Thursday, 16 December 2010

Tories reject Lib Dem bid to save voluntary organisations

Huntingdonshire Tories have voted down a proposal from the Liberal Democrats that cuts in funding to voluntary organisations should be removed from next year’s draft budget.

Faced with a shortfall in resources, the ruling group on the District Council has made several unpopular proposals including a reduction of 81% in the funding for local voluntary bodies that provide much-needed services to the neediest people in the district.

Lib Dem Leader Peter Downes proposed an amendment that this cut be removed from the budget in order to give voluntary organisations funding stability so they could develop further in future. He offered a list of ways in which off-setting savings might be made.

The Tories rejected the amendment but said that the idea would be discussed further at the next meeting of the Economic Well-being Scrutiny Panel on Thursday, January 13th at 7 p.m. in Pathfinder House.

This decision followed an impressive presentation to the Council by representatives of the voluntary sector in Huntingdonshire. Julie Farrow of the Volunteer Forum explained how the small grant to the Forum enables it to help charities and voluntary organisations lever in grants for their work. Last year over £700,000 was generated in this way. Other speakers emphasised the value to the community of the voluntary sector. Mike Baker, LD Councillor for Ellington, said that doing voluntary work was satisfying to the volunteer as well as providing benefit to those in need. He highlighted the social car service as an example.

Huntingdon East Lib Dem councillor Ste Greenall pointed out that David Cameron himself had given his backing to supporting the voluntary sector as part of his vision of the ‘Big Society’.

Steve van de Kerkhove, LD councillor for Eynesbury East, said that St. Neots Town Council, which is controlled by the Lib Dems, would actually be increasing its grants to voluntary bodies in St. Neots next financial year.

Mike Shellens, LD Councillor for Huntingdon East, said that the Tory response was disappointing after the good words they had said about the work of volunteers. ‘The Tories in Huntingdonshire simply cannot bring themselves to accept that the Lib Dems might actually have some good ideas’.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Tough times ......tough decisions

I've now been a District Councillor for 5 months, and it is clear as can be that Huntingdon District Council needs urgent action to address an alarming budget deficit. Last night, my Lib Dem colleague in Huntingdon East, Mike Shellens, put forward a motion for debate. In it he offered some suggestions as to ho the problems might be faced.

Despite some words of support from some Conservative members, others were, I am sad to say, quite dismissive of what Mike put forward. With a large majority in any event, the motion was defeated, although a few Conservatives did abstain - the closest, some might say, to getting them to vote in favour.

The meeting, as with MANY council meetings, was open to the public, and so, I publish now, the text of what Mike had to say:-

Members we find ourselves in unusually uncertain times:




Revenue from charges

This motion reflects concerns expressed by members of both parties as well as independent members on the Economic Panel that it is foolhardy to pin all our plans onto a single forecast outcome.

Instead, we should prepare, now, contingency plans against various outcomes identifying now what we would have to do when, to meet whatever the outcome is.

It may be that things get better:

Extra savings before we “Pass Go” next April, providing a buffer,

The government takes fright at the post VAT rise fall off in retailing

and the rise in the savings ratio heightened by the fear of unemployment

and starts old fashioned Keynsian pump-priming using Local Authorities to inject cash into the economy. Etc.

In that case, we do not want to be committed to the pain of putting into operation plans to yield savings of £9.5m by 2014/15 if all we need is £6m. We should not sell Pathfinder House and move to portacabins on Alconbury Airfield unless it is strictly necessary.

On the other hand a perfect storm of:

adverse floors and ceilings,

higher inflation driven by the falling £ and Vat,

resistance to increased charges,

a large number of Housing Benefit victims deciding to come and join relatives in Huntingdon,

and extra unfunded obligations passed down from central government

could lead to a much more serious situation requiring ever more drastic surgery.

In my experience drastic surgery needs time to be planned, a move to Alconbury would take at least two years to implement. So it would be no use ending up at the dawn of the last year thinking “If only we had started planning for this 3 years ago!”

We need to manage the situation rather than simply administer it. We need to be on the front foot.

During the course of this year we have heard numbers of £5m, £6m, £8m £9.6m and now £10m as the level of savings needed over the plan period to balance the books. What makes us think that the current figure is going to be the actual one? We need to provide for variations.

