In Tribute to Tony Fife…

Yesterday I had the honour of attending Tony’s funeral at St John’s Church in Yeovil, with fellow councillors from Yeovil East Ward (Tony Lock, David Recardo, Manny Roper and Phil Chandler), the Mayor and Mayoress, ex Mayors, Liberal Democrat members, council leaders, SSDC councillors and officers, local businessmen etc. etc. the list goes on and is too numerous to mention. I also joined the family, friends and councillors from Yeovil East afterwards at Rose and Crown in Trent to raise a glass in Tony’s honour.Tony Fifes funeral

Tony stood down as a District Councillor in May 2015 having represented Yeovil East Ward since May 1983 – 32 years continuous service. With Yeovil Town Council he was a councillor for 33 years, two of which he served as Mayor.
He was respected by all and represented Yeovil in everything he did. At the funeral kind words with high respect were sent from David Laws (read by Cllr Tony Lock), Paddy Ashdown, who gave the reading, also spoke highly of Tony. Carol Kavanagh also gave her personal reflection.
It also shows great respect that there were at least a hundred people  (maybe more) outside South Somerset District Council paying their respects as the funeral procession passed by the Brympton Way offices.
“The funeral was held at 2 p.m. on a Friday at Tony’s request, to hold up the traffic on a Friday for one last time.”
From Western Gazette: Mrs Knight said: “What started his political career was the news that Queensway was going to be built through Yeovil. The plans included knocking down two houses to make way for the road, and one of them was ours. It was then he met with Paddy Ashdown, who noticed his vociferous nature invited him to join the campaign.”Read more: http://www.westerngazette.co.uk/TONY-FIFE-Daughters-pay-tribute-vociferous-Yeovil/story-26759483-detail/story.html#ixzz3euti8BzP
For myself, being fairly new to politics in Yeovil, I never really got to know Tony as others did, but in dealings with him in East Ward branch meetings, when he was well enough to attend, he came across as someone who knew what was needed and how to achieve it and wasn’t afraid to say so.
Since being selected to represent the people of Yeovil East at the last election, filling the seat vacated by Tony due to illness, I am proud to be selected for and looking forward to the challenge ahead. Tony’s passing has added to my ambition in the task, although I have been advised, by Tricia, Tony’s partner, to do my own thing, be myself etc. I feel more pride and determination than ever to take up what I perceive as Tony’s legacy, to go in pursuit of getting the best for Yeovil and making my voice heard, although I will cede to Tricia’s wishes and do things my own way.

R.I.P Tony it was good to know you, if only briefly…

Condolences to the family on your loss, our thoughts are with you…
Donations in the memory of Tony for a sofa bed in the Jean King Suite at Yeatman Hospital, Sherborne may be sent ℅ Clive Wakely, cheques payable to A J Wakely and Sons to the following address:A J Wakely and Sons Funeral Directors 33 Sparrow Road Yeovil BA21 4BT

The Leadership Election…

Like others, until now I have kept my views private, sat on the fence and watched the past few weeks events unfold. I still intend to sit on that fence, but feel I should throw my two penneth of views out there…

From the outset my starting point is that I am a Liberal Democrat, because and for what we stand for. I apply that in my council roles etc. etc. that has and will not change despite the outcome and apparent divisions in the leadership contest.

I will, as others have said support whichever candidate is successful. For differing reasons I support both in equal measure (still on that fence).

As a Party we have always been a broad church and diverse in our membership. From Social Liberal on one end to Orange bookers at the other. To a certain extent that is what makes us the party we are. We all want the same goals, just have different ways of seeing those goals achieved. I suspect that somewhere in the middle is about where we should be.

I, as most of you probably have too, have read lots on whether we should get back to roots, forget the last five years, look after and protect our new membership etc. Questions on candidates stances during the term in coalition, the list goes on…

What I am interested in is where we go from here, which candidate will inspire the rebuilding of the Party as we lick our wounds and move forward. We should be under no illusion, it was well documented that as a result of entering coalition we would suffer heavy losses. We did what we did and put Country before Party. It is now time to put that aside and move on. We shouldn’t forget our achievements, far from it, as a participant in the Coalition we achieved far more of our Manifesto than  we could have dreamed of and even though this wasn’t recognised by the electorate it is still on the statute books.

