Monday, 23 April 2007

St George...

Happy St George's Day to all CF members.

I am off to meet fellow CFers in the Pitcher and Piano, Trafalgar Square. I am delighted that this venue that I found as a Bristol Alumni is now the centre of London CF events!!

As Kenneth Brannagh once said: Thank God for Harry, England and St George!

Friday, 20 April 2007

Simon Jones PPC for D&R

I have just got back from the Open Primary for Dagenham and Rainham, and alas, for me, it wasn't my turn or time. I am however delighted that Simon Jones was selected this evening. Simon and I became great friends during the course of the general election campaigning for James Brokenshire, and he knows and loves this seat and the local area, and has good strong local connections.

I have no doubt that he will be an excellent PPC, and whilst I am obviously disappointed, I know that they have a good experienced candidate who will give it his all. And I am sure that I will be out campaigning for him to ensure that D&R is Con gain.

As my first attempt at selection, I was delighted to get this far. I wish Jane Archer and Paul Bristow the best of luck for their selections in the future. They were both very able candidates.

Open Primary Tonight

The Open Primary for Dagenham and Rainham takes place tonight at Dagenham Parish Church Hall, Church Lane, Dagenham from 7.30pm (doors open at 7pm).

To say that I am excited is an understatement. Thank you to all of you that have sent supportive messages. I suspect that the result will be on Conservative Home before I get a chance to update my blog.

Directions from the station (Dagenham East) - turn right out of the station, walk to Vauxhall Car Garage, and turn right into Crown Street, follow the footpath around the flats, and you will see the Church. The hall is to the right of the Church if you are facing its entrance. If you are driving from the A112, take the second (last) exit from the roundabout, turn right into Church Lane, and first right into what is also called Church Lane. The hall and Church are on the right.

I wish all of the candidates the best of luck, and may the best person win!

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Hornchurch Round Table Dinner

Last night, I was delighted to be invited along by my friend Danny Gearing to the Hornchurch Round Table AGM (Part 2)! This was a great opportunity to hear about the great work that this organisation does, and to meet with old friends and new. I was surpised how many local people that attended I already knew (including 2 instructing solitictors and a witness from a case I did).

The Round Table offers the chance for young men to get involved locally, network, and to offer something back to their community. This organisation raises approximately £10,000 each year for local causes, and does a fantastic job in working with local charities and community groups. My fondest memory of the Hornchurch Round Table is as a young child being woken up to see Santa in the run up to Christmas, with their local Santa sleighs.

I was not the only Conservative there, and was delighted to see that they are also keen to engage with local politicians as James Brokenshire MP, and The Mayor of Havering, Cllr Wendy Brice-Thompson were special guests. In fact one speaker even took to comparing the organisation to the Conservative party, and the renewal process that has been on-going for us both over the last year.

The organisation covers all of Hornchurch and the surrounding areas (including Rainham, Elm Park, and South Hornchurch).

If I was the candidate for Dagenham and Rainham, I would continue to meet with such organisations and support their aims and objectives. Working with and in the local community is absolutely vital to ensure a cohesive and happy society.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

On the subject of prisons ...

Whilst I am in favour of building more prisons, the suggestion of building one in Rainham on the Beam Reach 5 Business Park site, is not one I support. The proposal is for a category B prison (holding those prisoners for whom escape needs to be made very difficult including rapists, murderers and robbers) for 1500 inmates, making it one of the biggest prisons in the country.

On Saturday 14th April, 6,000 local residents marched through the streets of Rainham to demonstrate their disgust with the Goverment's plans. James Brokenshire MP kicked off the campaign several weeks ago, and is (amongst other things) collating a petition to provide to Gerry Sutcliffe, Labour's prisons minister.

The proposal is non-sensical and would fly in the face of promises to regenerate the local area through providing high skilled jobs. The site has been earmarked as part of the Thames Gateway development as an area for high specification industrial and business space. Once again, it seems that Rainham is being used as a dumping ground.

I would continue to fully support the campaign if I was the Conservative candidate for Dagenham and Rainham. In March I attended the public meeting at which over 200 local residents had their say on the issue.

Previous posts can be found here and here.

Monday, 16 April 2007

Cutting Crime in Dagenham and Rainham

One of the biggest issues that concerns residents in Dagenham and Rainham is crime, and on a day to day basis particularly low level anti-social behaviour. However there is nothing low level about its effects on the local community. Graffiti, flytipping, problem families and local vehicle crime are particularly common problems, that impact greatly on the day to day quality of life for residents in the Borough.

