Category Archives: Guest Post

The Future Of Wisbech Castle

This post has been submitted by a guest contributor.   This particular Guest Post is written by Cllr Sam Hoy, Leader of Wisbech Town Council.

The Future Of Wisbech Castle

This morning I attended the assets committee at Cambridgeshire County Council with my colleague Steve Tierney to present the business case I had written for Wisbech Town Council. We both gave presentations, aware that the outcome of this committee would be vital to the future of this valuable community asset.

I am so pleased to say that the committee supported our bid in its entirety. Now we can go forward to protect and maintain the Castle as a community asset and as a vital part of the towns heritage for residents for many years to come.

HOW TO KEEP THE BULLIES AT BAY FOR THOSE ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM

Original post can be found at http://the-art-of-autism.com/how-to-keep-the-bullies-at-bay-for-those-on-the-autism-spectrum/
Picture_Of_Self_ChristinaMacNeal

I was bullied by other kids, teachers and faculty, my own family at times and bosses and yet I couldn’t communicate what was happening until I was well out of my teens.

By Christina MacNeal

As someone who was an autistic teen and is now an autistic adult I want to share the problems of bullying that are faced by those on the spectrum of any age together with some solutions that can be implemented. Furthermore, this article comes right after anti-bullying week and this is a topic not addressed in our community as much as it needs to be.

This is coming from someone who was bullied from a young age into some of my adulthood. At the time I was unaware that I was being bullied; I just thought that is how people engaged with each other. As a result of being bullied for much of my adolescence it seemed much more normal and tolerable than it should have been. I was bullied by other kids, teachers and faculty, my own family at times and bosses and yet I couldn’t communicate what was happening until I was well out of my teens. I had to relearn how people are supposed to treat each other and what to look for, how to recognize a bully and what I should not accept in others behaviors toward me.

Bullying_Image

Hopefully you can use this information and be more aware in order to protect yourself or your loved ones from being bullied. It is important to remember that there is no set age, look or role that a bully plays and he/she can be anyone from a classmate, friend and co-worker to a spouse; really it can be anyone.

These are solutions that are sometimes easy to overlook and there are others that you may not have thought of before. Maybe it will enable you to see something you are doing in a different light that you can cut out of your loved ones life. Or possibly you will find something to add to you or your loved ones life that helps combat bullying.

As most of us would agree the ideal end to bullying would be for it simply not to happen. That a child is shown the love and compassion they deserve and in turn they show the same to others. Until that happens prevention, awareness and action are the best options.

The purpose of this article is to share some insight from someone who has lived to tell the tale about what made my autistic childhood and adulthood experiences amazing and things that I could have lived without.

Bullying is something that should never be taken lightly and it is something that happens more often than not to those on the spectrum. There are multiple factors that play a part into this happening more frequently to those on the spectrum than neurotypical counterparts.

While human beings and particularly those on the spectrum are known for their resiliency, bullying takes away more than a bloody nose from someone even on the spectrum. Bullying takes away the things that are the most difficult to get back. Things that can shape the way a person views themselves, who they allow in their life and the choices they make for a life time.

Here are the some of the major reasons why bullying happens to those on the spectrum with tips that apply to teens and adults for helping prevent you or your loved ones from being bullied.

Bullying_Image

Communication

We all have to some degree or another an inability at times to effectively communicate what is happening to us and to those around us; this makes bullying someone on the spectrum easier than someone who is not.

Make it part of the routine at the end of each day to address how treatment from others went as an assessment and use a chart if needed. Verbally asking doesn’t work for a lot of people on the spectrum; however use the favored communication tool, whether it be writing, assisted technology/typing, art, verbal communication or even pointing.

Being aware of how treatment from others was experienced every day sets someone with ASD up to be thinking about it into adulthood and the more of a routine it is the easier it becomes. Stay away from feeling-based questioning as it is harder to give a clear answer. Communication is key and the more people are on the same page about making sure that bullying isn’t happening the more successful prevention or intervention will be.

