Thursday, 28 February 2013

Breckland Labour Group response to Council budget


Mr Chairman, as has been covered in the press, the Breckland Labour Group reluctantly supports the proposal to increase Breckland’s share of the Council Tax. Reluctantly, because we do this out of necessity, not desire. Necessity because otherwise, we believe that services across our district would be cut to an intolerable level. Services that the public have told us, either through public meetings or separate surgeries, that these are services that they wish to see safeguarded and protected.

We do this of course in the knowledge, that despite the Government mantra of “we’re all in this together”, that come the new financial year, hundreds of millionaires up and down the country will actually be saving money, that’s right, paying in less, as a result of changes brought about by this Conservative led Government, whilst some of the poorest in our society will continue to suffer disproportionately, including residents here in Breckland, this is not fair and it is not right.

Take for example the young woman that contacted me recently; she has two young children of her own, she suffers from anxiety and depression, she’s a tenant of a 3 bedroom house, although she needed and sought a 2 bedroom property but there were none available so she was told to accept the 3 bedroom, or be removed from the list. She’s only just getting by each month and managing her outgoings, she will be hit hard by the 14% less that she will receive in housing benefit through the new bedroom tax, but she is trapped as there are no 2 bedroom properties for her to move to, and couldn’t afford the moving costs even if there was somewhere to go.

Moving to more local issues, we are naturally very pleased with the proposals in relation to car parking charges across the District and I am sure that this will be a very welcome relief for many business and shoppers. Who knows what effect the many thousands of signatures that were collected as part of the Breckland Labour Group led petition had? But there’s at 15,000 reasons there why not to introduce such charges. I’d like to thank the very many people from across the political spectrum that supported our efforts with this petition – it just goes to show that people power really can make a difference.

Regarding the specific budget proposals, we would like to propose three alternatives to the budget:

1  Firstly. House building: Without doubt one of the most significant challenges that this district faces is in relation to a lack of affordable and social homes. This challenge is surely set to increase and this budget fails to address this need in any meaningful way. Mr Chairman, as you know only too well, if you do not have good quality housing, the education of your children can suffer, your ability to access employment can suffer, and your health may also suffer. We would like to propose that money received through the new homes bonus, and right to buy income is ring-fenced to fund a Breckland Council led house building programme, together, with the utilization of Council owned land – the aim would be for the scheme to become self financing over time – with additional income as a result from future new homes bonus and of course the rental income from the properties themselves. This Council can take the lead in addressing this very real issue and follow other Councils such as Stevenage and Norwich in supporting their residents

2.   Secondly, this Council should be leading by example; the information contained within your packs in relation to this Council’s level of Special Responsibility Allowance clearly demonstrates that we are not doing that. Whilst I respect the work that has been carried out, it is clear to me that this Council’s allowances are out of line with neighbouring authorities and detached from the cutbacks that we must all make. Take the allowance for Leader of the Councillor for example, almost £21,000 annually, compared to just £9,000 for the Leader of South Norfolk, and £10,000 for the Leader of St Edmunsbury’s. Cabinet members receiving £11,000 – double that of neighbouring authorities. The total annual amount for special responsibility allowances for this Council is £140,000 per annum – we must lead by example, and we are therefore  proposing a 20% cut to this, my own allowance included, this proposal in totality would save £28,000 per annum. We are afterall, all in this together, and if the public are to feel the pain, so must we.

3.   Finally: support for our high streets: The car parking charges debate revealed a number of things, but most importantly it brought to the forefront a very real issue – our high streets up and down the Country are struggling and Breckland is not immune from this, they need our support. The £28,000 saved from the cut in special responsibility allowances could be re-directed towards supporting our high streets across the district and used to pump prime additional funding so that it is used to maximum affect.

Don’t just take my lead, look to neighbouring authorities, Conservative led it must be said - Forest Heath for example, immediately matched the £10,000 that was given to Brandon from the Portas Pilots scheme and in its budget last week South Norfolk Council agreed to a new market town initiative, fighting back to secure jobs and boost economic activity. We should be doing the same.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Open season is upon us....

Perhaps unsuprisingly, there is a further uncomplimentary letter about me in this weeks Thetford and Brandon Times. You would have thought that by now after 6 years as a Town Councillor that I would be used to it, but I must confess it still does rather bother me - Councillors still have feelings.

