Thursday, 30 June 2011

Toll too far

Dartford Tolls

Another day goes by and another Conservative promise broken. First it was train fares, then the Estuary Airport proposal [which is still being considered], and now the transport triple whammy; the Dartford Toll.

Motorists in Medway are currently being hit. Not only has the Tory increase to VAT led to a hike in the price of fuel,but this year will see the charge to use the Dartford Crossing increase to £2 and then go up further to £2.50 in 2012. This increase will hit thousands of motorists and businesses which use the Dartford Crossing daily.

We all know Conservative PPCs jumped on a number of bandwagons before the General Election, but to the extent that nearly every campaign on transport has resulted in the exact opposite once in government simply beggars belief. It has been one u-turn after another.

Convenient also that the Dartford Toll announcement came on the same day that strikes were dominating the local media.

Tory CCHQ has learnt a few things on media managemet.

A few constituents will be interested to read what Tracey Crouch MP said about the Dartford Toll before her election, and given this was a major campaign issue I hope that the MP stands up with some vigour and tone, against this toll increase; after all in her own words and on multiple occassions

Breaking News is Bad for Kent Commuters - Sunday 11th October 2009
Scrap Dartford Toll Crossing Charges - Monday 15th December 2008

The very major fear of Medway residents is that we now have a Conservative government hell-bent on tolls and local Medway Conservative Councillors saddled with huge costs for the Medway Tunnel, with a miserely contribution from the Rochester Bridge Trust

We all know Tories will be looking at the potential for a toll on the Medway Tunnel and the fear is that with Cllr Jarrett citing 'other income sources' that this issue is on the table

How long before the Tories introduce a toll on the Medway Tunnel because of the botched purchase?

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Education Strikes Back

Over 3,000 schools in England and Wales will be closed and over 2,000 partially closed on Thursday when two teaching unions stage strike action.

In Medway the following schools will be closed

Primary schools

  • Byron Primary School
  • Halling Primary
  • Thamesview Junior School. Please note – Thamesview Infant School will remain open.
  • Riverside Primary
  • Hempstead Infant School
  • Gordon Infant and Junior Schools
  • Sherwin Knight Infant School
  • St Margaret's Junior School
  • Featherby Juniors
  • Burnt Oak Primary School

Secondary schools:

  • Thomas Aveling School
  • Silverbank Park
Listening to Conservative MPs in the Commons today was utterly sickening as one after the other queued up to attack hard working teachers at PMQs. I watched as the Etonian Cameron, not one for poor schooling himself, scoffed as Tory MP after Tory MP launched into the Teacher trade unions in what was clearly Tory MPs at their best, braying at those less fortunate.

Many reading will remember when they were a child being taught by a good teacher. The type of person who was not in it for the money, was humble, friendly and had a genuine passion for improving the lives of young people.

I had many such teachers; they were true gems.

These strikes are unncessary. But remember they were not caused by teachers out to get one on the government. The fact is Conservatives have deliberately chucked fuel on the fire with this strike, by goading people in practices not seen since the dark days of Margaret Thatcher. They have not been serious in negotiations because they know that divide and rule, between private and public, will sadly pit person against person. It is brazen and atypical Toryism.

What Tories do not get is that this type of behaviour alienates them from the mainstream majority of people. Many of whom do not believe strikes are right, but also get the fact that people are not usually driven to such ends without a reason. Deep down this strike damages the Tory attempt to de-toxify and will do them more long term damage.

If there are riots tomorrow on the streets of London, another set of people will have hatred for the Tories seared into the fibre of their being. Another sub-section of Society pilloried for the actions of the elite at the top.

Many of the polls today in the right wing media show that there is a majority anti the strike. What they do not show is that amongst parents and those that use schools the mindset is a lot more favourable. Mum's and Dad's are being hit by this government just as much.

I expect a few Conservative MPs across the UK to be using the media to highlight their work in schools. Expect some to volunteer on the 'front line' as if it was the Blitz.

Except it isnt. This strike is because Conservatives in government wanted it, they goaded it, and they have got a fight which will keep parents at home.

Pause for thought for one second.

Today, in what was probably a very sparsely attended Employment Matters Committee meeting in Gun Wharf, the true Tory appreciation of teachers was seen. They claim to care for education, for class sizes and for good quality State Schools (as if Cameron knows what that is) but they dont.

