Monday, 29 March 2010

What a difference a day makes

On Sunday I dropped my children off to visit their Father and Grandparents in Essex and with an afternoon to spare (and no leaflets to deliver or doors) my other half and I went to Frinton on Sea. It was a rare moment of sun, fresh sea breeze and a leisurely walk along the sea front to Walton on the Naze and back. Battery recharged after a long week.

Just as in a former life when I used to have a knack of pointing out that French fishermen hadn’t blockaded Calais for a while (and then they inevitably did ……..) I pointed out how ironic it was that we’d been worrying about supplies of Salt Grit just two weeks earlier and here we were in sunshine.

Well – no more comments from me on the weather for the next few weeks!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Cheese and Onion Crisps

These are my absolute downfall. I can leave cakes and bread (not surprisingly as I’m wheat intolerant) but you can tell when it’s been a really stressful day – I reach for them. Two packs today – 2 teenagers (well one is and the other thinks he ought to be) + one TV remote control = fireworks. I feel a banning of set watching coming on.

Whoever writes the definitive guide to surviving teenagers will make a fortune – but sadly it’s not going to be me!

Elsewhere there’s a definite feeling of calm before the storm. People of all political persuasions are beavering away in the background just waiting for the word that the election’s been called. At least the exercise delivering leaflets and door knocking always makes me feel I’ve had a positive end to the day. And finally seeing daffodils is a definite plus!

If I ever get to be a grandparent I shall sit back and smile. Probably the way my folks do just at the moment!

Monday, 22 March 2010

The thill (?) of the open road

We’ve all moaned in recent months about the state of the County’s roads and pavements and even our local radio stations are handing out awards for the biggest or deepest pothole etc. Very shortly we’re going to have a new and potentially more serious problem on our hands. Whilst car drivers and cyclists tend to use the same mode of transport all year round, March / April brings many motorcyclists on to the roads for the warmer months.

I’ve made no secret of my midlife crisis bike licence last year, and I’ve certainly never advocated people using motorbikes rather than more sustainable methods of transport. I live in a village which is not blessed with a great bus service to the other 8 villages that I represent and therefore I do use a car or bike to get about. Now that the nights are getting lighter I’m going to try getting to more Parish Council meetings by bicycle.

The reason I flag this up is that Hardwick hosts the only DSA Motorbike Test Centre in the County. Students have to come here to take their bike test, and they will take their Part 2 test out on the local roads. Hitting a pothole in a car is one thing – but hitting one on a motorcycle could be lethal.

Here’s hoping we get some of them filled in on the main routes before someone is seriously injured.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Sport Relief Rocked

Last year, for Comic Relief, the Lib Dem group on the County Council were all pictured wearing red noses and we had a whip round to support this very good cause.

This year, the County Council’s call centre in St Ives got 160(ish) of us together to man the phone lines until from 19:00 Friday evening until 02:00 this morning taking donations as part of a nationwide team of call centres.

I can only express my extreme thanks and admiration to all those who worked so hard to raise over £100,000. Some (including myself) took donation calls, some kept us plied with refreshments and a few hardy soles stood outside in the rain directing cars so that those of us on the late shift didn’t have so far to walk when we left in the wee small hours. It worked like clockwork and heartfelt congratulations go to the organisers of the evening. I’ll be back to volunteer again next year!

And a special thanks must go to my son, whom I promised to keep anonymous, for the loan of his CVC football kit. As it was Sport Relief, we were a well turned out sporty lot on the helpline!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

A day of two contrasts

Yesterday morning I was sat on the front row of the audience for what I thought would be a packed Cabinet Meeting regarding the Guided Bus. After the tales of woe and wringing of hands over contractual stalemate the previous week, I was expecting some robust discussion at the very least.

In the event it was underwhelming. A statement was read out that negotiations are being held at the very highest level and we shall wait and see what arises. At least the people of Cambridgeshire are finally being given some more information about the problems and the overspend – something missing for a long time now.

The late afternoon saw me at the Council’s Contact Centre in St Ives, having telephone training before Sports Relief on Friday. Sadly I’m the only County Councillor taking part (I hope more colleagues from all parties will join in next time), but I shall be manning a phone line taking donations from the public from 22:00 on Friday night until 02:00 the following morning.

I’m hoping to be allowed a lie in on Saturday Morning!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

What’s going on?

We’ve all cracked jokes about the misguided bus and when it will open. Stagecoach themselves have an interesting new line in signs fixed to the side of their buses regarding the ever elusive opening date.

Today however marked a new low point in the project with the release in to the public domain of the most up to date information.

If you look at you’ll find agenda Item 9 of the meeting papers for next Tuesday’s Cabinet Meeting at the County Council. As a side issue you might like to know that all Cabinet meetings are open to the public and the Agenda and minutes are always available on the County’s website:

This has now gone way beyond party politics and a “we told you so” spat in the playground. This is a significant amount of public money spent on a project which has yet to deliver in any sort of time frame and within any sort of acceptable margin of financial outlay.

And the saddest part – the impasse that says we don’t know what will happen next because our hands are tied. At least Councillors no longer appear to gagged aswell!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

A long month .....

February was not a great month - we lost a family member and another is now in hospital. Sadly it sometimes takes a hard time to remind us all of where our priorities lie.

This time last year I was so chuffed – my younger son had his place at Secondary school and life was getting easier with both sons growing up.

A year on and I’m rapidly grinding teeth to a stump. Having brought 2 boys up on my own since they were 2 and 4 I thought I’d gone through the worst of it – the younger one having set a new standard for the terrible twos.

Now I’m deep in the delights of teenage hormones. I finally have two children old enough to be left at home alone for short periods – but not hormonally balanced to be left home together.

In some ways I see an analogy of the childish spats I referee on a daily basis with what’s happening at Westminster between the Conservative and Labour parties. Whilst us foot soldiers at ground level are coping with sweeping cuts and trying to hang on to basic services for local constituents, they are getting increasingly petty and slinging more mud and names at each other.

Whoever wins the next election – this looks like turning out to be the nastiest campaign for some time – and it’s only going to get worse. Shame they’re ignoring the real issues.