Monday, 30 April 2012

Change in the wind?

The German finance minister continues to press the Berlin line that Spain must continue with austerity measures, even though the evidence is that it has the potential to drive Spain into serious civil unrest, quite apart from the risk of bankrupting the nation.  This could lead to Spain leaving the euro as it has too big an economy to bailout.

Meanwhile, the idea is being circulated of a 'growth pact' to go alongside the 'fiscal pact'.  It will be interesting to see how Germany reacts to this as it will involve 'real new money' whereas the fiscal pact does not.

Hopefully clarity on the direction of measures to counter the effect of the eurozone on sovereign states will become apparent after the Greek general election and the French presidential election (both this weekend).,1518,830589,00.html
UN agency criticises austerity measures.
Interactive EU recession map.,1518,830594,00.html
Merkel., France/Germany, austerity

Rusthall Parish Council

I am delighted to note that the agenda has been published for the next meeting of the Council's planning committee.  My readers will recall that I have been complaining about the lack of agendas and notices of meeting for this committee.

UKIP's election ploy in Rusthall

The UKIP candidate called at our home today and left an election communication in the form of a letter.  Clearly after disaffected Tories.

In UKIP most of us are Conservatives who have left following the party's betrayal of Conservative principles: on Europe, on immigration, and on local government.

Could one of my UKIP friends explain what the betrayal is in respect of local government?

No sign of the Liberal Democrats, not even an election leaflet: and this in a ward the party has held seats.

At the beginning of April I expressed the opinion that the Conservatives would hold the seat, just.  However, this was before the Budget and the hoo-hah surrounding the Culture Secretary.  Too close to call, although I suspect the Conservatives will do well on the postal votes and have a superior election day organisation.

Spiegel update

I had serious computer problems last week. One consequence was inability to download articles from a number of sources including Spiegel.  So, a catch-up on the Spiegel take on eurozone issues.,1518,829904,00.html
Spain credit crunch. Euro Group considers direct loans to banks.,1518,829936,00.html
Europe could economize itself to death.,1518,830090,00.html
Merkel blasts Hollande.,1518,830193,00.html
How long will Hollande's party go on?,1518,830185,00.html
Austerity backlash unites European leaders.,1518,828996,00.html
Euro's fate hinges on austerity in Spain.,1518,829440,00.html
Berlin is running out of allies in euro crisis.

Second UKIP election leaflet

The second UKIP election leaflet was delivered to our home today.  Contains some guff on Europe and immigration (not that Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has any power over such matters) and nothing on  policies the candidate would promote for the borough or for the ward.

Not impressed.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Notice of vacancy

Kent County Council has published the notice of vacancy for the electoral division that was formerly held by Kevin Lynes prior to his tragic death.

It will be an interesting contest and not a shoe-in for the Conservatives.  Kevin will be a difficult act to follow.  He had a high personal vote: earned by his strong support for the communities he served, the organisations he supported and the causes he promoted .  A highly pro-active councillor, he made things happen.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Strategic rail proposal

My regular readers know I support the re-opening of the Uckfield-Lewes railway to bring to fruition an alternative route between London and Brighton.  Two articles for your consideration:

Austerity or growth?

2011 was the year of austerity in the eurozone, driven by the demand of Germany and the French poodle. Now the flavour is growth.  Caught up in the middle of this are the populations of Greece, Italy, Spain and Ireland.

Something has to give.  The catalyst may be the result of the French presidential election, or it may be the failure of the Netherlands coalition government to push through the fiscal pact.

However it is far more likely that the problems in Spain will be the real tipping point.  Spain is in a mess, adult employment at 24%, youth  unemployment at 51%, debt downgraded to two notches above junk status and the country in recession.  More austerity??

The problem for the EC and the eurozone is that Spain is the zone's third largest economy after Germany and France. The economy is twice the combined size of the Greek, Italian and Irish economies.  To bail out Spain would be beyond the fire power of the current eurozone bailout mechanisms.

The  answer, devaluation, managed inflation and interest rate adjustments are not possible within the eurozone.  So, it may be Spain that decides to leave the common currency, unless there is a radical re-think in Berlin.

Since I published this post I have come across the following article:
Sense of deja vu.