So what of the future?

As I said at the beginning, my starting point has to be what we stand for and how we achieve that, who can take us on this new journey and lead us on the right path, who will unite and work with both ends of the party spectrum? The answer is probably either. Both have handled the media effectively in different ways, in the past, neither is afraid of tackling the media when needed, both are approachable and contactable and will listen/respond to members at every tier.

So in my view whichever candidate is successful the winner is…

The Liberal Democrats!!

As a footnote, I would like to share an email conversation with Tim Farron during his candidacy for President in 2010, am sure he won’t mind and it takes on the point I have made above:

Hi Tim

I feel I need to mention something that I am noticing within the Party, although I am sure you are aware it exists, and am wondering on your views.

It is clear that the Liberal Democrat’s have different factions from Orange Bookers to those whose politics is further left. I should state that I myself lean towards the OB end of the spectrum. I have heard comments stating that the OB is ‘evil’ and that Orange Bookers are a minority within the Party etc. (even some saying OB’s are Tory’s in disguise, something which I find offensive)  I must say that this stance is not the norm, but does exist.

Bearing in mind that Nick Clegg, David Laws, Vince Cable and Chris Huhne all contributed to the Orange Book I find it quite disturbing that the publication can be rubbished quite so crudely.

I’m sure you will agree that the Party needs all the diverse views it has to steer a sensible route, get viable policies and that is impossible for everyone to agree on everything. Most people I speak to would just say we are all Lib Dems together, which in my view is the right way.

Dear Rob

There has been a lot of silly talk about the Orange Book. A healthy party has internal debate and the Orange Book has served to stimulate new thinking on policy and encourage those who don’t agree with it to articulate their beliefs more clearly.

Anyone who has joined the Liberal Democrats from another Party tells us how amazed they are about the level of genuine debate. Long may it last.

Tim

Let the genuine debate continue and we should all realise it is just that, not personal, it is genuine debate about something we all care about. Whoever wins we are still one Party, still the Liberal Democrats…

Thank you!!! (Libdem’s winning here)

WOW…

My feet have just about touched the floor again (and the cramp in my legs from pounding the streets is wearing off, not to mention the 48 hours of sleep deprivation).

I am humble and proud that the people of Yeovil East have elected myself, Tony and David to represent them for the next 4 years on Somerset District Council and (including Manny) to represent them on Yeovil Town Council and for that I have to say a big thank you. I should also like to thank my long-suffering wife who just about remembers what I look like, the constituency office, Theo and Sam and all the others in the community who have helped along the way.

In the face of the national trend, we retained the Libdem seats for the ward (all of them!!). This is tinged with a bit of sadness, obviously, with David Laws losing his parliamentary seat. I wish David well and know that we will stay in touch and thank him for all the hard work he has done over the years for the constituency, including canvassing tirelessly during the campaign. Those who attended the hustings will know just what a mistake the people of Yeovil have made, but what is done, is done. The majority of people I spoke to on the doorstep spoke highly of David and mentioned the support he gave them in an hour of need.

For the record we still have more seats than the Conservatives on SSDC, something which didn’t seem possible as Thursday’s GE results were announced. We have also retained control of YTC.

As a new councillor I have a lot of learning to do and quickly. I am ready for the task in hand and look forward to continuing to serve Yeovil East Ward in these new capacities.

Thank You…

 

SSDC Result

Tony Lock Liberal Democrats  1349 19% Elected
David Charles Recardo Liberal Democrats 1097 16% Elected
Rob Stickland Liberal Democrats 981 14% Elected
Godfrey Davey UK Independence Party 706 10% Not elected
Nick Rousell Conservative Party 571 8% Not elected
Ann Needle Conservative Party 538 8% Not elected
Bill Byrd Labour Party 534 8% Not elected
Morley Keith Waddleton Conservative Party 528 7% Not elected
Sharon Anne Stafford Labour Party 442 6% Not elected
Murray William Shepstone Labour Party 330  5% Not elected

 

Yeovil Town Council Result

Tony Lock Liberal Democrats 1530 23% Elected
David Charles Recardo Liberal Democrats 1267 19% Elected
Manny Roper Liberal Democrats 1168 18% Elected
Rob Stickland Liberal Democrats 1099 17% Elected
Bill Byrd Labour Party 628 10% Not elected
Sharon Anne Stafford Labour Party 503 8% Not elected
Murray William Shepstone Labour Party 379 6% Not elected

UK Parliament and your right to vote.

