Two months after the election: what I’ve been up to!

Election celebrations

Tomorrow is two months after the election, and I wanted to give you an update on where we are with things.

Road and pavement surfacing:

The quality of Kempston’s roads and pavements has deteriorated in recent years, as other parts of Bedford Borough have seen improvements.

I have now put a whole host of Kempston’s worse roads and pavements onto the Bedford Borough list of priorities, and have agreed with the Council to have all of those suggested areas examined by the team. We won’t get every pothole filled and every road resurfaced, but we are now pushing harder and getting programmes for improvement onto the agenda.

roadworks

Traffic solutions:

I have been in conversation with Council Officers regarding the woeful traffic problems in Kempston. I am pleased to say that they are now undergoing a review of which solutions could be considered.

Those potential solutions range from a small bridge from the Retail Park onto the closed road to ease traffic flow, to the widening of Cow Bridge – a key area of concern for Kempston residents – to allow for better flow regarding the yellow chevrons. I am glad we now have a review, and will be pushing for whichever options help ease untenable pressure on Kempston’s traffic.

Saxon Centre:

Kempston residents have been excluded from backroom conversations regarding the Saxon Centre’s future.

Since being elected Councillor, I have managed to get the area’s future onto the agenda for the Corporate Services Overview & Scrutiny Committee. I am determined that Kempston residents should benefit from the deal, improving our environment, business-friendliness, and aesthetics, including reversing the recent neglect of the area.

saxon centre bad                         saxon centre new

Antisocial and criminal behaviour: 

During 2015, Kempston has suffered an unprecedented amount of unacceptable behaviour in our town, emanating from one particular area.

After having worked with the Police, Antisocial Behaviour Council Officers and others in Borough Hall, Acceptable Behaviour Contracts have been issued and CCTV cameras have been moved to a particular hotspot for this. I am far from finished in terms of my commitment to pressing ahead with further measures, but we have seen some progress in joining functions that had previously been acting independently of one another.

Everything else:

On top of these concerns, I have also pushed for an extension of the yellow lines on the Ashdale/Spring Road junction to make things safer for pedestrians and bikers, and will hear back from the team regarding this soon. I have dealt with several individuals’ confidential concerns and continue to work with the Officers to solve as many of those problems as possible.

The Conservatives are back in Kempston, challenging Labour’s monopoly in our town. I hope we can deliver a better deal for you in the next four years.

If I hear that people would be interested, I am considering holding a community meeting either every 6 or 12 months to discuss what is going on, take questions, and hear ideas about how we can better our town. Let me know if you would be interested in this way of getting together as a community to discuss our local area. Email: anthony.boutall@bedford.gov.uk .

kempston conservative logo

Time to Take on Ed and Take Him Down

 

ed miliband sarnie

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most people have had a good giggle at Ed Miliband’s complete social and PR ineptitude ever since the Trade Union barons crowned him as leader of the Labour Party over his elder, abler, and more PR-savvy brother, David, four and half years ago.

Whether it’s failing to eat a bacon sandwich without embarrassing himself or his inability to look at a camera on the news without looking slightly troubled and uncomfortable, this is all fair game against someone who is applying to be our next Prime Minister. More than fair game: we, as a nation, need to determine whether or not we should entrust him to represent Team GB on the world stage.

Most Brits are happy for a Mr Bean character to be a beacon of British humour across the globe; fewer would be pleased to see a Mr Bean character clumsily bearing the flag for us at the UN Security Council or in world trade talks.

But whilst it is fair game to repost pictures of Ed Miliband looking utterly un-statesman-like, the majority of people might be missing the rather more serious point: that he is an imminent danger to the security of UK plc and fundamentally unfit to govern.

For a more serious view of Ed Miliband’s ineligibility for UK premiership, let’s take a look at some of his finest moments:

While recently railing against the ills of tax avoidance:

  • Ed has completely evaded the fact that he and his family used a controversial tax loophole against the spirit of his father’s will to avoid inheritance tax – a move described by Gordon Brown as ‘tax abuse’.
  • Ed has completely evaded the fact that, for all his attacks against Stephen Green, it was Labour who knighted him at the same time as the cash-for-honours scandal, and it is the Labour Government which saw the largest rise in so-called ‘non doms’ in history.
  • Ed has failed to mention that his Shadow Business Secretary, Chuka Umunna, recently received a donation from a firm which actually advises its clients on how to dodge HMRC rules to help them avoid tax.barbie

Whilst claiming that the Labour Party is for women:

  • Ed has led a party whose call to action for Labour women in this election resembles a pathetic, pink Barbie bus.
  • Ed leads a party which has never voted in a female to lead it, despite it having become increasingly commonplace across developed countries and mature democratic parties since the Conservatives originally elected their own female leader.

While suggesting that he would protect people from artificially high energy prices:

  • Ed demonstrated utter economic ignorance in pushing his promise of a ‘freeze’ on energy prices before energy companies then reduced those prices, meaning that a Labour promise was for energy prices being frozen at artificially high prices.
  • Ed seemed to completely forget that energy prices had risen astronomically during his time as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, at which point Labour burdened more and more tax onto energy consumers.