And this:

Friday, 27 April 2012

No vision, no ideas

Tunbridge Wells has a splendid MP in Greg Clark. He steered the localism legislation through the House of Commons and recast planning guidance.  A star performer destined for promotion.

Unfortunately he is saddled with a Conservative Group on his local council (Tunbridge Wells) lacking in vision and ideas.  The council refused to take up a grant offered by Clark's department.  Instead it hiked council tax by 3%.

Whilst the Conservative Group take some credit for the campaign to re-open Morrisons and pressing for the dualling of the A21, the driver of both is Clark.

The difference between the MP and the Conservative local worthies is illustrated starkly by the refusal of Tunbridge Wells Council to grant a licence for a greengrocery stand in the area adjoining the Millennium Clock.

Greg Clark promoted the idea for the stall under the clock stating that with the re-opening of Morrisons it was important to ensure the top end of the town is, to quote the Courier, made more attractive and vibrant.

Clark said also:

Whilst I am encouraged by borough council's commitment to try different things, it's important that there is real momentum behind this.


Good coverage

Good coverage of the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council elections in today's edition of the local newspaper, The Courier.  

The editorial page reflects on one of the key issues which I have referred to in earlier posts: the lack of any mention of a bold or overarching vision for the town of Royal Tunbridge Wells and the accusation that the Tories are treading water to avoid upsetting what I consider to be unrepresentative voices  - the Aspic Brigade.

There is a good two page spread on the election.  No comment from the Liberal Democrats I note.  The UKIP candidate in Rusthall gets a mention as do the Labour party contesting all seats for the first time in many a year. The Leader of the Council is confident but not complacent.  There is an interesting piece on the Independent standing in Pembury.

Councillor Brian Ransley gets a mention in both the editorial and an article.  He regards his chance of success as evens: personally I hope he gets hammered.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Towards Tomorrow

Towards Tomorrow is the title of the Conservative Party's election address in my ward.  It is an eight page, glossy, A5 pamphlet.

Hardly anything about issues local to my ward.  The document says little about the future.  It reports progress on the re-development of the former Odeon cinema, but this is only a repeat of what was said in the 2008 election address which expressed the hope that re-development would commence in 2010.

The most worrying thing is that there is no mention of aspiration for the future of Royal Tunbridge Wells, which one would have expected in a document entitled  Towards Tomorrow.  The Labour Party's election address led with an item on the long term aspirations for the borough.

The penny drops?

But is it too late?  The stupidity of the European Commission never fails to depress me.  The EC is angling for a 7% budget increase next year.  You couldn't make it up!

See also:

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Promises, promises

The eurozone's political leaders are slowly coming to the realisation that the countries they lead are democracies and the citizens will not sit back idly whilst austerity is imposed. The Dutch face a general election in September as a consequence of the coalition government falling apart over the fiscal pact. Holland and France are (have been?) Merkel's strongest supporters for the imposition of the fiscal pact.

In France, Sarkozy has played his 'get out of jail' card as he seeks to come from behind to win the run-off for the French presidency.  Mrs Merkel must be furious!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012


Much despondency in Berlin at the likely victory of Hollande in the second round of the French presidential election. However,the result is not a forgone conclusion. Much will depend on what  the voters for Marine Le Pen, the third placed candidate in the first round, decide to do.

Problems in the Netherlands government coalition could mean a general election in June which could spell trouble for another of Merkel's supporters.(Since writing this, the election will be in September.)
A must read article.

Monday, 23 April 2012

An old election address

Today I travelled by bus to Tunbridge Wells, something I do rarely as I prefer to walk. However it was raining heavily and as I waited at the bus terminus in the open air I got drenched. The journey into town was delayed by congestion in Rusthall High Street. By the time I returned from Royal Tunbridge Wells the rain had eased off. As  I turned off the A264 onto the Terry Path I noticed a couple were trying to cross the road. I had noticed them first a few minutes earlier as I approached them; they were waiting to cross the road after I passed them and headed down the Terry Path. The place where the couple were trying to cross  is a dangerous spot, no clear view in either direction and vehicles moving at 40mph or more.

Would any of the candidates at this May's local elections, I wondered, promise to do anything about any of these problems?

I keep election addresses. Had any of the candidates in previous elections make promises on these issues? Lo and behold the Conservative candidate at the 2008 election, who is standing for re-election, had made a number of promises. Four have been kept, two I do not know if they have been kept or not.

