Monday, 31 January 2011

HPV Vaccine

Became aware recently that the national campaign to vaccinate against the human papilloma virus (HPV) has been extended to include, eventually, all girls between the ages of 12 to 17.  Whilst this response to the virus, that caused the cervical cancer that sadly Jade Goody lost her life too, is to be welcomed there is no mention in existing NHS practise to provide for boys also.

The virus can cause various cancers including those affecting the head, neck and anus and as such males are also not immune from contracting it.  Indeed the risks for two young gay men could be significant.

As a Liberal Democrat I argue for equality on all issues.  It is important that we protect all our youngsters against HPV and don't use gender as a basis for deciding who should and should not receive this vaccination.

I shall write to the (Conservative) Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health, Anne Milton, and canvass her opinion on this issue.


Sunday, 30 January 2011

Mad dogs and Englishmen!

There I was out walking my bulldog, Fonzo, around 7.30 this morning in the Mount Noddy area of East Grinstead when we encountered Mase (not that I knew his name at this time).  Mase is about 8 years old and a very large boxer-cross male.  He is also incredibly affectionate and loved playing with Fonzo; albeit he was trying to assert his role as alpha-dog.

Anyway Mase followed us all the way home - despite my futile attempts to find his owner - and so I ended up taking him to the RSPCA centre at Godstone.  Although Mase was chipped, and according to the records had come from the Croydon/South Norwood area, the telephone numbers left by his 'owner' were unobtainable.   I was told that tomorrow the Warden will come and collect him and then a 7 day count down starts to reunite dog to owner.

I asked what would happen if the owner was not tracked down and I was told that it depended upon "council policy" and that putting Mase to sleep is an option.  Naturally, as an animal lover, I was horrified to hear this and am still reeling from the shock.

How can an apparently healthy animal be given a death sentence simply for being lost?

There will be a happy ending to this story - I am determined.  I have the number of the Warden and I will call them on Friday for an update.  In the meantime if anybody knows of someone who has either lost a tan and black boxer cross or indeed would like to have one, then please leave me a message on this blog.

If I get elected I will do everything within my designated power and that of the Council to promote animal welfare as one of the top priorities.  Surely anyone with a heart could not just sit back and allow Mase, or dogs like him, to be put down?

Whilst the title of my blog was about "mad dogs", Mase is not mad but in fact a happy, healthy and affectionate male who helped change the entire direction of my day today....but maybe that was for a reason?

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Lib Dem Town Council Secure Future of Historic Town Centre Building

I was rather pleased to read that East Grinstead Town Council have agreed to lease out the Small Parish Hall in De La Warr Road. Having been inside this particular building, I can confirm that it is in desperate need of some tlc. Fortunately the length of the lease (28 years) will give the 'Jesus the Living Water Worldwide Church' extra encouragement to invest in upgrading the facilities whilst the Town Council coffers will also benefit from rental income. The headache of the public purse having to continue to pour money into the site will also be removed! No wonder Lib Dem Council Leader James Baldwin is happy with the outcome!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

GDP - double dip recession or just a blip?

Figures released today by the Office for National Statistics show that in the last quarter UK plc's growth contracted by 0.5%.  Some analysts have speculated that fears about the impact of the Coalition's methods of dealing with the nation's budget deficit along with concerns about the VAT rise have had a negative impact on the public's appetite to spend - and this downturn in demand has had a knock on effect on supply.

Others have taken a more pragmatic approach believing that the real culprit in this ongoing financial drama is in fact ..... the snow! Indeed The Guardian banded a figure about in early December that the snow had hit the UK economy by £6 billion due to lost sales and extra costs to businesses as a direct consequence of staff being unable to get into work.

Whatever the reason, it is hoped that the Bank of England hold a steady nerve and delay the announcement of any increase in the base rate, which has been muted recently, until such a time that growth in GDP is both sustainable and long term.  Acting too hastily now could in fact jeopardise any of the, albeit, slow recovery to date.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Train Station Redevelopment

The port-a-kabin style ticket office at East Grinstead railway station could soon be a thing of the past thanks to exciting new plans that were shared with Lib Dem councillors at a Public Services meeting recently.  Optimum Consultancy's radical proposals will, if approved, convert the tired old station facilities into something which will befit a town with growing tourism aspirations!  The extension of the Bluebell railway line and positive impact that London 2012 will have on East Grinstead visitor traffic needs to be met by plans such as these that include a hotel, flats and parking options that will no longer necessitate navigation through narrow residential streets.

