Monday, October 04, 2010

Conference Day One

Sunday at the Conservative Conference here in Birmingham saw me address the Thames Gateway fringe meeting, then attend a reception hosted by Women 2 Win.

Thames Gateway

I shared a platform with Thames Gateway Minister (and old Assembly colleague) Bob Neill and Adam Marshall who represented the British Cambers of Commerce.

There was concern that the impending cuts might damage plans to regenerate the Gateway, and I put in a strong plug for Crossrail, the DLR extension to Dagenham Dock and 12 car trains on the C2C Fenchurch Street line. I also pointed out that the current decision not to stop Eurostar services at Stratford meant that the station hardly merited the title 'Stratford International'. It is inevitable that some projects will be delayed or scaled down in the current climate.

On a more positive note, there is now an opportunity to streamline the confusing hierarchy of public bodies currently administering the area. Bob suggested that the current situation looks rather like the wiring diagram for an Exocet missile when put on paper - with the difference that a missile is designed to go somewhere swiftly... Streamlining would make it easier for businesses to invest.

We also wanted an end to restrictive planning regulations that mitigate in favour of large blocks of tiny flats. I told Bob that we need 'buy to live, not buy to let'. For his part the minister was keen to involve local councillors more in planning decisions and he announced a welcome initiative to repeal the laws of predetermination that currently prevent councillors deciding on an application that they have campaigned on in the past.

Women 2 Win

Hosted by Theresa May this reception provided a welcome opportunity for me to catch up with some of the candidates I coached before the election. These included Karen Bradley, now the MP for Staffordshire Moorlands, and Louise Bagshawe, the MP for Corby, as well as Norsheen Bhatti who fought a difficult seat in Stoke and found the experience really motivating.

There were lots of women who are still looking for seats and with the decision to reopen the candidates' list again, there is plenty of potential for newcomers. W2W are also keen to help women with public appointments to boards and quangos, so there are still many opportunities for members to follow in the footsteps of Amanda Sater who was recently appointed to the MPA.


Peter Hulme Cross said...

Don't want to 'rain on your parade', Roger, but Teresa May has just been instrumental in passing in to law the Equalities Act 2010 and the European Investigative Order (EIO).

The Equalities Act 2010 is Labour's legislation, Harriet Harman at her worst, badly drafted and confusing, which will be an expensive albatross for businesses large and small. At a time when business needs Government to get out of the way, the opposite happens. What is this Government thinking of ??? Or is the LibDem tail wagging the Conservative dog ??

The EIO is a clear transfer of more powers to Brussels and it is no use Teresa May trying to deny it. That is the weakness behind the so called 'referendum lock'. It will only work if the Government agrees that a transfer of power is in prospect. In fact, more power is being transferred to Brussels on a regular basis and that is quite obvious. Ask Bill Cash! But this Government seems all too eager to cooperate with Brussels on just about everything.

Teresa May should be ashamed of herself but I have yet to meet a politician with any notion of what 'ashamed' means.

Anonymous said...

It does not make sense that Eurostar does not stop at 'Stratford International'.

In the London Borough of Newham, we have both London City Airport and also Stratford International within 3 miles of each other. So why is it that Eurostar can't find a business case to hurry and open up Stratford International?

Those campaigning against expansion at London City Airport say that high speed rail is the alternative, but how can this be case put forward, when Eurostar is resisting opening Stratford International.

I heard that Eurostar is expanding its services into Europe, but we need Stratford International to ween travellers of London City Airport.