Friday, 17 September 2010

Richard Livsey

I have been meaning to restart this blog for a while but the sad news of the death of Richard Livsey was the last thing I expected to be the reopening topic.

Richard was without doubt a politician from a different era. Someone who cared about his constituents not just climbing the greasy pole. I remember all too well the shock of sitting on the back step of my house in Aberystwyth in the 1992 sun learning that not only had Geraint lost his seat by Richard had as well. Yet I also remember the welcome I received from him when I moved across to Rhaayder a couple of years later and his tireless efforts over 5 years to keep the Lib Dem flag flying and retake the seat.

When he held the seat his activity didn't stop there his contribution to the yes campaign, his amazing casework load and his support for both Roger and Kirsty were amazing to see. Even after ennoblement he continued the rounds of village fetes and coffee mornings as before.

Outside of Wales his legacy will be but a footnote on history mainly remembered as a by election winner and little more. Inside Wales he will be viewed as one of the key political influences on my generation of Liberal Democrats many of whom are now in positions of influence in Westminster, Cardiff or councils across the land. Inside Brecon and Radnor he will be remembered as one of their best MPs.

In 1997 we used the slogan "everyone knows someone who has been helped by Richard Livsey" changed to the past tense it sums up his political life.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Fear of Crime

For the first time tonight my dad is worried about crime. To be precise he is afraid of being burgled. He wasn't this morning in fact it hasn't crossed his mind once in the nine years he has lived in the house that someone could lift the windows out to get in.

So what has changed well this morning he got a leaflet inviting him to meet a double glazing salesman.

The first I knew was mid afternoon when he rang me seeking some advice was £6k reduced on today only discount to £4.5k a bit much for replacing the downstairs windows. I was with him yesterday and this hadn't cropped up so why was he considering this now?

A little gentle probing revealed that the salesman had majored on how vulnerable his windows were to breaking in they could "just be lifted out" and this concern was the main reason he was now considering the purchase.

I just about kept my anger under control and pursuaded him that this was not a reason alone to purchase and if he was keen to then he needed to get several quotes. "But this was today only I got back" so I went though the whole distance selling process etc. He finally agreed that this was not a good idea and rang off to tell them he wanted more time.

Five minutes later he was back it was now the absolute rock bottom of £4k and was this now acceptable again security was the concern. I told him no if they were so keen for his business they would always find discounts and in the mean time why not get the local police to send a crime prevention officer round to look at the overall security of the house without any vested interest. He agreed.

What incenses me though is that even today companies are allowed to prey on the fear of crime to try and pressure sell products to older members of the community.

I await with interest the report from the cpo if there is no problem I will be suggesting to my father to make a formal complaint about the sales technique used but how many other people dont have a son or daughter on the other end of the phone? Without doubt it is time for a new look at doorstep selling tactics it seems that some double glazing salesmen even now havent changed since the 80's

Thursday, 21 January 2010

The politics of potholes

We are all seeing it, the huge levels of damage to tired road surfaces caused by the recent winter weather and the consequent burden on the local authority budgets. However a simple question springs to my mind and that is should the government be picking up some of the tab?

Why you may ask and here is the rub.

When Lord Adonis intervened and required Councils to stop gritting on all but the highest priority routes he did so under the guise that this was in effect a national emergency scenario. The consequence is that councils across the land cut back on their secondary gritting regime.

It is on these roads I focus my attention. Under normal conditions these would have been treated and damage significantly reduced as a result.

Now if we accept the argument that this was a national event it places it on a par with Foot and Mouth in 2001 or the 2007 Flooding. In both of these events the Belwin Formula was applied allowing Councils to claim back expenditure related to the incident.

By their intervention in a council duty there is a strong case to put that the damage to the network on the roads published as being gritted but which were not in order to protect the truck road network is a direct result of government action in a civil contingencies event. As such the Bellwin Formula should apply and we should be placing pressure on the government to ensure the consequences of their actions are not once again borne by the council tax budget

Monday, 18 May 2009

Go now Mr Martin

While there are plenty of call for the speaker to go and some suggesting successors one question that has to be considered is timing.