Have copied above the true Tory cuts to teachers in Medway, so that when you see Tories moaning about 'lazy NUTters, or Trade Unionists' tommorrow you just realise that actually, some of the nicest and most humble of people are being attacked by the same people that have no interest in good state schools or fairness. Instead pricing out all but the wealthiest with eye-watering tuition fees and the cuts to the EMA allowance for poorer pupils.

If you were fooled in thinking that Conservatives care for education - look at the reality on the ground tomorrow. Cuts to pay, staff and pensions means poorer teachers and poorer outcomes for pupils.

That is your child.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Who wants the airport?

Times openly lobbying for consultation

Given this issue has now appeared four times in the last two weeks we can conclude the Murdoch press stands ready to back airport expansion.

Either the Times editor is an airport loon or someone in Australia wants a huge swath of North Kent obliterated.

The piece will send shudders down local residents in Cliffe and will be the death knell to swathes of Tory Councillors and MPs in North Kent should a consultation come to fruition.

Bob Marshall-Andrews even once suggested the Labour 'Byers' consultation was a conspiracy by the Labour whips to get him kicked out of office. I could see how the reverse could also be very true.

The Times is actively lobbying the government for a full consultation exercise.

When will Medway Tories sit up and smell the coffee?

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Medway Armed Forces Day

Great honour to attend the Medway Armed Forces Day today at Rochester Castle with fellow Labour representatives.

A good attendance from across the political spectrum and a clear cross-section of the community from young and old watched a number of Army and Navy bands and groups process along Rochester Highstreet and onto the Castle grounds.

A small 'drumhead' service was held on the castle grounds before retreating into a marquee.

Event was very well organised by the Council team, at what must have been short notice.

Thoughts dwelt on my brother who is currently serving a lieutenant surgeon with the Royal Navy in the Caribbean.

Had time to have a natter with a number of those involved in the Army CCF Cadet force. Reminded me slightly of when I was a petty officer for the Royal Navy CCF at my school in 2000/2001.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Is that a Boeing?

The Estuary Airport was once again being touted today in The Times as the lead editorial makes clear that David Cameron should now actively consider the placing of a major international hub airport on the Thames Estuary.

It now can not be ignored as a fringe issue, and if it is not on the government agenda it is now very likely it will be very shortly. I suspect Cameron is about to undertake a u-turn on the airport proposal - not as if he or the Tories, do not have form on u-turns - and is now under pressure from some very powerful lobbies.

The Medway Tories have had arguably, and as an electoral strategy, been happy to have their head-in-the-sand for three or more years despite constant pressure from the opposition for them to raise their game. As this blog has stated for years, and been attacked for it, simply refusing to run a proper and funded campaign could lead to a worse outcome. Nipping this issue in the bud with a firm and robust response in 2008, could have killed the issue.

I am not suggesting, and have never suggested, that Medway Conservatives support the proposal. I am suggesting that running a low profile campaign of attrition has allowed Boris Johnson to pursue his agenda more vigorously.

Cllr Teresa Murray and the Medway Labour group, led by Cllr Paul Godwin, saw this issue for the threat it was and called for an immediate, vocal, active and sizeable cross-party campaign to oppose the Mayoral proposals early, before they had a chance to take-off.

The Labour Group were derided for scare-mongering, posturing and trying to highlight a non-issue; sadly and expectedly, it is the Tories who have been proved wrong.

Time and time again the Tories locally have treated this issue as nothing more than a ridiculous idea from a Mayor with a history of putting his foot in his elitist mouth.

Perhaps openly ridiculing the idea early on was a sensible strategy, but it simply is not enough today to have a website and to suggest the idea of an airport is at best lunacy and at worse an issue with little support and dubious funding; It is demonstrably neither.

The threat is now very real.

To remind readers that whilst Medway Conservatives have managed a low-profile campaign the following has happened

The one positive from the recent discourse in the press is that there is active support in Essex for the expansion of Southend Airport, which has since seen a well publicized endorsement from easyJet. However, make no mistake, easyJet still perceives Southend as an attractive 'spoke' airport and not a 'hub,' though any such move by easyJet could be shrewdly timed. The argument therefore for expansion at Southend is worthy but at this stage no more developed than Cliffe or the Island proposal. In addition, the air-routes for any International hub at Southend will no doubt impact Medway.

Would anyone in Hoo, Cliffe or Grain want to live under a major air corridor?

