Tag: Annie

Looking both ways

Today Mr Wakefield has been reported as supporting the government’s representative in South Swindon, Ms Snelgrove.

Anne asked me to come along today, not to endorse her in the traditional way, but in recognition of the fact that Anne as been a very good constituency MP for Swindon.

But he’s also been reported as helping her opponent Mr Buckland with canvassing.

Thanks to Steve Wakefield for giving me a hand with canvassing today.

Even though he somewhat disputes that, it’s refreshing to see Mr Wakefield taking such an independent, non-partisan approach. Whether Ms Snelgrove will find the ambivalence of one of the two star exhibits at her campaign launch so refreshing is another matter.

One thing puzzles komadori in Ms Snelgrove’s plea for re-election.

We moved to Swindon in 2004 and my husband Mike and I live in the centre of town. Mike teaches English at Cirencester Sixth Form College and has taught many Swindon students.

Information komadori has from late that year suggests an address west of Stroud in Gloucestershire, rather than central Swindon.

Wrong for Central? local elections 2010 round 4

Wright or wrong? Click for larger image.This year’s election in Swindon’s Central ward has one unusual feature for recent years: a councillor seeking re-election. Recent turncoat councillors have done a runner from Central when the time has come to seek another term. Today I have thus received the novelty of a leaflet from a councillor not only seeking re-election based on their track record as a councillor for Central ward, but also still in the same party for which they were last elected. Unfortunately for Mr Wright he’s little of note to shout about.

In addition to striking a traditional politician pose, pointing at something he’s done nothing about (a pothole in this instance), Mr Wright lists several things he claims to have either helped, opposed or campaigned for. But not just him, oh no.

Over the past 4 years I have worked closely with Anne Snelgrove and my colleagues on the council in delivering for the residents of Central.

Mr Wright may well have fought for Central — tho’ there’s little evidence of him putting up much of a fight; half of what he lists were failures — but the government’s representative in South Swindon, Ms Snelgrove, certainly has not and her recent interest in wifi doesn’t make up for four years of non-interest.

If Mr Wright has done all that he claims, the results of his efforts are all but invisible. He’s had some success in stopping things; he’s been far less noticeable when it comes to getting things done.

Spatial squabbling

Both the blue and red nests seem to be keen to blame t’other side for proposals to build 3000 houses to the west of Swindon. The government’s representative in South Swindon, Ms Snelgrove, would have us believe that it’s all the fault of the blues.

Under current proposals Tory run Wiltshire County Council plan to build 3,000 new homes neighbouring West Swindon…. The Regional Spatial Strategy that sets out housing numbers for each local authority area was drafted by the Tory controlled Regional Assembly (now known as the South West Leaders Council).

Naturally, her opponent lays the blame on the reds.

Yesterday, Labour bizarrely criticised the Conservatives for the Regional Spatial Strategy, which has led to plans for 3,000 houses next to West Swindon. But only four months ago, Labour’s South Swindon MP strongly supported the RSS, saying, “it lays out important manageable growth figures for Swindon”.

As is so often the case in politics, all are suffering from selective memory loss.

The Regional Spatial Strategy is a consequence of the planning legislation introduced by the current government (red). The housing targets in it were set by the government (red). The strategy itself was produced by the South West Regional Assembly, now known as South West Councils (both blue). This is a document that seems to aim to solve the housing problems of rural Devon and Cornwall by building in the corner of the region that is furthest from those two counties — 34,000 houses were to be built in Swindon. Not satisfied with this distortion, the government (red) added another 2000 houses to Swindon’s allocation plus another 1000 in North Wiltshire in ‘urban extensions’ to Swindon.

Where to put those 37,000 houses? The Regional Spatial Strategy identified a large area to the east of Swindon, the Eastern Development Area. Swindon Borough Council (blue) in the first draft of their Core Strategy identified a number of other ‘areas of search’ where there could be significant development. One was at Tadpole lane. It also suggested where the urban extensions in North Wiltshire added by the government should be: near Ridgeway Farm and Moredon Bridge. Neighbouring North Wiltshire District Council (varying hues) objected to Swindon making plans beyond its border.

Now Wiltshire Council (blue, successor to North Wiltshire District and Wiltshire County Councils) is consulting on its own Core Strategy. It allocates land near Swindon’s western border for 3000 houses. In doing so it follows where the Government’s development strategy, the South West Regional Spatial Strategy and Swindon Core Strategy have lead.

With that provenance, neither main party is innocent in the conversion of Swindon into a suburban sprawl.

Building debt

Sometimes the government’s representative in South Swindon, Ms Snelgrove, is so keen to slag off the blue nest controlled council that she ignores what she’s quoting her own ministers as saying. Take, for instance, today’s announcement that the government’s adding another £122.6M to the national debt to fund the building of more council houses. Ms Snelgrove would have us believe that the council needs to do more.

