Friday, September 26, 2008

New Conservative Websites

The Conservative Party has today unveiled its new look website.

I have a new updated campaign website for my campaign to represent Southampton Test in Parliament. I have added a section under "activities" which has a map of Southampton and shows what I have been up to across the Constituency.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Nuffield Theatre Board

I have just been appointed to serve as a Director of the Nuffield Theatre, representing Southampton City Council on its board. The theatre is supported by Southampton City Council, Hampshire County Council, the Arts Council and Southampton University.

Southampton University is perhaps unique in that it a theatre (Nuffield), an art gallery (John Hansard) and a concert hall (Turner Sims)

It's a fantastic theatre and I had backstage tour which was extremely interesting. The theatre does a great job; not only putting on some excellent productions but also providing training for young people embarking on a career in the theatre. Without local theatres such as the Nuffield providing that crucial training ground it is very unlikely that the West End would be the huge success that it is.

Your Views On Regents Park Community College Move

Plans to relocate Regents Park Community College in Regents Park to the St Marks School site in Shirley Road have taken a step forward with the launch of a formal public consultation on the proposed move.

I have been lobbying for money from the government to rebuild the school as part of a new learning campus with the civil service sports ground in Stafford Road serving as playing fields, for the schools and for the local community.

For further information click HERE and select the report labelled: Regents Park Community College: Relocation.

Mansel Park Gala Day

Well done to Millbrook Towers and District Community Association, The Friends of Mansel Park and The Mansel Pavilion who organised a fantastic Gala Day.

Backing Bingo

I recently spent an afternoon at the Mecca Bingo in Portswood. I met members of staff and bingo players and had a go at calling out the numbers.

Bingo halls up and down the country have been closing, with the industry under huge pressure from double taxation and the effects of the smoking ban. Unlike other forms of gambling bingo suffers from an anomaly in the tax system whereby it must pay both gaming duty and VAT. Conservatives have pledged to abolish this double taxation and save bingo halls up and down the country from closure.

The Mecca Bingo Hall on Portswood Broadway is a fantastic old building. I found an interesting article on which tells its history.

It was be a disaster for local people if it were to close. With over 34,000 members in Southampton (including me!) it would have big detrimental impact on the community.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Better Lightning Needed On Our Estates

I spent Friday night out on the Millbrook Estate with residents of Lower Brownhill Road and with the new Conservative Councillor for the area, Paul Holmes.

Local people were keen to show us where improvements could be made to the area. The new city council administration is investing £1.5m next year into the Millbrook and Maybush estates. Top of the list for local people in Lower Brownhill Road was better lighting at the back of the flats, in the alley ways which connect through to Flamborough Close and in the flat porches.

Tackling Crime and Anti Social Behaviour

I attended two very different meetings last week on crime and anti social behaviour.

The first was on Tuesday and was hosted by my opponent at the next General Election, Labour MP Alan Whitehead. The meeting was to highlight the launch of his new guide to anti social behaviour and peoples' rights and the law. It was held at the Central Baptist Church in Devonshire Road. The book is very useful and can be downloaded on his
website. The meeting was with all the different residents' associations in the west of the city and I went along with a number of councillor colleagues to hear peoples' concerns.

It was a rather negative meeting and I was struck at just how few ideas the Labour Government and Labour locally have to tackle crime. Unfortunately they are resorting to the old argument that simply more laws are needed. Since this government came to power there have been more new offences created than the number of days they have been in office! Yet crime is still a huge issue for local people and there are no positive solutions coming forward.

The second meeting was on Wednesday, at Freemantle Infant School in Mansion Road. This was a meeting with the local beat police, the fire and rescue service and all the new neighbourhood watches in the Freemantle and Shirley area.
It was an extremely positive meeting and I am really encouraged by the excellent work that the police are doing in the area. In recent months dozens of new neighbourhood watches have been set up. At the meeting we heard some of the things the police have been doing recently:

- Extra police patrols to tackle the problem of robberies along Shirley High Street.
- Cycling proficiency work in schools to tackle the problem of bicycles being ridden on the pavements.
- Trying to reduce speeding traffic along Hill Lane.
- Tackling crime hotspots in Albany Road and Shirley Towers.
- Recent arrests of drug dealers.
- Combined police/ PCSO / special constable patrols in the local parks and around the pubs at closing time.

Just as there was a stark contrast between my two meetings there is a stark contrast between Labour, who seem to have run out of steam and the Conservatives who on the other have a range of positive measures to make a real difference:

1. We are looking at having elected police sheriffs to bring democratic accountability to the police.
2. We will introduce honesty in sentencing so courts set a minimum and a maximum period of incarceration.
3. We will replace automatic release with earned release.
4. We will make community sentences tough and effective, and withdraw benefits for those who don’t attend.
5. We will enforce Drug Rehabilitation Requirements.
6. Offenders will compensate victims through a Victims’ Fund. Those serving custodial sentences will pay into the Fund through work in prison.
7. Prison and Rehabilitation Trusts and private sector prisons will be paid by results - with a premium awarded if the offender is not re convicted within two years.
8. We will accelerate the deportation of foreign national prisoners.
9. We will increase prison capacity by more than 5,000 places over and above Labour’s plans, to end overcrowding by 2016.
10. We will cut the paper work and bureaucracy which is tying the hands of police officers.

