Saturday, 23 May 2009

Thursday, 21 May 2009


Just in case anyone cares I have never claimed a single penny in expenses for any Council business. When first elected I did take a fax machine as I was told it was important to be able to receive information that way. I think the only time it was ever used I had to get a new printer ribbon as it had dried up completely. In the spirt of "payback" I'm more than happy to return it to the Civic Centre. When I was first elected I also took a shredder but it was so inadequate to the job I bought an industrial size one myself. I'd also be happy to return it to the civic centre! I didn't take the Filing Cabinet as I already had one myself. I don't get a council laptop or anything like that. On a related subject, I am actually in the process of reviewing my own entry onto the Register of Interests and will post that on my blog as soon as I have checked it over!

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Postal Voting

The introduction of Postal voting has without doubt change the political landscape of UK elections. The holy grail of traditional political campaigning was to be the last leaflet the voter saw when they left home on the morning of poling day. This was supposed to stay in the voter’s memory and encourage them to vote on the way to work. The traditionally “get the vote out” activity on polling day meant putting tellers outside polling stations and asking people for their name as they entered or left the polling station. The big parties spent years putting together list of names of their supporters and chasing up those who didn’t vote early. This made polling day a very busy, high speed and stressful occasion, requiring loads of volunteers and lots of organisation.

Postal votes have changed all that.

The Holy Grail now is to convert all your supporters into postal voters. These people receive their ballot paper up to two weeks ahead of polling day. For the 2009 European Elections it is possible that half the votes will already be cast by this time next week and that polling will be effectively over by the end of May. The Parties receive daily reports on who has returned their postal vote. No need to hang around polling stations any more, the local authority will e-mail you a complete list at close of play each day. This makes chasing up your laggard supporters much, much easier. The “last minute leaflet” becomes much less important than the last leaflet before the postal votes go out!

The deadline for receipt of applications by the local authority is 5.00pm on TUESDAY 19th MAY. It is against the Code of Conduct for political parties to handle postal votes. If anyone offers to fill your vote out for you JUST SAY NO. Postal vote application forms are best obtained from your local Town Hall or Civic Centre and returned to them before next Tuesday. There is usually an election s office in each Council who deal with this sort of thing. Once you have a Postal Vote you continue with one until you ask to revert to voting in the polling booth. Of course there are third party organisations who will arrange your postal vote for you, the Trade Unions are especially keen to help their members get registered (For a perfect example just check out here.)

In low turn out elections the postal vote becomes even more significant. If the turn out is below 30%, as many plaudits are predicting, the postal vote could easily account for three quarters of all votes cast.

TUESDAY 19th MAY at 5.00pm is the deadline to apply for a postal vote.

Have you got yours yet?

Inconsiderate and poor parking

Problem of inconsiderate and poor parking feature regularly in my dealings with St.Hilda Ward residents. Especially on the Headland where the road layouts were never intended to deal with cars, lorries and buses. People have to have somewhere to park their cars and pedestrian, wheelchair and pram users need footpaths and to be able to get on and off kerbs.

The last time I put my head above the parapet on this issue I was verbally abused at a North Neighbourhood Forum and I see why most Councillors prefer to remain silent. (Actually most Councillors seem to remain silent about everything until their Party Leaders tell them what to say!). However, it has now been confirmed that English councils are to get the power to deal more easily with inconsiderate and dangerous parking. Those authorities, like Hartlepool, which carry out parking enforcement, will be able to issue penalty charges to drivers who double park or block dropped kerbs.

The new powers mean Penalty Charge Notices can be issued WITHOUT Councils having to indicate the prohibitions with particular traffic signs or road markings. So drivers, you have been warned. From next month your local council has the power, should they chose to use it, to issue Fixed Penalty Notices without further warning!

Either a great step forward in keeping our pathways clear, OR, another way to fleece the motorist with fixed penalty fines. It all depends on your point of view!

Councils have been told they must listen to the views of local people

Another "Publicnet" briefing has found its way onto my screen. This one is from Hazel Blears about Councils and efficiency savings. Strangely she does not recommend flipping your designated home as a tax saving device. The whole Country would save millions and be much more efficient without the likes of Hazel Blears......Anyway, if you are interested them this is what is said.....

Councils have been told they must listen to the views of local people about ways to make efficiency savings. The Communities Secretary, Hazel Blears, told a meeting of local authority and community leaders that asking people what they wanted could lead to better services at a lower cost to council taxpayers.

Councils face having to make efficiency savings of 600 million pounds a year under plans in the Budget. The plan is that the money will be reinvested in local services or used to cut council tax bills. Those savings are on top of five billion pounds worth of efficiencies across the public sector over the next year.

Hazel Blears said neighbourhoods that worked closely together and supported each other would emerge stronger from the economic downturn. She said she could not agree less with people who argued that this was the time to stick with the status quo. “Councils are already working hard to make taxpayers’ money go further but the need to do this more does not mean doing less, it means doing things differently,” she added.

