Over the last few months I have been pounding the streets delivering leaflets for Marc Jones the Conservative candidate for Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner. Marc is an experienced County Councillor who brings many skills to the PCC post, not least a deep understanding of how to get the best value for money from limited budgets. I have delivered many thousands of leaflets for Marc in Sleaford and elsewhere in the Sleaford & North Hykeham constituency. The other candidates were Victoria Ayling for UKIP, Lucinda Preston for Labour and, the latecomer, Daniel Simpson for the Lincs Ind Party. I attended one of Victoria’s public meetings in Sleaford and was the only member of the public who turned up!
Marc was the first candidate to be selected and he has fought a long and well organised campaign. We had leaflets out across large parts of Lincolnshire well before the postal votes were issued. By contrast, I got a single leaflet from Daniel Simpson in the week before the election and a very poor quality one from Labour a couple of days ahead of polling day. I received nothing from UKIP at all.
In 2011 Alan Hardwick was elected as Lincs PCC as an Independent. After one term he decided that he didn’t wish to continue and stood down from the post. We had high hopes of winning Lincolnshire this time but knew that nothing could be taken for granted and it is hard to know how second preference votes will split. In the end Marc won comfortably.
The results were:
Marc Jones (Conservative) – 39,411
Victoria Ayling (UKIP) – 28,583
Lucinda Preston (Labour) – 25,475
Daniel Simpson (Lincs Ind) – 18,497
After the bottom two candidates were eliminated and second preferences redistributed the final vote was:
Marc Jones (Conservative) – 48,033 ELECTED
Victoria Ayling (UKIP) – 37,420
I am delighted for Marc and for the people of Lincolnshire who will now get a competent and dynamic PCC to oversee the Lincolnshire Police. His main focus will be finance and strategy, while the Chief Constable retains operational control of policing in the administrative county.
For anyone interested in the Police & Crime Commissioner election in Lincolnshire on 5 May, there is an interesting debate with three of the four candidates below. It is worth noting that the guy described as an “Independent” is in fact from the Lincs Ind Party and is not a true independent candidate.
Today was the close of nominations for candidates for the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner. The incumbent is Independent Alan Hardwick but after 4 years in post he has decided to call it a day. Whatever the result therefore a new Commissioner will be elected.
Four candidates will fight it out for the £60,000 a year post overseeing the Chief Constable for Lincolnshire Police. They are:
Marc Jones (Conservative) – Marc is a County Councillor representing a Lincoln city division and with responsibility on the Council for financial matters.
Victoria Ayling (UKIP) – Victoria is a former Conservative Parliamentary candidate who stood unsuccessfully for UKIP in the 2015 General Election. She is also a Lincolnshire County Councillor.
Lucinda Preston (Labour) – Lucinda is an Assistant Head Teacher in Sleaford.
Daniel Simpson – (Lincs Ind Party) – Daniel is an East Lindsey District Councillor from Louth and stood unsuccessfully for the LI Party for Louth constituency in the 2015 General Election. He was a surprise late entry to the contest today.
The election will be held on 5 May 2016 and polls will be open from 7am to 10pm.
It was my privilege to attend the funeral this afternoon of Cllr Geoffrey Whittle on behalf of the Commandant of RAF College Cranwell. Geoffrey was a real gentleman of the old school and was much loved by the local community in which he lived and which he served as a Conservative Councillor on North Kesteven District Council. I was privileged to meet Geoffrey on several occasions and can vouch for his modesty, kindness and friendly personality.
Geoffrey was also a WW2 Bomber Command veteran who carried out many missions over Germany. During one, aged just 20 years, he won the Distinguished Flying Medal. It was therefore fitting that he was elected to represent Ashby de la Launde and Cranwell ward on the District Council. A ward that includes RAF College Cranwell and RAF Digby.
All Saints Church in Ruskington was packed today and a good number of RAF personnel from a number of units and squadrons attended the funeral; 45 Sqn provided a flypast; and the Band of the RAF College provided a bugler to play the Last Post. A family member told me that he was thrilled by the RAF presence and it was only at the Last Post that the tears began to flow.
Geoffrey was sent off in style and I was pleased to have played a very small part in honouring his service to the RAF and the community. He will be very much missed by his family and friends!
The Sleaford Town Council by-election in Mareham Ward today was a Conservative gain. I stood for the local Conservatives against the only other candidate a Lincolnshire Independent. They are a local political party who are well dug in some parts of the county and have almost complete control of the Town Council. I undertook my usual campaign of door-knocking and talking to residents about their concerns. I found that I was well received and despite some awful weather I got round a good part of the ward. I certainly made sure that every letterbox I could get to had a leaflet from me.
The Lincs Independents also leafleted but their candidate didn’t seem to even step into the ward. He certainly didn’t turn up at the polling station on the day and not even for the count! However, his party colleagues were there in force, with their leader on the Town Council giving me a lecture on the importance of working with them and of unanimity! We will see how that goes!
