Sunday, 30 November 2008

Brand Battle

I'm blogging today in support of a charity called "Grassroots" that's based in Rowledge, helping vulnerable communities in the UK and overseas, and yet finds itself subject to a potentially onerous, and certainly inappropriate, challenge to its identity, by our government.

It was only launched two weeks ago, but already Hugo and Sharon Anson are being called about information on the new central government initiative called "Grassroots Grants". Not for a moment do I believe that this initiative is bad - it's a great programme to match grant giving by local funders. But, I do believe that this is an example of a government behomoth that has neglected diligence by not ensuring that its good intentions do not overshadow or hinder the work already underway by other organisations.

Hugo and Sharon have written to Jeremy Hunt on this, and I do hope he can persuade someone to make it loud and clear that this new programme is definitely not the same as their own charity.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Rowledge School Fair

Just back from the Rowledge School Fair. I was there manning the Smith & Causey stall rather than as a councillor, but it was lovely to walk round and see all these wonderful children engaged in simple and enjoyable activity.

And especially great to see so many parents there. I've often heard that the involvement the parents was second to none, and so it seemed, with the vast majority of stalls being run by parents and children.

A wonderful sense of community and joy.

Friday, 28 November 2008

A pair of old clogs

That's my mother-in-law and great-great-great-grandfather - terms of endearment of course :-)

Just a quick post about them as my in-laws are staying the weekend, and my mother-in-law (about whom I seem to blog regularly), has brought with her an interesting print-out of the history of clogs. And that is because the last time that she was here, I found out that my great-great-great-grandfather was a clogger.

That's about it really. A bit of education in which I learned that

(a) clogs are not uniquely Dutch;
(b) in Lancashiare (and my family are from St. Helens and Wigan) cottom mill workers habitually wore clogs because of the wet floors; and
(c) the French name for a wooden shoe or clog is sabot... from which the word sabotage is derived, reportedly describing how disgruntled workers damaged workplace machines by tossing their shoes into the mechanisms.

Just wanted to share.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Conservative Councillor Compassion

A colleague of mine on the Borough Council sent a wonderfully compassionate and passionate email this week, about the immense challenges facing all of us in the coming recession, and stressing our responsibility to provide as much assistance as possible by way of free advice and training services.

[Writing such an email - appealing to the core nature of fellow councillors as individuals community representatives, and not as political animals - is not as easy as it may sound, and can feel as if it is a little risky and vulnerable.]

As the Waverley representative on the board of trustees of Citizens Advice Waverley, I completely agree, and will be campaigning vigourously for the CA Bureaux to be given as much financial help as possible these coming months, with the main emphasis on the grants given through the Waverley Community Partnership. The process has started, with the deadline for applications already passed, with decisions being made in February. It's by far the main funding source for CA, and I believe that this year is not one where WBC can simply freeze the amount, or add a small nominal percentage.

Rather, I believe we're going to have to make some tough decisions (precisly what - in part - we were elected to do) and choose not only to fund CA and other critical organisations more generously, but also to choose not to fund other groups that in many years past, and in years to come, will be natural and deserving recipients of grants from the council.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Planning Applications 26th November 2008

(Click here if you want to go the Waverley planning search page, and select 'Ward' from the left hand list of options)

WA/2008/2034: 12/11/2008
Proposed Development: Application for a Certificate of Lawfulness under Section 192 for construction of a first floor extension as approved by permission reference FAR/418/61. Hawthorn Cottage, Hawthorn Lane, Rowledge.
E: 482672 N: 142847
Case Officer: Mrs J Hammick

Applicant: D Mitchell, c/o Agent
Agent: J Long, Planit Consulting, PO Box 721, Godalming, Surrey GU7 9BR

WA/2008/2035: 14/11/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of a single storey side extension.
E: 482697 N: 144833
Case Officer: Terry Prideaux

Applicant: Mr & Mrs A Fox, 17 St. Peters Gardens, Wrecclesham GU10 4QX
Agent: Mrs A Stevens, Churchill Design, The Studio, 93 Brighton Road, Aldershot GU12 4HN

WA/2008/2058: 19/11/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of single storey, two storey and first floor extensions. 4 Shrubbs Lane, Rowledge.
E: 482838 N: 143658
Case Officer: Mr A Griffiths

Applicant: Mr & Mrs N Slim, 4 Cherry Tree Lodge, Shrubbs Lane, Rowledge, Surrey GU10 4AZ
Agent: A Stevens, Churchill Design, The Studio, 93 Brighton Road, Aldershot GU12 4HN

Tuesday, 25 November 2008


Travelling to London on the train this morning, I’ve just read on page 12 of the Telegraph, that the government is considering banning the sale of electoral role information to the public by local authorities. Hurrah!