Whilst claiming to be in favour of increasing the wages of the low paid:

  • Ed managed to promise a smaller rise in the National Minimum Wage compared to the Conservatives’ plans, due to utter numerical ineptitude on Labour’s part.

Whilst claiming to be a truer bastion of the NHS than the Conservatives:

  • Ed managed to let slip to the BBC that he wanted to ‘weaponise the NHS’; i.e. to ‘weaponise’ the plight of the ill and frail.
  • Ed has led a party whose mismanagement of Wales’ NHS has meant real cuts to funding for nurses and doctors in Wales and a situation where 41.4% of people waiting for ultrasound cancer testing in Wales in 2014 had to wait for more than six weeks, as opposed to 0.4% in Conservative-run England.

While claiming to be a sensible alternative to this Government:

  • Ed has put forward unaccounted-for policies which would escalate spending without filling black holes of expenditure – holes in finances we simply cannot afford again, and which would derail any form of recovery we are now seeing.

Whilst it’s been good fun to laugh at the bacon sandwich and Ed’s ‘awkward little brother syndrome’, we need to protect the British people and British economy from such ineptitude and hypocrisy. Ed Miliband and his band of cronies pose a real and present danger to Britain. We want more jobs for the low-paid; more wealth created in the economy to spend on schools and hospitals rather than debt interest; an economic team which is arithmetically able and economically competent; and a clear plan for Britain’s recovery for British families.

Under this Government, we have seen an unprecedented drop in unemployment, faster economic growth than any other developed nation, a return to wages outgrowing living costs, the deficit halved, and a return of confidence in UK plc. It’s time to pull the stops out to ensure Ed Miliband stays as far away from Number 10 as possible – we can keep the bacon sarnie in mind, but let’s take him on and take him down. We have to.

ed miliband face

Candidates across Kempston

As the election draws closer, and so as households’ letterbox/litterbin ratio becomes closer, it’s worth knowing that we have candidates standing in every Borough ward throughout Kempston who would love to hear from you. I’m sure you will meet those candidates in the coming months (whether you want to or not!), but if you would like to get in contact with the Conservative candidate for your area of Kempston with a local concern or issue, please contact me via this website and I would be very happy to connect you.

The candidates are:

Kempston West: Ryan Gray

Kempston South: Sarah King McGee

Kempston North: Matthew McCarthy

Kempston Central & East (two seat ward): Kuldip Singh & Anthony Boutall

The whole of Kempston is currently represented by Labour, and so we are hoping to change things a bit for people in the area, hoping that you might consider giving us your support in May. All candidates have different backgrounds, and all of us bring something different to the table.

The key thread that joins us is the idea that local government should act as your servant, not as your master – if you want to get involved and help shake up the legacy Labour dominance of Kempston, please feel free to get in contact!

ron burgundy

Project 229 celebrated at Number 10

Congratulations are deserved for Project 229, whose achievements as community champions in Kempston were celebrated at Number 10 with David Cameron and Richard Fuller last week. What a great start to the New Year, and what a great part of Kempston’s community to celebrate.

See their Facebook images and follow them here.

project 229.

It was wrong for Councillors to vote to increase their allowances

Hardworking people in Kempston have been saving up for Christmas and are currently working out how to afford that extra stocking filler for the kids, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. At the same time, this summer, it came out that Bedford Borough Councillors had voted for an increase in their taxpayer-funded allowances. In total, allowances rose from £623,992 in 2013 to £633,235 in 2014, and the basic allowance (simply for being a Councillor) stands at over £10,000 every year – higher than some places in London.

While frontline services have had to be cut back due to our overwhelming national deficit, I think this is wrong. Local council workers, facilities, and services have all had to tighten their belts to deal with years of economic mismanagement under the previous government – why shouldn’t local representatives do the same?

As Councillor, I would have voted against the increase then, and I would vote against any future increase while cuts are being made elsewhere. If elected to represent Kempston Central & East, I will also be handing back a proportion of those allowances in the form of donations to local charities and projects – being a Councillor should be about duty, not about entitlement.

 

calculator

Great charity do for The Children’s Society

Carol Palmers organised a fantastic event this Saturday at the Transfiguration, which managed to raise £300 for The Children’s Society. There were hand-made candles, decorations, and fancy glasses on sale, as well as scrumptious cakes and tea. Carol is a great representative of the Transfiguration church, as well as a dedicated Kempstonian. I may not have won anything on the raffle, but thought it worth celebrating this effort, along with others who put great work in, to raise money for a great cause.

kempston

Remembering in Kempston

 

Kempston  lest we forget

This Sunday saw an enormous turnout to the fantastic Remembrance Service at Kemspton East Methodist Church, whose congregation then marched on towards the memorial in south Kempston to lay wreaths and pray or contemplate in memory of those in history who have fallen to defend our freedom. The march was led by the Cadets, Girl Guides, the Boys’ Brigade, and others. Obviously there is particular poignancy this year, as we remember the 100th anniversary of the outset of the First World War, the 75th anniversary of the outset of the Second World War, and the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Landings. In each of those occasions, brave young men from our local area gave their efforts, sacrifice, and sometimes their lives to defend their King, country, local town, family and friends.