In the end the result was close but I defeated the Lincs Independent candidate by 148 votes (51%) to 140 votes (49%). Turnout was just 15.4%. I am currently the only Conservative on the Town Council.
Photo: L-R Cllr Richard Wright(North Kesteven DC), Cllr Richard Willis and Cllr Stuart Tweedale (Lincs County Council).
On 22 May the people of Reading went to the ballot boxes to vote for their local and European representatives. The election results for Reading Borough Council were:
Abbey Ward (Labour Hold)
BLACK, Richard (Green) – 315 (12.9%)
JAMES, Stephen (UKIP) – 236 (9.7%)
MOORE, James (Lib Dem) – 218 (8.9%)
TAYLOR, Laurence (Conservative) – 475 (19.5%)
TICKNER, Bet (Labour) – 1195 (49%) – ELECTED
Battle Ward (Labour Hold)
GOODALL, Glenn (Lib Dem) – 167 (7.6%)
HACKER, Sarah (Labour) – 1255 (57%) – ELECTED
ISHTIAQ, Imran (Conservative) – 442 (20.1%)
LOCKEY, Alan (Green) – 293 (13.3%)
PASCUAL, Jean-Marie (Roman Party-Ave!) – 43 (2%)
Caversham Ward (Labour Gain from Conservative)
BURDEN, Chris (Lib Dem) – 212 (7.3%)
CHRISP, Rachael (Labour) – 1081 (37%) – ELECTED
DIAMOND, Michael (UKIP) – 348 (11.9%)
HICKS, Jenny (Green) – 362 (12.4%)
POLAND, Geoff (Conservative) – 894 (30.6%)
VOUSDEN, Silvia (TUSC) – 23 (0.8%)
Church Ward (Labour Gain from Conservative)
CARNELL, Paul (Conservative) – 577 (26%)
JOHNSON, Vivienne (Green) – 238 (10.7%)
MACNEILL, Margaret (Lib Dem) – 108 (4.9%)
PEARCE, Ashley (Labour) – 919 (41.4%) – ELECTED
ZEBEDEE, Ann (UKIP) – 380 (17.1%)
Katesgrove Ward (Labour Gain from Lib Dem)
DEARING, John (UKIP) – 248 (12.1%)
JAMES, Sophie (Labour) – 992 (48.6%) – ELECTED
KEANE, Louise (Green) – 278 (13.6%)
KINSLEY, Peter (Lib Dem) – 191 (9.4%)
WARMAN, Emma (Conservative) – 334 (16.4%)
Kentwood Ward (Labour Gain from Conservative)
DENNIS, Glenn (Labour) – 989 (35.3%) – ELECTED
SHAFFREY, Ruth (Green) – 178 (6.4%)
STEELE, Tom (Conservative) – 897 (32%)
THOMAS, Howard (UKIP) – 601 (21.5%)
WALLS, Jon (Lib Dem) – 135 (4.8%)
Minster Ward (Labour Hold)
BLACK, Katie (Conservative) – 664 (27%)
DILLON, Patrick (UKIP) – 351 (14.3%)
FANTI, Jon (Lib Dem) – 128 (5.2%)
LIVINGSTON, Marion (Labour) – 1090 (44.3%) – ELECTED
MURPHY, Hazel (Green) – 226 (9.2%)
Norcot Ward (Labour Hold)
ABSOLOM, Debs (Labour) – 1369 (57%) – ELECTED
HUGHES, Georgina (Lib Dem) – 169 (7%)
PATTERSON, David (Green) – 289 (12%)
VOSE, Clare (Conservative) – 573 (23.9%)
Park Ward (Green Hold)
ARMSTRONG, Anne (UKIP) – 119 (3.8%)
BASHARAT, Mohammad (Conservative) – 320 (10.2%)
KAUR, Anrish (Labour) – 936 (29.9%)
RYE, Rebecca (Lib Dem) – 84 (2.7%)
WHITE, Rob (Green) – 1669 (53.4%) – ELECTED
Park Ward By-Election (Green Hold)
AKHTAR, Shanaz (Conservative) – 391 (12.7%)
JAKEMAN, Francis (Lib Dem) – 93 (3%)
LAWRENCE, Matthew (Labour) – 1015 (33.1%)
WILLIAMS, Josh (Green) – 1569 (51.1%) – ELECTED
Peppard Ward (Conservative Gain from Independent)
DAY, Kate (Green) – 186 (5.8%)
KNIGHT, John (UKIP) – 460 (14.3%)
PLATTS, Natalie (Labour) – 509 (15.8%)
RALPH, Mark (Independent) – 886 (27.5%)
ROBINSON, Simon (Conservative) – 1027 (31.9%) – ELECTED
WOODS, Jenny (Lib Dem) – 152 (4.7%)
Redlands Ward (Labour Gain from Lib Dem)
ABSOLOM, David (Labour) – 1047 (45%) – ELECTED
ALLAN, Robert (UKIP) – 173 (7.4%)
BAYES, Kirsten (Lib Dem) – 341 (14.7%)
HOPPER, Helen (Conservative) – 430 (18.5%)
MURTAGH, Kizzi (Green) – 337 (8%)
Southcote Ward (Labour Hold)
ADAMS, Maddy (Lib Dem) – 110 (4.9%)
CRESSWELL, Doug (Green) – 213 (9.5%)
ENNIS, John (Labour) – 1286 (57.5%) – ELECTED
WIGGINS, Ellis (Conservative) – 626 (28%)
Thames Ward (Conservative Hold)
DICKSON, John (Independent) – 332 (10.2%)
MCNAMARA, Sarah (Green) – 385 (11.8%)
PENMAN, Guy (Lib Dem) – 293 (9%)
STAINTHORP, Richard (Labour) – 766 (23.5%)
STEVENS, David (Conservative) – 1486 (45.6%) – ELECTED
Tilehurst Ward (Lib Dem Hold)
BANARAS, Haji (Labour) – 429 (15.8%)
DUVEEN, Ricky (Lib Dem) – 1013 (37.2%) – ELECTED
KENNET, Miriam (Green) – 107 (3.9%)
MACPHEE, William (UKIP) – 530 (19.5%)
VICKERS, Robert (Conservative) – 643 (23.6%)
Whitley Ward (Labour Hold)
BLATTLER, Janel (Lib Dem) – 93 (4.3%)
BROWN, Nick (Conservative) – 488 (22.4%)
EDEN, Rachel (Labour) – 1162 (53.3%) – ELECTED
JOHNSON, Keith (Green) – 167 (7.7%)
