Sunday, 28 June 2009

Pottering

I have spent a lovely day with my other half wandering around various events. We started off at the Pottery Market at The Friars in Aylesford. There were potters, sculptors and ceramic artists from across the UK and Europe exhibiting their wares and I was rather tempted by some wonderful vases and a splendid water feature. However, I didn't buy anything today but will certainly go back to the pottery shop once the builders have finished in my house and I can begin to decorate the house with beautiful ceramics more safely! We watched a bit of the Mass before leaving to go to Burham's Fun Day - and jolly good fun it was too. They had all sorts of fairground stalls which would keep children entertained for some time. We were rather amused by some shocking attempts by golf enthusiasts to chip balls into certain holes - one went flying over the top and into a field never to be seen again! It was also good to see Cllr Roger Dalton doing his bit by serving beer to thirsty mums and dads in the Beer Tent!
After Burham we headed up to the Robin Hood for their Beer Festival barbecue and lunch time jazz. The Kent beers on offer were fabulous but sadly since I was driving I had to stick to the homemade lemonade - and lovely it was too. It was wonderfully relaxing to sit in a beer garden with the newspaper listening to some live music - who needs Glastonbury?!

Saturday, 27 June 2009

A Saturday Montage

The day started with the opening of the Aylesford Village Festival and ended with the Red Arrows. Words can't describe how brilliant the air and sea display was on and over the River Medway to celebrate the first Armed Forces Day so instead here is a photo montage of my day.







Friday, 26 June 2009

Kingfisher allotment

I was at Kingfisher School last night for the Meridian Girls AGM and couldn't help but notice how fabulous the new allotment looked. Their sweet peas and lettuces looked fabulous! They have come a long way since March when Cllrs Pat Gulvin and Matt Bright reported on the opening of the allotment HERE.

I am very much looking forward to an Armed Forces Day reception tonight and watching the various events tomorrow. It is great that we are finally having a day to celebrate our services and even better that it is happening in Chatham!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Today's post!

This is today's postbag of returned Capstone petition cards...keep them coming!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

A great end to a really busy week

This week has been extremely busy but despite being exhausted I can't help but feel really pleased with what we've achieved this week.

As well as going to work, this week I have been dealing with the Capstone Valley announcement; was invited to a "new generation" dinner at the BBC; attended my Association's Executive meeting; coached the girls football team; went to Norwich where I bumped into the Conservative campaign team for the Norwich North by-election; drove down to Hythe to see my best friend who is over from Australia and 4 months pregnant with her first child; and been to the wedding of a friend in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire.

And all this fitted around a Friday off in the constituency where I met with the Snodland based Valley of Visions team to hear about the variety of projects they are co-ordinating to conserve the Medway Gap within the Kent Downs. It was fascinating to hear what they are trying to do, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and to learn about all the wonderful wildlife that exists within the valley. After leaving Snodland I headed up to Chatham to attend a seminar hosted by MCCH Medway about Pathways to Inclusion. Bizarrely I knew the man from Cabinet Office who came to speak about the Adults facing Chronic Exclusion programme and it was good to hear him present to the group. He spoke quite candidly about future spending issues and the need for reviews to ensure that proper cost benefit analyses could be done on programmes. I got the impression that the Pathways to Inclusion scheme was (rightly) very well regarded and I certainly look forward to hearing more about it in the future. That meeting was followed by one at the Council with the Deputy Leader, Cllr Alan Jarrett, to discuss current initiatives across Chatham and to give my views on certain 'live' issues concerning people. As the only candidate in Medway not on the Council I found it an extremely useful meeting.


Then yesterday, a large group of Conservative activists, including Gravesend MP Adam Holloway and helpers from Bearsted, Faversham and Rochester, gathered to help deliver 23000 petitions to residents across Chatham calling for the Government to stop trying to build houses on Capstone Valley. The petitions are already coming back and people are emailing me to get more cards. I hope this time, third time lucky, the people of Chatham are listened to!


Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Save Capstone Valley...AGAIN!

For the THIRD time, proposals to concrete over Capstone Valley are being consulted on despite opposition from the public and our Conservative controlled council.

Thanks to planning laws and rules imposed by the Labour Government, Medway Council is obliged by law to put development proposals to concrete over Capstone Valley out to “public consultation”. If they refuse to do so the developers will have the right to apply for planning permission and even commence building work.