So we need a variety of plans now, keep them under review as life changes around us, but implement only as and when needed, but with plans already considered.

I have 10 quick suggestions as to what could go into this mix.

This afternoon’s presentation on Balancing the Budget included some suggestions as to areas for consideration. Some of them are duplicated in the following list. But as the copies were committed before that meeting I shall not try and edit out areas on both our lists.

1) Any future increase in members’ allowance should be restricted to the rate of inflation. So do away with the official arbiter to whom we pay I think £5k p.a.

2) Narrower margins and no space under paragraph headings on council papers – only £10k a year savings, but a visible sign that we are trying.

3) Last year we recommended that we councillors share in the pain and reduce all allowances by 10%. This was kicked into the long grass. I understand that Honourable Members opposite refused any increase this year. Many of the Lib Dems implemented a reduction of 10% in accordance with our previous budget proposals.

We should all be moved to that lower scale with effect from 1 April next year,

we should freeze Members’ Allowances until 2014 at the earliest,

we should cap travel expenses to 40p per mile.

4) Move from the Imbucon payroll system to the NJC scales. As I understand it, under the current regime, long lasting employees can migrate well outside the range for the job. What is done is done, but we should stop any more silliness.

5) Voluntary redundancy is a personal challenge both financially and emotionally. Compulsory redundancy can be much worse. Instead, give sections the choice of reduced hours until things get better, using compulsory redundancy only if there is insufficient take up. From the employer’s point of view, this has the merit of retaining the pool of expertise and can be selectively unwound as demand increases in specific areas. It would be necessary to protect pension entitlement and that may take some time to effect so a case for early exploration.

6) Look hard at ourselves. Cut the numbers of District Councillors to 35 from 52, probably not implementable until 2016, but cutting the Cabinet to 7 rather than 10, and 1 Scrutiny Committee rather than 3 could be done now and would bring with it savings on allowances, travel expenses, printing, and officer time.

7) Sub-let Pathfinder House as staff numbers decrease. We should invite other local authority bodies to make use of spare space in Pathfinder House. (e.g. Connexions and Locality Team).

8) Share council tax collection and other back office services with other District Councils. Surely we do not each need to maintain our own complex computer system. In many areas, like Call Centres, we have much to offer others.

9) Sale and lease back of Pathfinder House and other assets should be evaluated.

10) Save huge amounts of back office costs by going unitary with the County.

On the other side, Lib Dems believe that we should not cut grants to voluntary organisations where there is a risk that this will cause more expenditure for us and the rest of the public sector if we take away the highly geared voluntary support that most of them provide.

My final suggestion is that we recognise that what we are about to receive will not make us truly thankful. Residents will suffer deterioration in the level of service that they receive from the Council.

We should therefore provide that little bit of sugar to help the medicine go down. For the towns, I would suggest reversing the decision on the toilets, deeply unpopular and, anecdotally for Huntingdon, diverting shoppers away from the Town Centre.

For the villages the retention of the Customer Service Centres is likely to be welcomed by those, often the most vulnerable and impecunious, who really need our services and would find the trip in from Farcet or the Gransdens both physically and financially daunting.

Members, we would be happy to discuss these suggestions further as long as the approach was not finding 57 reasons for not doing them but rather “What do we need to do to make them happen?”

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Reply from Churchmanor

Well, it was hardly a surprise when I received a reply to my letter to Churchmanor that they aren't about to re-open the gate across St Germain Walk. Shame, but that's the way it goes. Churchmanor's view clearly differs from that of many people in Huntingdon, including many who voted for me, but what surprised me in the letter was Churchmanor's attitude to the Post Office (who currently rent a property of which Churchmanor hold the freehold (as stated in the letter). Some people might suggest that Churchmanor aren't too happy at losing a client, but I couldn't possibly comment.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

My letter to Churchmanor Estates

Mr H. K. White

The Churchmanor Estates Company plc

Montague House

11 Black Horse Lane

Ipswich IP1 2EF

8th June 2010

Dear Mr White,

St. Germain Street Gate

I was elected as Lib. Dem. District Councillor for Huntingdon East at the recent elections, having never before stood in an election of any kind. I have lived in the town since 1987, and seen many changes. Many of them, I am very pleased to say, for the better.