WAKE, Jamie (Independent) – 269 (12.4%)
The Council is now comprised of 31 Labour Councillors, 10 Conservatives, 3 Greens and 2 Lib Dems.
Tomorrow many local people in Reading East will have the chance to vote for who represents their interests at both a local and a European level. These are important elections and I encourage everyone to vote.
Locally, your Conservative team in Reading is focused on the issues that matter to people most, working diligently to improve the lives of hardworking local people whilst continually taking the fight to the Labour-run Reading Borough Council (RBC).
Whether it is voting against Labour’s Council Tax increase of 1.9%, striving to deliver first class educational institutions, protecting our green spaces or campaigning to protect vital community services such as the Arthur Clark Home and Albert Road Day Centre from closure –your Conservative team has continually shown that it listens to and acts upon the views of local residents.
Just as with Council Tax increases, we Conservatives will fight adding these extra costs on local people and I encourage people to get out tomorrow and pledge their support to their local Conservative candidate.
At a European level, our Conservative representatives are once again demonstrating their determination to listen to the views of the British people and to deliver the real change that the people desire. Conservative MEPs are continually fighting Britain’s corner in Europe, standing up for our interests and working to bring back power from Brussels.
We are the only party that will guarantee you an in-out referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU: Labour and the Lib Dems refuse to give you a referendum and UKIP cannot deliver one. The Conservatives plan to negotiate a better deal for Britain and then, regardless of the results, give you an in/out referendum by the end of 2017.
Remember, a vote for the Conservatives in Europe is a vote for change.
Reading Conservatives have launched their manifesto for the Reading Borough local elections which will be held on Thursday 22 May.
The Manifesto includes pledges to freeze or cut Council Tax, switch to four-yearly elections, work for a third Thames bridge, plant more trees, increase recycling levels, protect our heritage and our parks, expand good local schools, provide better services to our elderly residents, and protect grants to our voluntary and community sector.
Conservative Leader Cllr Jeanette Skeats said, “In the tough economic times Reading Conservatives cut out waste in order to be able to help residents by freezing the Council Tax. Now that the economy is improving we must ensure that we continue to get best value for money so that any savings are passed on in frozen or reduced Council Tax. The Conservative-led government has invested massive sums into Reading’s transport infrastructure and more school places, and we would have taken the Council Tax Freeze Grant which was on offer. Labour has chosen to reject this cash and instead take more money from the pockets of local people which continuing to subsidise their Trade Union friends.”
She continued, “Reading receives the second highest government grant in Berkshire, second only to Slough, and per resident it is more than three times that received by neighbouring Wokingham. However, under Labour too much is still wasted. We will fight for every penny of investment into Reading and to deliver high quality Council services for those who need them.”
The Manifesto also details the 16 Conservative candidates across Reading, which include 1 sitting Councillor seeking re-election, 2 former Reading Councillors, 3 Asian candidates (more than any other party), 5 women, and 8 who have stood before.
Download it here.
There are some interesting points to note. Firstly, despite all the bluster UKIP have failed to field a full slate of candidates, with nominations in just 10 of the seats up for election. Secondly, despite publishing names of candidates for Katesgrove and Whitley, the Trades Union and Socialist Coalition are only standing in Caversham ward! Is this designed to hurt Labour in one of their top target wards?