I am regularly reminded by readers that the Cliffe scheme was pulled in 2002/03 because of the risk of bird strike. I might point out that similar issues have been raised at other airports around the globe at development stage, and in most cases movement of birds is a relatively ‘low-cost’ option compared with the wider economic judgment on cost-benefit of an International airport. If Boris can propose a multi-billion pound island, than moving a number of nested birds is sadly not beyond the realms of fiscal possibility, whether environmentalists (like myself) agree or not. This is not to remove the issue, but to suggest that policy-makers will make or reject purely on the issue of 'bird-strike' is not, unfortunately, insurmountable.

What is abundantly clear is that the Medway Tory inaction has allowed this issue to grow, develop and mature.

If they do not get a grip we could be into government consultation territory and believe me, the finger will be pointed at them and their MPs, for naively allowing us to reach that stage after years of obvious warning signs.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Supporting jobs and business

John Denham MP speaks to Rochester & Strood Labour about supporting small business which have been let down by Conservatives.

Our small businesses are struggling in Medway from Strood highstreet which is having huge numbers of superstores placed within a small geographical area; from Chatham highstreet which is suffering from poor road access, delayed bus stations and expensive parking; to Gillingham whose store holders are worried about parking charges and CCTV cars.

John Denham MP called for an immediate cut in VAT which would be a direct benefit to small shops across the towns.

Small business deserves better.

Airport blue's return

It seems that the issue of an airport on the Thames Estuary has returned with a vengeance this week as the Conservative Party Mayor, Boris JOhnson garnered the support of the top 100 CEO's from British Business.

A very worrying development which services to highlight the fact the campaign being managed locally by political colleagues of the Conservative mayor is achieving very little.

Medway Labour have consistently opposed the Tory airport plan, both in the Council chamber and in support of local activists on the Peninsula

Though exact locations have not been fully specified in his proposals, Cliffe, Southend or an island in the Estuary remain favoured locations for the Mayor of London.

Arguing for the potential airport in the Thames Estuary, Boris Johnson stated that the idea was “fantastically economically powerful”, and that failure to support proposals would be a “historic mistake”; a view that received the support of the CEO Conference members, including the chairman of the International Airlines Group, which includes BA and Iberia Airlines.

The plans seem increasingly needless given the recent announcement that low-fare airline easyJet is to begin operating flights from Southend airport in Essex from April 2012, where a multimillion-pound terminal will open this autumn. It is expected to run over 70 flights a week, which through its proximity will likely result in more air traffic and noise pollution for Kent and Medway.

This blog is frustrated by the need to repeat to Conservative, Boris Johnson that there is resolutely no local support for his idea. Successive government reports have shown the area to be inappropriate for such a scheme.

Time and time again it has been put to the Conservative Party Mayor of London that the site is not suitable, and any such development would cause significant damage both to the natural environment, and to the lives of local residents.

Additionally, and most importantly there is a total lack of unity in the message from the Conservative party. On the one hand we have David Cameron affirming at Prime Minister’s Questions only earlier this year that he has no plans for such an airport, while on the other hand, Boris Johnson is publishing detailed reports in favour, and organising meetings with big business to discuss his proposals.

As Leader of the Labour group, Councillor Paul Godwin has stated before:

“This continued uncertainty hanging over Medway residents, particularly on the peninsular, is a blight perpetrated by Boris Johnson.”

“We did, and still do, oppose any plans to build an airport in the Thames Estuary or on the Hoo peninsular. Not only would an airport have negative consequences for the environment, but also the blight caused for local residents is totally unacceptable.”

“I am, therefore calling upon the coalition government to comprehensively dismiss Boris Johnson’s plans. At a time of such stringent public expenditure cutbacks, it belies reason that £40 billion should be spent on a new airport - particularly in an area already rejected by the previous Government as totally unsuitable”

Could not put it better myself

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Rewarding contribution, not worklessness.

As the Councillor for Luton & Wayfield I meet, and deal with the cases of many constituents on a wide range of issues. It’s a privilege and one of the things I love most about my job. However, there are a few people I meet on the doorstep who are not taking responsibility for themselves, leaving the rest of the community to pick up the pieces.

It just isn’t right and it does need to be tackled.

Ed Miliband acknowledged in his speech on responsibility in the 21st Century last week that the Labour Party, during the last election, was seen by some as one that primarily represented people who were ripping off the rest of us. Some of those at the very top of society, and some of those on benefits were not acting responsibly and were shirking their duties.

