Friday, 27 February 2009

Cure for Insomnia

A week is a long time in Reading politics so it was good to get out of the mad house and go to see the Fat Bob Band at the O2.

They only played for 110 minutes so for Cure fans a short gig, not the over three hour marathons we've grown accustomed to. I guess they had to squeeze in Franz Ferdinand, Crystal Castles and White Lies somehow.

I did laugh at the irony of being crowned "Godlike Geniuses" by the music paper that has accused them of being the new Pink Floyd, of 'packaging this insubstantial froth as though it had some social validity' and of releasing an "album of Enid Blyton readings". I've always thought Paul Morley was a twat and I have always hated the NME since.

Reading Festival has missed a trick over the years not having The Cure headline even once (so far their only appearance was way down the bill in 1979), whilst packing it out with bands who owe their existance to them. It has never ceased to amazed me how popular they are in other countries. They headlined the Paris Live8 gig (definitely wouldn't happen here) and in April they are headlining the Coachella Festival... again. A prophet is despised in his own country. Come on Melvin... book 'em before it is too late.

The eagle-eyed amongst you may recognise the flag drapped over Simon Gallup's bass amp. That flag has toured the world!

Best Cure web site is Chain of Flowers.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Budget Negotiations - The Labour way.

Would anyone like to have a quick word with Labour in their shell-like? People, you do not run the council anymore. Their arrogance is staggering and their idea of obtaining consensus was to email their reduced offer to us only an hour before the council meeting without any negotiation.

They came to the council yesterday knowing that they needed opposition support if they wanted to set the budget, which councillors have a legal obligation to do, and from the start engaged in ridicule and name calling. They even presented an amendment to council that was WORSE than the one they had offered and we rejected the previous evening, whilst lying to the council that it "gives the Lib Dems what they wanted". Even the Tories didn't fall for that one and saw through it as the empty gesture that it was despite obviously wanting to believe it. To negotiate successfully, you do not improve on a rejected offer by offering less. Labour see their egos as more important than the security of Council jobs or Reading people's services.

Just like the Tories, we'd like to offer the electorate an increase in funding for voluntary groups. no cuts to front-line services and a zero % council tax increase. The difference is that we know we can't promise them the Moon on a stick and we are not going to lie to the electorate and say that we can. The Conservatives know they can't deliver on their promises, and that if they tried, they would be found out, hence their deafening silence.

But facing up to reality is not an excuse for inaction and sticking our heads in the sand. We need to show that we are traveling in the right direction.

We need to show the people of Reading that we are commited to reducing their council tax. It's a small start we acknowledge, but the Labour group has fought tooth and nail to avoid making even the savings we have asked for. We have asked for a comprehensive spending review to identify areas of waste. The irony is that we are asking for a commitment to £800,000 of savings. The budget papers themselves say that we may need a figure more like £8 million.

We need to show that we are financially responsible and put something back in the now empty piggy bank that was raided to pay for last year's pre-election bribe.

We need to demonstrate to everyone that we are absolutely commited to reducing crime and anti-social behaviour, the scourge of fly tipping and reckless speeding in built up areas. If you cannot answer 'what do I get for my council tax?' then there is something wrong with your policies.

It's why to achieve these things we, with the help of officers, produced a fully costed budget. It is also where the Conservative group have shown a complete lack of leadership and a total abdication of responsibility. They are not fit to call themselves an opposition.

So as not to leave you in any doubt, the Lib Dem position is the full and unanimous opinion of the group.

It's about time someone stood up to Labour bullies on behalf of the people of Reading.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

University Challenged

I'm sure the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading will be very pleased to know that according to one of his staff, Peter Jones, the Vice-Chancellor doesn't give two figs for what Reading Borough Council thinks.

Unless, of course, the Vice-Chancellor really doesn't give two figs for what Reading Borough Council thinks.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Flippin' 'eck

The annual pancake race was quite a laugh. The Mayor's team consisted of the Mayor, Fred Pugh, Graham Hoskins and myself. We were holding our own until Fred dropped our pancake.

Congratulations to winners the Broad Street Mall who looked like they had been training for months for the event.

Update: You have to laugh at the Evening Post, airbrushing the Reading Chronicle's logo out of all their pictures!

Monday, 23 February 2009

Cash for Questions

First, lets get Rik Willis's rather tedious references to muckspreading being a Lib Dem site out of the way.

