercise the powers they had currently had - let alone ask for more power and more money.

Maybe Thetford Labour should speak to Norwich Labour - because Norwich City Council has a much, much worse record (not least on recycling) than Breckland ... so can we assume that Labour believe that City Hall is as equally unable to command more powers?
The cartoon is from a campaign group, who claimed that Windsor & Maidenhead Council abused their power as a Unitary Council. County Councils and District Councils work as a check on each other - Unitary councils can abuse their power. Absolute power corrupts...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Steve Morphew accused of being bias in favour of Mile Cross

City Council Leader Steve Morphew had an uncomfortable time on Tuesday night as a combination of the public, the Greens and the LibDems heaped pressure on him for allegedly being bias in favour of improvements in Mile Cross as opposed to the rest of the City.

It started when a member of the public, one Brenda Lock, said that the council didn't care about Heathgate Community Centre because it wasn't in Mile Cross and that's where all the money went. A startled reaction from Councillors and the public. Although Steve strongly denied this, it led to some further exchanges later in the evening. Green Leader Adrian Ramsay concurred that a lot of money was spent in Mile Cross, because it was a tough Lib-Lab battleground seat, and LibDem Councillor for Mile Cross Carl Mayhew was also stirring the pot.

At the end of it I feel Steve looked a bit startled by all of this - more from the public than Councillor.

I wonder if it is true - a breakdown of total spending ward by ward would be interesting. Another member of the public told me afterwards that ift felt like all the money went to Eaton. An interesting perspective also.

It is natural to want the best for your ward. We all do it - fighting hard for our communities, sometimes knowing that other areas may suffer as a result. Although I believe Steve hasn't abused his position as Leader of the Council in favour of his ward, I think this line of attack may well come back time and time again.

In response to my Question

You may remmeber that I asked about the Council's work to improve the clearing up of grafitti at Full Council last Tuesday.

The Executive Member for Community told me that the Neighbourhood Wardens are able to spot grafitti and reporting it directly to the council via their handheld technology - including taking photos. They have, apparently, had some success in working with the police to catch taggers. They also say that extended CCTV around Norwich will help. Finally they urged people to call 212112 to report any cases.

I then asked if the council believed that control of grafitti was an option - they said that they were providing constructive alternatives.

(And in case you care here are the other questions...)

Cllr Lubbock (LibDem, Eaton) asked if the Council would provide a small, individually wrapped chocolate to all employees who turned off their computer. The Labour Executive Member said the authority had a good record in saving power.

Cllr Collishaw (Con, Catton Grove) asked about the budgets for Dog Bins. Apparently dog bins are no longer provided and people should use normal waste bins.

Cllr Cannell (Lab, Lakenham) asked what progress the council had made since May. It was the most obvious brown-nosed question ever asked at Council and quite frankly both the asker and the answerer should be ashamed for wasting our time.

Cllr Sands (Lab, Sewell) asked why CityCare collected rubbish at 0615 and woke everyone up. The Executive Member, who is a Labour Councillor, said this shouldn't happen.

Cllr Hooke (LibDem, Thorpe Hamlet) asked if the law on cycling on pavements could be enforced. He was told to sod off and do it himself. In a polite manner, obviously.

Cllr Bearman (Green, Town Close) asked what is happening with the land at the corner of Leicester Street and Onley Street. It seemed to me that the council didn't know the answer.

Cllr Read (Green, Wensum) asked if more could be done to get people to Sparks in the Park via public transport. He was told that a lot of people did use the buses and that Green councillors should lighten up and cheer up a bit.

CLlr Llewellyn (Green, Wensum) asked if the bulky items collections were recycled. No.

Cllr Jago (Green, Mancroft) asked about the fence on Mile Cross Road. He was told that Norfolk County Council have the responsibility to sort it out.

Cllr Stepphenson (Green, Nelson) asked about energy saving plans for new homes. She got a lot-done-lots-to-do style answer.

Cllr Watkins (LibDem, Eaton) asked how much it cost to replace one pane of glass in a bus shelter. £313.12

Cllr Mayhew (LibDem, Mile Cross) asked about Eade Road / Patterson Road being made one way. The Council are thinking about it.

Cllr Divers (LibDem, Thorpe Hamlet) asked about traffic calming on Ketts Hill. There is no need, she was told.

Full Council: Attendance Watch

2 Councillors absent this time - Brian Morrey (Lab, Catton Grove) and Jull Surridge (LibDem, Thorpe Hamlet). All Tories and Greens present and correct.

The Conservatives are the only party with a 100% record since May's elections!

Who's got the best reycling record in Norfolk? (Clue: It sure ain't a certain City...)

Fascinating statistics released from Norfolk County Council and pass to me via a recycling campaign have led to some red faces around City Hall, I understand. Using the Audit Commission reports from 2002-2005 it plots all of the district council performances in collecting recycling.

In 2002 Norwich City came 4th out of 7 districts - beating Broadland, Breckland and Great Yarmouth. Since then, all three Tory authorities have since jumped ahead of the Labour / LibDem run City Council, leaving Norwich trailing in last place - almost exactly where we were three years previously.

Tory run Broadland comes a clear first, followed by LibDem North Norfolk.

David Cameron has clearly grabbed the green agenda and these figures show why - time and time again it is Conservative Councils that are leading the way in such fields, whilst councils dominated by the left (as Norwich still is) do very badly. The Norwich Conservatives take this subject seriously, so why won't Labour and the LibDems?

They are all talk and no action - and on doorsteps, actions speak louder than words.

Well Done Trevor

I am thrilled to say that the latest Tory PPC to be selected in Norfolk & Suffolk is our local association Chairman Trevor Ivory, who will stand for the party in North Norfolk. I attended the Open Primary in Northrepps last Friday and what a good meeting it was. Trevor and Alan Lockwood, the defeated candidate, performed very well but it was so clear that Trevor wanted the seat badly.

Trevor and I are honest friends - I think that is a really difficult seat and he has one hell of a fight ahead of him. Trevor needs to work 24/7 on this one, but I have total confidence in him to really take the fight to Lamb. Trevor has been very brave taking a seat like this on, after all he follows the class political act of Iain Dale, and I am sure that local people will warm to him. Trevor and Lisa are now planning their move 20 miles North!

Trevor is a great champion of the Conservative cause ... North Norfolk should be proud to have him!