The remaining three may well have been kept, but with complete lack of success.

  • Persuade the Authorities to provide a bus shelter and litter bin at the Parsonage Road terminal
  • Search for a method of controlling traffic congestion in the High Street that is acceptable to traders and residents alike.
  • Press for the building of a refuge crossing on the A264 near to St Paul's Church.
Pressing, searching and persuading has not resulted in any action on these three issues.  Ah well.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Berlin's eyes on Paris

This Sunday is the first round of the French presidential election. Hollande us in the lead and the expectation is that he will win, and also win should there have to be a run-off the following Sunday between the top two candidates.  Mrs Merkel has been supporting Sarkozy and has been decidedly cold towards Hollande. The reason for this is clear - Hollande would seek to scrap the Fiscal Pact and has a more expansive view on the role of the European Central Bank.  The tensions an Hollande victory would unleash are brought out well in the following article.,1518,828537,00.html

A few articles on matters eurozone and IMF

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Smoke and mirrors

Got the headache pills handy?    Then take a deep breath and click on the following link:

There, that wasn't too bad was it?

One of my correspondents has this to say about the transfer of over £2M from the Council's reserves.  I have made a few very minor amendments, but the substance is the same.

'For the past five years at least, the Council has been contributing about £200,000 per annum from REVENUE to close the deficit but, what was said at Cabinet, was that they would pay two millions into the Fund but, each year £200,000 would be taken from REVENUE and placed into RESERVES to gradually replace the two Millions taken from Reserves.

Of course that is all smoke and mirrors. As soon as they are confronted by another deficit budget next year and, they have to decide if CT is going up again by 3% or more, the voices will say -  we can close the gap by taking from Reserves to balance the budget ( as they did this year) but, we have a commitment that is minuted, to put £200,000 into Reserves to replace the two millions we took out of reserves last year but, by doing that, the £200,000 we have to put back into Reserves from Revenue is creating or adding to the deficit budget etc . Have you lost the will to live yet???'

Another Laurel and Hardy moment from the Cabinet.  £2M is a lot of anyone's money.  How widely did the Council consult on this proposal in the brave new world of openness and transparency?

Where I live

I live in the parish of Rusthall, to the west of Royal Tunbridge Wells and in the administrative area of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.  I commend the link to a website packed with information and photographs.

Euroland links

Morsels of discomfort:,1518,827797,00.html
Bitter medicine


See also:,1518,828249,00.html  for an interesting development.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Voting intentions

Recent polls/ betting intentions to mull over.

The first puts UKIP ahead of the Liberal Democrats, just.  Not a major surprise, indeed what does surprise me is that the lead is not greater.  The Liberal Democrats, for so long the party of the 'protest vote' is finding out that sharing power brings its electoral consequences.  Some people are looking for an alternative to the Con/Lib Dem/Labour trio and UKIP may provide a home, particularly given current anti-EU sentiment. 


The Independent candidate in London Mayor is considered by the bookies to be running third, ahead of the Liberal Democrats and UKIP.  I doubt she will pull off a first or second place after the first round of the count, but it will be interesting to see how second preference votes are redistributed. 

I deplore the intrusion of national issues into local elections, but it is inevitable.  I recommend that in local elections the voter should look at the calibre, record and promises of each candidate and vote for the one they consider the best, regardless of party allegiance.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Lewes-Uckfield: part of a larger scheme

I have been a supporter of re-opening the railway between Lewes and Uckfield for the selfish reason it would improve the journey time for me between Tunbridge Wells and Brighton.  It is ridiculous that it takes two hours by train (whichever of three routes is used) or bus between the two places.

The proposal to re-open the line has regional benefits and I commend the following links:'s/2012%20BML2%20pamphlet.pdf

Then, I came across this:

:31pm, Mon 16 Apr 2012

Stansted Airport calls for rail improvements to help compete with rival airports

London Stansted Airport is today calling for significant improvements to the rail links at the UK’s fourth busiest airport to help create jobs and growth, improve local commuter access and allow Stansted to win new passengers and airlines.