From bankers who caused the financial crisis taking massive bonuses while taxpayers paid for their failure, to some people who abusing the welfare system because they were able to work but didn’t.

As this blog stated last week; it was right that Ed Miliband pledged that next Labour Government will be one that rewards contribution, not worklessness.

Backing work, as I have done [below] through encouraging small business in Medway, does not mean support for the Government’s Welfare Reform Bill which will actually make it harder for individuals across the country to be responsible, to do the right thing.

The Tory Bill undermines childcare support for those wanting to work; it cuts help for the most vulnerable such as those who live in care homes - who receive support to help them get out and about; and it takes money away from those recovering from illnesses like cancer, who have paid their taxes when they could and should be get something back when they need it.

However, rather than looking solely at need, which has tended to be our focus in the past, if we are to improve the welfare state properly, this blog agree's we must also reward people who are responsible and contribute, for instance, through volunteering, working against anti-social behaviour and foster parenting, as well as protecting those in need.

As Ed Miliband said ‘we will be a Party that rewards contribution, not worklessness’.

In terms of those at the top, speaking to constituents following the financial crisis, this blog shares the anger that the banking industry has been able to get away with massive rewards for themselves whilst at the same time putting the economy at risk. In future, for those highest paid in our society, we need to ensure greater accountability and transparency at the top. For instance the Labour Party would require boardrooms to publish the difference in pay between the highest paid and the average employee.

In summary, as Ed Miliband stressed, what builds a community and a country is a sense of shared responsibility, common endeavour and big national ambitions.

Responsibility is not to government, it is to each other.

Labour 'back in' business?

Rochester & Strood Labour had a visit from John Denham MP last week to highlight how small business is being let down by the Tories.

Across Rochester small businesses are crying out for an administration in Gun Wharf that will help in times of economic difficulty. In Strood, traders are worried about the number of major superstores and the impact on local footfall. In Chatham, ongoing concerns about the persistant road works (coming to completetion) but which, together with the recession, have led to a decline in footfall. In Gillingham traders are worred about the ring of steel and CCTV car cameras prying on the shopping motorist.

Small business is the life blood of the towns - and without an administration which day-in day-out focused relentlessly on encouraging and nurturing small business we are beholden to more people having to leave the area and commute elsewhere.

John Denham MP re-iterated that position when he met the storeholders of Rochester Coffee on Saturday. One mechanism highlighted was the temporary VAT cut proposed by Ed Balls which would be of significant help to local tradespeople.

Monday, 20 June 2011


Liberal Democrat splits finally closed?

So the Liberal Democrat factional war comes to a convenient post-election conclusion, and the result - the allegations by Cllr Andy Stamp, now re-elected, have been rejected by the independent panel.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Medway Commuters battered by Tories

But will Tories still deny the truth?

The news today that Medway commuters are to be fleeced by Conservative supported increases in train fares takes the proverbial biscuit as many residents struggle with cost of living.

The average employee in Medway, who unlike some Kent MPs do not have subsidised rail travel, are struggling with huge increases in fares.

The Conservatives - who campaigned openly against train fare rises - should be utterly ashamed that they have not only undertaken a massive u-turn but they have taken fares to an entirely new level.

A great train robbery which will price huge numbers of low and medium-paid workers off the rail service.

In October 2010, the Campaign for Better Transport undertook a survey which revealed that Conservative plans to rise fares were both unpopular and politically dangerous. The lobby group revealed that 74% of commuters would change their vote on the basis of unacceptable rises in train fares.

Medway Labour have consistently opposed the Conservative rises in train fares. We submitted a full motion to Council in 2010 and have campaigned at train stations.

The Tories have made a political choice to cut the deficit at pace. A decision which is both reckless and clearly hitting the buffers. As growth stalls, unemployment stagnates and real term wages decline v the cost of every day items.

It is folly that the Tories have cut the rail grant at the same time as increasing fares bite. Especially as workers face wage freezes.

The Conservatives have ignored the hard pressed tax payer. On crime, on the NHS, on the economy, on transport, on the climate - they are simply becoming more out of touch with the lives of every day people.

In addition to huge increase in fares, Medway residents will also have to pay at least £592-a-year for an annual Tube pass which is also set to go up with inflation-busting rises.

