I spotted this on ConservativeHome today and as you can imagine was not best pleased.  If this is the truth then someone in Central Government needs a good talking to. Preferably from a hard case like “Our Chum” Mr Pickles.

It cannot be right in a time of fiscal meltdown, recovering from the mess that Gordon Brown has left us with, when all decent areas of Government are desperately trying to reduce spend, to spend even more on Europe!

I don’t think we get value for money at the moment, one reason why I think organisations like the ENTP are so important to funnel European Cash (British Taxpayers Money!!!) back to British Councils!

Eric Pickles visited Harlow today.

He came as Conservative Party Chairman to see how the association was doing, and to Support our future MP Robert Halfon.

It was another great chance for us to show a senior member of the Conservative Party just how wonderful Harlow is.

Eric is MP for nearby Brentwood and Ongar, so knows Harlow well. He has often come over with supporters to help us in elections, and it was great to see him again.

He visited Harlow Town Football Club to see their new stadium and the Norman Booth Centre, where him and Robert took on all comers at Table Tennis…. Yes photographic evidence has been secured for later amusement!!!

In the evening, Eric was guest of honour at a Ladies Committee “supper club” and spoke about how very prepared for a General Election the party is. Although having seen Gordon Brown bottle one attempt at an election, I wonder if he now will just hang on till May 2010. Nomatter. The Conservative Party under Eric’s Chairmanship will be ready for the election fight!

The Ladies succeded in raising some money for our election efforts and a really good night was had by all.

Last night I spent an enjoyable evening with a large group of friends.

No we were not down the pub, or having dinner, but we did have a lot of fun.

We spent the time knocking on doors in the Staple Tye ward, which will shortly be having a by-election. We were making people aware of the election, and finding out how they were going to vote. It was also a great chance to get feedback from them on the first 10 months of a Conservative Council in Harlow, and a feel for what people thought nationally of Gordon Brown and his government.

I’ll be honest, not everyone liked the things that the new Conservative Council were doing, but those who didn’t understand why we had to do them. The people of the town clearly understand the poor financial position we inherited from the Liberal/Labour led council, and that we were having to make difficult decisions.

One woman I spoke with, alongside Cllr Sarah Dangerfield, was impressed that we didn’t try to spin or gloss over the problems, and that I was upfront and told the truth, even if she wasn’t going to like it.

Wouldn’t it be nice if other political parties fighting the by-election were willing to be equally honest?

The thing that most impressed me was how well known and liked Cllr Lee Dangerfield, the current Staple Tye Conservative councillor, was by the people we met; and how well known our candidate Lorraine Caldarella was! She has obviously been doing a lot of work!

My thanks to the many people, who were out helping last night, and have been helping every night already. If you want to come out and join us, have a good laugh with the team and help win the Staple Tye ward for the Conservative Party, then drop me a message.

An interesting evening at the Civic for me at the Housing Committee last night – as a Substitute for Mrs J (the other Cllr Johnson) who is unwell at the moment and can hardly speak.

Now, housing is not really my specialist subject, but I keep up with what is going on at the committee and read their agendas (if not always with glee!) But I found last night interesting because of the debates that took place, some good news, some really good news and a piece of bad news

Lets go with the bad news first (it helps me cheer you up at the end)

The discussion on “delivering decent homes” focused on Governments targets for council houses, really highlighted how badly Harlow has been treated recently by Gordon Brown and Co. Basically Harlow tenants have been mugged of a million quid!

Our housing subsidy this year shows a “significant reduction” (paragraph 12 here for those who want to see the document)

I asked for more details on this and was told that it would be somewhere between £800,000 and £1,300,000 that we have just lost from this years budget.

And the government had not yet clarified the details. Now remember that we had to set our budget a couple of weeks ago for the coming financial year and a gap this size is significant to our spending plans. Knowing that the new financial year starts in 20 days time, we asked when would the government let us know what the situation was. Sometime either late Spring or early Summer was the answer. What more can I say! Either the government doesn’t understand that we have to set our budget while they keep us in the dark or they just don’t care!

The Good News? We looked at a “Review of Housing needs and allocations strategy” for Harlow.
With this piece of work we were looking to strengthen the definition of local connection (which aids people in getting a house in Harlow) because previously it’s been allowed to be too broad. My colleagues still thought that being resident in Harlow for 6 out of the last 12 months was not really much of a local connection – but we were told that this is Government legislation and we can’t make it tougher than that. Shame really.

The really good news is that we added an amendment asking for a review of policy for homeless ex service personnel (who make up about 2/3rds of the homeless population). We may not all agree with the various wars that our armed forces have been asked to fight by this government, but we can surely get behind our troops when they come home. I look forward to seeing the result of this piece of work.

Today was a day spent out meeting people in the streets and on the doorstep. Something we keep doing in Harlow Conservatives. One of our Action Days!

Far too often in towns up and down the country, politicians only knock on peoples doors “when they want something” ie its election time and they want votes.

In Harlow, the Conservatives spend time all year round knocking on doors and delivering leaflets to people to keep them informed of whats going on. We also hold street stalls and this has been a great way for so many people of the town to meet our Parliamentary Candidate Robert Halfon; He has met and helped hundreds of people in this way.

There were about 20 people out on the streets, either delivering leafltets, knocking on doors or at the stall, as there are every time we have one of these days.

It was really good fun, you get a great sense of camaraderie, and get to meet lots of members of the public. In general they were all really worried about the national economic situation and many people told us what a bad job Gordon Brown was doing running the country.