The eurozone gamble

Gamblers set out to win, be it on the winners of races, movements on the stock exchange or the luck of the dice.  The canny gambler knows when to stop. Take winnings and do not chase after more.  Have a stop loss position and do not  continue to bet beyond that point.  Unfortunately, some gamblers do not heed good advice and continue to bet  in the hope that losses will be retrieved.

The biggest gamble of recent years has been the formation of the eurozone. Set up without any fiscal or political union it was bound to fail.  The gamble was that the desire to move towards ever closer union would resolve the structural problems of the eurozone.   But fate intervened in the form of the USA mortgage crisis, closely followed by the banking crisis and world recession.  Before the political and fiscal union could be formed, with its attendant central bank with the necessary powers, a crisis of sovereign debt, bank illiquidity and some economies moving into deep recession, the eurozone started to fall apart. 

It was saved, pro tem, by throwing money at the problem and insisting on austerity measures, but these singularly fail to deal with the underlying structural problem of the eurozone.

The gamble has been lost and those who are suffering are the people of Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland.  Pain is spread well beyond the perpetrators of the gamble.

What to do.  Throw more money at a lost cause?  The answer surely has to be to permit countries  to leave the eurozone.

 Four interesting articles:


Spiegel's take on the French presidential election:,1518,827770,00.html

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Excellent Labour leaflet

The Labour candidate in our ward is the only candidate who lives in Rusthall - next to the polling station.

The Labour election leaflet contains six photographs and, apart from the issue of rising rail fares, deals with issues in Tunbridge Wells.  The only downside is that there is nothing specific to Rusthall.

I applaud the section headed 'A 21st Century Tunbridge Wells?'  Well I would, it accords with opinions I have expressed on this blog concerning the long-term future of the centre of Royal Tunbridge Wells.

Woeful election leaflet from UKIP

Our household received today an election missive from UKIP.  It describes the UKIP candidate as 'local', although the nomination document published by the town hall gives an address near Tesco's in the middle of Tunbridge Wells.

UKIP's strategy is based on an assumption (barmy some may be inclined to say) that there is a 'stich-up' between the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties which leads to a lack of local accountability.  For this reason we are informed that Rusthall needs an 'independent voice'.  As the candidate is standing under the UKIP banner he is hardly an Independent in the normal usage of the word which is a description of candidates who do not have the backing of a political party.

Quite what the funding of the European Union and stopping immigration has to do with Tunbridge Wells Borough Council is beyond me.

The leaflet regales us with the following:


Arrogant tosh.


Sheffield United FC 'the Blades' are on the verge of automatic promotion from Division 1, four points clear and with a better goal diference than the one club that can overtake them - Sheffield Wednesday.  Should be promotion for the Blades, but they have bottled it before in key matches.

Sadly Chesterfield FC look doomed to relegation after only one year in Division 1.

Tunbridge Wells FC have had a good season and expectation is high that the club will secure promotion next season.

Wharfedale RFC has not had a good season, flirting with the relegation zone.  However recent wins  and the points totals of clubs above them mean that Wharfedale could finish mid-table.  The club has had key players on the injury list and will be looking to strengthen the squad if it is to avoid a third year at the wrong end of the table.

Westcombe Park RFC must win the last two games to have any chance of avoiding relegation.  How the club must rue the deduction of five points for  an administrative error in registering players.  Last season they avoided relegation by winning the last match of the season against Canterbury and in the process condemning Canterbury to relegation.

Tunbridge Wells  RFC has been relegated following a thumping defeat at home to Lewes.

Storm brewing in Spain

Regular readers of this blog will not be surprised to be informed that the eurozone crisis has not gone away, nor that the structure of the eurozone is failing, nor that the heat is on Spain.


The ECB buying more bonds simply transfers the problem, it does not resolve it.

Friday, 13 April 2012

It's called democracy, freedom of speech and accountability

Councillor Glenn Hall (Con) ran into some flack at a public debate on the Tunbridge Wells Regeneration Company for having the temerity to suggest that progress had been blighted by a small group of the elderly and troublemakers who write to the local newspaper but do not represent the views of the wider public.  He was jeered for his trouble.  In one respect I agree with councillor Hall. I have dubbed the group he refers to as the Aspic Brigade, in that the group is opposed to major change to the townscape and in particular redevelopment of the civic complex.

I suppose I am, in councillor Hall's eyes, elderly, a troublemaker and I write occasionally to the local newspaper.  However, my agenda would not find favour with the Aspic Brigade.