Voting in the UK has been fought for (sometimes quite literally) over the past 150 years and beyond. It is an entitlement that should not be taken lightly but used wisely. It was only 87 years ago that everyone over the age of 21 was allowed to vote.

Historical facts on your vote:

  • Just 46 years ago In 1969 all 18 yr olds given vote
  • 87 years ago in 1928 all men and women over 21 given vote
  • In 1918 women over 30 and all men over 21 given vote
  • In 1884 only 60% men and no women could vote.
  • In 1780 less than 3% of population could vote.

(For more information lookup UK Reform Acts – Google, Bing etc.)

Different party’s have different views on how the Country should be run and the political spectrum goes from Fascism (dictatorship) on the far right to Communism (everybody equal – though not, in reality) on the far left. Traditionally Conservatives are to the right, Labour to left, LibDem in centre with a leaning to left. Greens left of of Labour, UKIP right of Conservatives (all open to conjecture). Check your political compass, also factored in is Authoritarian and Libertarian.

It is impossible to agree with any party’s (or person if you favour an Independent candidate) policies, or manifestos, but it is advisable to pick the one that best matches your thoughts and feelings.

Your vote is for one person, to represent your views (or some of them) and their party’s in parliament and should be for the best person on offer to do that. That person may be swayed by their party’s manifesto though.

Many constituencies are won by just a few votes, so the thought that a vote doesn’t count is actually wrong.

Many people disagree with their MP (Party, or person), if you don’t vote, how is that going to change? not voting is actually voting for a person, or party you don’t like as you are not voting against them. Under first past the post the person with most votes wins the seat. Elections are the chance for you to have your say.

Some think that they won’t vote as it doesn’t affect them. The Government decide on the laws of the land, the budget and taxes we live by. It affects all of us.

Don’t waste your vote, use it wisely…

There are so many elections, understanding who does what etc. seems complicated…?

General Election: selecting Member of UK Parliament

County Council: Education, Social services, Highway Maintenance, Waste disposal, Emergency planning, Consumer protection, Town and country planning (to do with minerals, waste, highways and education).

District Council: Housing, Planning Application, Leisure and Recreation, Waste collection, Environmental health, Revenue collection.

Town Council (or Parish): Buildings and Civic matters, Grounds and General Maintenance, Planning and Licensing, Policy Resource and Finance, Promotions and Activities.

From Yeovil Town Council website:


Buildings and Civic Matters

Management of recreational and leisure facilities including a number of community halls and the redevelopment of an artificial ski slope. The Committee also manages the award-winning public toilets in Peter Street, and oversees a variety of community safety initiatives, traffic regulation, traffic calming and the management, repair and maintenance of The Town House.

Grounds and General Maintenance

Management of most of the open spaces and play areas in the Town and the management of over 300 allotment plots on a number of sites owned by the Town Council. The Committee also keeps a watching brief over the Sunningdale Doorstep Green and Yeovil Cemetery, of which the Town Council is principal owner.

Planning and Licensing

Consideration of all planning applications within the Town area. Responsibility for the licensing of taxis, private hire vehicles and their drivers, street trading, street canvassing, busking and charitable collections.

Policy, Resources and Finance
Dealing with matters concerning policy, resources and general finance decisions on behalf of the Town Council. Determines applications for grants from local groups and organisations, oversees personnel issues and generally advises the Town Council on corporate matters.

Promotions and Activities

Overseeing the delivery of a variety of related activities, initiatives and events directly and in partnership with other stakeholders in the Town, including Yeovil in Bloom, the Annual Flower and Gardeners’ Market, the Yeovil Town Centre Partnership, the Town Centre Streetscene, and the Christmas lights display. The Committee also has responsibility for the publication of the Town Guide and other promotional literature, customised souvenirs, and the Town Crier.

