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