Another communication point for those on the spectrum and/or their loved ones to consider is this – do not assume that because it has not been addressed it isn’t happening.

Also make sure that the questions include anybody and everybody; that way you won’t miss anything and there is no distinction made between the different roles of the people that interaction occurs with. (As in no one is thought to be more important or not capable due to their role).

Behavioral

Equally appealing to bullies are behavioral differences such as repetitive behaviors and either a visibly responsive reaction or a visibly unresponsive reaction to bullying. Those with ASD respond differently than neurotypicals and any of the responses are appealing to bullies because of the reactions they generate.

Those on the spectrum don’t have control over how they react to things a lot of the time. However, knowing how the person with ASD or one’s self normally reacts to different situations and people can be extremely helpful as with that knowledge you have something that you can count on to work with. If you know that normally an individual is under responsive and when it is time to go somewhere or meet someone the individual makes a visibly responsive reaction, you’ll know something is not quite right.

The opposite is just as true of someone who is normally overly responsive. These can be warning signs that something including bullying could be going on. Being aware of the subtle differences in time and behavior is imperative to understanding if and when bullying might be taking place and with whom. It is a good reason to inquire from those who can offer any input, but most importantly asking the person with ASD or oneself what is going on and why this is happening when it is. (This asking, of course, not being while the person on the spectrum is going through these reactions or responses.)

Yet another reason our behavior can result in being bullied is that we are different from those of our neurotypical peers and unfortunately popular culture dictates that different is less even though our community knows otherwise. This again can be prevented by being aware of differences in behavior, time in behavior shifts and by clearly asking as many people as you can including the person on the spectrum. Communication with staff, other parents or students and the community about autism behaviors can greatly ease bullying due to behavioral reasons.

Processing

Not being able to process, or having a hard time processing what just happened and why is something typical for those on the spectrum and that includes if bullying occurred. Keep in mind bullying can be extremely obvious but it can also be very subtle in the way it is conducted.

This is a large problem for those on the spectrum when discussing why bullying goes unreported. It is not to say that it didn’t or doesn’t affect the individual in a huge way, it just means it has passed the point of communication. That isn’t to say that there is no memory or thoughts about it. It can be or feel very similar to when you are thinking about or talking about something and the answer is on the tip of your tongue and you know what the answer is, but you are unable to say it or tell anyone.

Also more than likely the reason for the bullying happening does not make any more sense to the person on the spectrum than it does to the non-bullying neurotypical. Whoever is around during the larger parts of the day, be it a caregiver, teacher, parent supervisor or yourself you can all but stop this from happening with regular how are you and observation behavior check-ins that should happen at least every three hours and be documented. For many on the spectrum charts with pictures or pictures and words are going to work better than just words. If emotional and behavioral check-ins are done correctly within a few months’ time you will have documented a pattern as to why this is always happening during this time or on this date(s). You can then yet again use steps one and two and you will have an even better picture about what is or isn’t most likely happening.

Social Skills

Those on the spectrum, generally speaking, tend to give their trust very easily and do not recognize dangerous situations. This coupled with a lack of social peer support and a strong need or desire to make friends leaves those with ASD a more open target for bullying because they are either unable or less likely to question people and situations they might end up in.

Those on the spectrum can give trust to others freely; as it doesn’t always occur to them that someone has ill intentions. The other part of giving trust freely and not recognizing danger is impulse control as living in the moment is where it is at for most with ASD.

Being optimistic about others isn’t a negative trait to have and it helps everyone on and off the spectrum live happier lives. The real problem is being more prone to be taken advantage of, becoming trusting of the wrong people or putting too much trust into the people we are told to trust and they become the bullies. Those with ASD are not picking up on the danger and just as hard as it can be to get into a situation, it can be equally as difficult to get out of one.

Make sure there is a well-known, trusted and compassionate group of people that have proven they are trustworthy and that can see, advise or point out danger to the individual with ASD. Another suggestion is social and peer groups online for socializing and advice; Facebook has the best ones. It is a support network that helps the person on the spectrum through life and those with ASD can mutually mentor, teach and learn from each other.

