Conservative welcome Second Brighton rail line decision

Brighton & Hove City Council Conservative Group Leader, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, has welcomed the decision by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to specifically explore the feasibility of building a second main train line between Brighton and London to ease the severe problems with reliability and capacity on the existing line.

Responding to a letter from new Conservative MP for Lewes, Maria Caulfield, George Osborne said: “As part of the Summer Budget, I have announced the extension of the scope of the Lewes–Uckfield study to look at improving rail links between London and the south coast, including upgrades to existing routes, consideration of the Brighton Main Line corridor, and re-examination of the Department for Transport’s feasibility study on BML2.”

Cllr. Theobald, a long-term supporter of BML2, said: “This really is very welcome news indeed and I would like to thank the Chancellor for his foresight in extending the feasibility study to include BML2. It is clear from his letter that he recognises, not only the benefits to long-suffering commuters of a second Brighton mainline but, equally importantly, the potentially massive economic benefits to the south east as a whole. Maria Caulfield deserves a lot of credit for continuing to pursue the case for BML2 in the face of a vociferous and often misleading campaign by her predecessor, Norman Baker, against it. As a former Brighton councillor, Maria can see the wider benefits that BML2 would bring, not just to her constituency. I very much hope that the study will now proceed apace because the current mainline is clearly very close to breaking point.”

CONSERVATIVE OFFICES AGAIN TARGETED WITH GRAFFITI

Brighton and Hove Conservative’s offices in Sackville Road, Hove have again been targeted with graffiti. This is one of a number of “attacks” over recent months directed at the local Conservative office. During the recent elections the office window was sprayed with paint and they have been again. Billboards have been vandalised and dog’s mess has been left outside the entrance with a number of undesirable “things” posted through the letter box.

Local Party Chairman, Cllr Lee Wares said, “We believe in freedom of speech and expression but it is inexcusable for that to be in the form of criminal damage. It is also particularly unpleasant and concerning for staff.” He added, “The country exercised its democratic right to vote in May and returned a majority Conservative Government. I accept that will not please everybody and clearly not the person who spray painted our offices but, this is not the way to create change or prevent us from delivering on our manifesto promises”

Conservative Opposition Leader, Cllr Geoffrey Theobald said “We don’t always like the outcomes of elections and that is the same for us and many residents of the City who now have a minority Labour Administration. However, in our democratic country there should be healthy debate and not acts of anti-social behaviour and criminality”.

The Police are investigating.

Councillor Lee Wares
Patcham and Hollingbury
Member of Planning Committee
Member of Licensing Committee
Member of Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Brighton and Hove City Council
King’s House
Grand Avenue
Hove
BN3 2LS
Tel: 01273 291996
Email: lee.wares@brighton-hove.gov.uk

TRAVELLER SITE £700,000 OVERSPEND AND POLLUTION RISK

Conservative Cllr Lee Wares has learnt from Council staff that the projected cost of extending the Horsdean traveller site is likely to rise from £1.7m to £2.4m, an increase of £700,000. Although the original £1.7 million would have been covered by a Government grant, the £700,000 overspend will now have to be met by council taxpayers.

The existing site of 23 transit pitches will be converted to 12 permanent pitches and 21 transit pitches. With minimal works proposed to the 21 transit pitches, the new 12 permanent pitches are thought to now be costing around £2.4m; a staggering £200k per pitch.

Cllr Lee Wares said “it is an unbelievable amount of money to be spent on essentially creating 12 concrete hard stands each with a toilet and shower hut; for £200k you could build a fabulous four bedroom house”.

This extra £700,000 also appears to exclude the costs associated with any temporary site that might be established should Horsdean’s redevelopment take place.

As the Horsdean site is directly over a man-made adit (tunnel) that collects water drawn by Patcham pumping station, the Environment Agency requires expensive drainage systems and pollution control measures to be installed (as well as flood defences) to protect the City’s drinking water supply.