I hope this helps to clarify things for you.

Politics from the doorstep

As I walk from door to door, asking questions, discussing political opinions, wondering about the opinions of those who are out, or not answering the door, I have to wonder what actually influences people’s decisions.

To vote, not to vote, which way to vote.

The Liberal in me looks at their argument and sees their point, sometimes knowing that they won’t be persuaded otherwise, sometimes countering and changing their mind.

Some people are just disillusioned with politics on the whole “it doesn’t concern me, crooks the lot of ‘em”. Well yes it does concern you, actually and would crooks put themselves so obviously in the public eye? Everyone is open to scrutiny.

Without politicians, no decisions, either good or bad, would be made. There would be no hospitals, schools, housing, rubbish collections etc etc.

But the budget, the deficit? Again without a budget (whether it is set at right limits is a different discussion), or taxes, there would be anarchy, looting etc. We would be back to bartering, which lets face it, didn’t work before (hence currency was established) and couldn’t work in a modern world.

Around 100 years ago women were fighting to be allowed to vote…

“They’re all in it for themselves!” Are we? Well as the majority of the people knocking on doors are voluntary and most of the people who enter politics take a pay cut to do so, that can’t be the case. There will always be the odd rotten egg, but they are discarded very quickly once discovered. They leave a bit of a smell for a while but as with rotten eggs, the smell soon fades.

Your Party was wrong to… (insert own criticism). All party’s get things wrong and get things right. If this were not the case we would not need elections, or different party’s, everyone would agree and live happy ever after. In reality we all want different things and have different priorities, hence different party’s and we all want politics that match our thoughts, whether that is thinking of others or ourselves, as some do.

I personally, believe in what the Liberal Democrats stand for and wholeheartedly agree with our preamble. How we achieve that is open to question, the Libdem Party is a broad church and covers a wide political spectrum. We cater for all, if only everyone could see it, but unfortunately some are not interested or don’t care, ingrained in their ways, or blinkered by perception and media.

Libdems open the floor at conference to let the membership decide on policy, unlike most other party’s.

Everyone should be given a fair chance and be free to make their own choices.

So what of the other Party’s…

I guess if I had to write a whole description, from my view of all party’s it would be too long, so here’s a few anecdotes:

What would the Tory’s have done if we weren’t in coalition? The headline that explains this best, apparently from David Cameron “I’d govern like a true Tory if it wasn’t for the Libdems”. We now hear they would cut deeper etc etc. The Tory controlled County Council locally, have spent money, with nothing to show, apart from failed OFSTED reports in the local schools. In an article in The Argus (Sussex) recently, the local Conservative PPC for Lewes called the Libdems campaign  negative because it pointed out that the facts the Tory’s used in their literature were wrong, which they admitted. That’s negative?

On the local doorstep, from people I have spoken to, Ed Miliband is a non starter, they just don’t see him as a credible leader. Labour try hard, but are not making the impression they would like. I still recall the interviews years ago with mining families stating they would always vote Labour because their families always had. Do wonder if that had changed with the demise of the mining towns, or do they remain partisan. We should never be ‘told’ how to vote, should we?

We hear from some on the doorstep that UKIP has the right idea, looking after Britain. Really? Nigel Farage does appear to say what some people want, to some it sounds good. In reality it could never work and being as his party are on the right of the Tory’s politically that probably wouldn’t appeal either. If we left Europe, who says they would still trade with us, how many UK citizens would lose their jobs etc. Thankfully the message on the doorstep is that not many buy it.

My view on Mr Farage is akin to the Pied Piper. He plays a good tune to the electorate, tells them what they want to hear, but as with the Pied Piper it can’t have a good ending for those that follow him, can it?

A brief mention for the Greens. I originally come from Brighton and know many people who still live there. I have yet to find someone who thinks they have done a good job. In fact a friend recently asked if there would be an ‘anything but green option’ on the voting slips.

My opinions are just that, but use your vote, use it wisely, but USE your vote, please.

