Thursday, 31 May 2012

Too little, too late (2)

An excellent read:

See also:

Too little, too late.

My avid reader will not be surprised by my declaration that I am sceptical about much of the EU, EC and eurozone projects.   But I am not anti-European. The most serious issues for me are the democratic deficit in the EU and the disconnection between citizens and rulers.  The vision thar has driven the EU project, a united Europe, is a noble one when set in the context of the history of warring nations.  Sadly, the project has failed, nationalism is on the rise, the extremists of the Left and Right are growing in strength, citizens feel disenfranchised,  power has leaked away from national democratic institutions.

But what could Spain do?  It cannot raise interest rates.

By the way....

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

More wobbles in Euroland


See also:

Irish Referendum on Fiscal Pact

The expectation is that the Irish will vote 'yes' tomorrow.  Will update as news come in.



A shabby saga that has real consequences

The title is taken from the Daily Telegraph and heads up an editorial on Jeremy Hunt and News Corp.


The title is an apt one to describe the events which triggered the report by Standards for England on the activities of some Tunbridge Wells officers and councillors as well as a few members of the public.


Atwood and Ransley lost their seats at the recent elections.  Councillor Jukes now is Leader of the Council.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Blackfriars Station

My older readers may remember the time when Blackfriars Station was the last station before Holborn (High Level).  There had been an intermediate station at St Paul's.  As the train pulled into Holborn there could be seen, on the left, a cutting  down which had run a line to Holborn (Low level) and thence to Farringdon.  Fast forward a few years: Holborn (High Level) is no more and Thameslink trains now run down the cutting to City Thameslink (the replacement for Holborn (Low Level)) and thence to Farringdon.

Blackfriars Station has been rebuilt and it is now possible to access the south bank of the River Thames close to the Turner Contemporary.  Saves a walk from London Bridge or Waterloo East.

Euro musings

Monday, 28 May 2012

Spain down the drain?

Nothing like being in denial.


Euro gloom update

In a few days time I shall be going on holiday.  The computer stays at home, newspapers are not read, television and radio ignored, so I shall be unaware of developments in the euro crisis.  Bliss, not only for me, but for my avid reader who will not have the torment of reading the drip drip of bad news from the eurozone.
He is in denial and has been since he was elected.

Close contest in Tunbridge Wells East?

The by-election in Tunbridge Wells East to elect a replacement for Kevin Lynes on Kent County Council could be a close contest.  The voting at the May elections in the three Tunbridge Wells Borough Council wards which make up the county division produced the following:

Conservative: 1543, Liberal Democrat 1225,  UKIP 1041, Independent 836, Labour 646.

The Green Party is contesting the by-election.  It is not possible to extrapolate the borough results into a prediction of the outcome of the by-election, the reason being that in the borough election in Pembury two seats were up for grabs and the Independent won with 836 votes.  A Conservative came second with 736 votes.  Third place went to the Conservatives with 506 votes and UKIP came fourth with 505 votes. The Liberal Democrats secured 312 votes.  UKIP and the Liberal Democrats both fielded only one candidate. How did people who voted Independent, Liberal Democrat or UKIP use their second vote?

A Green or Labour win can be discounted, but what of the others?  The Liberal Democrats had a massive hold in St James, came a poor last in Sherwood and with 312 votes were well behind UKIP in Pembury.  UKIP came a strong second in Sherwood and last in St James.

The Liberal Democrats are mounting a strong campaign and have the Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Tunbridge Wells Borough Council as their candidate.  UKIP will be hoping to cash in on their success in Rusthall  in ousting the Conservative Leader of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.

The Conservative candidate contested St James at the borough election and came a distant second.

It should be a Conservative hold, but who am I to judge?  After all, I predicted the Conservatives would hold on in Rusthall.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Tell it how it is.

Some depressing reading on the eurozone  and EU shambles.

Not pretty.  Nor this:
(Ran this in an earlier post.  Fits well with the top link.)