Bullying_Image_Article

Here is the final piece of advice about stopping you and/or your loved one from being bullied.

Starting as young as possible, educate the individual on the spectrum about bullying; about what they should look out for and what to do if they are bullied. Be sure to include why it’s important.

Remember that you alone will not be able to prevent bullying from happening to yourself or a loved one with ASD and that it takes a chosen group of trusted people for support in this effort.

Education and discussion about ASD within the community you live in and in places that the person who has ASD will be frequently attending are pivotal points for reducing bullying. It will also afford the person with ASD more freedom and options.

If you or someone you know is experiencing bullying or for more information go to:

StompOutBulling.org
Ability First
Stopcyberbullying.org 877-768-4600
Stopbullying.gov
Teenline.org 310-855-4673

***

Christina MacNeal is a writer, journalist, activist, artist and public speaker who has autism. She is currently the director of development at The Gadget Guys Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping those on the autism spectrum. She also runs the organization the Autism Collaboration Project. Prior to that she was an editor and communications director. For more information about Christina or for any questions or comments she can be contacted at christinamacneal@gmail.com or christina@gadgetguys.org

Somehow Life Goes On

This post has been submitted by a contributor. The author of this guest post would like to stress that it an expression of personal opinion and does not represent the opinion, official or otherwise, of any official body or authority, of the owner of this blog (Steve Tierney) or of any other person or institution. (Future guest posts by other contributors would certainly be seriously considered. If you are interested – email Steve Tierney with details of what you’d like to write about.)

This particular Guest Post is written by David Gutteridge.  Until last year David was a UKIP Member and Activist, but he resigned from their party and joined the Conservatives.  Since then he has been an active local member.  David also works with the Wisbech Town Council Festivals Committee and is a regular volunteer and helper at events throughout the year.

Somehow Life Goes On

Dear Reader

I do not intend to imply this blog entry as a ‘miracle cure,’ I am simply experienced as you may be and I can appreciate how complex mental health can be, I am aware some have experienced what I hope I never do but some have also ‘recovered’ to some degree from terrible things, we are all different and effects can be different! It is also intentional part of the blog is focused more on the sufferer.

Mental illness is one of the biggest and most misunderstood illnesses in my opinion, sufferers can be sufferers for many reasons and have in my experience come from any walks of life, young or old.

The general concern is how people, mental health or not, will be perceived by others  but sufferers aren’t to be singled out, made to feel awkward and the best thing we can do, is think before speaking, they may be confronting terrible things just as you may have done before or you may have been lucky enough to never experience.

There’s a saying, “there’s always someone worse off than you” but it can be hard to see because the sufferer can feel so low and helpless and finds it extremely difficult in the case of one sufferer to the next to seek help, thinking they may be ‘burdening’ friends and loved ones, – it is even harder when it is ‘mental illness plus x,y,z condition’ i.e. two or more things at the same time, the feeling of isolation, feeling you aren’t ‘part of the community’ can lead people to take actions that inevitably force the hand of the social services or worse the person takes drastic action.

There is help out there and if you, the sufferer, can achieve something, whether it is something like paying a bill or going to a help charity, any ‘achievement’ can help but it isn’t easy to do, you will have good days and bad days, days you want to shut the world out and days you might want to see a friend, take baby steps, don’t think it’ll end in a couple of weeks or you’ll be sorely disappointed, realism is the best way to go, know your limits and don’t be afraid to go when you have to, talking to other sufferers can help in ways you cannot imagine too – you might realise you aren’t as ‘alone’ as you think!

If a person is to really ‘recover’ it takes time and real friends, resolutions to whatever caused it need to happen if possible (depending what caused it) and perhaps we as human beings need to think before we act, everyone has hardship at some point, stress, depression, etc. Rome wasn’t built in a day, ‘recovery’ is an ongoing process, like a relationship it takes time, patience and commitment, it has to be worked at and sometimes you can feel like throwing in the towel, you only do what you can. If you can reach the ‘work in progress’ stage or seek help you’ve come a long way!