The approach adopted by councillor Hall is deeply undemocratic and the negation of the concept of a free society, as pointed out in a splendid letter in today's Courier by the Liberal Democrat candidate in my ward at the forthcoming local elections.

May be councillor Hall will reflect on his statement when the elderly, angered by the 'granny tax' in the recent budget, cast their votes for any party other than the Conservatives.  It is rather dim to be ageist.

On the democracy front the idea has been floated by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to create a Royal Tunbridge Wells Town Council.  A good idea in my opinion.  However, the chairman of Royal Tunbridge Wells Town Forum has expressed his opposition and commented in the Courier newspaper thus: members don't want to be involved in hustings and putting leaflets through doors.

The simple answer is to have both an elected town council and an unelected forum.

The Leader of the Council is quoted thus:

It's not working as a committee should, it's somewhat aggressive.  Borough councillors are not always happy to sit in the middle and be grilled.

Poor shrinking violets.  Seems to me the Town Forum is doing an excellent job in challenging councillors.  Make them accountable, and not just at election time.

John Dutton changes tack

Last month I published two statements made by Mr Dutton in letters to the local press.

  • I sincerely believe that under the good stewardship of financial portfolio holder James Scholes and leader Bob Atwood, we have the best possible hope for our town and borough. They deserve our full support, not denigration.

  • Thank goodness we have our good stewards Bob Atwood and James Scholes in charge of our local finances.

Mr Dutton has been writing to the press again.  His letter consists of a spirited attack on the economic policy of the Coalition and what he perceives as the detrimental effect of austerity measures.

His conclusion:

...may I urge that we use the May local elections to signal our disapproval and lack of confidence in the current government, by not voting for their local candidates.

Whatever happened to our full support?

I have commented before that local elections should concentrate on local issues.  Local elections should not be a glorified opinion poll on national issues. Why should excellent councillors of whatever political persuasion be judged on the electorates' attitude to national issues and not on what they have done, and propose to do, locally?

Euro problems continue to simmer

The skirmish in Athens may have bought the euro and its admirers a brief respite, but trouble has surfaced now in Spain.  The structural deficiencies in the eurozone have not been addressed. All we have had so far are  austerity measures, a pact which seeks to enforce austerity measures (Spain has blown out of the water any authority the pact might have had) and bank liquidity improved by the ECB.  The problem is that the cheap loans made by the ECB to banks has been used to buy sovereign debt which may yet go pear-shaped.

On the political scene there is the French presidential election, the Irish referendum on the fiscal pact and a general election in Greece, any of which could upset expectations in the financial markets.
Shares hit by worries over Spain.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Garbage from English Passport site

The English Passport blog is owned by Diamond  and Associates Ltd.  The company is registered at the address of Steve Uncles who is an officer of the English Democrats and a candidate for that party on the London-wide list of London Assembly candidates.

The blog has been devoting much of its time to promoting Siobhan Benita, an Independent candidate for the position of Mayor of London.  The English Democrats failed to put up a candidate for the mayoral election.  Quite what Siobhan Benita has done to attract the attention of the English Passport blog is not known to me, but it is an unwanted, unsolicited albatross round her neck.

Benita is doing well in the campaign and has attracted 'celebrity' support.  Opinion polls place her in third place: a massive achievement. 

I emphasise that there is no link, formal or informal, between Benita and the English Democrats, yet there has been a steady drip of posts on the English Passport blog.  I leave it to you to consider the  intended effect.

What is significant is the message of the pictures on the blog, but first, two pictures from the Benita campaign:

Note the absence of any flag.  Now for the English Passport blog photographs:

The character on the right is Mr O'Connor, the English Democrat candidate in 2008, but he resigned from the party before election day.  I will leave you to judge the effect of the juxtaposition of the elements of these pictures.

I note the English Democrat candidates are all white males.  So much for diversity.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Conservatives fire first election salvo.

The local election in my ward in Tunbridge Wells is a key one for the local Conservatives. The Conservative candidate is the Leader of the Council and he is opposed by UKIP (who won the seat from the Tories last year), Liberal Democrats who came close to gaining second place last year and Labour who have not contested the seat for a number of years.  My prediction is that the Conservatives will hold the seat by a very small majority.