Bridge Trust 20th Anniversary Service

An enjoyable afternoon at Tonbridge Baptist Church for a service celebrating twenty years of work by the Bridge Trust to combat homelessness in West Kent.  Good to see the deputy mayors of the three West Kent councils in attendance.  Excellent address by the Bishop of Rochester.

Enjoyed meeting up with people connected with the Trust: some I had not seen for years.  One of the Trust's directors, Nicholas Heslop, is leader elect of  Tunbridge and Malling Borough Council.  Why is it that Tunbridge Wells cannot attract people of his calibre?

Final curtain for Pantomime Productions

No, not the local Conservatives, rather the Pembury based organisation which for many years produced the excellent pantomime at Royal Victoria Hall, Southborough.

The reasons given for this sad development are age, rising costs and health & safety impositions.

Not only a sad loss from the Christmas and New Year programme, but also a additional nail in the coffin of the hall. The hall has to generate income to survive and the threat of closure hangs over it.

Spain in tatters

Forget Greece, Spain is the big one. It is too big to save.  The eurozone hasn't the fire power to bail it out.  Sovereign debt rates above 6%, the highest unemployment rate in  eurozone, banks on the brink of collapse as property values crash and doubts if the austerity measures (even with some relief) will be met.

Meanwhile in Greece:

Finally, articles on other related issues.  I commend the first link below.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Who represents Royal Tunbridge Wells?

The quotation below attributed to Grouch Marx is applicable to some central government changes to local government.

On the 1st  April 1974 Tunbridge Wells District Council became the local authority responsible for the areas previously administered by Cranbrook Rural District Council, Tonbridge Rural District Council (except for the parishes of Hadlow and Hildenborough), Royal Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and Southborough Urban District Council.  On 20th December 1974 Borough status was conferred.

As a consequence of changes to ward boundaries and Rusthall becoming a parish, out of the 48 seats on the Council only 19 are within the area of Royal Tunbridge Wells. Apart from Royal Tunbridge Wells there is a town or parish council covering all other parts of the borough.  These councils are elected and whilst they have limited powers it is anticipated the present government will grant them new powers.

The current cabinet of the Borough Council has only one member who represents a Royal Tunbridge Wells ward.  Decisions concerning Royal Tunbridge Wells are taken by a cabinet and a full council and this is done in the absence of a statutory body able to make representations.

The Borough Council has floated the idea of forming a Royal Tunbridge Wells Town Council as a replacement to the Town Forum.  See:

The anonymous comment is interesting and makes some excellent points but does not address the issue that purely Royal Tunbridge Wells matters do not have an input from a parish or town council as happens elsewhere in the Borough.

Mario, Mario

The head of the European Central Bank,Mario Draghi, rejects criticism of the central bank's cheap three-year lending plan and calls for governments to take a 'courageous leap' of political imagination to save the eurozone.  Presumably as the antidote to the political machination and hand-wringing in Brussels yesterday.

Meanwhile  Mario Monti, the technocrat ruler of Italy imposed by the Merkel led cabal, has stated that eurobonds  'are not too far off'.  Clearly supporting Hollande, but off-message as far as Merkel is concerned who has issued the following riposte:

It makes no sense to want to fix everything with eurobonds or other similar 'solidarity' instruments which would only aggravate the crisis.

The above from the excellent Daily Telegraph  live updates.



The problem for Merkel is that her options are limited by political pressures at home and the German constitution and these matters will have to be addressed before there is any move to closer fiscal and economic integration as well as making the ECB a lender of last resort.

Difficult times ahead.  Merkel has to get the fiscal pact through the Bundestag and there is the small question of the Irish referendum on the pact at the end of this month.

Pressure will grow for Town Council

The new Leader of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has undertaken a minor shuffle of the cabinet, bringing in two new members. One change was forced by the electoral defeat of councillor Brian Ransley.  His replacement  has a background as a civil servant involved in major transport and planning issues  and is a welcome addition to the cabinet.  The second change sees councillor Catherine Mayhew leave the cabinet.    I had her marked down as a potential Leader. Ah well.

