Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Have the media got it wrong?

Don't let the media fool you!  The positive reactions that we have had in Herontye ward continue to suggest that once again the right-winged press have got it wrong!   On the doorsteps the feeling is very much more considered and even if people don't particularly support the Lib Dems, the good news for East Grinstead is that most of it's citizens are savy enough to make their own minds up in an articulate manner!

There is none of this anti-Clegg hysteria that Murdoch et al have whipped up nor is there a sense of impending doom which according to most of the press is about to bestow our party nationally.

Issues that are relevant are discussed of course; lack of choice and concern over the number of shops closing down in the Town, car parking chaos and worries about the future, given the country's continuing perilous financial state, are familiar topics with residents from Herontye Drive to Dunnings Road and all in between.

What is clear though is that the media are wide of the mark!  People want decisions made that affect their everyday lives and those of their children and/or elderly parents.  Tittle-tattle may sell a few tabloid newspapers but the quality and incisive opinion making is made on the doorsteps of Britain and not behind the laptops of Fleet Street.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Hope for cerebral palsy sufferers

Met a very nice lady on Saturday morning whilst out canvassing.  Ellie Thompsopn told me all about her campaign to deliver affordable Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy  (SDR) treatment to the UK.  SDR is a technique designed to improve walking and/or increase the range of motion and improve body positioning for cerebral palsy sufferers.

Ellie’s charity, HUGS, concentrates some of its efforts on raising funds to cover the substantial cost of putting a child through treatment.  Even so, sadly, the success rate in the UK is significantly lower than over in America where pioneer Dr T S Parks, using less invasive surgery, is able to enhance mobility in virtually all the patients he treats.
HUGS, along with other interested bodies, now want the UK to follow Dr Parks lead whilst at the same time securing financial support for patients and/or their families to cover the costs of treatment since NICE (National institute for Health & Clinical excellence) have said that there will be no NHS funding for this procedure.  The good news is that from May Dr Kristian Aquilina will be performing SDR surgery using Dr Parks’ techniques at the Frenchay Hospital in Bristol – but at an anticipated cost of £24,000 per patient.  Additionally only children over 6 years of age will be treated in the UK yet statistically Dr Parks has proven that the surgery is more successful the younger the child.
If anybody would like to know more about HUGS then please visit their website
and for further information on selective dorsal rhizotomy then
Without making any political point, it is the responsibility of anybody representing the community to highlight issues such as these that affect the disadvantaged in society irrespective of the party umbrella that they work under.  Personally I do think that funding should be made available to help subsidise the cost of treatment at the very least and that the rules governing the minimum age of treatment be re-visited given Dr Parks’ research.

Monday, 18 April 2011

AV or not AV - that is the question!





It’s dirty tricks time…..”none of your taxes have been used to print this leaflet” claim the Conservative funding and supporting big businessmen in their expensively produced glossy!  News to me that the YES campaign have had public funding….which of course they haven’t!  Talk about corporate manipulation of the ordinary man or woman in the street!
The arguments have been made – it’s clear!  First past the post only results in an MP who, in the overwhelming majority of cases, most of the electorate do not want!
If you take 5 candidates and assume under FPTP the person coming first got 21% of the popular vote with the remaining 4 candidates getting the split of the 79% balance….tell me how can the ‘winner’ be truly representative?
Not only does this latest Tory propaganda rubbish the idea of AV but it is quick to blame Nick Clegg for “broken promises”.  No acceptance of shared responsibility but another attempt by Cameron’s toffs to put all the blame for the cuts on the Coalition’s junior partners.  Shame on the Tories!
In every aspect can YOU really trust the Tories…..?  Same old, same old….always passing the buck!  This is why AV is important – there will be nowhere for MPs to hide and every opportunity to make their actions more accountable and representative for ALL their constituents.
Make sure on 5th May you vote yes for AV and in East Grinstead Herontye ward vote yes for Barnett, Jerry and Joannou-Coetzee!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Policing in East Grinstead

Over recent weeks Lib Dem Councillor Chris Jerrey, the Town Mayor Steve Barnett and campaigner Tony Joannou-Coetzee, have listened to the concerns of residents in Herontye  ward and repeatedly the question of more bobbies on the beat comes up.  

Whilst the station at East Court is to close, as Sussex Police attempt to save £52 million by 2015, there will actually be a greater uniformed presence throughout the Town according to Mid Sussex District Commander, Chief Inspector Ed De La Rue.  Our Lib Dem colleague, and Herontye resident, Ginnie Waddingham was one of the first to react to this news by stating "knowing that there will be more officers around the town makes me feel safer".  

Chris, Steve and Tony are all acutely aware of the need to keep neighbourhoods throughout the Town safe and crime-free and you can be sure that with a Lib Dem Administration returned to East Court in May, this objective will remain firmly on the new Council's agenda.

Monday, 11 April 2011

A nation of animal lovers?