As regular readers will know, I posted my opinion on this some months ago – that the practice should definitely be banned; that officers at the council would be very happy to see this ended; and that it raises very little income and causes much work.

So, I’m writing today to the leader of the council, Richard Gates, to ask him to allow the inclusion of the following motion at the next full council meeting:

“This council believes that the practice of selling electoral register information should be ended.”

If allowed on the agenda, I will speak to this on the grounds not only of privacy, but also as it will very likely lead to the reduction of junk mail, and therefore, in this very difficult economic climate, prevention of mis-selling or over-selling to vulnerable households.

I recognise the potential complaints that some companies will be curtailed in their attempts to maintain turnover if sales opportunities through junk mail are prevented. But, as a business owner myself, I believe that much more targeted marketing, and considerate advertising, would be the more responsible approach.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Putting Parenting to Bed

Rach and I went to a parenting class tonight. It was the second of three that are being held at Farnham Baptist Church. It's not that we already know we're awful parents (although I'm sure I should ask that question of people who know us well rather than proclaim it myself!) - more that we wish to gain from the knowledge and wisdom of others, before we make the obvious mistakes.

The course is written by a couple based in Guildford, and mixes practical advice with biblical wisdom. And the first thing for us to do was - describe our child(ren)! An interesting task, and one that we'd never specifically done before.

And tonight we were focussing on discipline, and the difference between authoritarian, and lovingly authoritative. There were so many great pieces of advice, and strategies for dealing with misbehaviour and disobedience, that my head is now reeling with the content, and I hope I can take some time out to get some of it embedded in order to make good use of it.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

I'm sad

And not in the 'I'm upset' sense, but in the 'I'm a geek' kind of sense.

The reason I say this, is because this weekend we travelled to see four different set of friends, and, as I happened to do most of the driving, I was paying particular attention to road signs. And, what did I find myself doing? Comparing the state of 'Welcome to ... Borough' signs - how clean they were, their design, and their general wellbeing! Having gone at literally done this to the 'Welcome' sign on the road into Wrecclesham, I'm now rather envious of those who have clean, untarnished (from passing wagons swiping them perhaps) and generally easy to see signs.

And it's not just signs that I found myself comparing, but also waste and recycling strategies. In fact, when in search of a bin in which to place some used kitchen roll, not only did I ask if I had found the right recepticle, I also enquired as to my friends' satisfation (or otherwise) with their council's collection of food waste (which I had deduced took place due to their food waste bin beside the waste bin beside the plastics and metal bin...

And finally, and most sadly, I started comparing wards. We'd pass a lovely woodland and I'd think "wouldn't it be nice if...", and then pass some arable open farm land and think pretty much the same.

Please don't get me wrong - we had the most wonderful weekend, and spent some quality time with good friends in four different locations. But, I do wonder: am I taking this local poltics thing a little too far?

Thursday, 20 November 2008


20.15: I’m at the church meeting this evening, and, a bit like the committee meeting at Waverley the other week, I’ve decided to blog live. Well, pseudo-live, as I’m currently offline (I don’t have the WEP key [for those techies out there] of the church wireless network), and so I’m recording it to post later this evening.

Actually, I confess (a good church activity) to arriving 15 minutes late, as the parking in Guildford tonight was atrocious, and I ended up some distance away.

I ended up missing the first few songs, but did arrive in time for the reading of the last meeting minutes - one of my favourite parts of the church meeting (said only with my tongue slightly in my cheek).

20.27: The first item on the agenda this evening is an open discussion on ‘small groups’, the tendency of churches to have groups of people who live near to each other, meeting mid-week to continue bible study and prayer. (At the last church meeting, our pastor started on this topic at 9.30 pm, and it soon became clear that it wasn’t going to get finished that night: hence being first on the agenda tonight).

20.45: A bit of a break there, as I’ve stood up to contribute. I said that our mid-week group, called “Firmer Foundations”, is messy - the conversation goes all over the place, from Rob’s communist tendencies (I said it with love and humour) to Grannie Annie’s ramblings about her grandchildren. From Paul’s update on the latest machinations at Croydon County Council, to Alison worrying about her daughter’s latest long distance travel. My point? That whilst we do feel some identify as a group, we only do so because we care for each other both individually and corporately, and hence, are committed to the small group. And somewhere in the middle we get to discuss the New Testament meaning of the greek word “koinonia” (the anglicised version), from which we get our word (and others ), ‘community’.

Oh, and on a personal note, that I found a different format and style to the Sunday services a really great thing, and really don’t want to attend another service once evening a week.