Friday, 21 January 2011

"Religious freedom should not be used as a cloak for prejudice"

Ben Summerskill's comment above sums up nicely the situation surrounding the court case where gay couple, Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy, were turned away from a guesthouse in Cornwall on homophobic grounds.  Landlords Peter and Hazelmary Bull were ordered to pay £1,800 in compensation to both men but it still shows that bigotry exists within society.

Astonishingly Mrs Bull claimed after the case "a lot has been said about equality laws but it seems some people are more equal than others".  Is Mrs Bull claiming that section 28, banning the promotion of homosexuality in schools during Thatcher's era, an unequal age of consent for decades, prejudice where family members turn their backs on siblings or children due to their sexual orientation, right and that the sensible repeal of the first two points wrong?

As an openly gay man I know we have taken great strides in terms of achieving equality with our heterosexual, bisexual and transgendered citizens since the 1960's when sexual activity between two consenting males was illegal.  However it is a timely reminder that prejudice as outrageous as the Bull's still exists and as a Lib Dem I will do everything possible to oppose such behaviour which has no place in the United Kingdom in 2011.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Reforming the NHS

Always a difficult and emotive subject - whilst the Governments seeks to "modernise" the Health Service, people are understandably concerned about the impact this will have on service provision.  Allowing consortiums of GPs to negotiate contracts with suppliers, rather than via the Primary Care Trust route, could indeed add fuel to the post code lottery arguement.  One hopes that the Coalition has got this right and that the cuts will have no detrim,ental impact on service provision in the short, medium or longer term.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Oldham East and Saddleworth - Reaction

So Labour held this seat in deepest Lancashire.  Unfortunately Elwyn was unable to secure a morale boasting victory for the Party BUT I still believe that this was more of a success story than not.  Our percentage share of the vote actually increased and it was the Tories that went into melt down!  Interestingly Tory arrogance on the local radio station - LBC - suggested that our vote held up due to endorsement by senior Conservatives in the Commons recently.....might it just be that the electorate still recognise the great credentials the Lib dems have to offer?

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Dr Vincent McKee

The latest scoop from Sky surrounding Dr McVee must be kept in context.  The Lib Dem party machine will attract people from all walks of life - good, bad and indifferent as indeed will any orgnaisation open to general public membership.  Whilst the allegations against Dr McVee have yet to be proven, the Party has taken quick and decisive action in suspending him whilst further investigations take place.  This is a positive response to a difficult situation and it is hoped that any student who has lost cash is reimbursed soon.

Monday, 10 January 2011

An attack on democracy

The dreadful attack on Congresswoman Gabriella Giffords in Tuscon Arizona on Saturday has been quite rightly condemned by cross-party representatives in the US.  Irrespective of our political persuasions, this incident can only be described as a sad day for democracy. 

In an era where criticising political leaders seems en vogue, we ought to consider the risks these high profile individuals expose themselves too. 

I sincerely hope that Congresswoamn Giffords wins her battle for life and makes a full recovery too.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Thoughts on the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election

Big day for the Lib Dems on Thursday with the by-election due to take place near my old stomping ground 'up north'.  Will Elwyn win the day for Nick and provide the party with a boast despite the media portrayal of thousands of members deserting a sinking ship?  Given all the publicity that I have received down here in Sussex, I can only imagine the hard work being undertaken by those in the actual constituency; I do hope that their efforts are rewarded with victory.  Rather than focus on the negative, the electorate both locally and nationally should be reminded of key Lib Dem successes in Government; Pupil premium - helping disadvantaged kids in the formative years of schooling; Trident - knocked on the head for the life of this Government and therefore saving the taxpayer billions; starting the process of raising the tax threshold to £10,000 thus reducing the Income Tax liability for many; increasing, for the first time in 15 years, the provision of social housing; scrapping the ID card proposal and, perhaps most significantly, starting the process of devolving power from central Government to the people - the Localism Bill will change the political landscape for a generation once it becomes an Act.  Would any of these measures have been introduced by a Tory majority administration?  I very much doubt it!

Friday, 7 January 2011

Alternative Vote

Hi and welcome to my blog!  My first entry is to give resounding support to the Alternative Votes campaign.  Today I emailed our local Tory MP, Nick Soames, to ask where he stood on this issue.  AV is a long way towards the fairest system, proportional representation, and will certainly be an improvement on the current First Past the Post arrangement.  On 5th May it's important that we vote for AV to help ensure the Government we want is the Government we get.