Friday, 24 April 2009


I am going on holiday tomorrow for three weeks. In that time I will get married, go on honeymoon, and am very unlikely to be blogging! I will resume my blog when I return.

Mersey Gateway; a fair deal on tolls

Halton Conservatives are stepping up our campaign for a fair deal on Mersey Gateway tolls by signing a petition on the Downing Street website. The petition calls on the Prime Minister to look into residents of Halton and local businesses not paying bridge tolls on the existing Jubilee Bridge once the new bridge is built.

I provided the following quote for local media: "We are fully committed to getting a fair deal on tolls for the people of Halton. We believe the government should look very closely at the tolling options for the existing bridge and find a way of helping local people, especially in these difficult economic times. That is why I, and all the Conservative Councillors in Halton, have signed this petition. We will continue to campaign on this issue so that Halton residents who need to use the bridges every day to drive to work, school, or to support their families, get a fair deal."

Thursday, 23 April 2009

MP's expenses; calculation not conviction

Once again the Prime Minister has put Party advantage and the desire to wrong foot his opponents ahead of the best interests of the country. His proposals for a daily allowance for MPs turning up to work (copied from the European Parliament), just will not do. They fail to deal with the issue of transparency and the reasonable expectation that MPs will only claim expenses they incur actually doing their job.

David Cameron said: "What we should do is get rid of the second home allowance and instead have a transparent parliamentary allowance where we say you only get money - and less money than is available at the moment - if you produce receipts for a very strictly controlled number of things. I want no more claiming for stamp duty or furniture or flat screen televisions or patio heaters. Let's deal with the abuses that way. And let's have a clear declaration from all MPs, this is where I live and this is why I require expenses to allow me to do my job."

Gordon Brown's proposals are all about wrong-footing the other parties and side-stepping the issue that a number of his Cabinet Ministers are the worse abusers of the current system. This is yet more calculation from this morally-bankrupt government. Whatever happened to doing the right thing?!

The Budget

Yesterday we saw a dishonest budget from a dishonest and dying government. Fantasy forecasts, nightmare national debt and a return to Old Labour. It underlines the eternal truth of British politics; Labour governments always run out of money. The problem for the country is that we will have to pay for their failure. We cannot afford another year of this government, piling debt upon debt for our children to pay off. We need a General Election. Britain needs rid of this incompetent, hopeless government.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Hillsborough files

I welcome Derek Twigg's intervention at Prime Minister's Questions today in relation to the release of all the police files connected with the Hillsborough disaster. I have myself written to the Home Secretary today asking her to ensure all the documents are released as quickly as possible to help the families who have so many questions left unanswered.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Farnworth Green Belt

On Saturday, I met with Farnworth residents to discuss their campaign against building on local Green Belt land. A number of local Conservative Councillors, and representatives from other parties, have been helping the residents fight this potentially damaging development. I gave the residents my total commitment to work with them and do everything I can to support their campaign.

I will be taking action on their behalf over the coming weeks; including raising the issue in my forthcoming meetings with local media organisations, and Shadow Ministers. We need to protect our Green Belt, in Halton, and across the country

On the campaign trail

On Saturday, a large team of Halton members, Councillors, and helpers were out in force with me leafleting and meeting voters. This "Action Day" was just one in a recent series as we have worked hard to get our message out that change is needed in Halton and in Westminster.

It was great to also be joined by Alex Williams, one of our Euro Candidates, who will hopefully be joining our existing MEPs in the European Parliament following the election on 4th June.

Policing in Widnes

On Friday evening, I went out on patrol with members of the Neighbourhood Policing Unit (NPU) in Widnes. I was able to see for myself the challenges faced on the front line, especially with anti-social behaviour, licensed premises, and cross border crime; a particular issue in Halton.

The NPU's commitment and professionalism was extremely impressive and how their handled some difficult situations emphasised how tough their job can be; and what a great job they do on our behalf. I am very grateful for the officers' time on Friday and look forward to joining them again for further patrols.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Justice for the 96

Like thousands of other Liverpool fans, every day I think about Hillsborough. I think about my fellow Liverpool fans who went to a football match and did not come home, their grief-stricken families, and the injustice they continue to endure after 20 years. This week our memories are given added poignancy by the 20th anniversary of that tragic day.

We all have our own memories and experiences of that terrible day. We all have our own thoughts as to who, and what, was to blame; and we all have our own thoughts as to what should have been done in the aftermath to ensure justice was done.

The Hillsborough families continue their struggle for justice, which they were denied initially by the coroner and many times subsequently, including in the review by Lord Justice Stuart Smith. There are still many questions left unanswered, especially those relating to the period after the 3:15pm "cut-off" time imposed by the coroner. Many of us continue to support the families' campaign for justice in our own small ways and hope as the anniversary approaches they will at last get the justice they deserve.

At 3:06pm on Wednesday, we will once again think about the loss of our 96 brothers and sisters and how lucky so many of us were to not be amongst them.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Halebank Parish Council

Last night I attended the Halebank Parish Council meeting with Ditton Councillor, Colin Rowan.

It was great to meet the Committee members and to listen to all the hard work they are doing on behalf of local people. It was also good to see so many local people present to discuss their concerns and play a part in dealing with issues that affect their community.

Friday, 3 April 2009

We need a culture change in Parliamentary expenses

The events of the last week or so have confirmed my long-standing view that a culture change is needed in Westminster to regain public confidence in politicians when it comes to their expenses. I am pleased that Sir Christopher Kelly has brought forward his Committee's inquiry but the time has come for more than a change of system and rules, but for a change in culture and approach.

I have entered politics because I believe in public service. I want to make a contribution to my country and believe in working for something that is greater than self interest. I also believe that the vast majority of MPs enter politics for the same reasons. But MPs now need to take responsibility for the mess that is Parliamentary expenses and prove that is the case.

Let us be clear; MPs should claim expenses or allowances only when they incur a legitimate cost (and have receipts to prove it), not because they are "entitled" to claim them. The culture of claiming allowances because they are on offer (and are seen as a salary top-up) has to end. For those of us who work for public bodies and accept that our expenses are open to public scrutiny, and that we only claim expenses we incur doing our jobs, the current Westminster system is hard to stomach.

I have made an "expenses pledge" as somebody who is standing for Parliament. I would hope all candidates, whether they be current MPs or not, would agree to do something similar. All candidates, including MPs need to show some leadership and clean up this mess. Only then will the reputation of politicians start to be restored.