I don't intend to respond via the T&B letters page, I am conscious that there has already been a number of letters election related and I do not think it is healthy to play these things out in the local newspaper. If I respond, somebody else is likely to respond, and so it goes on. I do however want to address some of the points raised, and seeing as Mr Service makes reference to my blog in his letter I am assuming that he reads this, and therefore he may get answers to some of the points raised.

Firstly, I was born in Thetford - in the house my mum and dad still own today at Ash Close, my mum and dad moved there when they were 16 - i.e. when the houses were first built, and strangely enough my grand-dad worked for the company that built most of the houses around the Barnham Cross area. I went to the local schools - Queensway First, then Junior, then Charles Burrell, then Thetford Sixth Form - I worked at Baxters and Sainsbury's whilst completing my education and then worked for Keystone Development Trust managing the Abbey Neighbourhood Centre and then the Benjamin Foundation managing the Meet Up cafe on the Redcastle Estate. I now live at Elm Road. I have a very large family - my mum has 7 brothers, and my dad is the youngest of 13 - although sadly they are all not still alive. Family is important to me, my friends are important to me, Thetford is important to me. Whilst many friends from school moved away to work in London, Norwich and Cambridge I chose to stay - I started doing voluntary work when I was 12, and have continued doing so to this day - (I'm now 27). I gave up working full-time upon being elected to Breckland Council, and upon being elected as Chairman of the Town Councillor Personnel Committee, whilst I receive an 'allowance' from Breckland (approx £700 a month) my Town Council commitments are completely voluntary (expenses are not covered) and I continue to do much voluntary work.

I do all of this because I care for the community that I was born in, and the community that I love. You can therefore perhaps appreciate why I feel that Mr Service's letter is unfair.

Regarding the unflattering comments about my 'supporters'. I do use Twitter, I do use Facebook and I do use blogging - these communication methods are free, and easily accessible. Many of the people that I represent use them, and therefore I should use them. Councillors do not receive any assistance with regards to communication, and I believe that Councillors need to keep their electorate informed. My ward covers 6,000 electors and 3,500 homes - even if I could personally afford to fund literature to go to all these houses, I couldn't deliver to them all on a regular basis. The Thetford and Brandon Times does not even get delivered to the vast majority of the ward that I represent.

Does this stop me door knocking etc as he describes? Absolutely not, as many many voters from the Saxon Ward will attest, I regularly undertake canvassing - but with 3,500 houses for the Saxon Ward, I am yet to canvass every house - particularly as many residents are often not in, and many don't wish to answer the door for fear of it being one of those religious folk that Mr Service mentions, or one of these blasted politicians. I'm not sure if Mr Service has ever tried canvassing, but it is pretty soul destroying work - to hear so many people completely disinterested in the political process, so completely disinterested in the community they live in - for me as a proud Thetfordian, and a community activist - I find this hard to take, but I do it.

His comments about my 'supporters' are unfair. People can choose to support me or not, and he insults their intelligence with his words - take a pop at me by all means, it goes with the job, but leave them out of it. Many of my 'supporters' are my friends, my neighbours, people I have known my whole life, and I am always grateful for their support.

Finally, regarding my own ambitions. I make no secret that I DO NOT want to be an MP. I am involved in community life for the community that I live in. If I were to be an MP, I would need to move and stand for a different seat because it would be highly unlikely that I would get elected for Labour in rural Norfolk - I have no interest in doing that, and I despise career politicians and those that get parachuted into 'safe seats'. Spare a thought for the numerous Conservatives in Norfolk that secretly admit that they stand as Conservatives because they would "otherwise not get elected" - I have zero interest, and zero respect for people of this nature. I have little interest in national affairs - I am 27, what do I know about defence? education? transport? being an MP requires a firm grasp of these issues, I don't have them and I have nothing to offer - at some point in my life my views may change, but I am quite happy doing what I can for the town that I love.