As a resident, I formerly used to use the passage which became closed off some years ago, by the so-called St. Germain Gate. This gate is notated as “controversial” not by me, but on – a website which can be found via a link from Churchmanor’s own website. Some years on, I was quite surprised, when asking residents of Huntingdon East ( I reckon on having canvassed over 1,800 this year ) what issues bothered them. Along with numerous topics, “that *****y gate” cropped up on many occasions.

It set me thinking, is there any reason, other than a pure commercial one of “forcing” footfall past some of the retail outlets redeveloped by Churchmanor, that the gate cannot be reopened, or better yet, removed? After all, most people who shop in town now are well aware of the shops such as Subway, Vision Express and Starbucks. Now, we hear the news that the Post Office is considering relocating from its present site, to “within WH Smiths”. Given that the opening hours may well be extended, that is good news. However, for those older folk who live in the area I represent, moving the Post Office to this proposed location will mean a walk of at least 800 yards or more, in addition to the distance they currently need to undertake. Unless of course, the gate is removed and they can enter the WH Smiths more readily.

I noted that one of your responses to past criticism of the gate was to cite that the area close to the passage constituted a “dangerous accident hotspot”. This might have led people to think that there had been a spate of accidents there. Was that ever the case? And is that area any more dangerous than the ring road, bus station, or any of the town centre car-parks? Surely the answer is to take measures to diminish the risk of accidents. Coupled with the publicity surrounding the re-opening of the gate, this could greatly enhance Churchmanor’s reputation in the town.

To quote from your website again “It is easy to rake over old coals on the rights and wrongs of any issue. However, to invest in a town centre that badly needs investment, decisions need to be taken which may not always be popular with some, but with future investment and planning they will lead to an improved town centre for all.” Forgive me if I am wrong, but I have found no mention anywhere on your website of Churchmanor’s position with regards the RESIDENTS of Huntingdon.

There are numerous web references to businesses, landowners, local authorities, institutions, but nowhere, the people without whom those organisations will thrive….council tax payers, customers…in short, the people of Huntingdon.

Churchmanor claims to "……care enough about Huntingdon to want to support local retail and to bring life back to this part of the town for future generations". But does Churchmanor care enough about the people who, if the Post Office is moved, will be inconvenienced?

The Post Office’s own consultation document talks of their possible relocation being 375 yards away. The buildings may be, but right now, the access, door to door, is NOT.

So, I write to you to ask for consideration, especially now the businesses that moved into the newly redeveloped area of Chequers Court have become well established, that the St Germain Gate is re-opened, as I believe it will demonstrate that Churchmanor does not just care about the stakeholders it is proud to service, but the people of this town.

I have been writing a blog which is available for open reading, and isn’t subject to the whim of an editor of any area of the media, editing or ignoring it. That said, the Hunts Post did publish a letter from me on this subject. I intend to wait a week or so before uploading this letter to my blog, and of course, I shall give Churchmanor access too, by uploading any reply you may send to me.

I hope you will give this consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you in due course.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Ste Greenall

Huntingdon East

6 Snowy Way




PE29 1LQ

Thursday, 17 June 2010

The gate

Well, as I promised I would do in the build-up to the District Council elections, I am aiming to try (against a lot of odds, I have been told) to get Churchmanor Estates to remove, or at the very least RE-OPEN, the gate that they put across the passageway close to Wilkinsons, in St Germain Walk. Last Saturday, I took a stroll around to see for myself the possible impact of any arguments that Churchmanor might continue to put forwards.

Let me say, though, that I have written to one of the Directors, Howard White, to ask the company to reconsider their position, especially now that there is a strong possibility of the Post Office being relocated. In case you didn't know, the Post Office, currently next door to Sainsbury's, is looking to move into the WH Smith store in the High Street. This, in my view, changes "the goalposts" and lessens the argument for the gate being there. I wrote also that I intended to publish the letter I have sent, on this blog page, along with any reply I might receive, which is totally transparent, andf people can judge for themselves what they think.

Going back to when the gate was put up, one of the arguments was that with the number of delivery lorries turning, close to where the passageway runs, there was an accident waiting to happen. My argument in my letter was that that the chances of an accident caused between a behicle and a pedestrian is far greater on the Sainsbury's car-park, or even Huntingdon bus-station. If we are to worry about every vehicle on the road causing an accident, we had better all stay at home!