With overwhelming support of local people, Medway’s Conservative Council has defeated these proposals twice already. Not only do they want to keep Capstone Valley as it is but they have already identified sufficient land for new homes without the need to concrete over Capstone. But this Labour Government seems determined to ruin one of our last remaining open spaces.

I have to say this is getting ridiculous. This is the third time in five years that the public have had to fight against developers concreting over Capstone Valley but every time local people reject them, another piece of legislation is passed favouring the developers.

Two years ago, along with my Conservative colleagues in Chatham, we organised a referendum to give local people a chance to comment. Over 95% said NO. See these links for the full story:

http://blog.traceycrouch.org/2007/09/capstone-referendum.html

http://blog.traceycrouch.org/2007/10/what-amazing-day.html

http://blog.traceycrouch.org/2007/11/98-say-yes-to-save-capstone-valley.html

I will be encouraging everyone to make their views on Capstone known and if that fails I will be left with no other option than to lie down in front of the bulldozers!

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Time for the summer festivals

Hurrah, the summer is here and the festivals, fetes and open days have begun. There are so many that it is almost impossible to go to them all but today I managed two!

Having met the Chatham councillors this morning for a catch up, I headed over to the RSPCA's Open Day in Leybourne. There were so many dogs I was sure it would be bedlam but it was a surprisingly calm environment! The dogs of all shape, size, and hair length were merrily sniffing each other or things that might be food leaving their owners to look at the range of stalls selling pet-related wares. Rather brilliantly, there was even a "cooling area" for the dogs which was great fun to watch because the dogs would come along, plonk themselves in the big tin baths and then get out and shake themselves down soaking an unsuspecting passer-by. It was really good fun to watch!!


After leaving the Open Day and popping by to help clear up a bit from last night's dinner, I headed up to the Blue Bell Hill village fete. The dancers this year from the local school were fabulous and clearly Strictly Come Dancing has influenced some more lads to get involved as there were two in their bow ties leading out the troop for some ballroom dancing. Like last year, I picked up my bottle of Kent Apple Juice and grabbed an ice cream before meeting a new member for a chat in the tea tent after she heard David Cameron's call for more people to consider standing for Parliament. It is good to know that despite all of the scandal over MPs' expenses people still want to get involved in politics and make a difference in the community.

Dinner with Michael Howard

Last night Folkestone & Hythe MP Michael Howard joined Chatham & Aylesford Conservative members and friends for a wonderful dinner in Aylesford. We decided earlier on this year to take a gamble and host the dinner in the garden of one of our members knowing that the weather in theory should be reasonably good. However earlier this week when the team were erecting gazebos in the pouring rain it didn't look too good but thankfully the sun came out yesterday and it was warm and dry enough for us to all stay outside.
I first met Michael when I was 17 on a school trip to Parliament and whilst I was already interested in politics through my A-levels it wasn't until Michael encouraged me to get involved that I became actively interested. The rest, as the say, is history. Michael spoke very well about the current political environment but despite being egged on by mischievous activists he refused to reveal any secrets about the teenage girl he once knew who became his researcher, campaign team member, and now Parliamentary candidate! I only hope that in my vote of thanks in response, the protege didn't disappoint the master.
The evening finished a lot later than was expected due to the fabulous meal, most of which had been donated so that we could make maximum profit from the tickets for the campaign ahead. But all in all it was a brilliant evening and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Euro Results

I went to Medway's Euro Count last night and was delighted to see the Conservatives win locally with a clear 10,000 or so votes ahead of Labour, who were pushed into third behind UKIP. The result in Medway was repeated across Kent and the South East with Labour coming fifth overall. What amused me most last night was that every party had representatives at the count proudly wearing rosettes or stickers highlighting their affiliation...except the small gathering of Labour activists who decided not to advertise their allegiances. Anyone would think they were embarrassed - and perhaps after the last week of results as well they should be!

