Saturday, 29 November 2008

River church bazaar

Today I went to a Church Bazaar in River with local district councillor Sue Nicholas. It was a hoot - as you'll see from the video! We played an odd game that involved dropping a (toy!) mouse down a tube for Sue Nicholas to hit. It didn't go entirely to plan . . .

In the photo, I'm holding an egg slice, which I was really pleased to find - you can never find egg slices these days, can you? I then went on to do a good deal of my Christmas shopping, buying up half the bazaar in the process.

Sue and I also enjoyed lunch there - people kept coming up to ask if I was about to be arrested by the Government for daring to be a Conservative. There seems to be a real sense of anger over the Damian Green business. I think it offends against the British sense of "fair play".

It was a really super day out. Congratulations to everyone who helped make it such a great success - especially Church Warden Hurling and his charming wife Gaynor who Sue and I are pictured with. Gaynor definitely wins the great wig competition.

Friday, 28 November 2008

The importance of Border Security

People in Dover tell me time and again about their overriding concern for the safety and security of our borders and the security of our nation. So it is of immense comfort to us all to know that Damian Green MP, possibly about to go on a political show trial, stands with us in wanting to keep our country safe.

Living in the Gateway to England, Dover people know first hand how the Government has totally failed to keep our borders secure. We know all about the disgusting human trafficking that goes on, the bogus asylum seekers and the evil crime syndicates that smuggle people in who have no right to be here. My mailbag is filled with disgust and concern about the situation. We know all too well that the Government does nothing about it and has lost control of our borders.

Many are concerned about the Government's Stalinesque behaviour and the attempt at a coverup. Yet let's not forget what Damian is really in the dock for. Let's not forget his work fighting tirelessly to hold the Government to account for its disgraceful failure to keep our nation and its borders safe. And let's remember why it matters so much to us all:
  • 577,000 people came to Britain in 2007 - and net migration was 237,000
  • The population has risen 1.8 million since 1997 thanks to immigration alone
  • There were 25,800 asylum applications in the 12 months to September 2008, a rise of 15% on the year before
  • To cope with all this, some 65,000 new homes are needed each year, meaning even more concrete and congestion along with increasing pressure on our public services

And while they fail to stop people coming to Britain that have no right to be here, we know that locally they arrest illegal entrants who try to leave the country. At the Dover Removal Centre, they give bail to people who are being held . . . people who then, surprise, surprise, vanish and are never seen again. Meanwhile France has stopped us using anti people smuggling scanners at Calais . . . without a squeak of protest from the Government.

This is why Damian's work has been so important. It's time for a renewed focus on border security, the safety and security of our nation and all the terrible figures the Government is so desperate to hide.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Making the case for our local economy

This evening, I attended the Enterprise Forum where David Cameron gave an excellent speech setting out how the current Government has basically bankrupted our country and why it's time for change.

Afterwards, I spoke to David about the need to strengthen East Kent's economy. We have so much potential in Dover & Deal - the biggest port in Western Europe, great roads, an airport down the road and some of the most heartbreakingly beautiful countryside that Britain has to offer.

Shouldn't we be doing better than we are? I think so. Realising the potential of Manston, getting the A2 dualled, regenerating the Dover harbour front and uniting Dover with the actual sea, rather than the current sea of lorries would make such a difference. We need to get more businesses to set up locally. I'd be really interested to hear your views on what more we can do to get our fair share - please feel free to comment or email me at

PS Tie afficionados please note . . . this evening I was wearing a tie, and so was David!

Sunday, 23 November 2008

The Godfather . . .

Today I became a godfather. The baby sort - not the other sort! To baby Teddy, pictured with the other godparents.

It was a really moving christening service and I feel really privileged to have been entrusted in this way by Teddy's parents Liam and Vicki.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Coffee at Roger's place

Cllr Roger Walkden kindly hosted a coffee morning for anyone in Dover's Maxton, Elms Vale and Priory area to drop in. The turnout was amazing - we couldn't squeeze everyone into a photo, but as you can see we had a really good go!
What did people talk about? There was a lot of concern about the trouble at the port. People are really worried about local jobs and increasingly concerned that the current Member of Parliament has seriously mishandled the whole business. Especially as the retirement pensions of port workers are at risk. A couple of residents were concerned that dog mess bins are not emptied, which the councillors are looking into. Also raised was the safety of parking in some of Dover's roads.
There was also a lot of amusement about the national press coverage on the fake Status Quo singer getting a ride in the Dover Mayor's limo. The town councillors present did get a bit of a ribbing . . .
Thanks so much to Roger and his lovely wife Jean for making us all feel so at home.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Meeting Deal ATC

This evening I went to see the Deal ATC. Their band is one of the legends of Deal Carnival. And when I went to see them, they were hard at work practising. As you can see, I had a lot of fun joining in the drum practice.

So roll up young people of Deal! Not only do you get to play the carnival, you also get to go on outward bound adventuring and learn to fly. Not only that, but you also get to gain all sorts of qualifications that will be useful when it comes to getting a job - and goodness knows, you need the best edge you can get when it comes to finding a job in these difficult times . . .

A big thanks to all the officers, staff and cadets who made me so welcome and congratulations on running such a great ATC.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Marching with the port workers

Today I joined the port workers on their march protesting against them being outsourced. In these difficult times, we are all united in supporting the jobs and prosperity of the people of Dover. I do not agree with this outsourcing, or the privatisation of the port of Dover for the reasons I have previously set out. I have met directors of DHB and told them that clearly and unequivocally.