Last year the Conservative campaign in my ward was abject.

The first election leaflet through my letter box is from the Conservatives.  It concentrates on ward issues and the positive action of the Leader of the Council to deal with the towns 'grot spots'.  Not a single mention of national issues.  This I applaud.  Local elections should be fought on local issues.  I note the Labour Party has a party political broadcast which concentrates solely on the government's changes to the NHS and invites electors to vote Labour in the local elections. Local elections should not be a glorified opinion poll on national issues. Why should excellent councillors of whatever political persuasion be judged on the electorates' attitude to national issues and not on what they have done, and propose to do, locally?

Spanish woes continue

When the European Commission and the Spanish government declare that Spain will not require a bailout, the likelihood is that the opposite is the case.  The financial markets certainly do not believe the fine words.
Excellent summary.

For a contrary opinion see:

More on the debt front and the ECB.  Not pretty.,1518,827099,00.html
The return of the Spanish Flu!

Spain up the spout?

Grim news regarding Spain, not forgetting Italy:

Sarkozy has been the cheerleader for the eurozone 'problem solved' brigade.  Oh the irony, if the heat is piled on to just before the French presidential election.

Sent to Coventry

Work took me to Coventry today. All the trains I used were on time.  Coventry has changed considerably since I was last there in 1984.  Not for the better.  Traffic is horrendous and the new buildings do not excite.  Coventry was and is still a depressing place.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Exciting times on heritage railways front

The Spa Valley railway opened the Groombridge to Eridge section in 2011, thereby making a connection with Network Rail at Eridge.

2012 has seen the removal of the refuse tip in the cutting at Imberhorne Lane. It is anticipated that by March 2013 the Bluebell Railway will be running through services between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead.

The Rother Valley Railway continues to develop its track at Robertsbridge and eventually plans to join up with the Kent & East Sussex Railway west of Bodiam.  Should these plans come to fruition (there are major hurdles to overcome) there will be a through service between Robertsbridge and Tenterden.


A cautionary note

A newspaper carries a story today concerning a fertility clinic.  One of the clinic's owners donated sperm and it is estimated 600 children have him as their biological father.  All this happened many years ago. There are strict limits on the number of families for whom a donor may provide sperm. The position is that a donor may provide sperm for up to ten families. The reason for this is to diminish the risk of two children with the same biological father having offspring: with all the genetic risks that can entail.

Where I live I know of couples with children not one of which has the same biological mother and father.  Indeed the children often do not know whom are their biological  fathers and mothers.  The risk of genetic problems is increased considerably as relationships develop between such children.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

English Passport will be miffed.

The unsubtle indeed crass attempt by the English Passport blog to associate the London mayoral Independent candidate, Siobhan Benita, with the English Democrats is poor politics.  Posts on the blog contain images which have the George Cross flag against her name.   Pure fabrication.

Mr Uncles has published this picture:

Needless to say, this flag does not appear on any of her literature.

One of the English Democrat candidates for the London wide Assembly seats has come out in support of the UKIP mayoral candidate which rather scuppers the English Passport strategy (if one can call it that).

London Mayoral Election 2012 looking at the list of mayoral candidates standing , I can only see one crediable candidate to vote for at the moment. Move aside Ken and Boris , I think Lawrence Webb from UKIP is the way forward , i do not know enough about Siobhan Benita to back her.
Voting UKIP this Mayoral election would bring a fresh face to London and send a clear message to the others we want change. 

Perhaps the blog is trying to put the idea in the minds of people tempted to vote for Siobhan Benita that they should vote English Democrat on the London wide Assembly list.  Benita is seeking to stop the unwanted attentions of the English Passport blog.

Comments she had made about the blog:

I am not associated with English Democrats at all – unfortunately they have taken it on themselves to add me to their blog – I@ve complained but don’t have time to keep going back to them.

I’ll try once more – it is very annoying...

Just to stress – I don’t share any of their values at all!


I’ve complained twice direct to them – I can’t affect the blog site as it’s not owned by wordpress or the like. I’ve publically complained on raido today and tweeted about it
I’ll continue to try and contact them directly but in the meantime thanks for flagging this up – it’s extremely annoying.

A facebook exchange:

Friday, 6 April 2012

What does this picture suggest to you?

