Friday, 22 August 2008

Crime fighters!

Conservative-controlled Dover District Council has had great success in fighting crime in partnership with Kent Police. The Council’s Anti-social Behaviour Unit is working to crackdown on crime. A key priority is to provide more things for our young people to do. More things for younger people to do is a priority to help cut crime.

But they can't do it all on their own. They need the support of Central Government. So David Cameron and the Conservatives have launched a long-term Crime Action Plan. The key measures are:
  • Make families stronger - keeping families together so children have a stable upbringing

  • Support teachers to teach children the need for respect and bringing more good schools into deprived communities - for example, the Astor Federation has turned the failing St Radigunds School into the successful White Cliffs Primary

  • Help young people to come off welfare and into work - Work brings responsibility, dignity, money and respect - making people less likely to commit crime

  • A National Citizens Service - where all 16-year-olds can go on a six-week programme to develop the confidence and skills to contribute to society

  • Tough enforcement and prison sentences for young people caught carrying illegal knives, whilst also working to rehabilitate young offenders.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Tackling the North South divide

Many will be horrified about PX's report on the Northern cities. I certainly am - the top line strikes me as defeatist and depressing. Yet I think they may have done the country a favour in (re) sparking a debate about the North South divide.

This divide is frankly one of the worst features of our country. I've often heard it said that the North has the quality of life, the South the quantity of life. In other words, the South has great wealth, but less time, community and increasingly less beauty as it subsides gently in a sea of concrete and congestion. The North has less material wealth, yet there seems a greater sense of community, more time for people and some of the most heartbreakingly beautiful countryside our nation has to offer.

Somehow it seems that every new home in the South (built in lovely places like Whitfield and Sholden) pulls the rug further from under the North and makes the South a worse place to live. The PX report seems to say we should accept this is the way it's going to be.

I've long wondered - how can we rebalance to unite the country so that all have the best of both worlds? Can we build a truly united nation? This is not about tarting up places with regeneration. This is about a great national effort to strengthen the Northern (private sector) economy - a whole skills revolution, the establishment of a renewed labour pool in the North, incentivisation for new businesses to establish in the North rather than the South. Just reading this, you can see how hard it would be to do. I feel deeply that a house divided against itself cannot stand and that we need to act to tackle the North South divide.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

What change do the Conservatives offer locally?

People often say to me "what would you do different from the current lot?"

To my mind, very little has been achieved in the last ten years for our community. It’s not good enough. Let’s look at the key issues:
  • A new Dover hospital - Labour have ruined Buckland. The Conservatives have helped to gather signatures for the hospital petition. We have been fighting alongside local health
    campaigners for a new proper hospital with beds and 24/7 GP-led emergency services.

  • Crime and anti-social behaviour are worrying problems for our area. Violent crime has doubled in the UK in ten years. Nearly 2,000 people are victims for violent crime locally every year. We need more police on the beat preventing crime, with zero-tolerance and more facilities for our young people.

  • Rising living costs are hitting family budgets, with prices rising for food and the cost of motoring. Gordon Brown has been increasing taxes on the lowest paid, fuel duty has gone through the roof - and now they are raising the price of car tax discs too. Local wages have fallen over £1,000 in the last five years, meaning an even bigger squeeze here. People who work hard to earn their keep should be rewarded, not punished.

  • Post Office Closures have hit local people hard - particularly the elderly and those without transport. Gordon Brown’s closure of six local Post Offices leaves large areas without proper Post Office cover. More Post Offices are expected to be axed by Gordon Brown in due course.

  • Local Transport has seen terrible underinvestment. The A2 upgrade was axed by John Prescott. Gordon Brown has done nothing about making the A258 safer. We need to get lorries out of Dover and regeneration in.
I would like to hear about your ideas to further improve our community. It's time we got our fair share. Why shouldn't we enjoy the same level of success seen elsewhere in Kent?

Friday, 8 August 2008

Maggots in local hospitals . . .

The case of a proper hospital in Dover was underlined to me again recently. Turns out that our local acute hospitals have problems with infestations of rats, insects, flies and maggots.

I'll tell you what really upsets me. It's the maggots. It means that flies have been around long enough to breed. To me this highlights a downside of big centralised impersonal acute hospitals. It underlines the need for Dover to have a proper hospital, which will be easier to keep safe and in which the community will take pride.