In conclusion....
There's approximately 65 days until the County Council elections - I look forward to continuing to get out there and talk to as many residents as possible, I want to listen to their concerns and opinions, and offer my views where necessary. I want to be able to explain why I think that I would make a good County Councillor, and hopefully people may consider voting for me, if they don't - that's democracy, and I shall continue to support Thetford, albeit in other ways. Chin up John, it may be your door that I knock on ;)

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Norfolk Labours pledge on housing

Excellent news! This is something that myself and Councillor Brenda Canham have pushed for. We have argued constantly that if people do not have good quality housing than they are more likely to have a poorer standard of education and their health will suffer etc etc. Getting the housing shortage sorted must be a priority and it will help to address a multitude of issues.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Thetford Supermarket battle - Round 2


It didn't take too long for the Thetford supermarket battle to go back into the ring and the matter was duly debated, and decided upon at Mondays meeting of the Breckland Council Planning Committee (11th Feb 2013).

You may recall that I previously wrote at length about my concerns regarding both proposals and by the way in which the Planning Committee seemed so dysfunctional in their handling of the matter.

This time around, I did not need to attend as a Substitute member of the Planning Committee as Sylvia Armes was attending, but I did register to speak as a Ward Member as the Asda store would have been built in the ward that I represent. I therefore spent a lot of time consulting with people about their thoughts in relation to a further supermarket. This is not a clear cut issue, so I wanted to gauge as much public opinion as possible. Most, that is, greater than 80% (if not more) of everybody that I spoke to, including comments received through Facebook, were in favour of a further supermarket, and in particular, in favour of the Asda proposal for the London Road site (perhaps my Facebook 'friends' simply prefer Asda over Morrisons? so it is perhaps not scientific, or representative, but indicative?).

Now, I am no fan of Asda - like all major supermarkets I consider their treatment of suppliers to be unethical and indeed unsustainable (think recent horse-meat scandal?) and their anti-union approach and terms & conditions available to staff is of grave concern - (see this report by GMB and War on Want re: Walmart - Asda's parent company for info - but, it's a supermarket, so we know all this. I would just point out that I would not be so hypocritical not to acknowledge that I do on the odd occasion shop in Asda, and indeed Morrisons; there is an Asda store in Bury St Edmunds so sometimes myself and friends will stop off there and similarly there is a Morrisons in Diss and if we happen to be nearby we will stop there.

Morrisons proposal for Thetford Enterprise Park
Regarding the two applications; The Morrisons (i.e. Breckland Council / Pigeon / Crown Estate backed proposal) for the Thetford Enterprise Park just off the Mundford Road had changed little, if at all from the first time around. The fundamental flaw with the proposal was/is that it is going on land designated for the Thetford Enterprise Park (TEP), i.e. somewhere where as a town we can take advantage of our proximity to Cambridge, Norwich, Hethel, Snetterton and that particular sites closeness to the dual carriageway and encourage some high tech businesses to locate here, perhaps engineering jobs or the like. The supermarket would consume at least 22% of the entire site - also, consider this - once the supermarket goes on there, how much easier would it be for other retailers to be located there? How about a TK Maxx popping up, or a PC World next door? I am told that the vast majority of the Crown Estates portfolio across the UK is 'out of town retail'. This supermarket itself would also have a negative effect on the High Street. 'NLP' - consultants to Breckland Council on these matters, said that the supermarkets would result in 20% less expenditure in the High Street. Note: this also includes however a reduction in expenditure for Iceland & Aldi in terms of less money spent on food here as they are classed as 'Town Centre'. The site is completely out on a limb from anywhere else. It will not be easily accessible by foot - either by employees or customers, very difficult to access by bicycle, and currently no bus service accessing anywhere nearby. Linkages to the High Street would be limited - i.e. when people go to do their shopping at the supermarket, it would be great to encourage them to also pop into the High Street etc. but this would be unlikely at this site.
Strangely, I received no paperwork from Pigeon/Crown Estate encouraging me to support their application the second time around. And I cannot remember receiving anything the first time around although Pigeon and the Crown did attend a Town Council meeting to brief Councillors, which I attended.

The argument that the supermarket will service the new housing to the north is also deeply flawed. The growth to the North is to be spread over the next 15 20 years, perhaps even longer it will depend on economic conditions and demand. Much may never happen it is a blueprint for growth I am told repeatedly. The initial phases of development will be almost immediately next door to Tesco, so their needs would have been catered for adequately I would have thought? Interestingly, Tescos floor space currently would have equalled Sainsburys, Lidl and Asda combined if Asda had been approved and Lidl was developed.