It was great to see so many people turn out in respect and dignity, as our town remembered the fallen.

“With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.”

A Real Scare on Hallowe’en

For this Hallowe’en, if you want a real scare, just imagine Ed Miliband walking into Number 10 and Labour coming to power again in May 2015. As Deloitte brings out their ‘The State of the State’ report, analysing the UK’s public sector, it seems clear that – whilst some of us would like quicker reform – things are on the right track in Britain at the moment. People in Kempston and elsewhere are more likely to be in work than they were in 2010, more likely to face lower income tax, more likely to face lower jobs tax, and they have seen their fuel tax frozen – all while spending on education, health, and other crucial services  has been protected and the deficit reduced.

However, in the ‘nightmare on Downing Street’ scenario of Miliband moving into Number 10, analysis by the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies has shown that Labour would borrow billions more if given the chance. Earlier this year, official Treasury numbers showed the full impact of Labour’s plans: a borrowing bombshell adding an additional £166 billion to the country’s debt in just one parliament.

‘The State of the State’ indicates that if Britain doesn’t eliminate its deficit, we will be paying more on purely servicing our debt than we would be spending on all public services – including hospitals, schools, defence, policing, and protecting the vulnerable – in just three decades. If Labour comes to power and our deficit isn’t dealt with, the cost of our debt would spiral out of control: that means taxes would have to be raised to untenable levels, rates would rise, and there would be less and less in the pot for essential services in the UK.

So, as people get dressed up in the standard capes and garb and worry about the ghosties and ghoulies, they should spare a thought for the most gruesome possibility next year and beyond for this country we love. When thinking what the taxman would be up to under Labour’s policies of spending and borrowing, I’m not so scared of being grabbed by the ghosties – I’m more worried about being grabbed by the goolies.

 

Happy Bandi Chhor Divas and Diwali in Kempston

diwali

Happy Bandi Chhor Divas to Sikh people and happy Diwali to Hindus, both in Kempston and throughout the world.

Bandi Chhor Divas celebrates the liberation of Guru Hargobind Ji (the ‘True Emperor’) along with fifty two other princes from imprisonment in Gwalior; it is therefore also symbolic of the Sikh people’s eventual liberation from tyranny. The date is shared with Diwali because the True Emperor re-entered Amritsar during Diwali festivities, which I imagine put celebrations into full swing for Sikhs there.

Diwali is a ‘festival of lights’, and its literal translation is ‘a series (or row) of lights/lamps’. It dates back to ancient times in India, and signifies the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. In fact, the hope of Diwali is not dissimilar to what St Francis of Assisi from within the Christian faith prayed of his own actions:

“Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is discord, harmony; Where there is error, truth; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, lightAnd where there is sadness, joy.”

All in all, not a bad hope from the perspective of any religion or none! Happy Bandi Chhor Divas/Diwali.

Speak up, be heard

speak up

Since being selected as a Councillor candidate, I have knocked on doors across the whole of Kempston Central & East – from behind the Keep and by the river down to behind Sainsbury’s and near the Post Office. Having spoken to a lot of people in the area, I sense there is a real concern that the channels of communication and working out who to speak to about any particular issue are not clear. That is why I have set up a Facebook Group here, as well as giving people the possibility to contact me through this website.

Not everyone has access to a computer, and people sometimes don’t have the technological knowhow or time, so it is important to get out in the community and speak to people – that’s what I’ve been doing for the last year. From the doorstep, I’ve heard serious concerns about crime from people in Eastdale Close; concerns about parking from people in Littledale Street and Thornton Street; concerns about antisocial behaviour on Margetts Road and by Addison Park; concerns about shoddy public places and overgrowing trees from people between Bedford Road and Bunyan Road; concerns about traffic from people on Elstow Road; and much more. By getting out in the community, I’ve heard first-hand what people care about.

But it is impossible for your local representatives (of whichever party) to hear everything that’s going on all of the time – that’s why I have invested time into a Facebook group and website so people can contact me. For those who can make contact, please do: it would be great to hear what you think can be made better about Kempston Central & East or about Bedford Borough more generally. And if you know someone whose age, financial situation, disability, or lack of technical knowhow prevents them from getting in contact online, please get in contact on their behalf: that’s the kind of community it would be great to nurture in Kempston, where people are more engaged with their own ideas on how to make things better, and willing to get in contact for those who can’t.

By setting up these channels of communication, I hope to hear a lot from people in Kempston in the run up to the election. If I’m lucky enough to be voted in, I will then have the best possible idea of how to serve Kempston Central & East. Otherwise, what’s the point in running?!

Please get in contact!