Only one member of the cabinet lives and represents a ward in Royal Tunbridge Wells (as distinct from the Borough of Tunbridge Wells). Royal Tunbridge Wells  is the only part of the borough not to have a third tier of local government in the form of a parish or town council.  Why should  the people of Royal Tunbridge Wells be disadvantaged?

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Slurp and munch

As EU leaders chomp their way through dinner at the EU summit, a summit which will not take any decisions, the talk in Brussels is of Greece existing the euro.

The press conference held by Barroso and van Rumpoy is unlikely to go down well with the markets.  Proposals for growth are simply restatements of existing EU policy.  There was discussion on moving towards greater monetary union, but all that is to happen is that a list of options will be produced in the next five weeks for discussion.  Greece is welcome to stay in the eurozone but must meet its austerity obligations.
See: and

Also:  See also:  (Google Chrome will translate into English.)

Visit to The Barn

A saunter in the heat into Tunbridge Wells to meet two former work colleagues for lunch. We chose to visit The Barn, a pub/restaurant, at the entrance to Lonsdale Gardens.  Most enjoyable in the shade in the garden.  Well worth a visit.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Euro jottings

European summit tomorrow.  A few scene setting articles.

Rusthall Budget Questionnaire

Rusthall Parish Council has published an analysis of the questionnaire circulated in 2011.

Interesting reading.  The vast majority of the improvements commented in will require financing, considerable sums in some cases.  The Parish Council will have to prioritise projects and also some up with costings.  Some of the responses might well have been different had financial implications been mentioned.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Euro crisis clanks on.

Many years ago British Railways moved most of its mineral traffic by loose-coupled trains.  The locomotive would be attached to wagons by a three link chain and three-link chains coupled the wagons together.  At the rear the guard sat in his van.  The only brakes on the train when it was moving were on the locomotive and the guards van.   Should a train be required to descend a steep gradient, it would stop and brakes on individual wagons would be pinned down.

A mineral train starting from rest on the level would have each of the links tauten  in turn.  It had to be done gently, otherwise the 'snatch' between the final wagon and the guards van would send the guard hurtling across his van unless he had clung to a chair or the brake wheel.

Mineral trains moved slowly and often were put into sidings to let faster trains pass.  They made slow progress as they clanked towards their destination.  Much like the eurozone. 
Europe's dangerous days. 

A reminder of what Clegg said on 2010.

The following is a must read article:

Sunday, 20 May 2012

No sense of urgency

The G8 conference has come and gone.  We had the anticipated platitudes concerning growth and fiscal rectitude, but little else.  Not that we should have expected anything even remotely looking like an action plan: for the simple reason that for all the tinkering that has been undertaken over the past two years the fundamental issues have not been tackled, and they can be tackled by eurozone countries alone.

Monetary union will not work without fiscal and political union

There has to be a central bank with the powers of a central bank, not the abortion known as the European Central Bank.

Structures have to be in place for transfer of funds between richer and poorer states: as happens in the USA.

Friday, 18 May 2012

A cornucopia of misery

For your delectation:  an eclectic collection of articles on the problems in the eurozone.
Denied in Berlin.

David Jukes is the new Leader

As expected, David Jukes has been elected by the Conservative Group as the Leader of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.

He is quoted in the local press as stating that he will progress projects with Tunbridge Wells Regeneration Company at the 'correct pace'.    Begs the question: correct for whom?

It will be interesting to see what happens to the previous Leader's much vaunted Tunbridge Wells Town Centre Plan Panel about which there has been no news since its first meeting in November 2011.

No mention in the press report about the redevelopment of the former Odeon cinema site, for which councillor Jukes prepared his own plans.  Hopefully the new owners will be demolishing the old cinema soon and redevelopment will commence.  Should this not happen will the Council initate compulsory purchase?


Thursday, 17 May 2012

YUK awards

My regular reader knows that I dislike awards schemes.  The irony is that an organisation I chaired in its early days, a few years ago, won the 'charity of the year' award at the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's Love Where We Live awards ceremony.

