Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Saving the Tower

This coming Thursday is the big public meeting to discuss the Tower's future. The draft consultant's report on the future of the Tower Arts Centre has already been published at - the main conclusions will be presented at the meeting - so it's not essential to read it advance. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to the public. It's essential that as many people as possible show up. Find out more at

We'll also be discussing the Tower at tonight's full Council meeting where the Save the Tower campaigners will present a petition asking Winchester City Council to find ways of funding the Centre's future. The accompanying pic shows Lib Dem County Councillor Jackie Porter collecting signatures for this petition in the High Street on Saturday morning. Nice hat!

Friday, October 19, 2007


Whitchurch By-election - Lib Dem Hold

An excellent result for our next door neighbours in Whitchurch yesterday. This was a by-election for Basingstoke and Deane District Council caused by the death of one of Whitchurch's Liberal Democrat councillors.

The result:

LD - 52.8%, -5.6%

Con - 43.6%, +2.0%

Lab 3.6%, +3.6%

The Tories threw everything they had at this. Lots of rip-off Focus-style leaflets. Lots of heavy duty canvassing - I saw George Young and entourage knocking on doors while I was delivering leaflets there last Saturday. There were even reports of County Council Leader Ken Thornber being spotted out canvassing! So a very solid performance from our Whitchurch team in response to the Conservative challenge.

The next nearby by-election will be in Wickham on 22nd November, also caused by the death of a Liberal Democrat councillor. This one is for a seat on Winchester City Council, so very close to my heart!

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Bus Cuts - Lib Dem challenge to Tory Leader

My colleague Karen Barratt, councillor for St Paul Ward, Winchester, has been direct in her opposition to the County Council's cuts in bus subsidy. Her open letter to County Council, Ken Thornber, seems well worth sharing:

Dear Councillor Thornber,

Thank you for your detailed reply to my letter of 28 August but I am still not convinced by your defence of cuts to the bus subsidy. I do not accept that the entire saving had to be made at the sole expense of an essential public service. I suggest the 'options ...investigated' are obviously far too limited in scope, totally unimaginative and would benefit from a wider consultation with those who actually depend on public transport.

You say that, “ Services 1 and 5 are prime examples, where the County Council and the bus operators have invested heavily, resulting in substantial passenger growth.” There is a bit of a clue here, surely. That is, when there are regular and reliable services, people use them.You accept that these routes were identified as having the 'sufficient density of population' to justify an increase in daytime services yet bizarrely you propose scrapping Sunday evening services altogether. I realise you do not live in Winchester but I can assure that the days when residents attended church, had lunch and went to bed after 'Songs of Praise' are long gone. Winchester has a thriving evening economy including pubs, restaurants, a cinema and public services such as the railway and hospital, all of which operate well beyond 6pm on a Sunday. Staff and users have to get home somehow.

You say “the 'green' message is becoming more widely accepted”. Sadly this acceptance does not appear to extend to HCC. Did Cllr Read's recent comment, “All we do by providing subsidy put money into slowing down the decline and prolong the agony,” indicate that HCC members see no future for public transport at all?

You say that your 'commitments' make relying on public transport 'impractical' and that 'Britain is highly car-dependent.' That is stating the obvious and the precise reason why you should be trying, even in a small way, to redress the balance. My challenge to you and Cllr Kendal to give up your cars for a week still stands. It is only a gesture, I know, but would at least be a demonstration that you accept the seriousness of the situation. In addition, it might give HCC some good publicity by showing it as a 'listening' council for a change.


Councillor Karen Barratt – member for St Paul ward, Winchester

Saturday, October 06, 2007


Was this the greatest non-event in recent political history?

Yes, probably.

So Gordon has backed off and suddenly October looks a less hectic prospect. The focus shifts from national policies back to local, from 4p off income tax to vandalism at the Badger Farm central kickabout area. The election we're thinking about moves from November 1 to May 1. We could be in for an interesting winter.

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