In this spirit of us all getting together cross party, it was a bit disappointing that Dover Labour tried to politicise the whole thing. I had to laugh though when Gwynfor Prosser MP started haranging me with the usual boring partisan rubbish that is so often heard from politicians when they are nervous. As they stood there behind a big fat Labour Party banner, I pointed out that I was not there to politicise the event. I was there to offer bipartisan support for the people whose jobs are threatened. That there are times when we should all join together and stand firm with the community and put party politics to one side. That this was one of them. That they should think about that.

Then again, I can see why they are running scared, as it does look like the Government has been consulted and not made any objection to this whole outsourcing thing. And they could, you know, since they do appoint the entire harbour board. So it's kind of hard for Dover Labour to explain why a Labour Government should allow this to happen without any objection isn't it? Hmm, time to find a scapegoat to distract attention eh brothers? Step forward Bob Goldfield . . . freshly minted distractive Labour bogey man!

At times like this, it's important to remember why we are all involved in public life. For me, that is to serve the community, to work to get the best for people and to deliver a fair share for Dover & Deal. That's why I was there. Many port workers came up, shook my hand and told me how pleased they were I was there for them. And you know what? I was proud to be there for them.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Strike expected at Port of Dover next Tuesday

There will be a 48 hour strike at the Port of Dover next Tuesday. We're not talking about any old port here - we're talking about the busiest docks in Western Europe. Given that so much of trade travels through Dover, this strike could not come at a worse time for our nation.

The reason? The Dover Harbour Board want to outsource, or privatise, 200 jobs. And it is the thin end of the wedge. The Government appear to have been consulted on this and agreed. While privatisation may have benefits in many cases, in transport matters it clearly works less well - just look at our airports!

I do not agree with the privatisation of Dover Docks, on national security grounds (along with data protection concerns). Border security, like the army, is just too important. I think the Government should intervene urgently to sort out an unncessary mess of its own making. What were the Government thinking approving this measure?!

Sunday, 9 November 2008

We shall remember them

Today's Remembrance Day service at Deal was a very moving experience. Veterans, parents and children all gathered to remember those who gave their todays for our tomorrows.

It was a particular privilege for me to lay my wreath with Cllr Ben Bano, leader of Dover District Council's Labour Group. For on this day we put aside that which may divide us and stand united, together, to remember the fallen. We are all in it together. And they did it for all of us.
I would like to congratulate everyone who helped organise today's ceremony. They did a fantastic job.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Does no-one want to be a Lib Dem any more?

Will the Lib Dems ever get round to selecting a Parliamentary candidate? For ages now, the sitting Labour MP for Dover & Deal and I have been setting out our stalls . . . but from the Lib Dems, hardly a peep. I raise it, as people are beginning to ask if they've given up altogether. They are certainly cutting it a bit fine, as there is talk of a General Election as early as next year.

What exactly is going on with Dover & Deal's Lib Dems? Have they have just lost their way locally or does no-one want to be their candidate? Last time, their candidate was the excellent Antony Hook, whose blog I highly recommend. Antony likes to take a pop at me (who says politics isn't fun any more?!), albeit a touch bitter at times (but then they did get thumped in the by election, so it's all quite understandable).

So who will stand for the Lib Dems . . . ?

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Servant of all I survey

It's amazing how much you find out simply by listening to what people have to say. And it helps me greatly in my work to understand what people would hope to see. After all, if you don't know what people want, how can you work effectively on their behalf? So I am asking every voter in Dover & Deal what they think in a constituency suvey.

This isn't simply a homespun homily. Abraham Lincoln said in the famous "Gettysburg Address":
"Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth"

I also take this as a reminder that the job of everyone in public life is to listen, to serve and, above all, to represent. Too often politicians seem but slavish party toadies - lobby fodder who say little in Parliament and vote as they are told without much thought for the people who elected them. The worst tell their constituents one thing and then go up to Parliament and vote in the opposite direction. No wonder public trust in politicians is so low when this sort of stuff goes on.

No-one should be arrogant enough to believe they will do a perfect job or change the World - although we might hope to get lucky! Yet my hope is that I will never get tired or forget the interests of the people whose trust I would hope to serve.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Coffee at Nigel's place

Cllr Nigel Collor kindly hosted a ward coffee morning, open for any resident of Dover's Castle Ward to drop in. It was great to meet people and have a chat over a cup of coffee. The excellent Doverforum reporters came an took the photo here and posted it on their website.

What issues came up? Residents in the Gateway Flats are concerned about the proposal for a cable car up to the Castle. They told me it would go right over the flats and would be very ugly - as well as a potential safety hazard. One gentleman was understandably worried about planning permission that had been granted for a house next door that would take away all his light.
On a lighter note, I was also asked why I don't wear a tie very often . . . at this point a picture of (a tieless!) David Cameron was waved disapprovingly in my direction. What can I say? I guess I'm just not a very buttoned up kind of guy!
Pictured: Cllr Roger Frayne, Cllr David Hannent, Thomas Mitchell, Cllr Roger Walkden, Barry Wadsworth-Smith of the Doverforum, Cllr Nigel Collor, and me . . . tieless!