On Friday I met with Sgt John Goodwin who leads the Safer Neighbourhoods Team in the Heath ward of the constituency. The team there appears to have had a positive impact since its introduction and they have been working hard with the local community to deal with these issues.

The Police are keen to encourage young people to get involved in the local community such as joining the local Army and Air Cadets. Four Dagenham wards are trying to get a youth club up and running to give local kids somewhere to go particularly on Friday evenings.

However, as with all of our Police officers not dedicated to such teams, much of their time is taken up with form filling, and jumping through hoops, and not enough time out on the beat. Whilst Safer Neighbourhood Teams have helped to return police officers to the street, the hours that they work do not always fit in with the hours when crime is at its worst, and no account is taken of the need for different resourcing levels in different areas.

If I was the Conservative candidate for Dagenham and Rainham I would work closely with local police, and local residents, to help address these problems. My day to day experience as a barrister working in the criminal justice system has provided me with a valuable insight into the problems and pitfalls.

A Conservative government have pledged to be both tough on crime, but also addressing some of the issues behind criminal behaviour. We will provide more prison places to ensure that the most dangerous offendors can be locked up and the public protected, but also more drug rehabilitation places to address underlying issues.

Thank you to Sgt Goodwin and PCSO Lauren Adams for allowing me this opportunity.

Dagenham and Rainham Selection

As you may have seen from Iain Dale's diary, the Dagenham and Rainham selection for a candidate is underway, with four candidates being put through to the open primary yesterday. I am delighted to be one of the candidates gunning for the seat.

The seat covers 6 wards of the current Dagenham constituency: Chadwell Heath, Whalebone, Heath, Village, Eastbrook and River; and takes in 3 wards from Hornchurch constituency: Elm Park, South Hornchurch and Rainham and Wennington. After boundary changes Hornchurch will no longer be at Parliamentary seat at the next election. The open primary takes place this Friday at Dagenham Parish Hall, Church Lane, and the closest station is Dagenham East. All residents in the constituency, whether they are Conservative members or not, are entitled to attend, and you should register in advance. Details of how to register will be advertised in the Barking and Dagenham Post, and the Romford Recorder.

This is the only seat that I have applied for, and the seat that I applied to get on the candidate's list for. Having grown up in neighbouring Upminster where my parents have lived in the same house for 26 years, and spent many years in different parts in the constituency, I have a great affinity and love for the area. I spent several weekends in Goresbrook Leisure centre competing in Karate tournaments, and achieved my black belt in 1999 in nearby Barking park. My second rugby team (after London based Saracens) is Barking RFC, and I have several fond memories of watching games there.

In the 2005 general election I campaigned for James Brokenshire, and spent many days in the Hornchurch parts of the constituency. In the local elections in 2006 I campaigned almost exclusively in Elm Park, Rainham and South Hornchurch, listening to resident's concerns, and working hard for them.

Like so many voters, I want to see a return to fairness, where those who work hard and abide by the law are not penalised, families are encouraged to stay together, there are tough measures on crime, but also to deal with the causes of crime. I want to get rid of this Labour government, which has failed so many people. I want to encourage aspiration and hard work, and a sense of community and society. But I want an end to the never-ending regulation and interference, new laws, new forms, new paperwork that prevents our professionals from doing their jobs, such as our teachers, the police on the streets (in the station), and our doctors and nurses.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Local Elections and Marginal Seats

With the forthcoming local elections, the marginal seats programme has slowed down, to allow all our activists to focus on winning our target Council seats, and retaining our existing Conservative councillors.

A number of new events will be announced shortly including in Finchley, Great Yarmouth, and Pendle. We have achieved success in Harlow, Worcester and Loughborough, and those new CF branches and members are working directly with the PPC. I am continuing to support them by being available to advise and suggest ways forward, but we have handed over responsibility to the members in those seats.

Please do contact your local association if you have local elections, and find out where you can help best. May 3rd looks like it could be a very successful result for the Conservatives, and Labour are falling further and further behind in the polls and in public opinion. A list of target council seats was published in the most recent CF bulletin.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to all CF members.

I shall be away in Switzerland skiing and shall not be updating my blog until I return.

Have a great time.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

April Fool

There have been some great blogging April fools on the internet today. My two favourites are

Iain Dale's announcement that he will stand for London Mayor - not such a silly suggestion, but apparently an April Fool;

and

Conservative Home's announcement of the policy unit in CCHQ drawing up plans to abolish the monarchy. This one becomes utterly obvious at the stage where Charles Windsor is to be offered a Cabinet role as Secretary of State for the Natural and Built Environment, and Prince Harry's taskforce into the deregulation of pub opening hours.