Tuesday, 30 September 2014

How I Scored Politically Against the Policies of All of the Parties

Which UK political party do you side with? I found a very interesting quiz today that asks you questions and determines your political stance against the political parties various policies or pronouncements.

You can drill down deeper and see where you share or differ in opinion to each party. It has helped me somewhat to underline my own discomfort with the Liberal Democrats (nationally), and my own decision to leave them earlier this month, making me an Independent on my local council.

Looking at the comparison scores below, I guess at the General Election I would be the typical floating voter to be won over.

Some of the questions asked left me needing to research further to make sure I answered in the way that best reflected how I feel; the quiz "Learn more" button helped me to achieve that.

My resultant scoring: Lib Dem 65%, Labour 63%, Cons 63%, UKIP 61%. To be honest,  I expected the Greens to show up a lot higher than 17%, but maybe I had previously thought that they had a different policy to the viewpoint I had. That alone is a good reason for taking the quiz - to see if what you think is really what your favoured party thinks.

I've noticed a commentator suggesting that this type of online quiz would be more democratic than actually voting in a polling booth. Not really sure how that would convert to a vote for a candidate to be an MP, but as pre-cursor to going into the booth to place an X (the mark of the illiterate!) it could be a useful exercise if some agreement could be thrashed out about all the algorithms involved.

It's got to be less time consuming than listening to hours of argumentative political speeches, and reading worthless reams of leaflets. But there again, politics is forever fluid, persuasion will never stop, and nothing is ever set in stone.

Monday, 29 September 2014

WEEDS - Neglect of Our Housing Estates in Central Bedfordshire


Whilst out and about in my locality I obviously pick up on issues and problems and I don't claim a monopoly on reporting these in to Central Bedfordshire Council. So I just wondered what experience other folk have around our CBC area? Seems to me that there must be a manpower / financial problem in not getting attention to our housing estates. I would be obliged if by response, a CBC executive councillor would like to explain the reasons for the apparent neglect? These sample images were taken in my ward in Houghton Regis on 28/9/2014.

Alan D Winter
Independent Councillor,  Parkside Ward, Houghton Regis Town Council
Tel 01582 514654
Editor, Houghton Regis News Desk

(2nd picture (weeds at Parkside Drive crossing): 1/10/14 CBC have raised a worksheet for Waste Services reference 14/053112 to investigate)

Sunday, 14 September 2014

So, If Scotland Does Go Independent, What Will Our New Flag Look Like?

Just for fun, I had a look at what we have now, and what we could have.

Here's the familiar Union Jack flag.

This is a union of various flags. Firstly, the flag of St Patrick (Ireland).

Secondly, the flag of St George (England), a red cross on a white background, associated with Saint George since the time of the crusades.

Thirdly, the flag of St Andrew (Scotland),  also known as Saint Andrew's Cross or the Saltire,  the national flag of Scotland.

So, if Scotland goes, we could have a new flag. Take away the blue background of Scotland, and the white diagonal cross and that leaves us with this:

Boring! But, hang on, what about the flag of St David, for Wales? I don't buy the argument that we should incorporate Welsh dragons; we'd then have to think about English lions, and anyway my theme deals with  Saints. Well, here  is St David's flag, a national flag for Wales.

So, let's incorporate that, leaving us with something like this:

Ah, one more thought! Cornwall. Often pushing for independence, but how about making the people of Cornwall feel more welcome, by incorporating Saint Piran's Cross, also known as the Flag of Cornwall. A centred white cross on a black background.

So, that would give us our new union flag! That would look something like this:

A new flag for a new union?

Much better! What do you think?

So, after first writing this, I see a similar flag to this posted on the Mirror.co.uk web site:

I like in a way as it gives the St George cross more prominence. But the Cornish white cross is missing!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Fareham Way - Bushes Cut Back Request


Just For the Record ...

Last Friday I wrote to cancel my membership of the Liberal Democrats.

My decision was not taken lightly, and I do not want to go into the reasons in any detail here. Let's just say it was an accumulation of major and minor issues, since the debacle of student loans, that have ultimately resulted in me being very uncomfortable remaining in the party.

I have thought about this throughout August to make sure that I was comfortable with this decision. I have carried out my duties in this period with gritted teeth at times. There can be no half-way house for me. To resign certain posts and take a back seat, like several others have done, would only prolong the discussion over me and hinder the progress of those who want to get on with the task of positively promoting the Liberal Democrats.