Somehow life goes on, even if there seems no way people can overcome amazing things – what really makes you so different?

I’ve Heard 20MPH All Before

This post has been submitted by a contributor. The author of this guest post would like to stress that it an expression of personal opinion and does not represent the opinion, official or otherwise, of any official body or authority, of the owner of this blog (Steve Tierney) or of any other person or institution. (Future guest posts by other contributors would certainly be seriously considered. If you are interested – email Steve Tierney with details of what you’d like to write about.)

This particular Guest Post is written by Cllr. Sam Hoy, until recently the Mayor Of Wisbech, who is both a Town & District Councillor and has arguably the most experience in different roles of any Councillor in Wisbech, given that she has served on Town, District, County and the Fire Authority, as well as holding roles at both a local, area and regional level within her political party.

I’ve Heard 20MPH All Before

When I was County Councillor for Wisbech North, part of my area covered Waterlees and so the idea of 20MPH Speed Zone isn’t new to me. At one local meeting it was brought up that there had previously been a petition to get a 20MPH limit in Waterlees and it was presented to the County Council but nothing came of it.  The man who had organised it said he believed there was a need for it and whilst I had my doubts on it I understood I am there to represent the people – not my own views. Because of this I asked him to bring me another petition, the previous one had been used some years ago and I felt we needed an up-to-date one to see if the feeling was still the same. (This was when petitions actually meant something and hadn’t been devalued by over-use, unnecessary use and abuse.)  The petition never came, I don’t know if this was because there wasn’t enough support or some other reason but I still thought I would go and do my research on the issue, couldn’t hurt.

The first thing I did was to ask if we had some way of measuring the speed people were travelling in the area so we knew how much of an issue speeding was. We tried Speedwatch but people complained that it was too obvious as people saw it and slowed down.  So I contacted officers at the council and they explained they had these boxes we could use which covertly measure speed.  They had five in the whole of Cambridgeshire and as I needed them all I had to wait for a few months, but we did indeed get them!  I requested that they were put on the roads that I had the most complaints about speeding on which were; St Michael’s Avenue, Bath Road, Grosvenor Road, Ollard Avenue and Walton Road.  These boxes were down for two weeks and after this we looked at the results which showed that the average speed on each road was 26MPH or less.  So this didn’t appear to indicate that there was this speeding issue.

From driving around the area myself I didn’t understand how on some of the roads people were managing to speed as there were often so many parked cars you couldn’t speed if, for some reason, you wanted to.  I also met with the police who said they did not have the resources to enforce any limit that was put in.  I went back to the residents and Councillors Bucknor and explained all of this to them but they still wanted me to press on – so I went back to Officers to speak about options that were available.

There are two options available, a 20MPH LIMIT and a 20MPH ZONE.  These are very different to one another.

20mph Limits

These ARE legally enforceable by the police, a traffic regulation order would go in the local ‘paper to advertise the change and take any objections to the proposal.  If that went okay then new signs would need to be installed and repeater signs are legally required to remind people of the limit.  This is not very cheap as it requires lots of signs but it does mean the police can ticket those speeding – although they said they didn’t have the resources so that’s tricky!  The “20’s Plenty” campaign which campaigns for 20MPH everywhere says that the problem with limits is that there is “Nothing to stop drivers exceeding limit other than responsibility, other limit-conforming drivers and enforcement” so as we have no enforcement it’s just down to responsibility, yet allegedly people are already irresponsibly speeding so why would they suddenly stop? I know perhaps it’s because they will all agree that 20mph is the right speed to have, doubtful though as the Institute of Advanced Motorists found 55% of drivers don’t support 20MPH.

