Tuesday, 31 July 2012

East Reading UTC Update

I am grateful to Oxford & Cherwell Valley College for providing me with the following update on the proposals for a University Technical College in East Reading:

Update on Reading Technical Academy as of 30th July 2012

1. The school will be called 'UTC Reading'

2. Negotiations are near completion between the DfE and the University of West London for the purchase of the required buildings and playing fields on the Crescent Rd site

3. Awaiting Funding Agreement sign off from the Secretary of State

4. Recruiting for a Principal Designate to start in post in Jan '13

5. Working with design and build contractor to agree the scheme for the site

6. Working with Industry and Education Partners to agree their ongoing involvement with the UTC

7. Developing our marketing and student recruitment programme

(end of OCVC statement)

Clearly it is not the fault of the OCVC that the proposed regional college will not address the problems due to hit in 2015 when all secondary schools in the area will be full.
However the use of the Crescent Road site will scupper any opportunity for a future East Reading secondary school, but more on that shortly.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Tory Membership Halved Under Cameron's Leadership

 Tory Membership Has Halved Since Cameron Became Leader In 2005
I have previously written about the collapse of Lib Dem party membership. So here's a report about the other half of the coalition, which sees the Tory party membership "in crisis".

"David Cameron has seen Conservative Party membership halve during his time as leader. One of the quiet crises of David Cameron's leadership is the continuing decline in Conservative Party membership. A study by the House of Commons Library recently found it had fallen to a modern low of 177,000. Now, a new ConservativeHome survey (previewed in today's Independent) suggests even this figure is generous, with membership estimated at between 130,000 and 170,000, a decline of around 50 per cent since Cameron became leader in 2005.

The Tories are far from the only party afflicted by falling membership. In 1983, nearly four per cent of the electorate belonged to one of the three main parties. Now, just one per cent do, one of the lowest rates of party membership in Europe. Although Labour membership has risen by 31,000 to 187,000 since Ed Miliband became leader, this remains far below the peak of 405,000 seen under Tony Blair in 1997. The Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, have seen membership fall by 5,000 since the general election to 60,000, down from a peak of 101,000 in 1994. But it is the Tories, who once boasted a membership in excess of three million, who have suffered the most rapid decline. Should the trend continue, membership will soon fall below the psychologically significant 100,000 mark.

The Daily Mail's Andrew Pierce has previously attributed the decline to Cameron's prominent support for gay marriage, reporting that thousands "ripped up their membership cards and refused to renew their subscriptions." He added "The alarm bells sounded in the Tory HQ, which in January launched a national appeal to try to persuade waverers to return to the fold. The appeal was a dismal failure."

The constraints of the coalition mean that Cameron can do little to woo traditionalists back to the fold. ConservativeHome editor Tim Montgomerie said: "Cameron's compromises on traditional Tory beliefs and the failure of those compromises to deliver a parliamentary majority mean he's upsetting both kinds of grassroots member."

Cameron's failure to retain existing members or to recruit new ones is yet another reason why the odds are against a Tory majority in 2015."

(Words from the New Statesman / photo Getty Images))

Sunday, 29 July 2012

No More Excuses

Clegg, Osborne, Cameron, Alexander: The Quad Making Things Worse
The Coalition inherited a difficult economic situation when they took power in 2010. Since then, their stewardship has been nothing short of disastrous, taking the UK economy into the longest recession for fifty years.

Some used to laugh at the Chancellor’s growing list of excuses for the lack of an economic recovery in the UK - Angela Merkel, Ed Balls, Silvio Berlusconi, the Royal Wedding, British civil servants, Brussels bureaucrats, the Euro, people concerned about global warming, employment tribunals, trade unions, banks, bank holidays, Liberal Democrats, energy prices, Gordon Brown, the world, the cold weather, the wet weather, the Royal Jubilee – but it just isn’t funny anymore.

According to the Office of National Statistics the UK’s net debt as a % of GDP (excluding the billions spent on the financial interventions to bail out the banks) was 51.2% when Labour left office, but now stands at 65.5% and rising.

It’s simply no longer credible to argue that external factors are the cause of the UK’s double dip recession. Even the ravaged Spanish economy is doing better than the UK, which shrunk by 0.4% last quarter (and 0.2% for the whole of the eurozone), compared to the British fall of 0.7%.

Remember the Coalition plan was that by cutting public spending and jobs, it would somehow free-up space for the private sector to grow. They said we should expect the economy to grow by 5% - in fact it’s shrunk and shrinking.

The biggest negative in the most recent figures is in the construction industry, which has shrunk  nearly 10% down on the year, accounting for roughly half the overall reduction in GDP. Ironically, about the only positive contribution to economic growth has been Government spending and services, the bit of the economy the Coalition is cutting.

Government cuts to capital and infrastructure spending has had the cosmetic effect of seeming to make inroads into the deficit, but it's not been good for the economy. The effects on the construction industry, as we are now seeing, have been little short of catastrophic.

House building in the UK is close to a post war low, while thousands of families in poor or unsuitable public and private accommodation, and thousands of building workers being paid the dole. The economics of the mad-house.

Too many cuts, too quickly, are killing off any chance of an economic recovery.

People are hurting, and are being hurt by the choices made by this Coalition Government.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Police: Have Your Say Meetings

Information sent on behalf of Thames Valley Police

Our Local Neighbourhood Policing Team is holding the following "Have Your Say" meetings in  Redlands on Saturday, 4 August outside Greggs shop, Christchurch Road, between noon and 1pm and in Kendrick Road, between 5pm and 6pm.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Even The IMF Thinks It's Time For Plan B

The International Monetary Fund has been warning for some months that Britain’s recovery has stalled and the Government must be prepared to relax austerity and  focus efforts on boosting growth to pump life into the ailing economy, but the Coalition appears to want to plough on regardless.

However, with a third of Tory voters appearing to turn on Cameron, how long will they keep this disastrous course?

I guess if you are immune to the pain, as Cameron, Clegg and Osborne are, then they won't get why people are becoming increasingly frustrated by their U-turns and poor leadership.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Barclays Rate Fixing Scandal

They didn't even try to hide it!