Cllr Lee Wares added “These measures however are not the end of the matter. The Environment Agency has dictated that no fuels, paints, bleaches, cleaning detergents and other like chemicals and products must be used or stored on site. This is to prevent the pollution control measures being degraded as well as the risk of contamination of the drinking water supply. However, this, practically, makes it impossible for travelling families to use the site”

“I’m also concerned that once all this money has been spent, the 21 transit pitches that could accommodate 100-150 people will only be served with four toilets as opposed to the permanent pitches that have a toilet each. It’s hardly a healthy, proper and reasonable solution for the travelling community”

Conservative Group Leader Cllr Geoffrey Theobald said “This is a totally unacceptable situation. Not only will risks remain to the City’s water supply but Council taxpayers will have to fork out an extra £700,000. Cllr Wares has rightly asked the Administration to suspend this project immediately so that urgent reviews of the health risks and funding can be investigated. With the project apparently due to start in 4-6 weeks’ time it is astonishing that no Committee has been briefed or asked for funds by Council officers”.

Cllr Lee Wares further advised that despite numerous requests for information from the Council, specific details have not been provided. This has now forced him to submit Freedom of Information requests. He added “it is really worrying when Councillors have to resort to making FOI requests”.

Armed Forces Mental Health Champion. Brighton & Hove.

Brighton & Hove Civil Military Partnership Board, comprising Brighton & Hove City Council, NHS Sussex Armed Forces Network, Royal British Legion and other partners across the city are pleased to launch the results of a project to provide pathways to services for ex armed forces across East and West Sussex. The project, funded by the Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant Scheme, and researched and designed by Joining Forces, cover pathways for services offered by public, private and voluntary organisations and include information on employment; social care; rough sleeping, physical health, mental health and housing. The resources are available online at http://www.sussexarmedforcesnetwork.nhs.uk/pathways/ and in hard copy by request to scdt.admin@nhs.net

The project aims to bring services together across the county and provide ‘at a glance’ information in particular for front line organisations working with ex armed forces across Sussex.

Conservative pressure over travellers pays off

Pressure from the Conservatives over unauthorised traveller encampments has paid off as the Council reveals it is considering the use of new Public Spaces Protection Orders to stop repeated and damaging incursions on sensitive sites in the city.

Woodingdean Ward Councillor, Steve Bell, has been pressing Council officers to make use of the new powers that were introduced by the Conservative-led Government last October. The Orders prohibit particular behaviour in specified locations where this behavior has a detrimental effect on the quality of life of residents. This could include camping, driving on and damaging grassed areas and making too much noise. Breaching the Orders is a criminal offence with a fine of up to £2,000.

Cllr. Bell said: “I’m delighted that the constant pressure we have been putting on over the traveller issue finally seems to have paid off with some concrete action by the Council. The tipping point for me was the recent incursion by travellers on the Cemetery in Woodingdean which showed a complete and utter lack of respect for the local community. Anything that makes it easier for the Police and Council to take action against these encampments has to be welcomed and I will be looking to ensure that a wide a range of sites as possible are included in the Order.”

Conservative Group Leader, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, added: “As a Group we have been arguing for years that certain sensitive sites in the city should be totally off limits for travellers and have always been thwarted in our attempts by the Green and Labour Parties. I urge the new Labour Administration to bring this in without delay so that residents don’t have to put up with repeated and very costly disruption in the areas covered by this Order.”

Conservatives say keep public loos open

Conservatives are urging the new Labour Administration not to close public toilets in Brighton & Hove after they announced they are considering cutting the budget for this vital service by £160,000 a year.

As part of a review of provision in the city, Labour is also considering charging customers for use of public loos.

Conservative Group Environment Spokesman, Tony Janio, said: “It is a common complaint I hear from residents and visitors to the city that there simply aren’t enough good quality public toilets. This is one of the most basic services that councils should provide, particularly ones such as ours that rely so heavily upon tourism, and so I would urge the new Labour Administration not to try and close any down. This would hit the elderly and vulnerable particularly hard and many of them will simply be forced to stay in their homes if they are not confident in the knowledge that there are public loos within walking distance when they go out.”

Conservative Group Leader, Geoffrey Theobald, added: “This really isn’t what residents wanted to hear from the new Labour Administration, just a month into their period of office. The previous Green Administration tried on several occasions to close down public toilets or reduce operating hours and we consistently put forward Budget amendments to try and reverse this. Indeed, at this year’s Budget the Conservative Group was successful in getting a temporary stay of execution for the proposed £160k cut but it appears that Labour is intent on opening up the closure agenda again.”

Conservatives seek urgent review of traveller protocol

Conservatives are calling for an urgent review of how the Council and Sussex Police deal with unauthorised traveller encampments after a series of high profile incursions on to sensitive sites in the city.

Conservative Group Leader, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, has written to the Council’s Chief Executive, asking for the matter to be debated at the next Policy & Resources Committee meeting on June 11th.