20mph Zones

These aren’t enforceable so if motorists break them and do the speed they want nothing can be done about it.  So hard to see how they will work – I mean people allegedly don’t stick to Thirty so why would they now stick to Twenty? Well I will tell you, whilst the Bucknors tell you this is a cheap easy scheme that can be done with a couple of signs at entrances to key roads, everyone else will tell you that’s not the case. Highways experts and the “20s Plenty campaign” themselves say that to have a chance of working zones MUST have physical speed reduction measures to work such as chicanes or speed bumps. Except there is a huge problem with all of this… in Wisbech I had many complaints about speed bumps in Clarkson Avenue causing vibrations and damaging people’s houses, so infuriated were the residents that they demanded their removal, so how can humps be an option for Waterlees?

The other option of a chicane has been tried on Walton Road, also with problems as residents don’t ever want the chicane directly outside their house which causes an issue, and when they are in residents said they found cars weren’t slowing down for them or were going slow through them and then speeding up. There is also general uncertainty as to whether the zones in general even work at all!  Just two days ago this was being discussed with an article in the Telegraph stating that these zones make rat running worse (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/10834659/Rat-running-made-worse-by-20mph-zones.html)

There is also a key difference in funding options. The county said they would only fund a limit reduction if the traffic was already travelling close to the new limit, they gave a figure of 10% so traffic would have to be travelling at 22mph or slower, Waterlees was just outside that.  I thought this sounded a bit odd to only fund it if people are already close to the limit but guidance from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents suggests “20mph limits are most appropriate for roads where average speeds are already low, and the guidance suggests below 24mph. The layout and use of the road must also give the clear impression that a 20mph speed or below is the most appropriate.” It believed that a limit wasn’t the way to go as it was unenforceable and not recommended from a highways perspective. The officers felt that a 20MPH zone may work but there would need to be a significant number of traffic calming measures to make it work which they estimated to be £500,000 given the amount of them that would be needed in an area as large as Waterlees. They did suggest that the Town Council could pay but the vast cost seemed out of reach for a Town Council so that option was ruled out.

They did however explain that the Wisbech Market Town Transport Strategy was there and had a pot of funding to allow for major schemes in the town in the future. This sounded great! What a winner I was onto!  I was however very cautious that I didn’t feel that this would work, I really was worried that we would have a zone that no one would stick to so we would have the same complaints we get now, yet on top of this we would have complaints about the traffic calming measures, it seemed a really really bad idea.  I had in the back of my mind that residents had asked for this and I am there to represent them and so I thought of a way forward, get the idea of a 20MPH Zone into the strategy so it was there before the deadline passed but put in that we needed to have a consultation first in which we fully outlined what this Zone involved so people knew all the facts. Then, if residents really did want it then we could go on and spend the money.
However, I then lost the election and couldn’t continue so there it sat.  It is still in the Strategy though – ready to go – so I was very confused indeed when I saw the proposal to Town Council.  I mean what can we do about it?  The County are funding it if the consultation comes out in favour so why would the Town Council fund it?  Makes no sense!

All I can think is one of two things, the first thing could be that Virginia Bucknor doesn’t think she will get the new County Councillor’s support?  But it is her job to convince him and then for for him to do his job.  The Town Council can’t fund something that isn’t done due to incompetence or the inability of the local District and County Councillors to talk to each other and fulfil their roles. The second reason could be that she knows it isn’t as popular as she thinks with motorists but she loves the Nanny State “something must be done” attitude and knows it will get her a headline in the paper and a chance to bash the “nasty” Tories.  Maybe it is none of these, maybe I am just cynical?  But I will tell you one thing for sure… anyone that tries to look at this issue reasonably won’t get met with reason, they will be met with “You want kids to die” or “Those other Parties just don’t care” or some other colourful rhetoric.  Truth is I don’t want anyone to get run over – adult or child – but I do think we must be realistic about things.  The argument for 20MPH often goes that it will make it less likely for a person to die but on that logic we may as well ban cars all together as that would have a 100% success rate stopping people getting run over!

The Perfect Storm

This post has been submitted by a contributor. The author of this guest post would like to stress that it an expression of personal opinion and does not represent the opinion, official or otherwise, of any official body or authority, of the owner of this blog (Steve Tierney) or of any other person or institution. (Future guest posts by other contributors would certainly be seriously considered. If you are interested – email Steve Tierney with details of what you’d like to write about.)