At the time of writing, I have not yet had a reply from Churchmanor, and it isn't quite a week since I sent my letter to Mr White, so I will hang on a few more days before I publish what I sent on this blog page. If Churchmanor reply, I shall publish what they say. If they don't then I shall say so.

I will leave it for the people of Huntingdon to draw their conclusions.

One thing I would say is that I spoke to two couples who were parking their car on the disabled car-park in town, which, if you want to visit Sainsbury's or the Post Office, is BEHIND the gate, thus requiring someone less able to get around, to make a long detour.

I can't promise that things will change, but I can promise to keep the pressure on. Because despite what Churchmanor would like it to be the case, many HUNTINGDON RESIDENTS are still unhappy about that gate.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Lib Dems - winning again in Huntingdon East!!!

It's getting to be a winning smile that Lib Dem leader in Huntingdonshire, Peter Downes, wears these days. Here he is, pictured below, immediately after the result was announced.

The votes were cast as follows:-

Ann Beevor (Labour) 221

Andrew Bish (Tory) 662

Bill Hemsley (Tory) 519

Patrick Kadawere (Labour) 155

Debbie Scales (Lib Dem ) 890

Kevin Sumner (Lib Dem) 860

So Peter made a "thank you speech", watched by Returning Officer David Monks, CEO of Huntingdonshire District Council.

In percentage terms, I make that Labour - 11.4% / Tory - 35.7% / Liberal Democrats - 52.9%!!

Us over 50%

Tories below 40!

Compared with the Hunts East District election at the same time as the General and where the Greens got 4%, we are up 7%, Labour is up 1%, and the Tories are down 4%.

At the time of the 2005 General Election Lib Dems had never won a seat in Huntingdon.

Now we have 5 Town Cllrs,

3 District Cllrs

1 County Cllr

.....and it is all because we have a class team that delivers the goods when it matters, which is both between elections and during them.

Thursday's Town Council by-election

On Thursday last week there was a Town Council election in Huntingdon, and it proved a fantastic night to be a Liberal Democrat. It is the rule that a maximum of two elections be held on the same day, and so with the General Election and District Council elections being held on May 6th, the Town Council election was delayed until 27th.

Following on so quickly from the General Election, there was a fear that the turnout would be poor, but in the end it was 24.8% - very respectable given the circumstances. The outcome might prove a further barometer for Lib Dem support in Huntingdon East, so after a quick-fire campaign, voting began at 7.00 a.m.

By 7.45 p.m., things were still fairly quiet, as the picture below shows. Left of the photo is Lizzie Shrapnel, telling for the Lib Dems, and Conservative Town Councillor, Susan Mulcahy.

By 8.00 p.m. it got a little busier, so with Chris Jordan operating as a "runner", the telling returns were fed back to Lib Dem HQ, which on this occasion was the MS Support Centre, near the Olympic Gym. But as the picture below shows, there was no queue on this occasion!

The result was expected around 11.00 p.m., once the boxes were al collected in, and count would Hartford Village Hall.

So time for a pint at the Barley Mow before the count began!

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Hot enough ??

Met up with Kevin Sumner today to knock on doors on the hottest day of the year so far. Not ideal canvassing conditions but the feedback we had was very good, and it looks like our vote is holding up, ahead of Thursday. The boards and diamonds are starting to appear around town, and we have finally seen signs of Tory activity, in the shape of a leaflet through the doors. One thing is very noticeable. Despite the leaflets saying "local conservatives", one of the chaps, Mr Bish, whilst living in Huntingdon, doesn't live in Huntingdon East. The other, Mr Hensley, lives a little further afield.....errrr....WARBOYS.

I feel certain that our two candidates, Debbie and Kevin, have everything it takes to be successful, and we are all just hoping that people aren't too "election-fatigued", and do vote on Thursday.

Ben begins his GCSE's in earnest this week, so it could be a little tense in the Greenall household, but we feel sure he'll be giving it his best shot.

Two barbeques this weekend - hot enough, or what?

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Like first day at big school!