On the positive side - the primary argument in support of the site being agreed to is that in theory at least, it has the potential to unlock the enterprise site for development, that is, the supermarket will lead the way in terms of putting in initial infrastructure to make the rest of the site more viable, and appealing to prospective developers. Infrastructure including a new roadway partly into the site and connecting electricity from the Wyatt Way sub-station to the Thetford Enterprise Park which is obviously a considerable cost.

Asda proposal for Tulip site, London Road

Regarding the Asda proposal (i.e. Location 3 Properties), they too wanted to build on land designated for industry / manufacturing - although the Tulip site is currently redundant, and a bit of an eyesore on the main road through town - so a brownfield site would have been regenerated by the plans. As the Planning Officers said on Monday, its a judgement call by Councillors, but arguably the Enterprise Park is of much greater strategic value to the town than the land at the Tulip site and there is a plentiful supply of land available for the type of manufacturing / industry at the Tulip site.

The Asda store would have been within walking distance for practically everybody living on the Barnham Cross Estate, and Redcastle Furze Estate i.e. 5,000 people and the London Road is already an established footway along the town from Sainsburys right through to the other side with people already walking up and down the road - easy access by foot for potential employees and shoppers. The London Road is already part of an existing bus route - and could have been developed further to include more frequent trips into the Town Centre, for example.

Whereas the Morrisons proposal would have contributed money to improve the Enterprise Park site as part of their Section 106 contributions, the Asda proposal would have set aside £200,000 to support high street businesses that is, by helping to subsidise rents and rates, provide business start-up grants etc. and Brecklands own Economic Development Team could have advised on this, as could the Town Council and Sort It. They would have also set aside £100,000 for other Town Centre improvements, e.g. improving the appearance of the Town Centre through enhancements - all welcomed expenditure to go someway towards mitigating the affects of the supermarket (the Asda proposal, like the Morrisons one, would have resulted in 20% less expenditure in the High Street).

Further to this, the backers of Asda had pledged to commit to a local recruitment plan - i.e. all 250+ jobs would have been guaranteed for local people, with many coming from the Saxon Ward (i.e. the area that I represent on the Council). Further, Asda had pledged to commit to selling no white goods at the site, which was a major plus, and good news for some high street retailers at least - e.g. Hughes Electrical I'm sure, and Cobra Domestic Appliances). The Morrisons site measured 3,436 sq feet as well, whereas Asda was a bit smaller at 3,149 sq feet. The Morrisons site wanted a 75% to 25% split between food and non-food sales and Asda wanted 65% to 35% so the TEP site proposal was better in this regard, although given it was larger, this would have been cancelled out.

Rather crucially for me at least, if Asda went ahead, they would not have been able to expand as the site is penned in all around so you know what you are getting in a way - the Morrisons site however, being greenfield, could of course expand in due course - and it is already going to be bigger than Asda would have been.

One of my concerns last time regarding this proposal was that the 2 Sisters Food group wanted to expand onto the proposed site and create further jobs - see my speech last time for info on this -

However, Asda had amended their plans to accommodate the opportunity for 2 Sisters Food Group to expand and Asda would have paid for some of the infrastructure to enable this to occur. The exact details of this I am unsure about and don't fully understand, but it seemed like welcomed news to me.

I had previously raised concerns about traffic issues, particularly along the London Road and indeed several committee members referred to this and I am sure that it factored against Asda. However, they pledged to fund a new traffic light system at the Caxton Way / London Road junction that was welcomed by businesses based in this location.

So what happened? Naturally, the Committee voted overwhelmingly, something like 10 - 0 to support the Morrisons proposal and dismiss the Asda proposal. Two of those being from two members of the Planning Committee that also represent the Saxon Ward.

The Committees reasoning? Because the Morrisons proposal will unlock the Enterprise Park. The Town must dearly pray that it unlocks it for enterprise, not further retail, or this will really be the end of the High Street.

The Committee did themselves no favours, by appearing to be utterly dysfunctional - as I heard one person outside say "I have never seen such an appalling Planning Committee in my thirty years in the profession across the country". Something for the Breckland Conservative group to ponder giving 10 of the 12 members of the committee are Conservatives!