21.02: A few minutes on, and I’m listening to Lisa, who’s being proposed as the church’s new Children’s and Family Worker. Lisa’s been in the church since 1975 (think she was born then), and is a qualified primary teacher, as well as being wonderfully passionate about the role.

[By the way, I should point out, for the purposes of transparency, that yes, I did choose this meeting over the Wrecclesham Village Society - an example of the decision-making where one things is prioritised over the other, with sometimes the more obvious ward meeting / issue, missing out.]

21.19: Lisa’s answering a question about mixing other work with commitment to the church role. A great explanation, which very much mirrors the Apostle Paul’s tent making (to put food on his table), and debating with the intellectuals and preaching at other times.

21.50: Well, that’s was slightly unusual. We had a vote on two people being elected back into positions (volunteer) in the church, and I offered to count the votes. Felt kind of different being on the other side of the election count.

21.59: No vote as it were on the final business of the evening (retirement and possible future part-time role of one of the pastors). And so we finish just before 10 pm.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Planning Applications 19th November 2008

(Click here if you want to go the Waverley planning search page, and select 'Ward' from the left hand list of options)

TM/2008/0096: 03/11/2008
Proposed Development: Application for consent for works to a tree the subject of Tree Preservation Order 09/01. 3 Greystead Park, Farnham.
E: 482449 N: 144465
Case Officer: Mr A Clout

Applicant & Agent: B Barnes, 3 Greystead Park, Quennels Hill, Wrecclesham, Surrey GU10 4NB

Friday, 14 November 2008

Batteries Not Included (in kerbside recylcing anyway)

I've blogged about Verity O'Connell before, the Waste & Recycling Co-ordinator at Waverley. It was after she had blinded me with science at a Wrecclesham Village Society meeting some months back, and educated me to look at the plastic classification on packaging before putting it in the bin or the recycling container.

Anyway, she's been co-ordinating a trial of kerbside collection of batteries and textiles, and, whist the quality of materials collected has been excellent, unfortunately the quantity has not been enough to make permanent collection a viability.

Instead, the battery collection points around the borough will remain, plus some new ones. See the Waverley website for details.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

What is a driftway?

I'm grateful to David Munro, our county councillor, for this post. In recent months he's been the key person behind the resurfacing of The Avenue, Rowledge, and he's sent me some background information on it which makes me realise how much works he does, and what a great result this is. As you can see from the photo (for those of you who use The Avenue), this is an amazing improvement, and looks a treat.

David says, "The Avenue is a driftway, which means that it only has to be maintained in a condition for pedestrians, horses and farm animals to use it. Although the residents also have a right of vehicular access to their properties, it isn’t the responsibility of Highways to upgrade it. [However] The Avenue now has a brand-new surface – in sympathy with the rural area but easily good enough to be used by everyone. And it should stay that way for many years to come"

David worked hard to gain the trust and contributions from residents, Surrey County Council's Right of Way service, and his own local allocation, and the results speak for themselves.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Planning Applications 12th November 2008

(Click here if you want to go the Waverley planning search page, and select 'Ward' from the left hand list of options)

TM/2008/0091: 24/10/2008
Proposed Development: Application for consent for works to a tree the subject of Tree Preservation Order 09/01.
E: 482480 N: 144500
Case Officer: Mr A Clout

Applicant & Agent: P Jukes, 1 Greystead Park, Quennels Hill, Wrecclesham, Surrey GU10 4NB

WA/2008/1991: 07/11/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of rear extension. 26 Riverdale, Wrecclesham.
E: 482511 N: 145244
Case Officer: Terry Prideaux

Applicant: A Warner, 26 Riverdale, Wrecclesham, Farnham GU10 4PH
Agent: S Annells, 65 Thorpe Gardens, Alton GU34 2BQ

Tuesday, 11 November 2008


An email from the head of committee services, Robin Pellow, made me sit back and ponder today. The email informed councillors that Alan Lazarus, former mayor of Waverley, "died following a fall last week".

I didn't know Alan, and so it made me realise that there are many people down the years who have given of themselves to their local community, serving their neighbours, and not seeking or receiving fame for their roles and actions. Alan probably did so much more than I'll ever do, and yet my knowledge of him is non-existent.

It's simply making me realise that I need to think less about myself and my reputation (and certainly forget about 'legacy', a horrible concept that prime ministers seem to obsess about), and more about service and selflessness. Not sure I'll ever be great at these things, but aspiring to them seems the right approach.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Live! From the council chamber

Is this the first blog post from the Waverley council chamber?

18.59: Just been asked by another councillor to chat about blogs after the meeting. Excellent.