I was intrigued to see that Labour has switched their Park ward candidates around so that Lawrence is now standing in the by-election and Kaur in the main election against Green Leader Rob White. Presumably they think that their candidate from West Reading has a better chance than their candidate from leafy Emmer Green?!
On the amusing side of things it is fun to see that in Peppard ward voters will have a chance to vote for Day or Knight!
BLACK, Richard – Green
JAMES, Stephen – UKIP
MOORE, James – Lib Dem
TAYLOR, Laurence – Conservative
TICKNER, Bet – Labour
GOODALL, Glenn – Lib Dem
HACKER, Sarah – Labour
ISHTIAQ, Imran – Conservative
LOCKEY, Alan – Green
PASCUAL, Jean-Marie – Roman Party-Ave!
BURDEN, Chris – Lib Dem
CHRISP, Rachael – Labour
DIAMOND, Michael – UKIP
HICKS, Jenny – Green
POLAND, Geoff – Conservative
VOUSDEN, Silvia – TUSC
CARNELL, Paul – Conservative
JOHNSON, Vivienne – Green
MACNEILL, Margaret – Lib Dem
PEARCE, Ashley – Labour
ZEBEDEE, Ann – UKIP
DEARING, John – UKIP
JAMES, Sophie – Labour
KEANE, Louise – Green
KINSLEY, Peter – Lib Dem
WARMAN, Emma – Conservative
DENNIS, Glenn – Labour
SHAFFREY, Ruth – Green
STEELE, Tom – Conservative
THOMAS, Howard – UKIP
WALLS, Jon – Lib Dem
BLACK, Katie – Conservative
DILLON, Patrick – UKIP
FANTI, Jon – Lib Dem
LIVINGSTON, Marion – Labour
MURPHY, Hazel – Green
ABSOLOM, Debs – Labour
HUGHES, Georgina – Lib Dem
PATTERSON, David – Green
VOSE, Clare – Conservative
ARMSTRONG, Anne – UKIP
BASHARAT, Mohammad – Conservative
KAUR, Anrish – Labour
RYE, Rebecca – Lib Dem
WHITE, Rob – Green
Park Ward By-Election
AKHTAR, Shanaz – Conservative
JAKEMAN, Francis – Lib Dem
LAWRENCE, Matthew – Labour
WILLIAMS, Josh – Green
DAY, Kate – Green
KNIGHT, John – UKIP
PLATTS, Natalie – Labour
RALPH, Mark – Independent
ROBINSON, Simon – Conservative
WOODS, Jenny – Lib Dem
ABSOLOM, David – Labour
ALLAN, Robert – UKIP
BAYES, Kirsten – Lib Dem
HOPPER, Helen – Conservative
MURTAGH, Kizzi – Green
ADAMS, Maddy – Lib Dem
CRESSWELL, Doug – Green
ENNIS, John – Labour
WIGGINS, Ellis – Conservative
DICKSON, John – Independent
MCNAMARA, Sarah – Green
PENMAN, Guy – Lib Dem
STAINTHORP, Richard – Labour
STEVENS, David – Conservative
BANARAS, Haji – Labour
DUVEEN, Ricky – Lib Dem
KENNET, Miriam – Green
MACPHEE, William – UKIP
VICKERS, Robert – Conservative
BLATTLER, Janel – Lib Dem
BROWN, Nick – Conservative
EDEN, Rachel – Labour
JOHNSON, Keith – Green
WAKE, Jamie – Independent
Some readers have contacted me to request an update on the “Front Office” activity totals I used to publish for each Councillor using the records system adopted by Reading Borough Council. It gives an indication of the case work taken up by Councillors but does not reflect all the other work done by Councillors which includes formal meetings of Council committees, informal community meetings, ward surgeries and appointment to external organisations.