The following illustrates the confusion:

And this on the English Passport Blog:

This is from her website.  Note the differences:

I don't see a flag on the poster below.  I wonder whom it was who added the flag on the pictures above and why?

UPDATE:  More drivel from the English Passport blog.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

The 'new' Morrisons in Tunbridge Wells.

Thanks in part to the efforts of Greg Clark, MP for Tunbridge Wells, and the Borough Council Morrisons decided to re-open its closed store located opposite the railway station.  Over the years it became one of the town's 'grot spots'.

The new forecourt and entrance is a big improvement on what was there before.  Gone is the dark covered way and in its place a pleasant open space.

One down, one to go.  When will the old cinema be demolished?

Concerns about the former Kent & Sussex Hospital are being voiced in the local press. The land could be used for a new civic centre and theatre.  Not that I am suggesting demolishing the old town hall and assembly hall in their entirety.  Keep the facade. 

More from euroland

The drip, drip, drip of bad news continues.

New trams for old: mind the sand.

Last year I posted a blog,  in which I mentioned a tram ride from Fleetwood to Blackpool.

The tram was a short walk from the Fleetwood jetty. What a bumpy journey. In those days the standard of track maintenance was poor and the double-deck trams would lurch alarmingly between Cleveleys and Bispham.

The route re-opened this week following £100m  modernisation with modern trams and  miles of new new track.  No more lurching. The old trams will be used during the tourist season.

However, all has not gone well.  A new tram came off the track near Fleetwood.  The reason: sand on the rails. Sand by the seaside, who would have thought of that?

Old tram.

New Tram.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Iberian woes

The focus of concern regarding the travails of the eurozone has moved to the Iberian peninsular.  Whilst the UK has been  caught up with the 'granny tax, bad weather, petrol shortages and George Galloway, the problems of Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy continue.

Some interesting contests

The list of candidates for the local elections in Tunbridge Wells has been published.  It is not the final list, candidates may withdraw, but it is unlikely that any will so do.  16 wards are being contested, and in 2 of the wards there are two seats up for grabs.

The Conservatives and Labour Party are fighting all 18 seats, Liberal Democrats 13, UKIP 12, Independents 2 and the Green Party 1.

My initial observations.

Benenden & Cranbrook.

A Con/Lab contest which I expect Con to hold.  Surprised there is no Lib Dem as the party holds one seat.  In the past there have been Independent councillors.

Brenchley and Horsmonden.

A Con/Lab contest.  Con should hold.


Two seats to be contested, one by the sitting Con, the other a vacancy arising from the death of a Lib Dem councillor.  Con/Labour/Lib Dem each has 2 candidates and there is 1 UKIP candidate. Hard to call, possibly 1 Con and 1 Lib Dem to win.


Con/Lib Dem/Labour candidates.  This is the seat of councillor Ransley.  Sadly, I think it will be a Con hold.


Con/Lib Dem/Labour/UKIP/Green candidates.  This is a very safe Con seat.

Goudhurst & Lamberhurst.

Con/Lab/Independent.  The sitting Con should have no problem holding the seat.

Hawkhurst & Sandhurst.

Con/Lab/Lib Dem/UKIP.  Con hold.

Pantiles & St Marks.

Con/Lab/UKIP. Expect a Con hold.


Con/Lab/Lib Dem/UKIP.  Con hold.


Two seats being contested, one the sitting Con councillor, the other resulting from the resignation of a Lib Dem councillor.  The former Lib Dem councillor won a by-election brought about by the resignation of a Con councillor, who is standing at this election as an Independent. Con lost the by-election as a consequence of defections to UKIP.

Candidates: Con 2/Lab2/ Lib Dems 1/ Ind/1 UKIP 1.

Very hard to call.  Much will depend on how people voting Lib Dem/Ind/UKIP use their second vote.   My inclination is towards 2 seats for Con.


Con/Lab/Lib Dem/UKIP

Last year this seat was a UKIP gain from Con, with Lib Dem not far behind.  Expect a far better campaign from Con this year.  The Con is the Leader of the Council. I expect a Con hold, just.


Con/Lab/Lib Dem/UKIP.  No English Democrat standing.  Anticipate a Con hold.

Southborough & High Brooms.