I am standing for Liberal Democrats in the District, and Town, council elections, but my politics for those Councils is the same, I want everyone to have their say, everyone to have a fair chance and if elected will represent the whole District and Town in that vein. I am not ‘in it’ for the money, I live in an ex council house and just want to try and make a difference. I am one person, without a magic wand, but won’t give up trying…

My Councillor site

As some of you who read my infrequent blog posts will know, I have taken the big step of standing as a candidate. Not just for Yeovil Town Council, but for South Somerset District Council too.

To accompany this I now have a new blogsite, to run alongside this one.

It can be found at http://robstickland.mycouncillor.org.uk/

I will still, as infrequently as usual, write the occasional blog on here too.

Thank you for your continued support dear reader (an assumption, of course).

 

Rob

Cover me, I’m going in…

Up until recently, as my blog title suggests, I have sat on the sidelines and observed, commented and followed the Lib Dems.

I have been a Party Member for the last few years and although I have been an activist, it has pretty much been from the safety of a keyboard and mouse. I have always had an interest in the community where I live, though in bygone days it was through youth football. In the last couple of years I have attended LD AGM’s and became local ward secretary, with little to do and what I did was still from the safety of my keyboard. Readers of my blog will recall I did venture out for Yes to AV and Police Crime Commissioner elections, but even then concentrated on web based campaigning. Recently I have joined the local residents association, took up the post of secretary and am now chairman.

The role of chairman has brought me out from behind my keyboard and meant that I met with actual people, face to face. I have been asked to look at community problems, ask questions and generally put my name ‘out there’ in the community.

This piqued my interest and after discussions with friends and local councillors, I have been persuaded (didn’t take much arm twisting, I must confess) that it is time I left the comfort of my keyboard and stood for Council.

Without going in to detail, as I write this, I am now a selected Liberal Democrat candidate for the District Council election in May 2015.

So though I will still very definitely need the keyboard, I am leaving the sidelines and will need a good pair of walking shoes instead!!

Why I vote Lib Dem!

I have always and will vote Lib Dem again. I believe you have to look beyond the policies to the core values, what we as a Party have as our principles, do you agree with the Libdem values?:

  • Do you want a fair, free and open society, with a balance of liberty, equality and community in which people within can help run?
  • Do you believe that no one should be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity?
  • Should all individuals have freedom, dignity and well-being, with freedom of conscience and the right to develop any or all of their talents?
  • Do you think that everyone is equal and power should be dispersed and creativity nurtured?
  • Do you believe that the state should give citizens the right to contribute fully to their communities and decisions which affect their lives?
  • Should the world live in peace and all have the same basic rights and be allowed to develop their own cultures?
  • Is it the responsibility of each generation to safeguard the balance of nature and environment for the benefit of future generations?
  • Do you agree that there should be no prejudice based on race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex and sexual orientation and everyone has the right to enjoy privacy in their lives?
  • Do you believe that for the benefit of social justice we should have human rights and open government?
  • Do you agree that government decisions should be made at the lowest practicable level, with fair voting systems?
  • Do you believe that sovereignty rests with the people and that authority in a democracy derives from the people?
  • Do you think we should fight poverty, oppression, hunger, ignorance, disease and aggression wherever they occur and to promote the free movement of ideas, people, goods and services?

Well?

That is why I vote Liberal Democrat and will continue to do so!!

The Instant Society

Is patience a thing of the past?

In all walks of life these days we seem to be more and more impatient. We turn on our computers and expect it to boot straight into a screen that we can click on and use, immediately. We go to the shop and expect to be served right away, how many people don’t look for the shortest checkout queue at a supermarket. If things go wrong with our homes we want a trade professional to drop out of the sky and fix it. If the TV doesn’t work, its the end of the world. If we have a toothache, headache etc. it can’t wait till Monday…

Need I go on.

Years ago shops shut one day a week, Sundays and some on Saturday afternoon. Did we go without food? Was there a repair company around the corner to fix every problem, or did we either do it ourselves or wait until things could be fixed? Cars used to have a very slow top speed (horses even slower), people still reached their destination.