Along with my new Lib Dem buddy, Steve van der Kerkhove, from St Neots, Wednesday 19th May will go down as our first District Council meeting. As Steve said, it was like first day at big school. Once again, I took pictures where you wouldn't normally get to see them, though since I have now realised that many main Council meetings are open to the public, it is open season on 'reporting' what goes on.

The first picture shows Steve and I after we took our seats. The second, moments later, came when Steve slopped his coffee over the table, but somehow managed to get some inside his phone. The picture where Steve is sitting on the green chair was when all the new councillors, and some of those who were re-elected, had their pictures taken for the passes we will get issued with, as well as the website.

The meeting was the AGM of the District Council and I'd been told to expect it wouldn't last much mote than 90 minutes, as it was mainly to swear in new leaders and ratify the committees we will all sit on. Proceedings began with a prayer from Father Paul Maddison, from St Ives. Wasn't expecting that. Next on the agenda - Chairman's Announcements - which gave outgoing Chairman John Davies a chance to thank various people, make a presentation to a chap who has been on the Council for yonks - can't remember his name but I think he's from Warboys.

The new Chairman was sworn in, and it was Jeff Dutton, who was elected unopposed. Which was just as well for Jeff because he had an acceptance speech already written! Fact is that even if the Lib Dems had put someone forward, the Tory would win because there are more of their councillors than the rest. When it came to electing a Vice Chairman though, Peter Downes, Lib Dem leader on the District Council, proposed Mike Baker, who is a nice chap; taught at Hinchingbrooke and still does DofE courses up there. Mike Shellens seconded him. But when it came to the vote, even though all the Lib Dems PLUS the two UKIP members voted for Mike, he was defeated by a lady called Barbara Boddington, for the Tories. Now clearly she had been expecting to win.


Remember I had said we had all gone for photos, BEFORE the AGM started? Well, Barbara had been photographed WEARING THE VICE CHAIR'S CHAIN!!! So she obviously knew she was a shoe in.

Ian Bates, who is the current Leader of the Council, was re-elected to do it again.

I was elected onto the "Overview and Scrutiny Panel - Economic Well-Being" committee, which basically is a sub-group that challenges the financial plans. I shall look forward to that.

So that was that.....apart from Steve spilling his coffee, no fun and games.

It is going to take some getting used to being on a council where, whatever your INDIVIDUAL views might be, I get an impression that the Tories will always get something through, because of their majority....we need more Lib Dems, but the next elections are a year away :-(

The new building is nice, but I can't help thinking it is too big. For a start, the ceilings are really high, If each floor had been a few feet lower, think of the materials and labour that could have been saved building it. Hmmmmm....that's for another day.

Meanwhile, I am delighted, though I can claim miniscule credit, to find out that two families in Barn Close have won the right for the County Council to look again at re-siting a bus stop right behind their houses. Just shows that when someone, as Stephanie has done, writes an effective letter and makes sure it gets to the best person, change can happen. All I did was add grease to the wheels here and there. I hope the bus-stop gets moved soon.

Monday, 17 May 2010

First District Council meeting this week

I will be attending my first District Council meeting this coming wednesday, when I also expect that the Committee I shall be sitting on will be ratified.

Meanwhile, a few iussues are raising their heads, which I am getting involved in. The first one, which actually cropped up in the few weeks before the election, is the siting of a bus stop in Salpey Road, which directly overlooks houses in Barn close. This isn's a case of "not inmy back yard", as there is a perfectly good stopping space just 100 yards up the road, and which is offset from the road itself, and adjacent to a footpath. Why this wasn't used in the first place, I shall never know. What is more worrying, however, is that I have had sight of an e-mail which suggests residents were consulted.

They weren't!

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Huntingdon Town Council by-election

Hardly seems like we have drawn breath since the General Election, and yet we're off to the polls again. There are two seats up for grabs on Huntingdon Town Council, and we in the Lib Dems have two excellent candidates, in Debbie Scales and Kevin Sumner. Both Debbie and Kevin put in many a worthwhile shift campaigning for me in the District Council elections and Martin Land in the General Election. They are fantastic candidates, and I wholeheartedly commend them to you. I have scanned our latest leaflet, Focus, which tells you more about Debbie and Kevin's backgrounds.