Con/Lib Dem/Lab/UKIP.  Con lost this seat to Lab last May.  In a by-election to Southborough Town Council Con won a seat from Lab.  I expect a Lab gain from Con.

Speldhurst & Bidborough.

Con/Lib Dem/Lab/UKIP.  A very safe Con seat.

St James.

Con/Lib Dem/Lab/UKIP.  A Lib Dem stronghold.  Should be a Lib Dem hold.

St Johns.

Con/Lab/Lib Dem/UKIP.  Will be a fierce contest. Last year a Con gain from Lib Dem. Con defending the seat.  Could be close.  I anticipate a Con hold.

After the elections I will add a post analysing how good, or bad, my predictions are.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Uncles strikes another bum note

The latest outpouring from the English Passport Blog (See:  ) informs us that UKIP does not have a candidate for the London Mayoral election.

London MayorEnglish Democrats – None (English Democrats are running a London Wide Assembly Candidate Party List)
UKIP – None (UKIP are running a London Wide Assembly Candidate Party List)

However the London Elects website informs us as follows.

Candidate and party descriptions are given as on the nomination forms submitted by candidates. This is how they will appear on the ballot papers (along with party emblems). For clarification, ‘Fresh Choice for London’ is the description chosen by the UK Independence Party in this election.

Now, which do you believe?  No brainer.

UKIP contests all London seats, English Democrats doesn't

Cast your eye dear reader over the screenshot from the English Democrats' website. The item was posted on 1st March 2012.

Click on screenshot to enlarge.

What is happening?

Contesting the mayoral election?                                     No

Contesting the London Assembly Party List?                 8 candidates

Contesting the Assembly constituencies?                        1 candidate.

UKIP on the other hand is contesting the mayoral election and has more candidates on the Assembly party list.  For some reason UKIP is contesting all the constituency and the Mayoral elections under the description: Fresh Choice for London.  The London Elects website makes it clear that the description is a choice made by UKIP.  Seems barmy to me.

Even the BNP is making a better fist of contesting the elections than the English Democrats.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Eurozone titbits

Poor Angela is worried that her friend Nicolas will not win the French presidential election.  Having snubbed his socialist rival Francois Hollande, it is now dawning on her than she needs to mend bridges.,1518,824873,00.html

The Bundestag has secured greater powers to determine how Germany reacts to demands on the eurozone bailout funds.  This is the consequence of a decision of the German Constitutional Court, a matter on which I have posted before.,1518,825150,00.html

Two interesting articles:

Nothing like optimism!

And then, trouble at t'mill:

Finally, don't quite know what to make of this.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

All change in Kent?

Amidst all the excitement of the launch of the new National Planning Policy Framework, a low-key consultation on local government reform was initiated by the Communities and Local Government Department.

Entitled, Bold Steps for Local Government and Localism, the consultative document sets out proposals to streamline decision making, enhance localism and reduce costs.  The consultation at this stage is with local authorities but it will become a public consultation in October 2012.

The role of parish and town councils will be enhanced as part of the Localism agenda.  Areas without parish or town councils will have ones created.

 In Kent, it is proposed that the county council be abolished and replaced by two unitary authorities.  West Kent will cover Dartford, Gravesham, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge & Malling, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells.  East Kent will cover Swale, Canterbury, Ashford, Dover, Shepway and Thanet.

The new councils will be co-located at Maidstone in premises currently used by Kent County Council.  The two new councils will be expected to share services and thereby reduce substantially overheads and staffing costs.  Further savings will be achieved by a massive reduction in the number of councillors. With adjustments to existing county council electoral divisions, it is planned that each council will have 40 members.  KCC has 85 members and the number of district councillors runs into hundreds. Each authority will have the directly elected mayor and cabinet model of governance.

Gateways’ services will be enhanced to ensure social services and planning presences in each of the former district council areas.

If nothing else, the proposals will be a godsend to MPs who will have to deal with only one local authority. Currently, some MPs have to contend with three councils.  The MP for Tonbridge has to deal with KCC and Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council.  As Edenbridge is in his constituency, he also has to deal with Sevenoaks District Council. The proposed constituency boundary changes would, if implemented, result in one Kent MP having to deal with three district councils and KCC!

Clearly, these radical proposals will attract bitter and sustained opposition from vested interests, hence the staging of the consultation.

UPDATE:  Fact follows fiction!