Why have we become so reliant on other people, and become an instant society?

Is patience a learnt behaviour, or is it in the genes?

One thing is for sure, unless it is a life and death situation it CAN wait (in my case three weeks, family joke). It’s good that we strive to prevent situations from getting worse, but at what cost? There is always someone worse off, and sometimes to my detriment the LD in me gives them preference, I would rather wait…

In my mind there is too much me, me, me. One thing the flooding has taught us, is that there are people a lot worse off and a lot of people who are willing to go the extra mile to help. There is no them and us on the Somerset Levels, everyone is affected, the big house and the small, everyone is equal.

We all want everything, we all want it now, but sometimes…

Life is just too short…

(and as the saying goes patience is a virtue)

Somerset Levels – it is a disaster…

I have listened to many reports and comments, regarding the Somerset Levels, and thought it was probably about time I put my twopenneth in.

On BBC Radio Fivelive yesterday morning, the phone-in (Your Call) focussed on the flooding. Some of the comments had me shouting at the radio, others almost had me in tears. Here are a few of the comments (not word for word):

  • They knew it would flood so why live there
  • Its not a natural disaster, nobody died
  • They don’t need money, or a National fund, should have insurance
  • I live in Cheshire, its appalling, if there is donation phone number, I will donate today
  • Why are we sending aid to Third World when we need the funds here for this disaster, charity begins at home
  • It’s global warming, we should stop carbon emissions, wouldn’t need to dredge then

and so on…

People seemed to fall into two camps, those who saw the disaster for what it is and are sympathetic  and those who thought it didn’t concern them, as they live far away from the problem.

The fact is that whether it is global warming, or not is irrelevant, the problem is now. We can talk about dredging the rivers, we didn’t. We can say it is not in our back yard, why should we care…

The point that is being missed, in my opinion, is that it will take a lot of money to repair the damage, when the floods eventually subside and although the residents/victims may have insurance, we will ALL pay. The insurance companies are going to take a big hit on the flood damage across the Country this winter and where are they going to get that money from? It won’t just be the locals of Somerset, whose monthly payments will rise (although I am guessing that residents of the Levels won’t actually be able to afford insurance after this, as the excess will be through the roof, no pun intended), it will be everyone, in order to refund their coffers, the insurance companies will have to recoup their funds from you and me.

To say that it is not a disaster because nobody has died, really. I guess that person hasn’t read and seen the devastation of peoples homes, businesses and animals/livestock. Personally I don’t know how much produce goes to shops and supermarkets nationally, but let us suppose a proportion does. What will that mean for food prices? I think we know…

I applaud the lady, and guy, from Cheshire who wanted to donate, their attitude was just so refreshing.

To the person who asked why they live there, although the Levels have a tendency to flood, normally this can be managed, dredging the rivers and giving them about 40% more capacity, for a start. I would urge that person to visit the area when things are back to normal and to appreciate the countryside and open spaces. I appreciate there are those people who prefer built up areas and can’t see the point, but coming from a large town myself originally, I would not go back to city life.

Whether we divert funds from overseas aid, whether the £100 million that has been pledged by Govt is enough etc. is open to question. I agree with those that are saying we should start to help our own, wherever in our great country they live. It is right that the PM, Prince Charles etc. visit and show solidarity and respect, we would expect no less. What we also need is to learn lessons for the future too and listen to the locals. They asked for dredging and were ignored, just because someone far away thought they knew better. We really should listen to local knowledge. It may not have prevented this disaster totally, but it would have at least alleviated the situation.

If you saw a person, or animal in a river, or the sea drowning, human nature would tell us we should help and not turn our backs and walk away. Somerset levels at the moment has lots of people and animals metaphorically drowning (not literally, I hope), are we now going to help, or walk away?

Here is the Somerset Community Foundation homepage for more details and how to donate, http://www.somersetcf.org.uk and their just giving page http://www.justgiving.com/Somerset-Community-Found-Flood-Appeal at time of writing £123,427.78 raised of £200,000.00 target from 809 donations.

addendum… Donations of provisions etc. can also be given via https://www.facebook.com/groups/FLAGsomerset.

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