The numbers of recorded “Front Office “ cases by political group for the 11 months to the end of March 2014 are as follows:
Cllr Jo Lovelock (Norcot) – 144
Cllr Rachel Eden (Whitley) – 127
Cllr John Ennis (Southcote) – 96
Cllr Tony Page (Abbey) – 96
Cllr Jan Gavin (Redlands) – 70
Cllr Eileen McElligott (Church) – 69
Cllr Sarah Hacker (Battle) – 54
Cllr Deborah Edwards (Southcote) – 49
Cllr Tony Jones (Redlands) – 49
Cllr Mike Orton (Whitley) – 42
Cllr Bet Tickner (Abbey) – 41
Cllr Paul Woodward (Church) – 34
Cllr Pete Ruhemann (Southcote) – 30
Cllr Liz Terry (Minster) – 29
Cllr Rose Williams (Katesgrove) – 28
Cllr Richard Davies (Caversham) – 26
Cllr Chris Maskell (Battle) – 25
Cllr Daya Pal Singh (Kentwood) – 25
Cllr Matt Rodda (Katesgrove) – 21
Cllr Gul Khan (Battle) – 20
Cllr Marian Livingston (Minster) – 20
Cllr Paul Gittings (Minster) – 13
Cllr Peter Jones (Norcot) – 10
Cllr Kelly Edwards (Whitley) – 8
Cllr Graeme Hoskin (Norcot) – 8
Cllr Mohammed Ayub (Abbey) – 7
Cllr Sandra Vickers (Tilehurst) – 96
Cllr Richard Willis (Peppard) – 96
Cllr Ed Hopper (Thames) – 45
Cllr Jenny Rynn (Kentwood) – 42
Cllr Isobel Ballsdon – (Mapledurham) – 38
Cllr Andrew Cumpsty (Caversham) – 28
Cllr James Anderson (Kentwood) – 17
Cllr Jeanette Skeats (Thames) – 12
Cllr Jane Stanford-Beale (Peppard) – 11
Cllr David Stevens (Thames) – 7
Cllr Tom Stanway (Caversham) – 4
Cllr Tim Harris (Church) – 3
Lib Dem (4)
Cllr Ricky Duveen (Tilehurst) – 64
Cllr Meri O’Connell (Tilehurst) – 44
Cllr Daisy Benson (Redlands) – 20
Cllr Rebecca Rye (Katesgrove) – 17
Cllr Rob White (Park) – 451
Cllr Melanie Eastwood (Park) – 25
Cllr Jamie Whitham (Park) – 18
Cllr Mark Ralph (Peppard) – 80
I will stress again, as I have done before, that some Councillors use “Front Office” for almost everything while some colleagues prefer to refer their issues directly to Council Officers. I use a mix of both approaches.
A senior Conservative Councillor has reluctantly decided to step down from the Council this May. Cllr Andrew Cumpsty (left) has decided not to contest the May 22nd election despite having been re-selected by the local Conservatives to stand in the Caversham ward he has represented since 2004.
Cllr Andrew Cumpsty explained, “I have had to make the painful decision not to stand for re-election this May in order to focus on developing the business I set up a couple of years ago. I had hoped to continue to serve the people of Caversham ward but have had to accept that this is not possible while building my business which has grown rapidly in the last few months.”
Conservative Group Leader Cllr Jeanette Skeats said, “I am really sorry that Andrew has stepped down. He has been a popular and well-respected local Councillor in Caversham ward and served the people of Reading with distinction as Leader of the Council in 2010/11. He will be hard to replace and I very much hope that in due course Andrew will be in a position to return to the Conservative group on the Council.”
Cllr Andrew Cumpsty served as Leader of the Council in 2010/11 when he led a coalition of Conservatives and Lib Dems to overturn years of Labour domination of Reading. Recently as Conservative Culture spokesman he has developed the idea of a dedicated Arts Centre in a restored “Abbey Quarter”, a concept he first promoted while Leader of the Council.
Reading East Conservatives have selected Geoff Poland to stand for Caversham ward. Geoff was President of the Reading Chamber of Commerce and now lives in central Reading. Geoff is an independent personal financial advisor and has helped many people in Reading through his work with Reading Matins Rotary Club. He was a Trustee and Treasurer of “British Community Trust – Peru” which is a project set up by a former Ambassador to the country to provide help and financial support to street children and financially disadvantaged children within that country.
Councillor Cumpsty continued, “I am delighted that Reading East Conservatives have selected Geoff Poland. With his strong Reading roots and strong connections with local business he will make a fantastic Councillor for Caversham ward and I intend to do everything I can to secure his election next month.”
Reading Conservatives have announced the second tranche of their candidates for the 22 May local elections with the Vice-Chair and Co-Chair of the Pakistan Community Centre both standing in Park ward.
Conservative Group Leader Cllr Jeanette Skeats said, “I am delighted to be announcing the Conservative candidates for the remaining wards in Reading. I am especially pleased that two Pakistani community leaders have agreed to stand for us in Park ward. We now have a good slate with a variety of new candidates and some returning to stand again, demonstrating once again that the Conservatives are the party for all people and all communities in the Borough”
Mohammad Basharat (left)has been selected to contest Park ward. Mohammad came to the UK in 1975 and attended Katesgrove Primary School and Alfred Sutton School. Mohammad is the Vice-Chairman of the Pakistan Community Centre in Park ward and he has ensured that the centre is open to people of all faiths and beliefs. Mohammad has worked as an electronics engineer and a taxi driver and now owns a local taxi business. He lives in the ward with his family.
Shanaz Akhtar (right) has been selected to contest the Park ward by-election. Shanaz is the co-Chair of the Pakistan Community Centre and is already heavily involved in community activities, running a Muslim ladies group and having her own programme on a community radio station. She attended Alfred Sutton School and now lives in the ward with her two daughters. Shanaz is keen to bring her experience and local connections to represent local people on the Council.
Katie Black (left) has been selected for Minster ward. Katie who lives locally in Reading, has been a marketing manager, supporting young adults with learning disabilities in the workplace, and a small business owner. Katie now works in people development for a large telecommunications company. In her spare time she volunteers to mentor underachieving students.
