Sunday 22 November 2009

A new challenge....

On Thursday I had a job interview with the Benjamin Foundation, for the post of Project Co-ordinator for an exciting new project in Thetford. I am delighted to have been offered to post, which I will start at the beginning of January. The project, has been funded by the Government (Over £400,000!)and is the only one of its kind in the whole of East Anglia. There were 15 projects in total funded across the UK. It aims to address the fact that many children in Thetford have such low aspirations and leave school at 16 going straight into employment with few remaining in education post-16, and less still going on to University after that. The project will take over the empty Community Centre on Redcastle Estate and turn it into a Youth Cafe, and Community hub for learning, and education. It is very exciting!!! I would welcome anyones ideas and thoughts about what sort of activities could take place to help children while at school (e.g. home-work clubs) and what can be done to get more children staying in education post-16.

Wednesday 18 November 2009

What happened to democracy?

Thie piece in today's Eastern Daily Press is wholly unfair. - I agree entirely with the comments laid out here by Peter Smith. "I always read the Inside Politics column with interest. For the most part the analysis is both perceptive and balanced. Today's piece, though, is worrying in its assertion that 'Elizabeth Truss will go on to win the seat very comfortably in the general election'. This is, I believe, an assertion based, not on current evidence, but on past outcomes. The selection controversy which engulfed the SW Norfolk conservatives reflected tha anger of local people fed up with being taken for granted, resentful of what they perceived, rightly or wrongly, as a metropolitan elite deciding what was right for country bumpkins. The old certainties about elections and their outcomes have changed dramatically, even since the last general election. The techniques employed so effectively by Obama in the USA are now with us. It is very foolish indeed to assume that because a particular constituency has been one colour for many years, that this will never change. It is equally foolish to assume that national politics will always be reflected in the way people in a particular community will vote. A constituency is made up of many smaller communities and interest groups. I believe that, more than ever before, localism will matter at the next general election. I agree with Terence Blacker when he writes, 'communities are different from one another, whether they are in towns or the country. The local connection that you have to those who live and work in your neighbourhood or region matters more than ever in a changing, impersonal world'. (Independent 18/11/09) I believe my local connection will play a significant part in the coming election. But other factors in SW Norfolk will challenge the cosy, and deeply anti-democratic media-reinforced consensus on the inevitable outcome in SW Norfolk: Major boundary changes, which have seen Attleborough and Watton transfered to Mid-Norfolk and reduced the notional majority to around 6000. Significant demographic changes, including a major influx of population, especially in Thetford and Downham Market. The role that UKIP will play in taking predominantly Tory votes. The strong Labour base. The choice of yet another outsider as Tory candidate. Mr.Fraser's trees. Major questions about the financial behaviour of Breckland District Council. The latest Tory selection rumpus. The electorate may well vote the way that Chris Fisher says they will. But it is a much more competitive contest this time round and I believe strongly that the huge media coverage of the antics of one political party in SW Norfolk, without any attempt by the EDP, or indeed any other newspaper, to engage in a balanced political debate, treats the electorate with contempt and further re-inforces the view that there is no point in voting because the outcome is a foregone conclusion. And that's even before the election campaign, which will, I hope, focus on issues and policies, has even begun in earnest. Yours faithfully" Peter Smith Labour's Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, SW Norfolk

Monday 9 November 2009

Thetford Fireworks Spectacular, November 2009

I've just sent the text below to the Editor of the Thetford and Brandon Newspaper. Dear Editor, I would like to give a massive thank-you to the thousands of people from Thetford who turned up on Sunday night to support the first organised fireworks display in this town for many years. It was an absolutely fantastic success. The fireworks were amazing, everyone enjoyed themselves and the people of this town got the chance to come together and meet friends and show what fantastic community spirit this town has. I would like to particularly thank the two main organisers, Larry Gray and Susan Glossop. Without them, this event simply would not have happened. Many people got involved with this event and many donated their time and provided support. I would especially like to thank the small group of peopled who helped me with raising funds for Help for Heroes, they were; Sheron Rourke, Barbara Bysouth, Jaime Smith, Gavin Leach, Fiona Drew, Mark and Sarah Lynam, Roxanne Laws, Robert Waple, Kevin, Gina, Rebecca, Zoe and Jade, Andy Hradsky. A total of £1900 was raised for Help For Heroes. Well done Thetford, you have done us all proud!! Best wishes Terry Jermy Thetford Town Councillor for the Saxon Ward (Photo credits to Bernie O'Connor)

Sunday 1 November 2009

One of the not so good bits about being a councillor...

On a fairly regular basis, I randomly get stopped by people wanting to speak to me as a 'councillor'. Whether it be in the street, at the local Supermarket, walking through the town centre, or wherever. I have no problems talking to people, it is part of the job, even if I am in a rush, I make time to talk and answer questions. I make myself very 'available' - I have no issues giving out my home telephone number, and my mobile number, people can email me, message me on facebook, read and comment on my blog. However, what I really object to, is people being rude. Just because I am a councillor, it seems like some people think they can shout at you, or blame you for whatever it is they have an issue with. I'm a Thetford Town Councillor, I can hardly be held responsible for decisions taken by Norfolk County Council, Breckland Council, the Government, the police. Am I accountable for decisions taken by Thetford Town Council? to an extent yes, but not entirely. People often don't think to ask your views about something before wading in and giving you their two-penneth worth and 'holding you accountable' - which is often not the case, its 'let's have a pop at a councillor' moment. Yesterday, at 11.30am (on a Saturday), a guy stopped me in the street and was literally shouting at me and was very aggressive. It was something part work related, and something part town council related. For starters, I think it is very sad if someone feels it is Ok to talk to a fellow human being in that way, it is totally unncessary. But worse, I was working on a session for work with young people, and I am sure they would have been scared by this guy. On another occasion, at 12.30 at night, I was walking out of the front door of a friends when a half drunk guy walking along spotted me and started shouting about something council related. I've learnt to be very clear with people, I will talk as much as they want, I will not shy away from a discussion or a debate, but under no circumstances, will I allow someone to be rude to me.