Like myself, Debbie and Kevin live in the ward, and I am delighted to be able to help their campaigns by delivering leaflets. Part of my pledge to the constituents of Huntingdon East was to keep in touch, and to help in this aim, I shall be keeping this blog page as up to date as I can, as well as my Facebook page, which you are very welcome to join. The latest leaflet contains my e-mail address and phone number, and the same applies to Debbie and Kevin.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Can it be true?

The Liberal Democrats in coalition with the Conservatives.

When I went to sign a declaration form last night, in order that I can be a fully fledged District Councillor, I discovered, in conversation with David Monks, the CEO of Huntingdonshire District Council, that he is a rugby league fan, and if truth be told, supports Wigan.

I heard an ice-cream van in Biggleswade playing “Liberty Bell” – the theme tune to Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

I took Ben to the driving range and was hitting shots with my driver - straight and over 200 yards.

David Beckham addresses an audience of FIFA, without notes.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

It's been a funny old week, but it began with the Brampton Spartans under 16s ending their season in the only way they knew how - a bucket of cold water over Manager Mick Forsdick's head!

Politically, almost a week has gone by, I have had a large box file, a lever arch file, a diary, various letters and invitations, a request to fill out a CRB form, and God knows what else. Loads of stuff. But I am very much looking forward to attending my first council meeting, which will be on 19th May - just a week away. It is the District Council AGM, and I expect a new leader will be elected.

I have had the letter of thanks to the constituents that I sent to the Hunts Post published. Meanwhile, nationally, the Lib Dems have gone into a full blown 5 year coalition with the Tories. Not what I would have picked from the outset, but the early indications are quite sound, actually. Certainly, the two local MPs, quoted in the Hunts Post, are way off target. Mr Djanogly predicted a "distinct possibility of another election in the near future". Doh! Unless he was meaning the up and coming Huntingdon Town Council elections! No - didn't think so.

Shailesh Vara accused the Lib Dems of "putting electoral reform and their own self interest ahead of the good of the British people". He said that On Tuesday (presumably around lunchtime - press deadline for the Hunts Post). Within a few hours, though, the BBC website was saying "Out of the hung parliament delivered by the electorate's verdict, the Lib Dems and Tories have conjured up Britain's first coalition government in 70 years.Lib Dem MPs will sit around the Cabinet table with their fellow Tory government ministers. Individual Tories, expecting high office, will have been sacrificed on the altar of getting a deal done.

To arrive at this position, unthinkable during the worst exchanges of the election campaign, stumbling block after stumbling block has just melted away.Compromise has been the order of the day."

It is obviously far too soon to know how this will all pan out, but for now, I'm prepared to sit back and watch.

However, as far as Hunts East is concerned, the Liberal Democrats won the seat this time around, and I shall work to my utmost to do the best for all 9,000 in the ward.

Monday, 10 May 2010

10th May 2010

Back to work after the campaign. Tiredness has kicked in, the adrenalin has died down, and having got home tonight, for the first Lib Dem group since the election I forgot my agenda!

I have had lots of really nice messages, which include the following:-

"Well, I looked at your blog. I'm surprised you had time to do it while you were electioneering. The pictures convey the excitement and industry of the campaign. All you are left with now is the work that lies ahead."

"Congratulations on being elected as Councillor for the Huntingdon East Ward, your welcome pack is on its way to you."

"I have just looked on the Huntingdon District Council website and I see you got elected"


"Many congratulations Councillor Greenall, just seen the election results on the web - well done!"
Very encouraging. I am beginning to realise the enormity of the task ahead, but I am certainly looking forward to it. Meanwhile the picture at the top shows that I won't be claiming for a handyman on my expenses :-)


Saturday, 8 May 2010

The count .........and afterwards

WOW!!!! I made it. The result is below, I did it with a majority of 309 votes, so many thanks to those who voted for me, and I shall represent the people of Huntingdon East to the best of my ability. Here's the result, taken from the Hunts DC website:

Huntingdon East Ward

Saeed Akthar The Conservative Party 1766
Stephen Greenall Liberal Democrat 2075 - Elected
Patrick Kadewere The Labour Party 453
Jeff Knott The Green Party 202

The pictures are as follows:

The first one is the bundles of paper that got me elected!!! 2,075 with a cross against my name.