This particular Guest Post is written by Cllr. Steve Count, who is a Cabinet Member on Cambridgeshire County Council.

The Perfect Storm

It doesn’t get much tougher than this! The County Council went onto this period of Government cut backs with a very lean structure due to our low
funding. Despite having that starting point and the fastest growth in the Country the latest spending round settlement makes us the third worst hit shire County in the country. Additionally in education we have the lowest per pupil funding in the country, 151st out of 151. The current Government funding allocation formula also still fails to recognise the additional cost of rural service provision.

This means we have to achieve savings again this coming year (2014/15) of £37m despite looking for £32m this current year (13/14)on top of massive efficiencies the previous two years, saving £74m. There is no low hanging fruit left and services will have to be curtailed or cut. Unfortunately every cut is one cut too many for someone.

Despite all of the gloom and doom Cambridgeshire continues to be recognised  nationally for the innovative and effective way they have already and continue to deliver savings. We are a founding partner of LGSS – The Largest Public Sector Shared Service. Additional our Making Assets Count project, enabling partners to unlocking the full potential of their estates is unrivalled.

Scrutiny

This post has been submitted by a contributor. The author of this guest post would like to stress that it an expression of personal opinion and does not represent the opinion, official or otherwise, of any official body or authority, of the owner of this blog (Steve Tierney) or of any other person or institution. (Future guest posts by other contributors would certainly be seriously considered. If you are interested – email Steve Tierney with details of what you’d like to write about.)

This particular Guest Post is written by Elliott Johnson, who is shadowing me in my role as a cabinet member at Cambridgeshire County Council this week for work experience.

Scrutiny

Today during my adventures at Shire Hall I went to the Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee. This is where councillors from all parties get together to criticise the council’s work by adding alternative ways of presenting something or perhaps highlighting areas missed.

Steve was called up for the first time since being appointed to the cabinet because of the Health and Wellbeing Strategy. His strategy contained a comprehensive overview of what the council wants to achieve in the future, with notable focusses on mental health and preventative medicine combined with all the other things you expect health services to do. I was allowed to get a good view from the front row seats of the issues raised; the most constructive criticism made on the area of criminal’s health.

Although, some of the scrutiny wasn’t very helpful, albeit when scrutinising the mental health strategy that came before us, as shown by the Green Party councillor who said that after the aims of the strategy a conclusion should be written saying that the council couldn’t achieve any of its objectives due to spending cuts. He seems a very gloomy fellow to me but the room laughed at his comment.

I would however like to be honest and say that, although constructive, Scrutiny isn’t the most exciting thing. So I leave you with an alternative view of Paxman, who is paid to be highly critical.

The Libs

This post has been submitted by a contributor. The author of this guest post would like to stress that it an expression of personal opinion and does not represent the opinion, official or otherwise, of any official body or authority, of the owner of this blog (Steve Tierney) or of any other person or institution. (Future guest posts by other contributors would certainly be seriously considered. If you are interested – email Steve Tierney with details of what you’d like to write about.)

This particular Guest Post is written by Elliott Johnson, who is shadowing me in my role as a cabinet member at Cambridgeshire County Council this week for work experience.


The Libs

Today was the full council meeting and so I met the opposition, namely the Liberal Democrats. All I am really able to say is that there seems to be only two local Lib Dem policies, MORE BUSES and, to a lesser extent, social justice.

On the issue of buses the Lib Dems tabled a motion on a ‘transport strategy for young people’ who are not in education, employment or training (known by the government as NEETs). This involved discussing, as you might have guessed, ‘bus cuts stopping weekend and evening routes’ and the bus pilots of Cambridgeshire Future Transport and not much else for an hour. But that wasn’t it because there was still an hour question time where the Liberals asked 9 questions with 5 being on, in some shape or form, bus services (from ticket machines, the return of the local shuttle bus and the guided bus route). The Liberal Democrats today spent roughly two thirds of their time talking about just one form of public transport which, no matter how important you rank your bus service, surely doesn’t warrant this intensive block. Do they have an interest rather like the way Cllr David Patrick, another Lib Dem, can’t stop speaking about his taxis?

