I posted yesterday about the dire economic situation that Gordon Brown has led us into and the Government’s cluelessness in dealing with the crisis. Today in the European Parliament South East Region Conservative MEP Dan Hannan publicly ripped Gordon Brown’s economic arguments to shreds in a far more eloquent way than I could ever manage.
Do watch this clip right through. It is wonderful to think that Gordon Brown had to just sit there and take it.
I take my hat off to Dan Hannan. It was a fantastic speech and some of our Westminster politicians could take a lesson or two from Dan. It will be a pleasure to vote for him once again this June!
UPDATE: The video clip above has had tens of thousands of viewings despite being completed ignored by the mainstream media who only covered Gordon Brown’s turgid speech. In a demonstration of the power of the new media the clip of Dan’s speech has cropped up on blogs around the world and become a top hit.
Tonight I attended two meetings at the Council; the Traffic Management Advisory Panel (TMAP) followed by the Discretionary Parking Permits Appeals Panel. The latter, thankfully, was very short with only two appeals to consider.
You can read the TMAP Agenda and the background reports here. However, I will summarise the decisions taken:
- Minutes of Last Meeting – Agreed
- Filey Road Petition – the petition was noted. Several panel members (including me) expressed sympathy for the residents’ plight. However, I think it was generally accepted that it would be wrong to look at Filey Road in isolation. The whole of Newtown’s parking arrangements should be considered as a whole, as action in one street would have a direct impact on another. It was agreed that there should be a further report at the next meeting of the Panel considering Residents’ Parking across Newtown.
- Experimental Changes in Hours of Pedestrian Zone in Forbury and Market Place – The Chief Exec of Reading Transport spoke and pointed out that this scheme had had a hugely beneficial impact on bus movements through the town centre. The panel considered the objections and decided to make the experimental order permanent.
- Cradock Road Waiting Restrictions – it was agreed that officers should advertise the proposed waiting restrictions in this light industrial road in South Reading.
- Gravel Hill – the proposal was an experimental closure of Gravel Hill (Thames Ward) at the junction with Kidmore Road. Access would remain for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. This was due to the considerable damage being done to Gravel Hill, which is an unmade up road, by excessive vehicular traffic. The road is narrow and rural in character and cannot cope with increased vehicle numbers. The option was to close for 6 to 18 months and assess any objections. I proposed that the closure be six months with a report back at the end of the period. This was agreed.
- Highway Maintenance Programme 2009/10 – the programme as detailed in the report was noted.
- Network Management Update – this report dealt with significant road works planned for Three Tuns Crossroad, Cemetery Junction and St Mary’s Butts. The works are essential works by Southern Gas to replace old cast iron mains pipes and Scottish and Southern Energy to lay a new high voltage cable. I requested assurances that other utilities had been contacted to see if they planned any works that could be co-ordinated with those in the report. I was assured that this had been done and that the disruption caused by these works would not be quickly followed by other utilities needing to carry out works in the same areas. The report was noted.
- Road Safety Status Report and Work Programme 2009/10 – a series of minor works were proposed to improve safety on roads in south and west Reading. Most of the works are on Northumberland Avenue (Whitley and Church wards) following a study on the high number of “slight” accidents occurring there. The work programme was approved for consultation with residents and ward Councillors.
- Traffic Management Act 2004: Immobilisation and Lifting of Vehicles – the panel received a report highlighting the problem in dealing with a small number of (mainly foreign) vehicle owners who park illegally and ignore Penalty Charge Notices. At present it is very hard for the Council to take effective action against such people, as for the first 6 months of being in the UK foreign drivers do not have to register with the DVLA. Under the Traffic Management Act 2004 the Council can in exceptional circumstances immobilise or remove vehicles. The panel agreed to recommend to Cabinet that a one year trial of these powers be undertaken.
- Cycling Strategy Progress and 2009/10 Action Plan – I spoke to welcome progress on implementation of the Cycling Strategy over the last few months and noted that the Council was well ahead of where it was 12 months ago. The panel agreed to recommend to Cabinet that the actions recommended in the report, such as improved (and linked) cycle lanes and branded signage be further pursued.
- Cycling Liaison Group Meeting Notes – the meeting notes of the 14 January meeting of the Cycling Liaison Group were noted. However, Keith Elliott of Reading Cycle Campaign pointed out that Cycle Audits were not being implemented across all transport schemes as recommended by the Department for Transport. I proposed that this be brought as a specific agenda item at the next liaison group meeting on 16 April. It was agreed.
We then reconvened without the press and public for the Discretionary Parking Appeals Panel. The matters under discussion are confidential as they relate to individual members of the public’s appeals, so I can only say that two cases were considered.
All in all it was another busy evening.