Ellis Wiggins (right) has been selected to contest Southcote ward. Ellis, who lives locally in Tilehurst, previously volunteered in a British Red Cross charity shop, and his work experience includes being a deliverer and volunteer with Oxford City Council. He currently works part-time as a caseworker for Alok Sharma MP, helping local residents with their problems. At university, Ellis was part of a successful campaign to lengthen opening hours of bars used by students and members of the local community. He also acted as a representative for students to raise issues and complaints with academic staff.
Laurence Taylor (left) has been selected to contest Abbey ward. Laurence has lived locally in Reading for the last ten years, and is married to Amandeep with two young daughters. For the last three years he has volunteered as Chairman of Reading Young Enterprise, working with eleven schools to help students start-up and run their own businesses. He is also a keen fundraiser, most recently sleeping out in Eldon Square to raise money for Action for Children. Laurence is passionate about the Royal Berks hospital, and wants all families to experience the same standard of excellent care his twin daughters received when they were born there prematurely 18 months ago.
Mother of two Clare Vose (right), who lives locally in the Dee Park estate, is the Conservative Council candidate in Norcot ward for the 2014 local elections. Clare is Norcot through and through having lived, gone to school and worked locally here all her life. A local campaigner who is passionate about improving the local area for everyone, Clare has chaired the Dee Park Residents’ Association for the past three years. In 2013 DPRA organised two coach trips to the seaside for the local residents. Clare is a Family Worker at English Martyrs and St Michael’s primary schools. Previously, Clare supervised the Breakfast Club and After School Club set up for local children by Ranikhet Extended Services.
Emma Warman (left) has been selected to contest Katesgrove ward. Emma first moved to Reading from Wales almost 20 years ago to study history at Reading University. She later lived in London for a few years whilst studying to become a barrister. Emma has been involved in local politics for almost as long and first stood as a candidate for Minster ward in 1999. As a former Reading Borough Councillor (Kentwood ward 2008-2012), Emma is experienced in representing the interests of local people on the Council. Like many other Reading residents, Emma commutes by train and tube to the City of London, where she now works as a Compliance Officer for a large multi-national insurance broker.
Nick Brown has been selected to contest Whitley ward in which he has lived for 23 years. Nick works locally in a Reading based technology-based manufacturer which has a worldwide customer base. Nick’s experience in the field of purchasing would lend itself ideally to getting value for money out of our Council Tax contributions and he would work to ensure it is spent wisely in the right places for those that need it.
Today has come the news that Cllr Melanie Eastwood has resigned from Reading Borough Council causing a by-election which will take place on the same day as the other local elections – 22 May. Melanie was elected as the second Green Party Councillor in Park ward in 2011 and quickly earned a reputation as a friendly and decent ward champion. However, she clearly grew impatient with the style of debate coming from the Labour benches and the way that the ruling Labour group was able to stitch up some decisions. Melanie stood her ground and often gave as good as she got from Labour.
I have always got on well with Melanie who is far less ideological than her Green Party Park ward colleague Cllr Rob White, who was rumoured to be reluctant to share the limelight he had earned in the long campaign he fought to win the ward from Labour. I served with Melanie on the Planning Committee and always respected her willingness to stand up for what she believed to be right for her residents and for Reading.
I contacted Melanie this evening and she said, “I am heartened by how kind opposing members have been. I have enjoyed my time as a Councillor and have met many decent and hard working people across all parties including the Conservatives. It is with regret that my own circumstances have meant I can no longer continue with the level of commitment [being] a Councillor demands.”
With two vacancies in Park ward on 22 May Labour will no doubt throw the kitchen sink at regaining both seats. They have always resented losing what they consider to be one of their heartland wards in the town centre. They will not have it all their own way as will be seen when the Conservatives announce our candidates!
Conservatives on Reading Borough Council have re-stated their long-standing call for Crossrail to terminate in Reading rather than Maidenhead. Plans published by the last Labour Government saw the new cross-London service terminate in Maidenhead rather than Reading. Thanks to the efforts of Reading East MP Rob Wilson and former Reading West MP Martin Salter, the route was protected to Reading, which could allow a change of mind to extend the service to the town.
Local Conservatives have continued the pressure to reverse Labour’s decision to terminate at Maidenhead. Conservative Councillors have lobbied Rob Wilson MP who has had numerous meetings with Ministers to press for a faster Crossrail service from Reading to Paddington at peak hours and to ensure the necessary additional investment for a premium service.
Conservative Transport Spokesman Cllr Richard Willis said, “It is time to reverse Labour’s decision to terminate Crossrail at Maidenhead. It makes no sense to have a newly improved Reading Station and not to connect this new service to one of the busiest stations in the country. I understand that a decision will be announced very shortly that Crossrail is to come to Reading.”