The Council’s housing waiting list is now over 10,000 which is completely unacceptable and they need to start matching the Government’s support to tackle this problem.

Err… matching the ‘Government’ support (i.e. taxpayer support) is a condition of the scheme, and as the council had to bid to government for the money, is something they’ve already committed to.

John Healey announced 73 councils covering every region of England will share an extra £122.6 million. Councils will match the Government’s grant, bringing total public investment in the programme to over £500m to build more than 4,000 new council homes

Oddly although Ms Snelgrove included that in her press release, she chose to ignore Mr Healey’s compliment to the winning councils.

Councils have shown they’re ready and willing to build new homes, so I’m ready to back them.

The government’s representative in South Swindon, Ms Snelgrove, is always quick to criticise the council when their bids to government are unsuccessful. In contrast, when the council is successful… she’s still full of criticism. I’m not daft enough to expect politicians to present an unbiased view; I do expect them to keep their political point scoring consistent with the facts.

Annie fails to see crimes

It seems that the government’s representative in South Swindon, Ms Snelgrove, is so eager to rubbish the priorities of Swindon Borough Council that she hasn’t even bothered to read what their priorities are. According to Ms Snelgrove the council isn’t concerned about crime and anti-social behaviour.

I am appalled that the Council do not think anti-social behaviour and local crime are priorities in Swindon.

She even provides a link to the council’s priorities.

The Council sets its priorities under the Local Area Agreement (www.swindon.gov.uk/yourcouncil-laa) but crime and anti-social behaviour are not even mentioned.

Follow that link. You’ll find, as the sixth of six priorities in the current Local Area Agreement the following.

A place where the resident population can have real influence to develop a sense of community and belonging, and where reducing crimes makes them feel safe.

If Ms Snelgrove thinks that’s not even mentioning crime, she really should go back to school and take some English language lessons.

Update 23:09. I see that Ms Snelgrove has now issued an updated version claiming criteria that were used to dish out this money, though this wasn’t mentioned in the government press release.

Areas that received funding are those that either chose to include ASB as one of their Local Area Agreement priorities or were one of the areas chosen by the Home Office as having high levels of ASB.

So she’s complaining that the council didn’t make a priority out of something her own government doesn’t think is a big issue in Swindon anyway. Logic, reasoning and representing the best interests of her constituents never were Ms Snelgrove’s strong points. Clearly, they still aren’t.

Neither watching nor listening

Now I appreciate that for the government’s representative in South Swindon, Ms Snelgrove, listening to Mr Brown losing the support of the country’s best-selling tabloid may seem to be important. Just because it’s important to her though, doesn’t mean it’s important to the rest of us.

Today is the big one, Gordon’s speech. The auditorium will be packed and I’m sure many of you will be glued to your TV sets. The Leader’s speech is always the high-point of Conference and I hope that you will listen to the substance of Gordon’s speech to hear how he has the plans and drive to bring our country out of recession and build Britain’s future.

It seems she’s not noticed that, despite the efforts of her government, some of us still have jobs to go to. Even if I hadn’t, I’ve better things to do with my time than listen to someone preaching about building the economy when the dereliction surrounding us has been of their own making — but at our expense.

A short memory

Agreeing with Mr Feal-Martinez hasn’t been something that’s featured much in my warblings. I doubt that’ll change either but, as he’s standing down from representing UKIP in South Swindon, primarily on health grounds, I wish him well, without qualification. Which is more than the government’s representative in South Swindon, Ms Snelgrove, did, as she chose to preface her good wishes with some propaganda.

This just goes to show that UKIP is in real trouble in Swindon and I’m not surprised that Robert has found it necessary to stand down.

Hmm… seems she’s already forgotten the large increase in the vote for a certain party at the euro-elections in June.

Annie’s expenses in detail

Since my posting yesterday, the government’s representative in South Swindon, Ms Snelgrove, has published a more detailed breakdown of some of the expenses she had earlier grouped together. To be honest, there’s little of interest in this additional detail. One might wonder in what way a vase (£3.99), pictures (£130) and an ornament (£25) were essential to her performing her duties as an MP, or whether they are consistent with yesterday’s claim

my claims should be for expenses I would not have if I was doing another job working in Swindon only, rather than living and working in two places (London and Swindon) as MPs have to.

We can see how she managed to spend over £2000 on her bedroom (£1000 on a bed, over £1100 on wardrobes, cupboards and drawers) and over £4000 on her living room (including £1000 on a suite, then £356 on chairs two years later, and over £700 on storage units and £395 on a TV unit) but that doesn’t make it appear any better value for money. However, what it does is show how shallow is the spin she’s given the Adver.

I would like the House of Commons to have a hotel because all you really need is a crash pad.

If she really believed that all she needs is a crash pad, then would she have bought something that is clearly much more than a crash pad and then furnished it in some style at our expense? Ms Snelgrove’s actions — and her expense claims — speak louder than her words.