"With the cost of using the Underground, the cost of travelling into London to work is set to break through the eye-watering £10,000 mark,"

Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle.

"For many the cost of getting to work is now the biggest single item in the monthly budget, bigger even than rent or mortgage payments. It cannot be right that people are expected to spend a such a high proportion of their income just to get to work."

She committed Labour to opposing the Government's decision for regulated fares - which include commuter, season and saver tickets - to rise by RPI inflation plus three per cent for the next three years.

Annual season tickets from Norwich to London are due to hit £8,395 by 2015, Bournemouth £6,962, Canterbury £5,556, Winchester £5,288, Oxford £5,268 and Guildford £3,743, according to the CBT.

Enough is enough.

The Conservatives are on the wrong track. It is time to read the signals and engage in an abrupt platform change.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Tory hypocrisy on transport

It seems the issue of train fares and fuel cost still vex the wider public in Kent and especially amongst those like me, who have to commute and pay through the teeth for the pleasure of it.

This blog has highlighted Conservative hypocrisy on fares and trasport before. Most of the public realise that the Conservatives campaigned against train fare increases prior to May 2010, and once elected, reneged on that promise, extended the 3% RPI increase whilst additionally cut the rail grant.

Many of our Conservative MPs have also stood by the hard-pressed car user and in many cases highlighted the price of fuel across Kent.

Interesting therefore that a number of our local Kent MPs have run up sizeable travel expenses at the public behest according to IPSA, the parliamentary expenses watchdog.

In addition, whilst members of the public are expected to pay their own taxi or transport fares with the high fuel prices, our MPs can claim this back at the public expense. Many appear very happy to do so.

Remembering the average MP's salary is £68,000, well above average, people in Kent may be interested to read the below:

All of the below is accessible on the IPSA Expenses website under 'travel' expenses for (2010/2011 Financial Year):

Rehman Chisthi - Gillingham & Rainham

Rehman campaigned against Transport Minister Paul Clark MP from his selection as Conservative PPC. He also campaigned actively at train stations on a ticket against train fare increases:

According to IPSA he claims £345.30 for a monthly season ticket. In addition to other 'travel' costs, he has billed a total of £2,176 at the public expense.

Gareth Johnson - Dartford

A campaigner against the Dartford Toll, which was quickly rebuffed after the Conservatives took power in May 2010.

According to IPSA he claimed £3,168 for 'travel' since taking office, primarily by car.

Adam Holloway - Gravesham

Another transport and commuter champion who backs Kent campaigns to cut the cost of travel for residents.

According to IPSA he claimed £1,046 for 'travel' since taking office in May 2010.

Mark Reckless - Rochester & Strood

Mark was formerly and is still a regular commuter and knows better then most the campaign pitfuls and perils of transport.

According to IPSA he claimed £104 for 'travel'

Tracey Crouch - Chatham & Aylesford

Despite having admitted to debt problems as a researcher in Parliament, she unlike her colleagues has been able to travel without billing the public [at all]. Perhaps those elsewhere should take note.

Gordon Henderson - Sittingbourne & Sheppey

A former Wayfield boy from Medway, surely he should know the impacts of transport costs on normal hard working families in the area.

According to IPSA this is not so. He billed £7,211 paying on car travel and congestion zone charging.

Julian Brazier - Canterbury

Interesting his transport bills; including train fare payments and travel stands from IPSA at £2,378

Roger Gale - Thanet North

Another MP who appears to be paying the Congestion Charge and billing it back to the taxpayer. Up until January 2011, it would appear he has billed the public purse a no small sum of £3,138 according to IPSA

Laura Sandys - Thanet South

Like Tracey Crouch, Laura appears to have cut the cost of her transport bill to a more fair £394.40 according to IPSA, even though her constituency in Kent is arguably the most distant from Whitehall. Her colleague in Thanet North take note.

Charlie Elphicke - Dover

Charlie has spoken eloquently about how fuel costs are too high for many of his constituencts in Dover, including how he is getting daily correspondence on the matter.

He claims that the 'the price of fuel is a disgrace.' Interesting therefore that according to IPSA he claimed £2,592, aligned primarily to his own car usage.

Damian Collins - Folkestone & Hythe

Damian replaced the former leader of the Tories, Michael Howard, who was known to enjoy the slashing of cost. He has backed the KM Commuter's Charter.