Now, in a month or at the general election.

Our current speaker would prefer to hang on, resign honourably and stand down as MP at the same time or so it would seem. In that time he would without favour reform the expenses system at both entitlement and back office level and restore confidence in the office which he as so patently failed. A nice thought but put another way he as the man that could stop the mess at any time over the past 9 years and cleaned it up in private but didn't now wants our trust that he can do it in public.

I THINK NOT and I have 20 years of campaigning under my belt and am thoughougly sickened by the whole mess. He should go now rather than put into place a system that his replacement may themselves deem too lax and seek to reform.

So now or in a month or two.

Personally it has to be now but I suspect it may be best for the country for him to see things though to publication of the full expenses let his watch carry all the juicy revelations and not leave a new Speaker having thier opening days tainted by the past.

So publication day it is and I hope a real competion for the post let us the public see the election not hide it behind closed doors. Place an obligation on every party in Westminster to nominate at least one candidate in the next ten days with thier expenses published immediately and require them to publish their alst 4 years of expenses on nomination.

Lets see detailled manifestos of how they plan to reform, a full question time debate and public involvement... and let them face an independant review of manifesto vs actions in 24 months time with a commitment to resign if they are found to have reeged on those promises

We as a political elite have too many good candidates out there being frightened or sickened out of Westminster politics by the baying of the Fleet Street pack. So let us once and for all send a message out that our politics is fundermentally clean its just got a few rotten apples within it that need checking on the compost heap

Monday, 20 April 2009

Welsh Lib Dems back Rally GB

It gave me a fair amount of pleasure to be one to the 10 reps signing the emergency motion calling on the Nat/Lab government in Cardiff to reverse its decision to break its sponsorship of Wales Rally GB.

What am I talking about. Well for the measly sum of £2.4m that expert on rural tourism IWJ decided last week that the event which the government are contracted to support is not worth the investment. Now take away the legal costs we are likely to face but what does the event bring.
Four days of visitors in Cardiff AND rural mid Wales, four days OUT OF SEASON where the local trade gets a major boost. National and international coverage on Eurosport and local media across Scandinavia and other countries where rallying is as big as F1 is in the UK.

At a time when we as a nation are trying to grow our cultural tourism the "most excellent" leader of Plaid Cymru has shown it is not only his own party policy he is prepared to ignore but also binding legal agreements.

How can he and hence Wales expect any major business or sporting event to even consider coming here now when they know that a WAG contract is viewed as being as watertight as a chocolate teapot.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Where a request is not a requirment

Over the past 7 years my protocol with our corporate hotel booking service has had a note on it saying that I will not accept being placed in a smoking room.

The booking form they send had the words "non smoking room requested". Now in my ignorance I have always assumed that when a hotel accepts a booking with a request they will honour it on the day or inform the agency the request could not be met.

It would appear I was wrong.

Twice in the past fortnight I was told oh no it was only a "request" so we put you in this one from our allocation as I coughed my way down the internal phone. In both cases a new room was found.

But my protocol has now changed the latest booking now reads "non smoking room required contact guest direct is not available"

Tory attacks core of Scouting values

As an Englishman living in Wales I have always been amazed at the depths some on the fringes of Welsh politics will go to attack all things English. However this latest news that a Tory Councillor in Abergele is up in arms about the Scout movement holding a parade to celebrate their patron saint takes the biscuit.

Anyone who like me has been an active member of the Scouting movement would know that the saint chosen to represent the values of the association is shared with the Malta, Gozo, Beirut oh and England.

They would also know that the nearest Sunday to the 23rd is when most scout groups will hold a local parade and promise renewal service for many it is the only act of religious observance they have.

Now is a fit of what appears to be Welsh nationalism Cllr Sam Rowland is urging the association to change the focus of the event. The movement should he claims should do so because they don't march on St Davids Day.

How pathetic can you be. Far from attacking this celebration of honour and community involvement he ought to dig out a tent, pair of boots and get out with a local scout group and serve his community instead of using the organisation for a few cheap political points