Rob Wilson MP said, “I have fought for years to see Reading protected as the eventual end point for Crossrail. However it is important that it is a service that enhances existing services into London even if it takes a few years. I have met with Conservative Ministers in recent weeks and am very much looking forward to the outcome of those discussions.”
UPDATE: Rob Wilson MP’s statement of 27 March follows:
The Reading East MP has welcomed the Government’s announcement today that Crossrail will extend to Reading, after initial plans for the service to run only as far as Maidenhead. However, Wilson, who was instrumental in keeping the option for a Reading terminus open, said today’s announcement was only the first of a 2-stage process in delivering the full benefits of Crossrail for Reading and the wider economic area.
According to the original plans of Labour governments under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, under which the Crossrail scheme was launched, services would only have run as far as Maidenhead to the west of London. Following today’s announcement, they will now run as far as Reading, replacing a planned shuttle train service between Reading and Slough. Transport Minister Stephen Hammond MP said today that the extension of Crossrail to Reading is only possible as a result of the efforts of Wilson and others, who had been “closely involved” in lobbying “over many years” for Crossrail to have its western terminus at Reading, that persuaded the previous Government to safeguard the route needed for Crossrail’s extension.
In phase 1, which opens in 2019, Crossrail will not offer faster journey times between Reading and London. It is currently envisaged that Crossrail trains from Reading will take 50 minutes to reach London Paddington, around the same times as the slow, “stopper” services, and far slower than the approx 25 minute fast Intercity services that run frequently between Reading Station and London Paddington. In addition, Crossrail trains will lack many of the facilities, such as toilets and catering facilities, offered by the existing rail services. While giving a huge welcome to today’s announcement, Wilson said that it couldn’t be seen as the end of the process of extending Crossrail to Reading, and that as Minister’s accepted a “Stage 2” was needed to maximise the benefits for Reading and the Thames Valley.
In response, Transport Minister Stephen Hammond confirmed in a letter today that the Department for Transport will now order a detailed study of the benefits and costs of constructing additional loop facilities to enable faster Crossrail trains between Reading and Paddington. The findings of the study will be published alongside Network Rail’s draft priorities for rail routes in the west of Britain in October 2014. The Transport Minister acknowledged that Wilson had already made a “strong and powerful” case for improved Crossrail services between Reading and London via such additional loop facilities.
Rail Minister Stephen Hammond said: “Crossrail reaching Reading is further proof of our commitment to deliver a transport network fit for the 21st century. It will improve connectivity and deliver greater choice and convenience for passengers travelling into London. It will also make better use of the already congested Great Western Main Line, freeing up capacity for further improvements including potential direct services from Reading to Heathrow as part of the Western Access Scheme. In addition I have requested Network Rail to look as the cost benefit analysis of increasing the number of faster trains between Reading and Paddington.”
Reading East MP Rob Wilson said: “I welcome that the Government has finally confirmed that Crossrail will come to Reading. As Reading East’s MP I have fought hard to keep this option open. After the last Labour government decided that Crossrail would only go as far as Maidenhead, I (along with others) was able to persuade them to safeguard the route on which to build a possible extension. This has made today’s announcement possible.
“However, this can only be seen as “Stage 1” in the process of delivering Crossrail for Reading. This first phase will not reap the full benefits that Crossrail can and should bring to benefit people and businesses in Reading and the wider region. Because there will be so many stops between here and London, journey times to London will be no faster than they are now.
“With a bit of foresight and planning, Crossrail can and should offer a direct link between Reading and central London, the City and Canary Wharf at competitive speeds, offering greater convenience and choice to Reading’s businesses, commuters and residents. As a result of a lack of forward thinking about Reading’s needs by the Labour Government and civil servants, this opportunity risked being lost. That is why we need a “Stage 2” to make sure that the benefits of Crossrail are fully realised for people in Reading and the Thames Valley.
“I am therefore pleased that the rail minister has announced that the infrastructure improvements needed to deliver a more rapid and direct Crossrail service with fewer stops and faster journey times will be fully analysed as part of the next investment review. The relevant infrastructure could be put in place as soon as 2020/21, just two years after Crossrail services to Reading start. If places like Watford can have fast and semi-fast services on their metro trains into London, there is no reason why Reading can’t have the same.
“I have had to lobby extremely hard behind the scenes to get the Government to commit to Stage 2 of the extension of Crossrail to Reading and the full benefits it will bring, in contrast to others who have sat on their hands and were happy to take whatever they were given. Unlike them, I won’t accept second-best for Reading.”
I have been sent some interesting insights into the developing Labour leadership contest from a Reading Borough Councillor who prefers to remain anonymous. I have taken their own assessments and added a few of my own:
Rumours are rife in the Council chamber and in the local press that all is not well within the Reading Labour Group. Moves are reportedly afoot within the Labour Group to depose their leader Cllr Jo Lovelock this May after a number of years at the helm.
Whether Labour’s falling poll position nationally is starting to give local Labour Councillors and candidates the jitters remains to be seen.