The second one shows the notice as you went into the count. Ignore the bit that says "No Admittance to St Ivo pupils", as I saw some that were, and one has now become a Facebook friend as he wanted the Liberal Democrats to win.

Third one: After spending 10 hours of Election Day in the Polling Station in Hartford Village Hall, I couldn't believe the conversation that took place at 7.15 am the morning after.

Ben went off to do the paper round. He phones me soon afterwards

Ben: "Dad, why is there a picture of the Village Hall in the paper?

Me: "Which paper? Which Village Hall?

Ben: "Like.....OUR Village Hall!"

Me: "Which paper? Cambridge News?"

Ben: "No, The Times"

Me: "Eh? You sure?"

Ben " can see the writing"

At which point I jumped out of bed and cycled round for a copy.errrm.......three copies. So the third picture is me, with the Times, on the balcony at the Ivo, whilst the count for the MP is taking place below.

Next picture shows the counting taking place in the Sports Hall and the final one is me with the Monster Raving Loony, Lord Toby Jug.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

I am totally wasted....what a long campaign and battle it has been. Good luck, Sid, it's between you and me.

See you at the Ivo.

Election day #3

Well first of all two questions.

Are any other Hunts DC candidates carrying out "telling" work (6 hours so far, 5 more to come) AND updating a blog and Facebook?

Who are the additional followers that I have acquired just today? Oh, I just looked....cheers people. Thanks for keeping an eye on me :-)

Brilliant news, and it gives me the impetus to work even harder. I have a few more pictures.

This was the polling station at 3.15; rare to have a queue at this time, but it has been quite busy, and the cinder toffee from the Retro Sweet Shop has been going down a storm.

And what better a way to spend a short break from the hustings than a nice pint, on this occasion at the King of the Belgians. Thanks to Damo for the pint and taking the picture.

Meanwhile, back at the Committee Rooms, the results from the telling are being compiled into the LibDem election systems. I wonder what it is telling us.

For now, Ste signing off at 4.15 pm

Election day #2

Second break of the day, and this time, I'll be visiting the Retro Sweet Shop for some cinder toffee, and a pint in the King of the Belgians.

The second stint I just spent was alongside Claire Dutton, who is a Town Councillor for the Tories, and she is the wife of Jeff Dutton, who is a District Councillor, and hope to be Chairman of the District Council in the near future.

It is often hard to tell what people are thinking before they go into the Polling Booths, but there are some who clearly show their intentions.

The pictures above tell their own story. Ben's mate Harrison, who plays in goal for the mighty Brampton Spartans, lives with his mum and step dad, Michelle and Trevor, on the main road into town. When we met on the touchline on Tuesday following Spartans fantastic victory over Alconbury (we've now played 19, won 15, drawn three, lost one all season) they told me they had already voted for me as a postal vote, but could they put a board up?

Too damn right, and later that day, it was installed.

The other picture is me coming out of the polling station at 11.45 a.m. with Barry Mitchell. Barry was the original bass guitarist with Queen, and still plays a mean bass. However, his latest venture is the Retro Sweet Shop in Huntingdon, and I am off there shortly to get some lucky LibDem cinder toffee.

The adrenalin is rushing through me, and it's proving to be a battle royale.

The inexperienced first timer versus the likeable Tory Mayor of Huntingdon.


Election day

6.15 a.m. Early start, shower, shave, quick drink, and off to do some "telling" for two hours at the Polling Station. Out of the house at around 6.45 a.m., and the man who will be sitting opposite me for the next two hours is Saeed Akthar, who is the Tory candidate, and clearly, we are in a two-horse race. It's me or him, by the time the counting is done tomorrow. He's a really nice bloke, and we wished each other well.

The first two hours flew by, and I was relieved when David Priestman, the man who is standing down from the seat, came to take over at 9.00. So I wandered down to the Barley Mow for bacon butties and a brew. Fantastic.

Then a quick call home to update the blog and Facebook.

Then it'll be back on duty for two more hours.

It's strange to see people whose doors I have been knocking on over the last four weeks, turn up to vote. They are using the main hall this year, and it has been a busy start, I have had many good wishes, but then, so has "Sid".

Blimey, it's 9.45 already. Doesn't time fly when you have an election to win.