In his letter, Cllr. Theobald cites the recent examples of encampments on the Burial Ground at Woodingdean, St. Helen’s Green in Hangleton, Withdean Park and Hollingbury Park. In Hollingbury Park, travellers have twice now vandalised a chalk wildflower/butterfly bank which is maintained by local volunteers.

Cllr. Theobald said: “I am calling on the new Council Leader to put this issue at the top of his in-tray. I want to see an urgent review carried out, with Sussex Police, into how we can get a much more rapid response to incursions on our sensitive parks, gardens and playing fields. There are clear cases of criminal damage to public property yet nobody is being held accountable.  I suggested, a couple of months ago that officers look at the use of injunctions, along the lines of those introduced by both Leeds and Harlow councils, as I believe these could stop encampments happening in the first place. The Leader of the Council must get to grips with this ahead of the busy Summer season otherwise community relations will continue to deteriorate, and the considerable costs to the council tax payer will rise still further.”

 

Conservatives select strong Council leadership team

Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald was last night re-elected unopposed for a fifth year as Conservative Group Leader for the forthcoming municipal year at the Group’s AGM.

However, there will be a change in the leadership team as the highly-regarded Councillor for Central Hove, Andrew Wealls, was chosen to become one of the Group’s two Deputy Leaders. Andrew has been the Group’s Spokesman on Education and Schools for the last 4 years.

Woodingdean Ward Councillor, Dee Simson, was re-elected as the other Group Deputy for the third year in a row.

Following this month’s local elections, the Conservative Group is the Official Opposition on Brighton & Hove City Council, holding 20 out of the 54 seats, a gain of two seats. Cllr. Theobald became Group Leader following the local elections in May 2011.

Cllr. Theobald said: “I am delighted that my colleagues have given me the honour of leading the Conservative Group for another year and I would like to thank them for their support. I have an excellent and united team behind me and although we are disappointed not to be in Administration, we are confident about what the future holds. I would also like to thank Cllr. Garry Peltzer Dunn for being such a hard-working and supportive Deputy Leader for the last 4 years.”

Cllr. Wealls said: “I am really excited to be given this opportunity to be Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group by my colleagues and I would like to thank them for their support. We had some really talented and enthusiastic young people elected as Councillors last week to the Group, together with highly experienced colleagues, and so the future looks very bright for the Conservatives in Brighton & Hove.”

Cllr. Simson added: “It is great to be given another vote of confidence by my Group colleagues and I am now looking forward to getting stuck into the hard work that lies ahead, holding this new Labour Administration to account.”

Notes for editors:

Cllr. Theobald can be contacted on 07753636203; Cllr. Simson can be contacted on 07795336425; Cllr. Wealls can be contacted on 07557197592

www.brightonandhoveconservatives.com

@BHConservatives

ENDS

 

Mike Weatherley MP – Farewell Message

This website was established while I was a Member of Parliament. As Parliament has been dissolved, there are no Members of Parliament until after the Election on 7th May 2015.

 

 

I wanted to send out a short message thanking everyone for their support during my time as the Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade. It has been a tremendous honour undertaking this important role. I thought that this might be an appropriate moment to reflect on what we have done over the past five years.

This list is no way near exhaustive, but is an interesting highlight of what my team and I – with the fantastic help of residents – have achieved.

Once again, thanks to everyone for all your support during my time as your Member of Parliament.

Here is the list of what I have done, in no particular order:

  • Called for the harmonisation of online and offline penalties for crime within my Follow the Money Report in April 2014 – a call backed within the IPO’s Penalty Fair
  • Secured Amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill addressing secondary ticketing – the result of years of campaigning through the All Party Parliamentary Group on Secondary Ticketing which I co-founded and co-chaired (with Labour MP Sharon Hodgson).
  • Secured Adjournment Debate on Oesophageal Cancer to highlight the need for earlier and more efficient diagnosis and funds for quicker diagnostic procedures.
  • Supported the Government resulting in an over 50% drop in number of unemployment claimants in Hove and Portslade since coming to office in 2010.
  • Campaigned in support of Trading Standards’ work in tackling IP Crime.
  • Lobbied the Chancellor, George Osborne, for tax breaks for small and medium-sized live music venues.
  • Was appointed Parliamentary Patron of English Votes for English Laws campaign.
  • Was appointed the first ever Intellectual Property Rights Advisor to the Prime Minister.
  • Published four reports – all well received internationally and used as reference documents – following appointment as first ever Intellectual Property Rights Advisor to the Prime Minister:
    a) Search Engines and Piracy (May 2014).
    b) Follow the Money (June 2014).
    c) Copyright, Education and Awareness (October 2014)
    d) Safe Harbour Provisions & Online Service Providers (March 2015 – after stepping-down as Adviser).
  • Campaigned for a 50m swimming pool in Hove, backed by petition with well over 2,000 signatures.
  • Supported the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (formed in September 2013) and successfully lobbied the Home Secretary, Prime Minister and Intellectual Property Office to secure an additional £3m funding (securing the unit’s future until 2017) which was announced in October 2014.
  • Championed Copyright legislation, which came into force in October 2014 (through the Intellectual Property Act 2014) to allow for digital copies of content for personal use.
  • Served as Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Music Education, which successfully backed a campaign to secure £75m of funding for music education to 2020.
  • Supported Gay Marriage legislation, marched in the annual Brighton Gay Pride, presented an award at the Golden Handbag awards (June 2013), and sponsored an EDM to end homophobic chanting at football matches.
  • Hosted ground-breaking concert with Slash, Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators playing an amazing set in Parliament in May 2014.
  • Chaired the All Party Parliamentary Group on ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) and worked with 10 embassies, the ASEAN department within BIS and the EU to support bilateral trade relationships, particularly ahead of greater ASEAN integration in 2015.
  • Raised concerns over taxi deregulation in protection of Brighton & Hove consumers and licensed taxi drivers through facilitating Ministerial meetings with local Taxi driver association representatives.
  • Founded the All Party Parliamentary Group on Retail & Business Crime calling for:
  • Helped secure part of a £50m package of funding for superfast broadband for 3,000 small businesses in Brighton & Hove.
  • Brought the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP to Hove to meet small business owners locally, and many other Ministers over the five years.
  • Supported local small business by Chairing the All Party Parliamentary Group on Small Shops and running the annual Parliamentary Best Small Shops’ Competition – one of Parliament’s largest competitions.
  • Received the Independent Retailers’ Fellowship Award in recognition for ongoing support for small and independent business.
  • Received the Parliamentary Beer Champion award in January 2014 for being instrumental in securing a cut in beer duty.
  • Hosted Charity Auction Smile Britannia in December 2013 which raised £82,000 for charity and included the auction of a Banksy piece.
  • Hosted Fat Boy Slim playing a ground-breaking DJ set on the House of Commons Terrace as part of the House the House music initiative.
  • Successfully campaigned for the Postponement of the Badger Cull, with support from Queen guitarist, Brian May and Bill Oddie.
  • Served on the Justice Select Committee and the Administration Committee.
  • Was named by the Times as instrumental in supporting calls for an EU Referendum which resulted in the Prime Minister committing to a 2017 Referendum.
  • Successfully campaigned to make squatting in residential properties illegal in 2012 through the Legal Aid, Sentencing & Punishment of Offenders Act and called for an extension of this to protect commercial buildings. The legislation is referred to by campaigners and on Wikipedia as “Weatherley’s Law”.
  • Secured £250,000 funding from Government for the No Second Night Out initiative for Brighton & Hove, raised money for homeless charity Off the Fence, and supported Emmaus on a number of occasions.
  • Supported an increase in the personal allowances for those on low and medium incomes.
  • Supported devolution of powers from central to local government through the Sustainable Communities Act.
  • Founded Parliament’s largest competitions, Rock the House and Film the House, in support of protecting and promoting British Intellectual Property Rights and the creative industries in 2010. The competitions are backed by Orange Amplification, Google, 21st Century Fox, Lionsgate, XFM, Team Rock, PRS for Music and the BPI, the MPAA, Odeon Cinemas and others, and counts Alice Cooper, All Time Low, Bullet for My Valentine, Rick Wakeman, Whitesnake’s Bernie Marsden, Lord Puttnam, Queen’s Brian May among its many Patrons and supporters.
  • Was appointed an Ambassador for Music for All, Attitude is Everything and the Noise Abatement Society.
  • Called successfully for the granting of a 12A rating from the British Board of Film Classification’s to the Hunger Games in March 2012 by acting as an advisory intermediary. The rating allowed the hugely popular trilogy’s film adaption to be seen by thousands of young adults who would have otherwise been excluded had it been given a higher rating.
  • Supported Government allocation of funds from the National Lottery to the UK Film Industry and backed invaluable tax breaks to film-makers which have seen a huge boost in the UK’s film economy.
  • Led opposition to EU Directives which would have seen motorbike riders forced to wear fluorescent clothing and ditch their customised bikes. The protest ride to Brussels included Danny John-Jules (AKA Cat from Red Dwarf).
  • Organised and hosted debate at Hove Town Hall Are Drug Deaths Avoidable? in September 2011 with DrugScope, Sussex Police and many others.
  • Was recognised by the music press as a huge music advocate and featured in articles in Metal Hammer; Classic Rock Magazine, Prog Magazine and the Rush Fanzine for the release of Clockwork Angels.
  • Successfully lobbied Brighton & Hove City Council for the creation of the Connaught School in Hove in 2010.
  • Successfully lobbied Government Ministers in support of the creation of the Brighton Bilingual School.
  • Was one of a group of MPs pledging to not vote for any changes to the Fox Hunting ban, resulting in ‘no change’ for this Parliament
  • Was named ‘MP of the Month’ by Total Politics magazine November 2012 and runner-up twice.
  • Campaigned against Nuclear Power – alas not successfully!
  • Served on the following (and many other) APPGs: British-Danish; Biomass; Bovine Tuberculosis; Film Industry Group; HIV and AIDS; Intellectual Property Group; Leisure Group; Music Education; Music; Performers’ Alliance; School Food; Ticket Abuse; Video Games; Youth Unemployment; Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
  • Received an ‘above average’ rating for Written parliamentary Questions and ‘above average’ for vote attendances.