1. We are encouraging more Southampton people to sign up as special police constables to help patrol the city streets. We seeking Home Office approval allow us to scrap council tax for local people who sign up.
2. We are improving lighting in the city and will replace thousands of old street lights in Southampton in the next few years. We are also improving lighting in city centre parks as a priority.
3. We are investigating whether mobile wireless CCTV could be mounted on new street lights, so cameras can be installed in crime hotspots.
4. We are supporting the 101 anti social behaviour number after the Government withdrew its funding.
5. We are looking at how we can better organise the council's uniformed officers, city patrol and wardens and how to better co-ordinate activities with the police.
6. We are looking at opening hours and numbers of pubs and clubs in the city.
7. We have launched an after schools sports scheme to get more youngsters playing sports.
8. We are installing measures to protect areas of open space around the city from traveller incursions.
9. We are tackling the problem of dangerously parked and untaxed cars.
10. We are investing in anti crime measures on our estates including rolling out a new concierge system in the tower blocks.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Academy Launch

Southampton's 2 new city academies are now officially open!

Last Wednesday I met with Lord Adonis, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools at the first day of school at the Mayfield Academy in Sholing. I had a chance to chat with year 7 seven pupils and with head teacher, Ruth Johnson and to see the excellent improvements that have been made to the school; new paint, signs and carpet and of course new school uniforms!

I also had a chance to meet the new head teacher of the Lord's Hill Academy, Ian Golding and talk to him about local issues in Lordswood and Lordshill.

The new schools are off to an excellent start and are set to receive £35m for complete rebuilds in a few years time. On the west of the city this will see the Lords' Hill Academy moved to the 5 Acre Field site.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Cash Boost For Freemantle Community Centre

Great news for Freemantle. The community centre in Randolph Street received an extra cash boost in September, with £750,000 awarded by the Learning and Skills Council for Theatre and Media Arts.

Work to revamp and develop the community centre will start in November. This will see a new Multi User Games Area, improvements to the 100 seat theatre, new community rooms and a media arts room. Work should be completed next September. The new facility will be shared by user groups and Southampton Day Services who will operate out of the building.

This is great news for Freemantle and will breath new life into the local community.

Further details can be found HERE (click on the report entitled Modernisation of Southampton Day Services: Phase 3)

After School Sports Launch

Southampton's new after school sports programme was officially launched today at Upper Shirley High School on Friday.

This unique scheme is a partnership between Southampton schools, Southampton Solent University (SSU) and Southampton City Council.
5 schools are taking part in the pilot programme which will see SSU sports undergraduates running after school sports for local children.

Tailored sports programmes are now up and running in Redbridge Secondary School, Upper Shirley High, Highfield Primary School, St Marks CofE Junior School and Bevois Town Primary School. 9 more schools are ready to join the scheme in a second wave next year.

It is hoped that the scheme will then be rolled out across Southampton. This could see over 1000 university students volunteering to help in the city.

On Friday I met with SSU students and lecturers and pupils at Upper Shirley High and spoke with headteacher Cassie Ellins and her staff about the new scheme. At Upper Shirley High pupils will be taking up basketball, cricket and football classes. This scheme will be school led and tailored to meet the needs of pupils.

I believe that this scheme is going to be tremendous. It is fantastic timing – the start of a new term, off the back of the Beijing Olympics and preparing for 2012 in London.

We are lucky for to be teaming up with the premier sporting institution in the south. The scheme is not just about sport. Its about health, fitness, team work, it gives children plenty to do, and will help university students with their development. I am also confident that it will be a catalyst to boost sports clubs in the city.

Click HERE for more information.

Good News For City Swimmers!

Plans to revamp Shirley Swimming Pool have been given the go ahead by city planners.

On Tuesday a panel of Councillors on the Planning and Rights of Way committee approved plans for the £1.1m redevelopment of Shirley Swimming Pool, in Kentish Road, Freemantle. The new pool will include a gym and cafe.

I went along and spoke in support of the application and I am delighted that the plans were approved.

Owner, Dave Perry, also announced his plans to provide free swimming tuition for local schools, St Marks CofE Junior and Foundry Lane primary.

The new pool will be an intergral part of the redevelopment of the area. Other changes in the pipeline include a new community centre with a sports area and facilities for day care social services. Across the road I am fighting to obtain funding for the the relocation of Regents Park School to the St Marks School site and working to secure the purchase of the Civil Service Sports Ground in Stafford Road for use by the schools and local people.

Click HERE for the Southern Daily Echo report.

Future Plans for BTC

Last week I met with members of the BTC football club at Stoneham to listen to their plans for the future. The club has its roots in the British Transport Corporation and has been based at Stoneham for decades. The club are keen to expand and improve their facilities, with improved football pitches, bowling and tennis and a new car park.

The club was recently granted a 25 year lease on their site by the new Conservative Southampton City Council Administration, allowing them to plan for their long term future. I am hopeful that they can secure the funds that they need to revamp the club and they have my full support.

David Lloyd Visit

I recently visited the David Lloyd Sport club off Brownhill Way to meet with their manager and to discuss local issues.

I had a tour of the club which is a fantastic facility and heard about the excellent work the club does with local schools which use their tennis courts.

After the recent traveller incursions in the area (on the David Lloyd site and at Lordshill district) I was keen to discuss what measures could be taken to prevent the problem in the future. The council recently put in security measures in around Lordshill district centre, installing barriers and building up grass banks to protect the open space areas.