I personally think it’s ridiculous. How can you represent the needs of constituents, or indeed your party (the Lib Dem manifesto in 2010 wasn’t two thirds on buses), if you raise barely any other points. I spent, until I finished my A-levels last month, two hours of every weekday on a bus but I’d advise my councillor to see a doctor if every second word he said was bus.
When the Liberal Democrats did mention another phrase at the meeting it was very likely to be social justice. This was done through another motion asking for ‘necessary measures to provide or enable the childcare market to provide the essential increase in capacity’. Now you can’t criticise anyone from talking about strain on childcare as these are big issues consequently leading Cambridgeshire County Council to help out. However the Liberal Democrat members used this motion to lecture councillors on social justice, rather than actually use the time to add to the work taking place on childcare.

The Liberal Democrats were also ‘disingenuous’, as Cllr Samantha Hoy passionately pointed out, wrongly claiming that the most deprived were not getting enough childcare places when in Waterlees, Sam’s own ward, there was sufficient cover and that the county had even stepped in to maintain the nursery there. Sam also rightly pointed out that if you wanted to ‘enable the childcare market’ then don’t interfere through amendments that require extra work for nurseries. Watching from the public gallery it is clear Sam looks out for her Division.

Just as an extra note, taking the Liberal’s words as gospel, I’d think the Lib Dems would have more nurseries in their areas if they didn’t believe that child care services run by ‘charities and the private sector were … unfavourable’ for their areas.

Today from way above the council chamber I got a very good view of the Lib Dem opposition. I knew they would be very nice people, which they definintely were as I had quite a good chat with them and even got shown around their allocated rooms. However, it seems that they are politically fit for no other place than the opposition benches.

Out and About In Shire Hall

This post has been submitted by a contributor. The author of this guest post would like to stress that it an expression of personal opinion and does not represent the opinion, official or otherwise, of any official body or authority, of the owner of this blog (Steve Tierney) or of any other person or institution. (Future guest posts by other contributors would certainly be seriously considered. If you are interested – email Steve Tierney with details of what you’d like to write about.)

This particular Guest Post is written by Elliott Johnson, who is shadowing me in my role as a cabinet member at Cambridgeshire County Council this week for work experience.


Out and About In Shire Hall

Shire Hall is fairly captivating, even if you don’t like politics. But there are several points of interest I would like to identify.  Firstly Cllr John Reynold’s beard, it is an amazing site from an equally great Tory Councillor (although it must be said other councillors had well-fashioned facial hair to rival any Greek God). Secondly the statue of a Roman with her thumbs down, halfway up the stairs to the council chamber and clearly sentencing some councillor in that arena to death. Thirdly, is the size of the council offices, a £1 billion organisation which seems to have as many staff, who can shelter in the nuclear bunker somewhere in Shire Hall.

But the most interesting part of my first day there, or the most boring (if you’re to believe some of the councillor’s quips), was the member’s seminar. (I should say, they were only joking.  All the councillors of all parties were clearly there to listen and learn.)  On the face of it most people would agree with the boredom quip.  If I told you it lasted for over 2 hours and was mostly complicated presentations on the equally complex issue of tax. But for me I was quite pleased, not because I’m a boring and tedious bean-counter, but because there was some evidence that the Tories were actually in government.

Recently I’ve been quite sceptical about the conservatism of the Conservatives in government. But it was good to see that whilst Cleggers and co. had their back’s turned a real Conservative snuck into the Treasury. This cunning chap has changed the way business rates are collected by local governments so, to cut a very long story short, District and County Councils can club together and keep more of the money they have raised. Finally the Conservative principle of less centralisation has shone through. Localism, pure and simple. Hurrah!