It was a complete turnaround from the last time the pro sales were considered when neither store was supported although members raised just a few points in opposition. This time a succession of Conservative Councillors raised criticism of Asda and spoke in favour of the site - it appeared to me as if they were justifying a decision that had already been made. I'm no expert, but aren't Planning Committee supposed to have an open mind? Judge what's in front of them - to scrutinise proposals, probe representatives. Representatives whom on Monday were barely allowed to speak, or even reply to misleading statements or answer questions that one must assume were merely rhetorical.

Addressing some of the direct points that have been raised with me:

"How can you support Asda, when Thetford Town Council voted to not support either location?" I attended the Breckland Planning meeting as a Breckland Councillor and as Ward rep for Saxon Ward. Susan Glossop attended as the Acting Town Clerk to give the collective view of Thetford Town Council. The primary Town Council objection being the loss of manufacturing / employment land with both proposals - a point I agree with. However, Councillors are not limited to merely reiterating the collective view of the Council they sit on, they have a duty to their individual ward and electorate - imagine if I had to trot out the Breckland line all the time? I'd rather think for myself. I do recognise that there is somewhat a difficulty for those people that sit on more than one Council, as I do (and 7 other Town Councillors who are also District Councillors - 2 of which not only supported the Morrisons proposal, but voted for it, knowing the Town Council objected to it).


"Why did you change from not supporting either application, to supporting Asda?" Primarily, as I hope the text above explains, the Asda proposal changed and improved - they had taken on board many of the concerns that I personally raised initially and it was a much better proposal than the Morrisons one, and there was a very real likelihood that one application would be successful, so I wanted to make clear that I preferred the Asda one over Morrisons as it would have been far better for the town. I'd much rather see people use the supermarkets that we have and see massive investment occur in the Town Centre. I'd much rather see the Enterprise Park used for its intended purpose and a manufacturing business take up the Tulip site, but thats not the Utopia we live in and as Councillors we have to weigh things up and ultimately make a decision, knowing full well that we will never please everybody.


"How is it right that a Conservative controlled Breckland Planning Committee decide upon a Planning Application led by an organisation, i.e. Pigeon, that is run by somebody so immersed in the local Conservative Party, i.e. William Van Cutsem?" I have no idea but I am sure to many it looks very odd.

Particularly ironic of course given that a couple of people accused me of bias and not declaring a pecuniary interest in relation to "Asda giving Sort It £200k" - errrm no they are not, they were saying that they would ask Sort It, as a collective body, to advise on where a £200k fund could be best utilised to support the Town Centre, in the same way that they were asking the Town Council to do this, and Breckland. To insinuate, no actually, to say that my support for Asda was because of this is somewhat insulting - to say that I would sway my thoughts regarding what is best for Thetford in such a regard - I am guided by what I feel is best for the town in which I was born, and love dearly. Can all Councillors say the same?

It is also perhaps noteworthy to acknowledge the additional attendees at Mondays Planning meeting; in the audience, sat next to the people representing Crown/Pigeon/Morrisons was William Nunn, Leader of Breckland Council, Michael Wassell, Deputy Leader, Mark Kiddle-Morris Cabinet Member for Assets perhaps co-incidence, but worthy of note.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Letter to Thetford and Brandon in relation to Thetford Area Action Plan

The recent legal efforts on behalf of Shadwell Estate against Breckland Council would have surely passed by many in our town. But for those that have been involved, or merely watching the process known as the Thetford Area Action Plan (TAAP) or ‘Growth Point’ generally, there is now fading hope that growth will materialise in the way that many people had initially anticipated.
Shadwell challenged Breckland in the courts over the Thetford Area Action Plan with the support of a majority of Thetford Town Councillors. Not surprisingly the Conservative members of the Council would not go against the District Council – putting the interests of Breckland ahead of the Town, not for the first time. The primary issue that was challenged was in relation to the Stone Curlew and the bizarre fact that house building is being prevented towards the south of the town due to the presence of the Stone Curlew – a protected bird. This was despite evidence of stone curlews nesting in other locations, on land set to be built on no less, and a belief that the whole process was so unfair. But so what? Why should the town of Thetford be so concerned about this? If the houses are built on one piece of land or another, they will still be built. Two reasons really; if the new houses that we are to receive as a town are so grouped together in one area they will surely be more prone to becoming their own isolated community, not an integrated and mutually beneficial part of Thetford. The greater the new housing is spread around the town, and the greater the focus is on regenerating areas for housing, the greater the benefits for Thetford. Personally, I would have loved to have challenged the plan on its complete failure to deliver the meaningful regeneration of the existing areas of Thetford that so badly need it, or the support for our High Street that is yet to materialise.

