My attention has been drawn to this article published yesterday.

Now Bill and I have fought elections on opposing sides for some 12 years, and I bear him no ill will; So well done on getting a job in a sector that you have always been passionate about Bill, education.

However from Harlow to Plymouth is by my estimation a 5 hour car journey each way or about the same by train, having to negotiate London on the tube too.  So I don’t think it would be a realistic daily commute…

Perhaps Bill intends on a weekly commute? Joining the raft of people who work away from home during the week and see their family at the weekend.

Or perhaps we are to lose “Harlow Boy” Bill from Harlow all together….

That would be a sad day for the Harlow Labour Party, since Bill has been their backbone for many years.

I wish Bill good luck in his new Job, but should I be wishing him good luck for a new life and maybe in a few years time a new parliamentary seat???

News reaches me this morning that Cllr Manny Doku has joined the Labour party.

Six months ago, Manny was campaigning in the General Election to cut the deficit, now he has joined the party that caused the deficit both nationally and here in Harlow! You couldn’t make it up!

Manny of course, is the Councillor that has upset me more than any other in my life in politics, when in April 2009 I outed his little scheme to fleece the taxpayer of cash for taxi fares (or as he called is – his Perks) to avoid paying for parking at the town centre, he outrageously suggested that my motives were racially motivated!

In his emails at the time he showed scant regard for Harlow Taxpayers.

With attitudes like that, I almost feel sorry for Harlow Labour Party……. almost

Last night at Harlow Council’s Executive Committee I felt like I was in a parallel universe….

I have always respected the Labour Party in Harlow; I have often disagreed with them obviously, but at heart they are a bunch of old socialists and have often stayed very true to their socialist principles, even during the Blair years, and as such you always know where you stand with them.

Imagine my shock last night then, to hear the Leader of Harlow Labour Party Cllr Mark Wilkinson argue that the council should offer a benefit to millionaires!!

We were debating the Leisure Card changes; the leisure card used to have 3 levels, A, B and C. A and B are now defunct as nowhere in Harlow offers a discount for them, so we were tidying up the system by removing them and re branding the category C cards as just “Leisure Card”.

Category C cards were available to anyone on benefits, which under the old Harlow Council definition, which had not kept pace with the rest of the country, included anyone in receipt of child tax credits or working family tax credits. As you might know households earning up to £50k per year can be in receipt of these “benefits”, so we have decided that Leisure Cards should be available to those who are in receipt of Housing or Council Tax benefit, on Income Support, Jobs Seekers Allowance or Employment Support Allowance, those who are disabled or with special needs and any children in full time education.

Where Councillor Wilkinson got upset was that previously anyone over the age of 60 was able to have a Category C card and now we have decided that if they are over 60 and fall into one of the above categories then they can have a card. Cllr Wilkinson played to the trade unionists in the gallery and spoke as though all people over the age of sixty are plunged into financial crisis and in need of as many benefits as possible. He wanted the Leisure Card to be available to all those over 60, regardless of the cost to the Council, and regardless of need.

As a compassionate Conservative, I believe that we should look after the most vulnerable in society and wanted to keep the Leisure Card for those in most need, given the councils diminishing resources and need to respond to the age of austerity.

Cllr Wilkinson thinks anyone over 60 deserves a “benefit” be they millionaires or just rich…. Shame on Him!

Bill Rammell the former Labour MP for Harlow, beaten by Robert Halfon earlier this year has announced to the Harlow Star today here that he has decided that he will not be standing for parliament again.

I have to say, I think that’s a real shame. I am obviously no supporter of Bills politics, having worked flat out to beat him and get Rob elected in his stead, but no one can question that Bill was not only a very good and conscientious MP he also enlivened the political landscape of Harlow.

His excuse that he will be too old in five years time at 55 frankly does not hold water, given the age of many MPs who have served with distinction to much greater ages.

Bill is reported to have told the Star that “it was time for a new candidate to spearhead the fight to wrestle control of the town back from the Conservatives” now obviously I am biased but I have fought Harlow Labour Party since 1998 at every election and during “peacetime” and I have to say I am not aware of anyone with a fraction of Bills talent to take over his mantle.

And in that I am happy. Bill was a well liked, well known and hard working MP who was difficult for Rob and the team to unseat, I don’t see an unknown outsider coming into Harlow having much chance of beating Rob Halfon at the next election.

A by-election has been called in the Staple Tye ward of Harlow. A notice of casual vacancy for the ward was published yesterday, following one of the Councillors for the area not having attended a meeting for six months.

Well known local campaigners Lee and Sarah Dangerfield, immediately delivered letters to the Council calling for an election, which the Council has now announced will be held on the 30th April.

Lee told me after calling for the election “I have called for the by-election because the Independent councillor has not taken part in council meetings for six months. Staple Tye deserve a councillor who works hard to represent them. The Conservative party really cares about what happens in Staple Tye, which is why I work so hard here.”

With the three seat ward having one Conservative Councillor and one Liberal Democrat Councillor already, with the Labour Party having an active campaigner in the ward, it’s sure to be an interesting and close race.

I will keep you informed of developments and bring you details of and an interview with the Conservative candidate shortly.