I'm quite in favour of the constant references by Wing Commander Rik Willis (Desk Jockey Squadron) to muckspReading, it does drive up the hits after all. However, whilst I have no problems with the claims that muckspReading is written by a Lib Dem, it is not a Lib Dem web site and never has been. A separation of personal and political interests is something that Rikie boy doesn't quite seem to understand. After all, the rest of us assumed that his milk and cookies rantings in praise of dead white racist dictators wasn't Tory party policy, simply his own personal twisted views. If it was the case that they were official Tory views, there would have been no reason for Rob Wilson's self styled 'Chief of Staff' to have been suspended from his job.

But let's do a little analysis of his dead sheep attack. I don't think that voters will be concerned that our party is funded by our own candidates and the local Liberal Club. What next? Shock at Tories visiting the Conservative Club. How dare they!

He does himself no favours into deliberately leaving out the non-cash donations to the local parties. Mr. Madejski's little contributions make it a tidy £104,000 that the local Tories have received. Some might speculate that he is the one deliberately trying to deceive the electorate by leaving it out.

No, the real issue is the bankrolling of parties by people who have no interest in Reading and are not accountable to the Reading electorate.

Bearwood Corporate Services is nothing more than a front organisation to get around the law on foreign donations. The Northampton Machinery Company is a front for multi-millionaire Roger Hancox a man with close links to Reading - Not! Memo Fashions is a north London business and the personal donation to Alok Sharma's campaign is from an Indian shipping millionaire.

I don't think voters have a problem with local Lib Dems funding their own campaigns, but I think questions need to be asked about why so many out of town, and in some case out of country, multi-millionaires are pouring cash into the local Tory party and just what they expect to get in return.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Going for a Song

Alexandre Dimitri Song Billong did something yesterday that all Gooners thought impossible.

He played so badly that when Eboue came on, he actually improved the team!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Untie the Union

It may shock some Labour Party apparatchniks and union executives to discover that large numbers of their members are not Labour supporters, yet every year we get wanna-be officials flaunting their Labour credentials in the hope that it'll swing a few votes for them.

I just hope the members look at Labour's track record and ask themselves "what has the Labour Party done for us?" I'll tell you what, a big fat nada.

That's £11m of union money sent to prop up a discredited Government who have at times acted worse than the Tories in their headlong rush to PFIs and PPPs as they fiddle the balance sheets and were responsible for the 'light touch' in financial regulation which has got us into the current mess we're in.

In typical stasi style the Unite Executive Council jumps in to rubbish one of his opponents claims about Derek Simpson's lavish lifestyle, but instead confirms it. "Mr. Simpson's salary is under £100,000" they declare... so not under £90,000 then?

In the old days Derek Simpson would simply have been considered a class traitor, but instead we can see him as he really is, a discredited trade union hack who sold our block vote in the Labour conference Iraq War vote for a pittance.

He might turn out to be no better, he may even turn out to be a raving left-wing nutter, but I'm voting for Jerry Hicks, simply because he isn't Derek Simpson.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Paws for Thought

I don't see why Reading University went to all the bother of setting up all that fancy equipment to work out how many creatures Reading's cats are responsible for killing.

There's far easier ways for them to find out:

Matilda's Wildlife Survey

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Darwin Close

With all the publicity Charles Darwin is getting because of his 200th Birthday, it should be said that Charles Fort summed up his theory more succinctly than any of the numerous articles in print and on the web dedicated to him in recent months...

...that survivors survive!

Fortean Times

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

A Good Day for Democracy

The Writing Was On The Wall

It would seem that Martin Salter is following his own advice to get out more. Whether this is good news for the small mammals, birds and fish around Reading is another matter.

Many of us have suspected it for a long time but thought he would make the announcement closer to the election. In the end he had no choice but to go if the "hardest Working MP" wanted to avoid an embarrassing defeat at the hands of a pretty poor Tory candidate.

With the Labour Party funded by unions who find it increasingly difficult to justify handing over their members' money for nothing other than misguided loyalty to the party that once was and the dead hand of Gordon Brown on the tiller, it doesn't help that the Tory candidate is bankrolled by millionaires Roger Hancox, Prakashchandra Hedge and Indian shipping tycoon Ravi Mehrotra. Alok doesn't even have to get out of bed to campaign.

Martin's legacy will be the first recorded law introducing a thought crime into British Law, the over-turning of our centuries old rights to Habeus Corpus with the detention of British Citizens without trial, the closure of local Post Offices, the introduction of the database state where you are not a free man, you ARE a number and his two-faced stance over the Iraq war to keep his chums at the Pakistani Community Centre happy.