For all this talk about localism and giving power back to local communities, it is clear from this episode that, to a very large extent, communities can still be dictated to by authorities like Breckland where there is little opposition. With their massive majority of 47 Councillors out of a total of 54, it’s no wonder that Breckland feel so able to charge around doing whatever they like with little concern. I sincerely hope that one day people will realise that their opportunity to change the outlook for our town comes but once every 4 years – when all 54 District Council seats are up for election. This is no desperate plea to vote Labour, but majorities of whatever party are not healthy – vote Labour, or Green, or Lib Dem, or Independent, or Monster Raving Looney Party if you must, but the only way Breckland, and therefore Thetford will be governed in a more democratic and sympathetic way will be when those that have power, appreciate what they have been given to a greater extent and fear that they might one day lose it.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

My thoughts on car parking charges & that 7.8% proposed Council Tax increase

I don't like paying tax. Who does? I argue constantly against increasing Council Tax at meetings of Thetford Town Councils Finance Committee - a significant number of people that I represent have little spare cash and Council Tax bills represent a big chunk of total monthly expenditure for many. You may be surprised therefore that I have discussed with my Labour colleagues on Breckland and agreed that we should support the proposed increase in Breckland's share of the Council Tax. As I explained to the EDP, it is a necessary measure to avoid a level of cuts across the District that would be very severe. Percentages can be a tad misleading, as a 7.8% increase whilst it sounds a lot - against a backdrop of "freezing Council tax" or rises "capped at 2%" - will still only equate to a yearly rise of £4.98 for a Band D property. Many Norfolk and Suffolk Districts already charge over £100 per property, so the Breckland level still represents good value, and I do not believe in cheap party political point scoring so I will not criticise the Councils Conservative administration for this. However, can you imagine if there was a Labour Government in charge at the moment? Every Council up and down the country, Breckland included, would be complaining constantly about the "Labour Government" and their cuts to essential Council services. We do not have a Labour Government currently, we have a Conservative led one, and their cuts to Councils have been absolutely extreme - a level unimaginable under a Labour Government. This has forced Councils to make cuts to services that many would have regarded as untouchable. Is there widespread criticism from Conservative Councils? of course not, although some have broken ranks and spoken out. Some still keep peddling the absolute nonsense that "this is all Labours fault" - a line that fades ever more as we move away from the 2010 election and the myth slowly unravels.

For all the noise about "Breckland listening" and "showing leadership"(George Freeman MP) in relation to car parking charges, it is clear that this decision is thanks to the people. Breckland Labour Group teamed up with hundreds of local residents, businesses and other organisations to co-ordinate a petition that attracted over 15,000 signatures. Watton Chamber of Trade collected over 5,000 in addition to this. That's over 20,000 opposing the introduction of car parking charges - that's more than voted Conservative in the May 2011 elections in Breckland. It would have been electoral suicide for Breckland to introduce car parking charges - and they know it, which is why it was abandoned.

Comments to EDP in full: "I am delighted with the news regarding car parking charges. This is something the Breckland labour group fought very strongly for as this would have a massive detrimental effect on our towns. It is disappointing that so much money and time was wasted on such an ill-conceived idea. The level of council tax increase proposed will be disappointing for many, but it was something that was consulted upon and it is a necessary measure to prevent even further cuts to essential services. The way in which this Conservative led government is starving local councils of vital funds whilst granting a tax cut to millionaires is frankly outrageous."

A critique of Norfolk Conservatives from somebody that knows them well....

Fascinating comments regarding Norfolk Tories on my Facebook page. This is from a lady that used to know them very well:

Margaret Eastham: "Came in at the end Mike, my spies having been there all day. Met Bert Bremner who looked shell shocked and asked whether I could have ever guessed it was that bad. Oh yes! You have to be in the thick of it to see how they work. I wouldn't spit on most Tory Councillors if they were on fire and I was Chloe Smith's agent in the General Election. Take that as you wish. I would vote for my Tory MP but the days of voting for these ghastly specimens are over. Not one of them (save for John Dobson) objected to Murphy's behaviour when he was riding roughshod over the whole of Norfolk. Now that he has been uncovered many of them are squeaking about how awful he is. Too little too late".