I intend to remain a fully participating member of the Houghton Regis Town Council, albeit not one belonging to any particular party.

Friday, 5 September 2014

A Crossing For Windsor Drive, Houghton Regis?

I received an enquiry about a crossing for Windsor Drive this afternoon, so I thought I'd blog it.

When members of the public send in requests for Highways work, people are now being sent a stiff letter asking them to get support of local people including elected councillors. I am aware of the kind of letter that Nick Chapman is sending out. Indeed, I have myself been sent one.

This appears to be a directive from CBC to Highways to make them think harder about where they spend their money, and to make ad hoc requests from the public more quantifiable, and responsible. If that's the reasoning, then it seems like a good strategy to me, especially as CBC are facing another round of cuts (or a whopping council tax rise) next year, and need to get value for money.

I discussed this matter with the town clerk, Clare Evans, at the end of July and she was going to make a form available for members of the public requesting ad hoc work, which would indeed need qualifying by locally elected representatives.

As to the matter of a crossing (or 2 - I'm not certain if one or 2 were being thought about) on Windsor Drive, my understanding through my enquiries, is that members of CBC have actually given the go ahead for a crossing. Unfortunately money to do this work has not yet materialised, as it was supposed to have been done through developer contributions via the new Sandringham Drive estate, and these have since hit snags.

I have been waiting since the beginning of July 2014, which is when I last received an update on this matter from CBC, (including officers as well as Cllr Spurr and Cllr Young) to learn if there is to be any satisfactory outcome. I shall follow up on that, again, now.

I shall keep you all informed if I do receive an update.

If I do not get an update, the next public opportunity to voice concern on Windsor Drive would be at the Town Partnership Committee  on 20th October, to be held at Peel Street, Houghton Regis at 7.30pm. The Town Partnership Committee is a meeting of CBC and Town Council representatives, with officers from both council also present.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Gaza, homeless people in Alatara

Comment: Israel will one day pay for its war crimes. One holocaust was enough. Have the Jews of Israel forgotten?

Photo Title: Gaza, homeless people in Alatara
Subtitle: Persons rendered homeless due to Israeli crimes in Gaza
Copyright and Picture licencing details: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Attribution: Physicians for Human Rights - Israel (https://www.flickr.com/photos/phrisrael/)

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

#HilaryDuff #SurvivingSummer

Just watched this 2008 film, Surviving Summer, starring Hilary Duff. I was so into it. What a great film. Of course my viewing perspective was  that of  the father of the wayward know it all teenage girl. Totally got the viewpoint of the girl's grandmother, too.

The film should also work well seen from a teenage girl's viewpoint, a teenager's boyfriend's viewpoint, a mother's viewpoint,  a mother's boyfriend viewpoint,  a grandmother's viewpoint, AND a grandfather viewpoint ! Got it all, really.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulation 2014

from BATPC.

The Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 came into effect in August 2014. This piece of legislation has amended relevant parts of the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 to increase the rights of members of the press and public to film, audio-record, take photographs, and use social media of any kind such as tweeting and blogging, and posting on Facebook and YouTube to report the proceedings of all council meetings that are open to the public.
Unlike before, as far as parish and town councils are concerned, no prior permission is required as such to carry out this activity, but any person wishing to film or audio-record a public meeting is advised to let the council know their intention so that the necessary arrangements can be made. There has always been an obligation for a council to make arrangements for the press to make and file reports; the new rules underline the importance of accommodating reporting by members of the public too. So the emphasis has changed from councils having the choice of whether or not their meetings were filmed to the new position where councils have an obligation to provide reasonable facilities for members of the public to report on council meetings. To ensure minimum disruption to meetings councils may consider agreeing a simple protocol for members of the public wishing to exercise these rights, which might include publication of wi-fi codes and guidance on whether electronic equipment may be plugged into sockets in the meeting room.

DCLG has re-issued its publication Open and accountable local government – A guide for the press and public on attending and reporting meetings of local government. Part 4 of the guide is entitled Access to meetings and documents of parish and town councils and sets out in detail the increased rights of members of the public.

The Chairman has procedural authority in a meeting and the new rules do not prevent the Chairman from excluding any person from a meeting as necessary in order to maintain order prevent genuine disruption to a meeting.

This affects local government bodies in England. See gov.uk