Monday, 28 September 2009

Scrap the Scrappage

The government has announced that the Scrappage scheme is being extended with another £100m allocated for it. This government is so used to stealth taxes it appears to be introducing stealth subsidies. But this money could be used much more effectively to support green jobs and British jobs. The more I think through the scrappage scheme, the more I veer to the view that it is not a good thing.

If you have cashed in your old banger, and I know people who have, it is surely a good idea. But my friend used this to buy a Hyundai recently and traded in a car that was mechanically sound. As someone who is interested in encouraging more environmental motoring and reducing debt levels, it breaks my heart to see perfectly good cars being scrapped and UK government subsidy propping up overseas manufacturing.

How much better would it be to use the money to spend it on making our public buildings energy efficient, creating local jobs in environmental areas as well as saving the taxpayer money by reducing the amount of money thousands of public buildings waste year after year. Just a thought.

Friday, 25 September 2009

"Decent" Homes

Following on from yesterdays debate at conference about the Government Decent Homes programme, I attended a meeting of the DSD residents association in Crawcrook. The residents association covers a small estate of council and privately run houses. They formed a resident group, partly as they were disgusted with the estate being at the back of the queue for improvements.

The group are really well run by their chair Nora, who is a great community advocate. Residents explained to me how the sub contractors employed to do the work had been very sloppy in the work they were doing and had caused an awful lot of unnecessary misery.

The group is really well attended and is supported by Cllrs Derek Anderson and Noel Rippeth.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Last Day at conference

Well it's the last day at this years Lib Dem conference. Usually the leaders speech is about lunchtime and there is not much on in the morning. This year though the speech was pushed back which allowed more time to discuss more policies. Of particular interest was a motion on the governments "Decent Homes" programme. The scheme, much trumpeted by Labour but in reality a plan to bring council homes up for a minimum standard, has been cut back onto and there are real problems with its implementation, noth in Gateshead and Nationally.

Then Nicks speech. It was great and Nick emphasised the strength in his parliamentary team. He's right - he just needs some more people to join them!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Conference - Day 4

I am again in the conference hall after highlighting the need for a high speed rail link to the North East earlier by riding on a little train on the sea front today. Hopefully an mooted link will be a little quicker! Yesterday, I attended two important events. On very close to my heart was a fringe debate about the value of charities in society and the problem they are having in the current recession. A crucial service is offered by many of these groups and we must all try to ensure their services are valued.

In addition, I attended a great debate about recognising the obligation we have to soldiers. In particular rehabilitation and proper housing for returning soldiers was stressed. A busy day today so must dash!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Day 2 in the Conference Hot House

Well it's my second day at the Liberal Democrats annual conference here in Bournemouth and the weather is great, really hot. Yesterday was a quiet day at the conference and a chance to reacquaint myself with some old friends. It was enlivened by the Conference Rally, a traditional event to start the conference, which was enlivened by a great speech by Charles Kennedy as well as some very risque jokes from Sarah Teather MP, our spokesperson for Housing.

Floella Benjamin also spoke, which reminded me of bygone days watching Play School, it great to have such inspirational people supporting our cause. Nick Clegg continued to impress with a great speech. He is focusing on making hard choices, a responsible move. It is important that we are honest about which parts of our policy agenda is affordable immediately and which will have to wait a while. I sense conference will have some hard choices to make.

I have voted to have a debate on affordable housing, focusing on the scandal about the decent homes standard, an issue that is of importance to the constituency, especially Blaydon and Winlaton. Today the conference debates important issues about personal privacy and civil liberties as well as how Britain should position itself in a globalised economy. Important stuff and debates that will expose our differences as a party with the Conservative/Labour approach to things.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Lib Dem Conference

I'm afraid it's a few days off the Blaydon campaign trail as I go to Bournemouth for the annual Liberal Democrat conference. The country is facing up to hard times, a record budget deficit and there is a need for honesty about how to move the country forward whilst preserving essential public services. An important time and I believe the Lib Dems have a lot to contribute to the national debate. I will be putting forward the case for Blaydon and the North East and will try to endeavour to keep people updated.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

The Bookies agree - it's a two horse race

A betting friend of mine drew my attention to the latest betting odds on the Blaydon constituency at the next general election. Two bookies have now opened up accounts on the contest. The closeness of the likely race between myself and Labour is reflected in the odds but the Conservatives odds - 100-1 at Ladbrokes, illustrate what we've been saying for some time. The only way to vote Browns Labour party out in Blaydon is by voting Lib Dem.