Whilst my 'boy', Fonzo the bulldog, is hot on the campaign trail with me (see picture below), I listened with dismay to a report from BBC Radio Surrey this morning which reported on the cruelty inflicted on some cats in the Aldershot area.  The content of the story was actually too graphic for me, as an animal lover, to be able to convey back now suffice to say that the impression is that the torture appears to have been undertaken by human hands.  This of course comes on the back of  a weekend when another aspect of animal cruelty was highlighted at Aintree.

The 164th Grand National event in Liverpool will go down in history for all the wrong reasons.  Two horses killed (yet the race allowed to carry on; how money talks), the winning jockey disciplined for excessive use of a whip and at an earlier race in the day, a fall suffered by Peter Toole riding Classic Fly, has led to the 22 year old jockey fighting for his life in hospital.

As a firm believer in animal welfare and rights, I will do everything I can to promote well-being and continue to campaign against cruelty at every level.  I am blessed to share my life with my faithful canine and 4 cats too and, no matter what political persuasion, this is an issue that surely unites all parties.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Spring Traders Day - East Grinstead

 Councillor Ginnie Waddingham and candidate for Herontye ward, Tony Joannou-Coetzee at the Spring Trader's Day - 10-04-11
 Candidates Julie Mockford, Catrin Ingham, Tony Joannou-Coetzee supporting the East Grinstead Traders

Catrin Ingham at the Traders' Day - Lib Dems supporting the local economy

What a glorious day!  Sunday in East Grinstead with traders operating street stalls, the sun shining and Lib Dem councillors out and about sharing the experience with their fellow town residents.  These events, put on with the support of the Town Council, are a fantastic way of supporting community engagement whilst, at the same time, giving a boast to shop keepers in these times of austerity.

With the campaign now in full swing, the Lib Dems are continuing to actively engage with the electorate across town and events like today are sure to be repeated and on a regular basis with the return of a Lib Dem administration to East Court on May 5th!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Internships and Social Mobility

I thought that slavery had been abolished in this country in 1833 so I was dismayed to hear more this week about the growing practise of businesses and organisations offering internships ostensibly on the grounds of providing experience and training to University and College leavers.

This means that the 'successful' applicants (and let's be clear here it is free will; a fundamental difference I am willing to concede to the past) are given an opportunity within industry to hone their skills by undertaking unpaid labour where often travel and subsistence costs are not met either.

In an era where we proudly point to National Minimum Wage (currently £5.93 per hour) for all workers aged 22 or over, isn't it about time that the provisions of the Act that introduced the NMW was extended to include internships?

Social mobility has made big headlines this week but it is clear to me that whilst industry has the potential to exploit youngsters, the current arrangement is also elitist since without family financial support, how many of us (at whatever age) could afford to work for no pay?  The danger is that internships will train and develop children from upper and upper-middle class backgrounds and this will make it even more challenging for working class kids to break into the establishment.

Let's end this awful practise before it becomes an even more acceptable path to employment and lets stop propping up the economy in this way.  Nobody should be allowed to undertake any work (unless truly voluntary thus covering areas such as charities etc) in the United Kingdom without at least earning £5.93 per hour.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Think NHS? Think Lib Dem!

Great news today that the Government has announced a period of extended consultation before steamrollering fundamental changes to that beloved, of all our public institutions, the NHS!

This backtrack by Tory Lansley follows on the back of the success of a motion at the recent Lib Dem Conference in Sheffield where, overwhelmingly, delegates registered their concerns over plans that could see groups of doctors spending time bogged down with budget and procurement issues at the expense of dealing with patient care.

So today, safe in the knowledge that he has party backing, Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg alluded to "substantive changes" in the proposal.  Importantly this statement finally gives the electorate the opportunity to see clear light between the caring, compassionate Lib Dems and the money-centric Tories whose primary concern is profit even if this does compromise the health of the Nation.

So the message is simple - if you want to ensure an enviable standard of free medical care for all, make sure that you don't vote for a party who clearly want to dismantle this important provision.  Instead think NHS, think Lib Dem this May!

Undercover Police Plan Pub-Chat Clampdown

Despite the hard earned success of the Lib Dems in forcing Central Government to perform a U-turn on the invasive introduction of Identity Cards, it would appear that the new Chief Inspector of Police in the Surrey borough of Elmbridge, David Hollingsworth, is proposing a course of action that strikes at the very heart of civil liberty.
Announcing with great gusto recentlyy his intention of allowing plain clothed officers to mix-in, undercover, with ordinary pub and club goers does raise concerns.  Predominantly the idea that the guy sitting on his own in a corner nursing half a pint of shandy yet listening in on private conversations assumes that we are all guilty until proven otherwise.  Whatever has happened to habeas corpus?
 Hollingsworth defends his plan by stating that it is not about “monitoring private conversations” yet many think otherwise.  Indeed Bill Sharp of the Guild of Master Victuallers believes the proposal will ”undermine professional licensees” and suggests that this will allow the Police to act in “Stasi-like” fashion.
 Whilst I greatly support the work that our Police force do, I think that the growing tendency of assuming guilt over innocence amongst certain of our boys in blue is a worrying development and action such as this does nothing to enhance relationships between the Country’s law enforcers and her citizens.