She told her audience that the current tough economic times made empowering local people in their communities more important. There were, she said, already excellent examples of councils making efficiency savings through smarter working and listening to the views of local people. She gave the examples of Camden where a way of checking services were easily accessible by asking local disabled people to be “mystery shoppers” and Northamptonshire where the “Pocket Parks” scheme, gave people control over the green spaces in their neighbourhoods.

“Involving communities is key to unlocking greater savings - when it comes to finding efficiencies, empowering local people is part of the solution, not part of the problem,” Ms Blears said.


From a regular e-mail service I subscribe to. Maybe Stuart could claim this as another of his ideas? Hartlepool Council have been in the job creation business for years!

Published 15 May 2009 by "PUBLICNET BRIEFING"

Councils are to take on a job creation role with a target to create 150,000 new jobs. They have been invited to bid for a share of £1 billion Future Jobs Fund. The aim of the new Jobs fund is to prevent another generation from ending up on the ‘long term employment scrapheap’. This new role comes from a recognition that councils, who have intimate knowledge of the local area, are best placed to drive forward job creation from the grassroots.

The new role and funding are a response to the Houghton report, commissioned by Communities and Local Government and published in March. As the report recommended, councils will now create unemployment profiles of their communities so they can design jobs and skills programmes to fit local labour markets and future demand. Assessment of local unemployment should be completed by the middle of this year. They will also evaluate claimant trends and assess the impact of the downturn on the most vulnerable groups in their local areas who may be disproportionately affected and need innovative forms of support.

Councils will collaborate with Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships in building capacity and they will be able to draw on a £3 million budget to fund this activity.

In addition, Government will establish a new National Worklessness Forum to bring central Government, councils and other local organisations together to find the best ways to help unemployed people back into work.

Councils have also been asked to standardise their personnel policies by signing Local Employment Partnerships and advertising vacancies in Jobcentre Plus. They will also sign skills pledges and make more use of Train2Gain job training so staff with low qualifications can progress further up the career ladder.

Park and Ride

Some time ago I questioned the figures on the budget relating to the Hartlepool Tall Ships Race and as a result of these questions it emerged that the Council were apparently pining their hopes on a £10 per vehicle fee for Park and Ride to balance the books.

Recent minutes of a meeting, where the Tall Ships Traffic Management was discussed, now reveal that it was “hoped” to keep park and ride schemes within the boundaries of Hartlepool, but sites further afield may need to be considered. Sedgefield Race Course, Durham Tees Valley Airport and Durham City Park and Ride were mentioned as possibilities. I am sure these three venues would love to provide parking for the Tall Ships Race however I doubt very much it would be free! How much of the £10 per car would be left to prop up the Tall Ships Budget? Especially after the Traffic Management Consultants have taken their £90,000 fee?

I still hope the Tall Ships Race will be a huge success for Hartlepool but at the moment it looks like there is a growing risk that the success will come at a fairly steep price for the Hartlepool Council Taxpayers!

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Collection, retention and deletion of DNA

How many people noticed that The Home Secretary recently announced a public consultation exercise into proposals for changing the law on collection, retention and deletion of DNA and fingerprints.

Police Forces have since been receiving a high number of calls from members of the public wanting their DNA to be deleted from records. However the announcement was about a consultation exercise and public debate

* the law has not changed, yet, and we don't know whether it will be until the consultation and debate has taken place

* the public is being invited to respond to the Home Office by 7 July

For further information visit the Home Office Website
Get your comments in now!!!!!

Monday, 11 May 2009

Dockfest Battle of the Bands

Thanks to Al Devon for letting me know that it was him and Infernus that went through from the Dockfest Heat at Edge on Saturday 2nd May. You can visit Al's facebok page by clicking here

The other band that went through, Infernus, also have a facebook page.
Click here to view it


Good luck to both these bands at the semifinals on Friday

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Hartlepool Dockfest 2009, Battle of the Bands

I assume the Hartlepool Dockfest 2009, Battle of the Bands heats have now all been completed? According to the Dockfest Website people were urged to go and cheer them on in the heats, where an audience vote as well as the judges' votes will be used to choose the best band. 8 bands will be picked to go forward to the semi finals on Friday 15 May at The Studio and Saturday 16 May at The Clarendon. The final will be held on Friday 19 June at The Studio.

I wonder who won the Heats on Friday 24 April, Saturday 25 April, Friday 1 May and Saturday 2 May. Hartlepool Council Website up to date as usual.......NOT

Click Here for Hartlepool dockfest 2009 - The Official Hartlepool Website

Wednesday, 6 May 2009


Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Tories Desperate

The Tories in Eastern Region are getting desperate. They know that on the EU only UKIP has a clear record of opposing European Integration. Let's face it to get elected as Tory Leader Cameron promised to pull his MEPs out of the pro-European group in the European Parliament. Once he was Leader he conveniently forgot that promise.

The Tories are now claiming a vote for UKIP is a wasted vote and that UKIP's record is not good. I was going to write a rebuttal myself but thought David Campbell Bannerman, UKIP Lead Candidate for East of England (and UKIP Deputy Leader) said it much better than me.......