But that all pales into insignificance when from the outset he was guilty of that most heinous of crimes - changing his football team for political expedience. Shame on you!

Monday, 9 February 2009

The Music That Nobody Likes

Makers of the finest music for campaigning videos and Philip Schofield's nemesis, Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, will be presenting for your edification - 1992: The Love Album and Post Historic Monsters at the Kentish Town Forum on November 13th, and 100 Damnations and 30 Something at the Brixton Academy on November 14th.

The Referee's a...

Controversial referee Mike Dean managed to unite all Arsenal fans in their wide spread condemnation of him for sending off Eboue during the 0-0 draw against $pur$.
Why couldn't you have sent him off for violent conduct you muppet? A one match ban for two yellow cards is just not good enough!

Saturday, 7 February 2009

In Goth We Trust!

I don't think I've looked forward to an album as much as this for a long time...

All About the Fields of the Christian Sukkubbus Army!!!

Out on April 6th

Friday, 6 February 2009

Labour Has No Shame

Why the Evening Post continues to employ John Howarth to write his increasingly irrelevant opinion piece is one that only the editor can answer. He repeats exactly same attacks that his erstwhile council colleagues have deployed in recent weeks and perhaps a "Sponsored by The Reading Labour Party and Powered by the Evening Post" ought to appear above it to make clear its providence.

It's clear that Reading Labour Party has not learnt any lessons and is continuing in its attempt to lay the blame on the opposition for not scrutinising what it has been up to. Yes, the same Labour Party which has attacked the opposition for daring to question why £72,000 of council tax payers money should be handed over to Academy Sport 'no questions asked' (more on that at a later date).

Mr. Howarth's defence of Peter Ruhemann relies on the Ofsted star rating system failing to pick up any problems. So tell me, what star rating did Haringey get? Yes, the same three stars that he points to as proving that all was all right in Reading.

It's typical though of a man who supports a government that is more interested in statistics than actually doing things, things like leaking dodgy knife crime stats and allowing hospital stats to be fiddled when it suits them. Statistics are no substitute for doing the job properly in the first place.

Howarth also knows full well that the opposition has only been running scrutiny since last May. Before that it was a Labour cabal, rubber stamping their own decisions. I'm not going to name names, but one officer told me that I wasn't going to be given any information because their relationship with the lead councillor had to be protected. I was also told that I would only be given certain information as long as I knew the right question to ask! I didn't realise that trying to represent my constituents was meant to be a game of 20 questions. Still I guess that's what you get after 22 years of Labour rule, a cosy collection of yes-men and women running the council, up to their necks in the middle of an Egyptian river.

Perhaps I misunderstood when Mr. Howarth tells us that everything was all hunky-dory in Children's Services apart from the last two years. Maybe he is trying to say that Peter Ruhemann presided over a sudden collapse in the department? This would explain the extra £400,000 that needs to be pumped in to rescue Children's Services next year. If there is now a problem which didn't exist before, it strikes me that this is evidence that the service was underfunded to the tune of £400,000 last year... that pre-election council tax bribe came at a cost didn't it John? Shame it had to be Reading's children that bore the brunt of it.

But then we should expect nothing less than self-serving twaddle from him. Mr. Howarth has spent too long outside to corridors of power and it shows. We don't run the council like it was during your time any more, when there was a complete lack of scrutiny and a culture of rubber stamping reports.

Yeah, it's not like the old days, is it John? Thank God!

Thursday, 5 February 2009

ID Cards

The shambles that is ID cards rolls on...

The first set of cards rolled out with much fanfare by ministers to foreign nationals requiring Visas cannot be read by either the police or immigration officials.

We now find out that the cost of paying for card readers is down to the individual force and is not factored in as part of the costs of ID cards.

I have every confidence that this increasingly fascist Government will be thrown out of office before this can be rolled out, but how much of our money are they going to waste before it collapses under their own arrogance and ineptitude.

They are not fit to run a whelk stall.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Call-in Your Name

Labour are very unhappy about the fact that the local Lib Dems and Tories have called in their decision to hand over an extra £72,000 of council tax payers money to Academy Sport without question and are spitting feathers about it.

It seems that those nasty opposition parties are getting in the way of the smooth running of the council with their willingness to question reports and a refusal to rubber stamp their decisions.

What's up boys and girls? Got so used to the one party state that you think that you are above scrutiny?

Get used to it.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Snow Joke

What is the point of spending money on state of the art undersoil heating if some muppet in the police force can call off a match because of "safety concerns".

It's only a bit of snow. It's called Winter. Idiots.

Monday, 2 February 2009