Cllr Rachel Eden is reported to have thrown her hat into the ring, being forced to respond to rumours in “GetReading” on Friday 21st March, relying upon a rather bland statement about “protocols” rather than an outright denial. One thing is for sure, Cllr Lovelock is not going to go quietly…
With a leadership challenge seemingly on the cards let’s take a look at the Labour benches at the potential runners and riders:
Abbey Bet Tickner – stood down from a lead councillor role a year ago, unlikely to seek a front bench position again, let alone the leadership.
Abbey Mohammed Ayub – not a prolific contributor during Council meetings so unlikely to want to lead the Council.
Abbey Tony Page – Considered by many to be the real power behind the throne of the Labour group. Has been content to be Deputy to Cllr Lovelock and sure to be listened to within Labour group plotting sessions. If he says Cllr Lovelock should stay, who would have the courage to stand up to him?
Battle Chris Maskell – former Mayor and current Chair of Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport Committee. Unlikely to seek to lead the Council.
Battle Gul Khan – another former Mayor, but seemingly happy on the back benches.
Battle Sarah Hacker – daughter of fellow Battle Ward Councillor Chris Maskell. A possibility, and would get at least 1 vote.
Caversham Richard Davis – extremely ambitious and known to command the support of the “Young” Labour group of activists. Stood for selection as Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Reading East but was soundly beaten by Katesgrove’s Cllr Rodda. If he thinks there is a vacancy, will he stand? Probably.
Church Eileen McElligott – pleasant person but so far has not made much impact in the Council Chamber and does not appear to have any ambitions.
Church Paul Woodward – strong character, and probably thinks he could do it. But would he have the support?
Katesgrove Matt Rodda – Busily running around Reading East trying desperately to find an issue to latch himself onto in order to raise his profile for 2015 whilst watching all the funds being channelled into Reading West. Rarely speaks in the Council Chamber and has yet to make any impact. Definitely not.
Katesgrove Rose Williams – another former Mayor (many years ago now) who is well liked across the Chamber. Seems happy to remain on the back-benches and is more likely to want to be Mayor again than the leadership.
Kentwood Daya Pal Singh – A quiet Councillor who seems happy at present on the back benches.
Minster Liz Terry – Formerly a senior Council officer. May find it odd to lead a political grouping, let alone take over as leader of the Council. Would certainly have the support of husband Cllr Tony Jones (Redlands).
Minster Marian Livingstone – Currently the Mayor of Reading. Unlikely to have the time to do the lobbying required to unseat Councillor Lovelock.
Minster Paul Gittings – Recently seemed to get very riled in the Council Chamber, attacking local campaigners and being forced to issue an apology in the press. This has damaged his stock, so an unlikely candidate.
Norcot Graeme Hoskin – Rumoured to have tried to take the top job in the past, was defeated and was cast into the back bench wilderness for a couple of years. Now back as a front bencher but probably a case of “once bitten, twice shy”.
Norcot Jo Lovelock – Has stated her intention to stay on as the Leader, but who knows how much longer she will want to stay on the Council. Currently elected to 2016, but may stand down then, especially if husband Pete Ruhemann stands down in 2015 as rumoured.
Norcot Peter Jones – standing down this May.
Redlands Jan Gavin – hugely ambitious and very political operator. Rarely appears to listen to the opinions of others and can turn almost any topic into a party political issue. Unlikely to command support across her group.
Redlands Tony Jones – A maverick who previously left the Labour group in a huff to sit as an Independent. Lucky to have been allowed back into the Group, but looking forward to being Mayor (again) next year. Will not challenge Cllr Lovelock for the leadership and would not command support among many of the “younger generation”.
Southcote Deborah Edwards – Former Mayor, popular locally and in the chamber but does not seem to covet higher office. A possible if she chose to run.
Southcote John Ennis – Very close to Cllr Lovelock. Unlikely to stand against her.
Southcote Pete Ruhemann – married to Cllr Lovelock so standing against her is a domestic impossibility.
Whitley Kelly Edwards – Quiet in the Council chamber, and seems more focussed on her professional career than on local politics.
Whitley Mike Orton – long standing Councillor and well respected across the chamber. Probably not looking to lead at this stage of his political career. Also rumoured to be standing down at the next opportunity.
Whitley Rachel Eden – Clearly ambitious, and currently the rumoured front runner to challenge Cllr Lovelock. Was damaged politically by her cack-handed closure of Arthur Clark Care Home and has a tendency to get emotional in debates but definitely cannot be ruled out if she chooses to challenge Cllr Lovelock. Would she be ready for the internal repercussions if she is unsuccessful, however?
The assessment – Councillors Lovelock, Eden, Davies, Hoskins and Gavin will be lobbying behind the scenes for support within the Labour Group. The final decision will probably come down to who “kingmaker” Cllr Tony Page throws his weight behind, eventually leading to an acrimonious run off between Eden and Lovelock.
There will undoubtedly be blood on the carpet and it will be fascinating to see who wins!