Dear Ellee,

John Flack is an amusing guy and it was good to debate against him at Brentwood School. But he already is getting his facts wrong here. But if he attacks UKIP in this low hand way, let me just remind him of a few facts himself.

Firstly, three quarters of Tory supporters ( I was one for 20 years myself ) are Eurosceptics. They believed Mr Cameron when he said the Tories would leave the federalist, pro Lisbon, pro Euro political grouping in the European Parliament, the EPP-ED. They are still waiting, and the Times reported that only 7 out of 26 Tory MEPs were in favour of leaving because they get more prestige and position from being in a bigger group, even if they don’t agree with its aims.

2. Look at the record of Tory MEPs, such as Eastern Region’s own Christopher Beazley MEP who voted for EU symbols and the EU national anthem (Beethoven’s 9th) to be played at all major events, and who votes consistently for the EU to take yet more powers away from the UK - is that a record to be proud of?

UKIP MEPs vote consistently against any measures that undermine British control of its own affairs.

3. Mr Flack attack fraud and corruption, but UKIP acts fast against bad apples, whilst Conservative MEPs let the European Parliament decide. He failed to mention the Leader of Tory MEPs, Giles Chichester, and Cameron’s enforcer on cleaning up MEP expenses, having to resign over what he called a ‘whoopsy daisy’ moment (a technical breach but not dishonest) or Den Dover who was found to have siphoned off 500,000 of expenses unjustifiably. They are others too alleged to be in the same boat.

4. The Tory policy over the Lisbon Treaty is misleading and weak. No wonder the Tory ‘launch’ today hardly mentioned the Euro elections at all. They are terrified of Ken Clarke spoiling the party again, and Mr Cameron has told 70 of his MPs not to mention the EU.

The reality of Conservative policy is simply to let other countries decide the future of our own: if the Poles, Czechs or the Irish stop Lisbon before they get into Government, they’ll have a referendum. But what if Lisbon is already ratified by then ? They will do nothing about it - just meekly accept it. That is just not good enough. Only by lending their vote to UKIP can Tories send a strong No vote on Lisbon !

John Flack claimed at Brentwood the Conservatives had given an “unequivocal” commitment to a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Not true. The policy is equivocal, and misleading. In short, the Tories would let Lisbon stay because it would be illegal then to reverse the treaty. Only by leaving the EU can we get rid of Lisbon - and polls show 55%-60% of the British electorate want to trade happily with the EU but not be in the superstate - which is UKIP policy.

5. The reality is, as former Tory and £5 million donor, UKIP convert Stuart Wheeler says: “The public know that the EU is incompetent, ineffective, hidebound and riven with fraud but the current political class in Westminster don’t want to talk about it. By voting UKIP they can be heard.”

I would ask good Eurosceptics, and others, to recognise that UKIP came second in the East of England last time, and the EU is a far bigger threat now than even then.

Whatever Mr Flack may say, it is indeed time to ‘Lend Us Your Vote’ once more. You are not choosing a Government, you are making a statement - and only UKIP can make that statement loud and clear.

Best wishes

David Campbell Bannerman
Lead Candidate UKIP for East of England (and UKIP Deputy Leader)


People ask me why do I bother? I stand up in Hartlepool Council Meetings and get personal and insulting remarks made about me. The quote about evil triumphing if good men do nothing is getting a bit overworked so I thought about something Churchill said

“You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

Sunday, 3 May 2009

German tanks to roll down Whitehall

Half a century after Adolph Hitler's armies failed in their bid to conquer this country the likelihood that German Tanks will now roll down Whitehall is fast becoming a reality. UK Tank production is set to end, ninety three years after the first tanks in the world were produced by the British Army as the super weapon to break the stalemate on the Western Front. The Newcastle Upon Tyne factory of BAe Systems is set to close. With this closure will end British tank manufacturing. Any future tanks will probably have Swedish Chaises and German armament. What Hitler couldn't do to this country has been achieved by traitors within our own governments.

Traitors, who have progressively signed away British Sovereignty, British Jobs and British interests in the name of European Integration. We no longer control our own borders, we no longer control our own fishing or agriculture, we soon will no longer be able to set our own foreign policy and the Europol Police force, via the European Arrest Warrant, will soon have primacy on our streets, as indeed the European Courts already have over our justice system.

The British people rightly opposed the loss of the £ but the loss of our own armed forces to European Control doesn't seem to bother anyone. If there are two things vital to any country they have to be control of their economy and the ability to defend themselves. The ability to stage any significant defense of the realm is slipping away. If the Argentinians invaded the Falkland now can you see the European Union giving permission for us to re-take them? In the last conflict the French were supplying missiles and technical assistance to the Argentinians, remember it was French Exocets that were sinking British Ships. The Spanish too were more than inclined to take the Argentinian's side.

When were are in the position of relying on other countries to equip our armed forces we are also in the position where our ability to deploy or use our armed forces is also controlled by other countries. What is it going to take for the British people to wake up?