Mike Brindle: "The Tories are interested in power; most of the rest of us are interested in providing services, and that includes most Independents. I admire what you have done, Margaret: we need more people in politics with principles like you".
17 hours ago · Like

Margaret Eastham: "My father served the Crown abroad in a position far senior to that of an MP. Throughout my young life it was continually instilled in me that the higher up the ladder you climb the more of a servant you become. My father considered himself throughout his working life to be a servant of the people. The difference between his attitude and that of the Tory Councillors, not just at County level is marked and very worrying. Good luck to all those standing in May and my earnest hope is that the poison in County Hall will be lanced".

Saturday, 2 February 2013

The 100 day countdown....

For those of you that follow me on Facebook you will no doubt be aware that I am counting down the 100 days to the Norfolk County Council elections by posting something relevant each day, it's a bit like an advert calendar for the election - but with no chocolate as your reward! I think most people have found it quite interesting so far. I will collate the Facebook posts in groups of 10 and post here on this blog for you to see, so here's days 99 - 90.

there's now just 99 days to go until the Norfolk County Council elections; I'm very much hoping that you will support myself and Brenda Canham in those elections to become your Norfolk County Councillors for Thetford - to make sure that you are able to use your vote, how about signing up to vote by post? you might be busy on polling day, away on holday, unwell or at work - anybody can now vote by post! Just visit - it's so simple! Let me know if you want further info

just 98 days to go until the Norfolk County Council elections..... there are two County Council seats for Thetford, do you know which one you live in???? Thetford-West is the whole of the Barnham Cross area South of the river, running up and including Redcastle Estate, over the river to include Abbey Estate, Monksgate area, Liberty Gardens and Ladies Estate - and everything in between all of those areas - it's a huge area, approximately 8-9,000 voters - can I count on your support?

Just 97 days to go until the Norfolk County Council elections - following on from yesterday's post - Thetford East Ward contains the whole of the Town Centre, Redgate etc and the whole of Cloverfields, Norwich Road Estate, Fairfields and Woodlands - make sure you are registered to vote and consider applying to vote by post for the election on 2nd May 2013

96 days until the Norfolk County Council elections; do you know where your polling station is in Thetford? There's 9 in total!

95 days to go until Norfolk County Council elections; today I've been with Labour colleagues from across Norfolk discussing everyone's priorities for the upcoming election- what do you think should be the priorities for Thetford that myself and Brenda Canham fight for should we be elected??? Let us know!!

94 days to go until the Norfolk County Council elections and I thought I would share with you the results from the last time these seats were up for election: May 2009, Lib Dem - 934 votes, Conservative - 882, Labour (Terry Jermy) - 706. Turnout just 27.49% of all registered voters. So as you can see I've got a fight ahead of me to get myself elected and I will really be counting on the support of each and every one of you x

93 days to go until the Norfolk County Council elections; Thought I would share with you the election results for Thetford-East from 2009. Conservative: 1036 votes, Lib Dem: 665 and Labour - Brenda Canham - 387 votes - turnout was just 29.84% for this ward last time - so you can see that Brenda has quite a challenge to win, both Brenda and myself will need all of your support come polling day on Thursday 2nd May 2013, and in the weeks leading up to it

Day 92 was a very busy day: went to Dereham in the morning to discuss the Council ward boundaries - which are being reviewed, anyone got any thoughts? And then last night was full meeting of Thetford Town Council - lots of issues discussed. Conservative candidate for Thetford-West was present again in the audience - nice of him to make the trip from his home in Attleborough to attend #justsaying hehe

Day 91; do you know the political composition of Norfolk County Council??? There's 84 Councillors in total representing the whole of Norfolk. 62 of them are currently Conservative, 9 are Lib Dem, 6 are Green, 5 are Labour and there is 1 Ukip. That's right - 62 out of 84 are Tories!!! Time for a bit more of a balance don't ya think??? Remember that come May 2nd! X

90 days to go until the Norfolk wide elections; do you know who your current Norfolk County Councillor is???