Labour Gives Up In Woodley

Curiosity led me to look at the nominations for Woodley Town Council – currently run by the Liberal Democrats, with 15 of the 25 Councillors.

Both the Lib Dems and Tories have 25 candidates, as might be expected.  One Green has put themselves forward.

The number of Labour candidates is a big fat ZERO.

I look forward to helping the excellent Lib Dem team in Woodley and pointing out to Labour sympathisers that Labour has no interest in running the considerable number of services provided by the Town Council, which in this case includes a leisure centre.

Change for the Lansley Bill: should we hold our breath?

There’s nothing like being ill (manflu in my case) to make you think about health-related matters.

This week’s announcement of delays to the Health & Social Care Bill, though, look all a little too, er, convenient for comfort.

This should be simple.  The Liberal Democrats’ position is – and it’s very public.  Those excellent people at the Social Liberal Forum have done a good job of getting Lib Dem members to press the point home at http://socialliberal.net/sign-the-statement/.

Now there should be a bit of hardheaded Cabinet negotiation going on. I can’t put things any clearer than Prateek Buch and Evan Harris’ excellent Left Foot Forward piece:-

“Various reports indicate that the government has agreed to delay, take control of and significantly alter the bill to fend off increasingly damaging criticisms. In addition the house of commons select committee on health published its recommendations which, in many areas, echo the Liberal Democrats’ call for changes. Andrew Lansley has thus been forced to admit the need to make concessions; though Nick Clegg went even further this morning on BBC breakfast by saying that major changes would be made.”

So as clear as mud then.  The opacity cannot last long, for practical as well as political reasons.

Should we hold our breath?  I’m sure my doctor warned me it wasn’t good for me….

Starting Gun Fired: Labour and Conservatives Struggle for Local Candidates

The candidates for Reading Borough Council’s elections have just been published (http://ww2.reading.gov.uk/documents/Council_and_Democracy/Electoral/statementofpersonsnominated2011web.pdf).  They make very interesting reading as far as Labour and the Conservatives are concerned.

In Labour’s held and ‘target’ wards (ie where they  seem to be focusing activity) we have:

  • A candidate from Battle ward (West Reading) standing in Church in the South-East of the borough
  • A candidate from West Reading in Redlands
  • A candidate from Caversham in Katesgrove
  • A candidate from Abbey in Whitley.

(Interestingly, the so-called ‘party of the many not the few’ seems to have nobody local willing to come forward in some of the less well-off wards in the Borough).

The picture regarding the Conservatives is even more interesting.  They have:-

  • A candidate from outside the Borough (Earley) standing in Battle ward where I’ve heard wild and almost certainly false predictions of a Tory surge
  • A candidate from outside the Borough (Beenham, West Berkshire) standing in Church ward which is held by them
  • A candidate from outside the Borough (Shinfield) standing in Minster ward which must be the Tories’ top target
  • Not forgetting that defending Cllr Wazir Hussain (Park ward) lives outside the Borough.

So in Church ward, where the fiasco of the Shinfield Road lights and the congestion they have brought is likely to be a key election issue, the candidates from the parties finishing first and second last time live miles away from the area they hope to represent!

The other notable fact is the record (six) number of candidates from the Common Sense Party, many of whom have familiar names to readers of the local press.
Let battle commence1

Lib Dems Demand Changes to Health and Social Care Bill

Please see the Social Liberal Forum’s special webpage about the NHS reforms at http://socialliberal.net/sign-the-statement/.

As a member of the SLF’s Council I’m proud to be associated with this very important campaign to get the Health and Social Care Bill significantly amended.

I would urge all Liberal Democrat members to both sign the statement and sign up to SLF which on more and more issues represents the mainstream of Liberal Democrat thinking.

Two weeks until the death of integrated transport in Reading

Yes, that’s right.  On 18 April Reading Borough Council implements the closure of Station Hill and marks the death of any chances of a proper integrated transport hub.
Ever since I first learned more than two years ago of what has been planned for this area, I have campaigned for a more sensible approach to be taken and for Reading to seize a unique opportunity to have a single integrated transport hub, next to the Station, that would be the envy of many towns and cities across the UK.
Places that have moved away from this approach repent at their leisure, usually for decades.  That is to be the fate of Reading, unless a miracle happens.
Don’t say I didn’t say so….