He has billed on 'travel' £2,846

Damian Green - Ashford

Despite HS1 and good train links. Mr Green has shown some respect for the public purse it would seem. Only billing £50.00 on travel costs

Hugh Robertson - Faversham & Mid Kent

A commuter champion. Another Tory who has billed £2,232 on travel expenses up until January 2011.

Helen Grant - Maidstone & Weald

A strong commuter advocate who has done a lot of work to improve rail services for local residents.

Interesting her travel bill stands at £1,215

John Stanley - Tonbridge & Malling

Like Tracey Crouch has not billed the taxpayer at all.

Michael Fallon - Sevenoaks

Michael has seemingly kept his pledge to the commuter. His travel bill comes at £180.76

Many Kent Conservative MPs are claiming for travel costs way above the average annual South Eastern train commuter

The range is also worth noting; with some MPs clearly operating on tight transport margins at below £1,000 whilst others running up signficant costs. Given MPs offices are broadly similar in terms of number of staff and requirement, and travel within constituencies required for all; the range of costs is therefore warrant of further scrutiny.

It is also not an argument of Geography - Laura Sandys MP low 'travel' costs vary with Gareth Johnson MP who bills more.

As a hard pressed commuter and car driver. Ill let the commuters of Medway, and wider Kent, decide whether this is a tad hypocritical.

If you signed up to the Kent Commuter's Charter for a fair deal for commuters perhaps not claiming off the same public large expenses on the same fuel, travel and train fares is sensible.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Credit cards and Councillor Allowances

It seems that despite the issue of cuts and value for money being at the forefront of the local election campaign we can now see proof positive that Conservative Councillors, not only cost the tax payers more, but are simply not willing to state a simple position; that we need to accept a universal reduction in allowances.

Some might say it is ironic that it is Labour leading on a reduction of Councillor allowances but then the opposition can see the staggering levels of money spent on 'non-jobs' and can not stand idly back as public money, your money, tax payers money, is frittered into the every groaning pockets of the Conservative administration.

The irony is that the Tories talk the talk on spending your money wisely, but time and again, they are seen severely wanting. Some might even claim that the Tories pay lip-service to the issue, and then continue spending.

Labour stood on a committment in the local election, led by Cllr Paul Godwin, that we would reduce Councillor allowances. A costed and sensible position which could have been universally agreed.

It was not.

Meanwhile, the finance chief Councillor Jarrett, who has been in charge of the finances of the Council accumulating the credit card 'bills' is also, ironically, one of the largest beneficiaries from the allowances and expenses system, some £29,852.

Labour has presented a consistent position.

Not only is our Council credit card spend on marketing above that of other authorities and needs to be justified to the public, but it appears whilst accumulating such sums the Tories are still not walking the walk on their own allowances and expences.

The Medway Tories it would appear are happy to accumulate large 'bills' whilst being paid what some may consider an above fair wage for the pleasure.

Food for thought for people who are struggling with their own personal finances in these austere times

Gaping hole of judgement?

Medway roads and an administration in abject denial?

It seems the parlous and disgraceful state of Medway roads are once again being raised in the press in what seems like a regular slew of news stories lambasting the Tory administration for a total failure to fix the pothole menace.

Labour have been challenging the Tory Council for years on potholes and even pledged a war on the pothole as part of the local election manifesto.

We have calculated that it will cost a staggering £35m to now repair our road network in Medway. A direct result of years of underinvestment in residential streets.

The public understands that over the last 10 years we have seen millions spent on large scale road schemes, whilst there has been a real lack of focus on residential streets. Coupled with two bad winters and Tory cuts from government, we are now in unenviable position of having poor roads for a long time to come.

Meanwhile this blog revealed the extent of road repairs for this year and how many appear to be in Tory wards which could lead to a suggestion that they have been prioritised.

The public expect the Tories to have a plan and be open about road repairs. Instead, we have a lack of a strategic plan and a portfolio holder in denial about the state of the problem, and the damage caused by years of underinvestment in our road infrastructure by the current Conservative administration.

John Woodcock MP has been on the offensive and has challenged the Tories to set a firm timetable for action against potholes. He has stood up for residents.

Instead of welcoming this suggestion in the interests of residents we continue to have words of denial from the portfolio holder.

He has appeared to dismiss the problem and failed to take into account a fair suggestion for a plan for road repairs.

All this blog asks residents; go out and look at your road and ask yourself - has it, under this Tory Council, got better or worse?