I will certainly enjoy taking over Steve’s blog for a week so I hope you’re getting very excited for my next post. If not then blame Steve for allowing me to ruin what you thought was an excellent website beforehand.

shirehall

Wind Power Fraud

Wind Power Fraud

This is not my blog post.  It comes from here –  http://iceagenow.info/2012/06/wind-power-fraud/
I am re-posting it because I thought it was a concise and useful piece.

“Wind power facilities will consume more than 3 times the energy they will ever produce.”



“Everyone believes alternative energies are the answer to all our power problems, with wind power leading the way,” says professional engineer Charles S. Opalek.

“The truth is: Wind power is unsustainable and a total waste of resources.”

“Wind turbines have an embarrassingly low Energy Returned On Energy Invested value of 0.29. The manufacture, installation and operation of wind power facilities will consume more than 3 times the energy they will ever produce.”

“The dirty little secret about wind power is its Embodied Energy Analysis proves the Energy Returned On Energy Invested is not in the fantasy teens, but is less than one. Wind power is simply unsustainable.”

Nor is wind power is clean, says Charles. “It takes a lot of dirty energy to make the materials, manufacture and install a wind turbine facility.”

Charles S. Opalek is a registered Professional Engineer with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. He has been practicing engineering since 1965, and has been in private practice since 1987. Much of his background was in power generation. He is an active consulting engineer to architects, designing heating, ventilating, and air conditioning, plumbing and electrical systems for industrial, commercial and residential projects.

See:
http://www.windpowerfraud.com/

Say No To Increased Taxes!

This post has been submitted by a contributor. The author of this guest post would like to stress that it an expression of personal opinion and does not represent the opinion, official or otherwise, of any official body or authority, of the owner of this blog (Steve Tierney) or of any other person or institution. (Future guest posts by other contributors would certainly be seriously considered. If you are interested – email Steve Tierney with details of what you’d like to write about.)

SAY NO TO INCREASED TAXES!!

Fenland District Council is currently consulting on their new core development strategy. In it they now plan to bring in new taxation levels of demanding 20% affordable housing contribution even on a self-build. What does this mean in real money?  If you were building a house for yourself and the final valuation was £200, 000. FDC would slap you with a new tax bill of £26,200. If you are a developer and put up 9 small two bed homes at £105,00 each FDC will want £104,400. Whatever the value of the house or size of development there will be a minimum 20% affordable housing contribution tax attached.

This is in addition to the other new tax the Community Infrastructure Levy CIL. Yes you read it right the first time. In addition to not instead of. The CIL proposal is un-costed in the strategy, but to give an idea Huntingdonshire are bringing theirs in at £100 sq metre. So a 150sqm four bed house would have an additional tax of £15,000. Does it stop there? No? You must also demonstrate you have put some sort of renewable in your home, ground source heat pump or maybe solar PV. Another £5,000 minimum. If these measures all come in it will be the death of the small builder and developer in Fenland, no-one will build as it will simply not be worthwhile. So what would the tax increase be for a four bed 150 sqm house £26,200 + £15,000 + £5,000, that looks to be somewhere over £46,000. How any one can think a £46,000 tax bill on a £200,000 house is affordable is beyond me.

How do we stop it. First and foremost tell FDC. Go to their website www.fenland.gov.uk and take part in the consultation. They have a feedback form. As well as that I have an online petition against the 20% affordable housing contribution for small developments. Go to www.petitiononline.co.uk and put “Fenland” in the search box. Please sign the petition and put your views in.

The repercussions of these measures are immense. I believe house building in Fenland will come to a complete standstill. The few bricklayers, joiners and local architects that have survived the downturn will end up either unemployed or looking for work in neighbouring counties that do not have such draconian measures.

Cambridge city has the most desperate need for affordable housing in this area. Yet even with their vastly inflated house prices they only ask for affordable housing on developments over 15 dwellings. If you wish to contact me my email is stevejune@talktalk.net but please remember it is vital you let Fenland District Council know what you think.

Signed

– Steve Count