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Gardening with local Scouts

This morning I joined Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and an Explorer Scout from the 41st Medway Scout Group for a community project in Walderslade village. Thanks to Councillor David Brake, the Council kindly donated a truck load of plants for the Scouts to put into existing concrete tubs. We spent 90 minutes weeding, digging and turning the soil before arranging and planting various flowers. I was working with two excellent Beavers, one who was 6 and the other was 7, a lovely female Scout (girls weren't allowed in the Scouts in my day!) who kept us entertained with Lady Ga Ga tunes from her mobile and an Explorer Scout who taught me the difference between the Explorers and Venture Scouts (I wish they existed when I was in the Guides!!!). I arranged my tub of flowers into a "41" in honour of the Group but not sure I am quite good enough to consider it as an alternative career! I had to leave after 2 hours but left the committed group of youngsters merrily digging away.

After doing a few chores, I went to the Golden Eagle in Burham for a post-election thank you gathering hosted by our new KCC Councillor Peter Homewood. There has been some further analysis done on the voting in the Malling Rural North East and Malling Central wards - all I will say is that I would be delighted if something similar happened during the General Election!

Friday, 5 June 2009

British food for British Government?

Gordon Brown recently talked about British jobs for British workers. Well now it is time to put his money where his patriotic mouth is...or rather it is time he stood up for British produce. Instead of Government receptions serving French Champagne, Chilean Merlot and Brazilian beers with Portuguese strawberries, French asparagus and apples and butter, the Government could be sourcing food and drink locally, providing a huge boost to our home grown produce. Frazer Thompson of Kent's Chapel Down Winery, the owners of the wonderful new vineyard in Blue Bell Hill, has started a petition on the Number 10 website calling for the Government to source their food and drink from Britain. You can sign it HERE.

Local Electon results

Well what a day! It was a long count due to the separation and verification of the European ballot papers but we eventually got the results of Malling Rural North East, Malling Central and Malling North around 2.30 today.

Firstly Peter Homewood overturned the Liberal Democrats and won Malling Rural North East with a majority of 2000 exactly. This was an absolutely fantastic result for residents of Burham, Eccles, Wouldham, Ditton, Blue Bell Hill, Aylesford and the TMBC parts of Walderslade. Peter will be a fantastic County Councillor and I am delighted that all our hard work on his campaign over the past few months really feels like it has paid off. Labour were beaten into fourth behind the English Democrats and very nearly came last after the Green Party by just a few votes.

Sarah Hohler held Malling North but unfortunately despite nearly halving Trudy Dean's majority in Malling Central, Alice Hohler was less successful. However I was really pleased to see that the Larkfield Conservative vote, the only part of Malling Central within my parliamentary constituency, was very healthy indeed and hopefully reflects the amount of community and issues based work we have done in the area. Alice fought a great campaign and worked very hard, and although it might not feel like it at the moment, she did a fantastic job.

Across Kent it seems the Labour Party have had a dreadful time losing both the Group Leader and Deputy Leader and at the time of writing only one Labour Councillor has retained their seat... You can follow what's going on, or look back at what has happened HERE.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Poll Day News

Well it has been a busy two days!

Yesterday began with a breakfast at Mickey's Diner, fuelling us for the day ahead delivering letters to our pledges across Ditton, Aylesford, Burham, Eccles and Wouldham. We briefly stopped for lunch before heading back out again, firstly to Snodland and then up to Walderslade. I skipped off for an hour to train the girls in Princes Park before rejoining the team who had finished Blue Bell Hill in my absence. Unfortunately there was a nasty incident involving a dog who bit off the finger of the girlfriend of the Lib Dem candidate. Rather nicely he phoned through to the Council to ask that they warn us of the dog on the particular road so that we didn't get injured as well, for which we are all very grateful. Went for a quick bite to eat with my campaign manager before falling into bed and watching the end of Newsnight.

Up early this morning, although not as early as those who were out telling at 7am. Was out knocking up Wouldham before 11am and then into Ditton and Aylesford before lunch. This afternoon we had a large team out and I seemed to go from polling station to polling station picking up slips, as well as visiting the Committee Rooms in Snodland and West Malling (covering Larkfield and East Malling). It has been a lovely day and I think the weather has helped with turnout although it is difficult to say with so many postal votes how high/low it has been. This evening half the team have been knocking on doors getting the vote out and the other half have been telephoning pledges. The team have just reconvened at HQ and shortly we are all heading off for a fish and chip supper. I am so ready for a battered sausage and chips and hopefully a nice cold beer!

Off to the Count first thing tomorrow so fingers crossed that our hard work as paid off...