Wednesday, 14 March 2012

City of the Future

I could say I told you so, but I won't. It would be disrespectful to those who put in a lot of time and effort into the bid and certainly I think Reading CIC did a great job. I have no issues about their running of the bid and a lot of positive things will have come out of it.

What was dangerous in a lot of the talking up of the advantages of city status was that it would enhance the position of the town in getting international recognition. And the danger of advocating that angle is presumably the message given out by failing is that Reading isn't worthy of investment so move to Chelmsford. You can't have it both ways.

In any case, to argue that global corporations make decisions based on ceremonial words written on a piece of paper rather than cold hard facts is either naive or misdirection to cover up the underlying flaw in the application. Reading simply isn't big enough.

Reading is only 118th by population in the list of English authorities. It's a town, with the characteristics of a town... but I'm proud to live in this town. There's nothing wrong with a town.

On the otherhand, I'd be fully behind any bid that tried to resolve the ludicrous boundaries that were part of the political carve up of Berkshire County Council. A campaign for a Greater Reading and city status for it would have my full backing. Reading with Lower Earley, Woodley, Calcot and outer Tilehurst would be unstoppable in any future competition.

Let's see if those declaring their "disappointment" at losing will now rally behind the creation of Greater Reading. It will certainly show whether they are serious about city status or whether their words in the Council chamber were simply political preening.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Park Life

We'll it's unoffical. News has leaked out that Labour are not planning to contest Park ward as a target and have effectively handed it to the Greens. This is no surprise to my loyal reader or the more regular visitors who come here hoping for comments they can report me for making because I have suggested it here before. However, this time I have second source confirmation rather than relying on whispers and analysis.

It is a big leap for them. Park was the power base for Martin Salter and giving it up is symbolic, but it is also a hard nosed piece of political business.

Some may speculate that this is part of some pre-election deal, but I think it is simpler than that.

The Greens have proved themselves so irrelevant to Labour by completely failing to understand how the council actually functions that the simple calculation is that moving their election resources to other wards is a better use of their activists. In short, although Labour view the Greens as completely untrustworthy (as expressed by certain people at their General Committee meeting after last year's local elections and echoed in private since), they have also made the calculation that they are also irrelevant to Labour running the council.

At the last election this was Labour's prority list (in order):
Targets
Park
Redlands
Church
Katesgrove
Minster

Holding
Southcote
Whitley
Norcot
Battle
Abbey

Token
Kentwood
Tilehurst

Nothing
Caversham
Thames
Peppard

Whilst there will no doubt be some Labour activity in Park, the big change is that Caversham has leapfrogged it in terms of their target wards and I'm expecting significant spend there by them this election.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Dirty Underwear

The murky world of local politics is something that most people are fortunate in avoiding but tremendous fun for those who like to keep their ear to the ground and a long running saga seems to have developed a life of its own despite attempts by their national party to suppress things.

It's seems it no longer good enough to want to serve the community. A williness to shaft members of one's own party to consolidate a power base is an absolute prerequisite nowadays so news that internal shenanigans continue after an HQ investigation comes as no surprise.

We all know about the investigation because it was revealed in the local press. However, the rules of not washing their dirty linen in public meant that a whitewash was expected and the offical report didn't disappoint.

Except, in the light of at least one resignation from a local party position, something is clearly not all what it seems. After all, the public report had the two warring factions kissing and making up and promising to work together for a shared vision. So why need for a resignation?

That seems to have a lot to do with a second unpublished internal report which was highly critical of certain people. Those people didn't like the second report and took umbrage. Cue flounce out. I hear that the evidence of one senior local politico was deemed to be "unreliable" and discounted.

As we get closer to the local elections, attempts to draw a line under things seem to have failed. News of further ongoing problems look set to have a significant influence on the results.

For example, I've heard that some individuals have been accused of leaking information to members of another party. What's funny is that some of the names bandied about as the miscreant are so wide of the mark that it makes satirising it pointless. Both factions have accused each other of blabbing and both the accusations were untrue!

Further, it would seem that some members were "encouraged" to make up accusations of discrimination which is likely to blow up in their faces.

Matters have taken a turn for the worse after that accusation of discrimination was apparently reported to the police. Not a good idea. Once the police are involved, the Crown Prosecution Service takes a dim view of wasting police time.

Will we see an escalation this side to the election? Will we get collateral damage to senior national party names. Oh, I hope so!