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Sunday, 24 February 2008

Save our Post Offices!

This weekend I launched our campaign to save our post offices. A leak to the Evening Post reported that the post offices facing the axe in Bristol North West are Wellington Hill West, and Middleton Road.
Labour has already closed one in four post offices in Bristol North West, and is closing 2,500 around the country.

Labour's refusal to support post offices shows a complete lack of appreciation of what function a post office actually performs. Not only does it fulfill the obvious functions, but also provides a focal point for place for people to meet and chat - particularly the elderly.

I was out campaigning on Saturday, and I have lost count of the elderly people who told me they did not know what they would do if the post office closed. Cynics have asked what we would do differently - well, here's what!

Conservatives plan to:
  • Give Sub-Post Offices more freedom to offer a wider range of business services
  • Push for more Post Offices to be 'One Stop Shops'
  • Encourage local Councils to open 'Council Counters' in local branches Allow the Post Office to work with carriers other than the Royal Mail
  • Prevent the Royal Mail taking business away from sub-Post Offices by under-cutting the prices they can charge for postage
Post Watch have advised that the best way to make sure that our protest against the closure of these post offices to carries weight is for local people to submit comments on why, specifically, the post office should stay open.


Saturday, 16 February 2008

Post Office Closure = End for small business...

About 3 months ago, I popped into Debbie's butchers on Filton Avenue. Debbie told me how since the post office had closed ( as pic.) business had plummeted and she was worried she would have to close.

Last week, I went in, and the butchers was closing. Across the road, Avenue Fruit and veg were also shutting their doors for the last time.

Next week there will be an announcement to close more post offices in the Bristol area, and at least two of those in Bristol North West.

Filton Avenue is, sadly, testament to the huge amount of damage ripping the heart of a community, like the Post Office, can do. When the announcement is made, I will be fighting tooth and nail - not only for the post offices under threat, but for those who use them, and the small businesses who depend so much on the post office's trade. Tragically, it's too late for Debbie's Butchers and Avenue Fruit and Veg - but we owe it to them to fight against letting the same thing happen again.

Friday, 15 February 2008

No orange oil at the Raj Pavillions...

There are few things better than a proper curry after a couple of good ales. So after sampling some of The Inn on the Green's best (actually, only a half, plus several samples of some of their huge array at the bar) , the newly selected Conservative prospective MP for Kingswood
and I thought it only right and proper to observe a great British tradition and go for a curry.

Little did we know as pushed open the door of the Raj Pavillions on Filton Road that we were about to have one of the best curries either of us has tasted. I'm not a great adventurer when it comes to curry. I'm not too keen on the layers of mysterious orange oil slick that heavily-sauced curries sometimes float in, so tend to opt for a slim-line and unadventurous chicken tikka. No sauce. But something called a Chicken Handi caught my eye.

It was when Sanjay, the waiter, (far left!) came up and advised us on choice of rice that we suspected we were in for more than your average post-pint curry. "Most of my customers don't need a menu" he told us. "They usually ask me to advise them on what's good to have." And the handi was very good. No orange oil slick, just a richness of layers and layers of real flavour. Fantastic.

The Raj Pavillions has been around for almost 30 years. If you've not been there yet, go. Tomorrow. Now if you must. And don't worry about the menu - Sanjay knows what he's talking about. They do sit-down meals and take-away next door. But because the food's so light on the orange-oil, be warned. In an hour's time you'll have recovered and be wanting more...

Raj Pavillions - 14 Filton Road, Horfield, Bristol - tel. 0117 951 9799 / 0117 9513310

Know of another top curry spot in Bristol? let me know!

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Respect for the past means looking to the future

The Conservative Council Group have stepped up to the mark and are showing real respect for Bristol's past. They have found a way to ensure that valuable community projects do not go without funding after the Government slashed the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund in areas like Southmead and Lawrence Weston.
Conservatives plan to use resources ringfenced for the Legacy Commision (funds to support all sorts of memorial activities to commemorate the end of slavery, over 200 years ago) to support community groups facing dramatic cuts. But amazingly the plan has faced opposition from Labour.

Councillor Peter Hammonds says the the Legacy Commission is supposed to " demonstrate the council's commitment to working with local communities". So I am amazed that Cllr. Peter Hammond (Lab, Southmead) and other Labour Councillors are against channeling resources into local projects. Why is Cllr. Hammond trying to prevent investment in valuable community initiatives under threat in his own ward?!

I've spoken to many people in Southmead and Lawrence Weston in particular who are worried about what the slashing in funding will mean to communities. So what better way to demonstrate the council's commitment to work with local communities than bolster vital local projects like The Northern Crescent Diversionary Activities , Summer Fun, SCART and Choosing Health in Southmead, and BS7 Youth and Play partnerships and tuition projects in Lawrence Weston?
It is vitally important to remember the atrocities that were committed during the slave trade in Bristol. But it is wrong to build a memorial to the dead at the expense of the living. The best way to show that we are collectively sorry for the appalling social injustices that took place in Bristol 200 years ago is to fight social injustice that exists today. That should be the first priority for any Council with a sense of the past, a respect for history and a vision for the future.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

No pain, no gain

Last week I finally presented St.Peter's Hospice with a cheque for £1,300 which I raised running the Bristol Half Marathon last year. This year, St. Peters celebrates its 30th Birthday, and has also been selected as the official charity for the 2008 Bristol Half Marathon.

The good news is, thanks to overwhelmingly generous support from lots of people, I raised far more money than I thought possible, and despite a stinking knee injury, got round the course in a personal best time.

The bad news is, I'm obviously going to have to break both records again this year. Erk...