Ever closer union

The promoters of the Common Market always saw the endgame as being the formation of a European political union.  The creation of the eurozone was a staging post towards this goal.  Unfortunately, the cart was put before the horse: a common currency cannot work without fiscal and political union. The ECB is a central bank in name only.  Now the German Finance Minister is calling for an elected EU president and the creation of a political union.  One can understand his logic, without union the eurozone will not work.  Germany has set against any form of capital transfers between states or eurobonds, but would be amenable to such provision should a eurostate be created.

However, would the citizens of European states be amenable to such a development?


Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s finance minister, called separately for a decisive move towards political union in the EU in the wake of the eurozone crisis, with a directly elected president in Brussels and greater common economic and financial policy.
“We must create a political union now,” he said in a pro-European speech in Aachen, where he was awarded the annual Charlemagne prize.
Mr Schäuble said it would not mean the creation of a “United States of Europe” or a European superstate.

Leader of the Council

Tonight, Conservative councillors meet to elect a new Leader of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.  So far the only certain information in the public domain is that councillor David Jukes is standing. Rumours are circulating of other possible contenders. The potential field is limited as there are very few councillors with the time, inclination and ability to undertake the role, which doesn't say much for the selection of candidates process.

Some councillors are very good ward councillors but are not cabinet or leader material.  Obviously an opinion on whether or not a councillor is of the calibre required is subjective.

The best councillor never to have been leader was Kevin Lynes, who became a very successful member of Kent County Council's cabinet and an outstanding representative of his electoral division.  His death, aged 52, was a tragedy for local politics and for the Conservative Party.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Greece on the brink of collapse?

A sombre article.  Remember, it is the politicians in Greece and  the eurozone together with the European Commission secretariat that have brought us to this.

See also:
Excellent article by Paul Mason on capital flight from Greek banks.
"Playing poker with peoples' loves."

Greece heads for new election

In June the Greek people will go to the polls again.  The political parties have failed to agree to form a coalition which would command a majority in the Greek parliament.  Will the Left make further gains on  a  platform of refusing to implement austerity measures?  Highly likely.

The alarm bells will be ringing in the rest of the eurozone, the  EC and for that matter across world financial markets.  Will Berlin blink first.  The pressure is on Germany.  One of Hollande's aides has stated that Merkel is acting as though she was President of the EU, Monti in Italy is loosing the shackles he has to Merkel, Spain has declared it will not seek to meet the original austerity targets.
Excellent article.
Hollande/Merkel press conference

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Next Leader of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council

The next Leader of the Council will be chosen by the Conservative Group of councillors behind closed doors.  This, in a nutshell,  is why I support the directly elected mayor method.

The Leader has the power to choose his/her cabinet.  In Tunbridge Wells there is a vacancy arising from the departure from the council of Brian Ransley, courtesy of the sensible electorate in Capel.  Will the new Leader be tempted to make changes in cabinet personnel?  The former Leader had a partial clear out on his appointment.

The press reports that the acting leader, councillor David Jukes, is standing for Leader.  Will he be opposed? In the event of an election, I imagine current cabinet members will be seeking reassurance from the candidates that their cabinet post is safe and aspiring cabinet members will be trying to work out whom to vote for to secure a cabinet position.

The local press has been having fun identifying potential candidates.  What has not happened is to invite members of the Conservative Association to express an opinion, never mind the wider electorate.

I know whom I would support, but to name the person would probably be the kiss of death for their chances of success.


Much to ponder

Looks as though we are heading for a clash between the forces of democracy in Greece and France and Berlin.

Poor showing for Merkel's party in state elections.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Confused Courier

According to The Courier newspaper there is going to be a by election on 14th  June in the Kent County Council division, Tunbridge Wells Rural East.

'Rural' is hardly descriptive of Sherwood.  The by-election is in Tunbridge Wells East.  The county councillor for Tunbridge Wells Rural is Alex King MBE.

2009 result:

Turnout %Majority %
LYNES, Kevin GrahamThe Conservative Party Candidate23729.67%
NEVE, David JohnLiberal Democrat1532-4.81%
GAYLER, Eileen AliceU.K. Independence Party58512.15%
RICH, TimThe Labour Party Candidate324-10.92%