19.20: Well, I'm at the Community Overview & Scrutiny Committee, and in a short but very appropriate item on communications with tenants, and the key being frequent updates, rather than being kept in the dark.

19.26: STATUS Survey - 85% overall satisfaction, on a response rate of 56%.

19.34: But, once broken down a bit, it reveals some real differences between, say, younger families and those in sheltered accommodation. Satisfaction of younger people is significantly lower, and this maybe due to type of home being unsuitable.

19.42: John Swanton makes a good point - that even where issue is sorted out, the solution may not be to the tenant's preference, and therefore not deliver "satisfaction".

19.55: Just shared some puzzlement at some of the survey questions - puzzlement shared by the officers! I wish we were allowed to add supplementary questions.

20.20: A great review of the Careline service - a wonderful provision for those who need it.

20.34: Hurray for technological innovation - the extensions to this service include smoke alarms, fall detectors, external door detectors. All sorts of comfort for those in need.

20.46: Bit of a discussion about reliability of technology - the risk that it doesn't work, especially once the 24 hour fault reporting service is demised. Very unlikely, but what about monitoring / polling of units from the centre?

20.50: So, tech possible, but we don't use that version of the equipment yet.

21.03: Councillor Webster has just introduced the performance stats in his own inimitable style.

21.09: And concluded by agreeing for Councillor Wilson to replace me on that sub-committee.

21.14: Just learned that WBC have to pay council tax on its own void properties! E.g. £60,000 pa on Rowland House alone.

21.19: Good news item - 100% gas servicing.

21.20: Meeting closed. Home I go.


Great news. One of our Waverley Councillors has been selected by the constituency party of Preston, in Lancashire, to be the Conservative Party candidate at the next general election.

Currently held by Labour, with a majority of around 8,500 (due to boundary changes), this is eminently winnable.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Where am I?

I openly admit that this post is simply an excuse to show-off the gadgetry excellence of my iPhone 3G!

I'm on the way to Krakow Airport: I'm really glad to be heading home.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Planning Applications 5th November 2008

(Click here if you want to go the Waverley planning search page, and select 'Ward' from the left hand list of options)

WA/2008/1921: 21/10/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of extensions and alterations. 12 Fullers Road, Rowledge.
E: 482225 N: 143453
Case Officer: Mr A Griffiths

Applicant: R Tomlins, 12 Fullers Road, Rowledge, Farnham GU10 4BP
Agent: Mr Andrew Tomkins, Abode Architects LLP, The Forge Studio, 5 Upper Church Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU9 7PW

WA/2008/1941: 22/10/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of extension. 28 Shortheath Crest, Farnham.
E: 482989 N: 144839
Case Officer: Portia Birch

Applicant: Mr & Mrs Snelson, 28 Shortheath Crest, Farnham GU9 8SB
Agent: R Ball, Charter Design Associates, The Stable, Chamber Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU10 5ET

WA/2008/1945: 28/10/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of a 2 storey extension. 23 Lickfolds Road, Farnham.
E: 482394 N: 143100
Case Officer: Portia Birch

Applicant: J Gosden, 23 Lickfolds Road, Rowledge, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4AF
Agent: B MacDonald, Ben MacDonald Associates, Hoggats House, Kingsley, Bordon, Hants GU35 9NY

Monday, 3 November 2008

White Gold

I'm in my favourite business location - the old town of Krakow (see yesterday's post). Whilst I do my work, she's going to see the sights, and generally enjoy the delights of one of the orginal entries on the 1978 UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.

Actually, not one entry, but two, as this morning we visited the Salt Mines about 10 km south of Krakow, in the small town of Wieliczka. Over 700 years of mining (virtually all by hand) has produced some 300 km of tunnels, just one percent of which tourist see on the tour.

But oh, what a beautiful place. At least 3 chapels, one of which is cathedral like in its enormity and beauty, and the air - what wonderfully clean air - so pure and healthy that there's a treatment centre 135m below ground for asthmatics, especially children.

Well, suffice to say, that a visit to Krakow is a must. It's my third time though, and I still have been to Auschwitz, which is just 60 km away. Next time.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Meeting my Mum in Poland

My business trips are usually pretty standard:

Taxi, Airport, Flight, Taxi, Hotel, Taxi, Office, Taxi, Hotel [Repeat last four steps multiple times] Taxi, Airport, Flight, Taxi, Home

And so this week is a delight. My Mum, flying for the first time on her own, is meeting me in Krakow later today, and in between business meetings, we're going to enjoy the sites. Admittedly, Krakow offers a serious amount of interest for the business traveller anyway - a greater depth of breadth of history than most destinations, and the ease of pretty much walking everywhere between hotel and office and the rest of the town.

Here's to air miles.