Finally, a few quotes:

  • The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport: “Mike has been a passionate and powerful advocate for intellectual property and I would like to play tribute to the role he has played as the Prime Minister’s IP adviser. He has made a whole series of thoughtful recommendations which we have has either already acted upon, or are actively considering. I’d like to thank him for all he has done.”
  • Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Minister for Intellectual Property: “Mike has made a major contribution to the IP agenda over the past year which I, and the IPO, have greatly valued. He has linked the creative industries to Government and promoted a series of imaginative and ground-breaking initiatives. Mike leaves a valuable legacy which will help shape our work for the future.”
  • Carina Bailey, Trading Standards Review: “Mike Weatherley…has risen to become the man who has shaped the course of history for intellectual property (IP) rights in the UK – and beyond. Appointed in 2013 as the first IP adviser to the Prime Minister in parliamentary history, he has written three solid reports on IP rights – with a fourth on the way. These are already influencing policy in such far flung places as Hong Kong and the US, and they inform the debate into how creators’ works are protected in the UK.”
  • Ben Duckworth, Editor – Total Politics: “Mike Weatherley is an immensely popular MP with his backbench colleagues, and there was a deluge of emails supporting him for this issue’s MP of the Month.”
  • The Rt Hon David Cameron MP, Prime Minister: “Your “Copyright Education and Awareness” paper is an excellent report, which highlights the key issues we must tackle to raise the understanding of copyright amongst future generations. I am grateful to you for all the work you have done during your tenure as my Special Advisor on Intellectual Property.”

Mike Calls on ISPs to Stop Hiding Behind EU Directive and Assist More in Fight Against Piracy

Mike Weatherley, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade, and former Intellectual Property Adviser to the Prime Minister, has today published a discussion paper on an EU directive which looks at safe harbour provisions – allowing providers of certain online services in certain circumstances to be exempt from liability for illegal activity which takes place on their service – in the UK and the rest of the EU.

The discussion paper, entitled ‘Safe Harbour Provisions and Online Service Providers’, looks at the background of safe harbour provisions, their perception from various sectors and whether or not the provisions are working for online service providers, rights holders and the individual consumer alike. The relevant Directive is 2000/31/ED. To read the discussion paper in full, click here.

As the Intellectual Property Adviser to the Prime Minister, Mike authored three key IP reports, Search Engines and Piracy, Follow the Money, Education and IP Awareness.

Commenting, Mike said: “As the former Intellectual Property Adviser to the Prime Minister, I felt that it was important to continue to highlight the issues that have grave consequences for our fantastic creative industries.”

Mike added: “The creative industries are huge contributors to our economy so it vital, in order to protect them, that the regulations which were set out in 2000, are updated. The broad scope of the directive results in rights holders losing out to pirates on an industrial scale.”