Spent most of Friday speaking to folks, mostly with councillors, constituents, the MP. Helping out with family and so on.
As I reported yesterday and in earlier posts our campaign is divided into four parts. To give you an idea, this is what we do
Part 1/ this is the pre-election time when we can start to prepare ourselves and the area for an election. Provided it is legal, decent and true we can write to constituents about anything. This is as long or short a time as the individual wishes.
Once the campaign starts we a limited by law exactly what we are allowed to say and do. As a sitting councillor I am also restricted in our use of that position to support any case. This is known as ‘purdah’. We are also limited with how much we can spend in total, an account will have to be produced for the returning officer. This does ensure that most people can in fact stand and the rich do not have a substantial advantage over the poor. For me as a District Councillor the formula* makes it about £800 maximum spend, leaflets, help, petrol, postage, anything. and if any of that is donated to me, then that also has to be accounted for. For example as a political party member I have to account for office help from that party. All of this is publicly available knowledge so you can see if candidates are under undue financial obligation to any one.
Part 2/ the first few weeks of the actual election period. This starts when the nominations close and we will all know just who and what party our opposition represents. Hopefully we will have planned our personal ‘manifesto’ so that it states our position clearly and is attractive to the voters in our ward. We then have an intensive period when every home is visited and as many people as possible are spoken to. Bill and I completed this visitation on Thursday afternoon. However well we do the job as councillors it is now that we do see all or most of the ward and probably will speak to between 20 and 30% of our wards in the five weeks.
Part 3/ is where we are today. A kind on hiatus, a calm in the centre of the storm. It allows us to recover from two weeks of long days walking the streets to get to the almost 5000 voters in the new ward. Here we will spend the time speaking to voters in a quieter way. As one councillor put it, “I just stroll around the patch”. We also catch up with the paperwork (more on that later). I will also spend some time helping out others who may have problems.
Part 4/ for us will start on the 27th. Another full on two weeks when every single door will be knocked on again. In a rural ward which is almost 20 miles across this is a huge task, but if it’s not done how do we expect the public to support us. Bill or I or sometimes both will personally attend every house, if you are not at home, then get in touch with questions you have.
This dedication will follow after the election also. We are both committed to the area and will serve out the four years with equal diligence.
*based on a small allowance and a few pence per voter. In this country it has to be found entirely by the candidate personally or by accounted for donations and includes help in kind. There is no state funding of candidates in the UK. (a situation which I fully support)
Its actually 20 days from today for the elections but 21 days to the count on the afternoon of 8th May.
Took yesterday off from active electioneering to celebrate the time in Norfolk of the Light Dragoons. They are leaving Swanton Morley over the next few weeks and moving to Catterick. Dereham saw an impressive parade through the town with thousands of people to cheer and enjoy. AS the regiment Holds the ‘Freedom of Dereham’ the March was with Bayonets fixed and swords drawn, Accompanied by a marching band and a single plane fly past – brilliant.
We then moved to Dereham Church where a leaving service was held with full ceremony, and an amusing sermon by the Regimental Chaplain Anthony Wilson about ‘Friends’. This was very much the theme of the day.
Breckland then hosted a reception in the Memorial Hall with Norfolk County Council, Dereham Town Council and Swanton Morley Parish Council. I had the opportunity to speak with several officers and men of the regimen, some very recent recruits, some who had been at Swanton Morley for the entire fifteen years.
A hand drawn presentation map 0f Norfolk noting some of he key places relevant to the Light Dragoons was handed over by Brecklands chairman and on behalf of Norfolk CC and Breckland DC, who each received in return pictures which will be displayed in the respective offices. Swanton Morley presented a cartoon by Tony Hall.
In his speech Robert Kybird spoke of the 300 year history of the Light Dragoons. He noted one of the last survivors of the actual Charge of the Light Brigade (1854) was in fact a Light Dragoon and had lived in Breckland in the village of Lyng and at Balaclava Cottage. The cottage still exists very much as it was in the mid 19th century, but land adjacent has been subject to many planning applications over several years.
Whilst in Dereham I caught up with a few constituents who had recently received our leaflets. Also several fellow councillors, our local MP and one of his opponents in the upcoming general election. I also attended Breckland offices and had some meetings with officers to deal with matters of concern to individuals.
Concluded my day at a Parish Council meeting in Billingford, which will be a ‘new to me’ village in the revised ward if I am elected.
The next few days of the campaign will show a change of pace. We have delivered our first leaflet We will now spend time talking to people more individually before another big push in the last two weeks.
Caught the end of the BBC debate, not really sure if it helped anyone to a decision? Very stage managed I thought.
It’s time to celebrate – Completed first leaflet drop in Upper Wensum Ward yesterday at 4.00pm. Every house, farm, castle and caravan 15 villages has had one of our leaflets. Using maps, experience, local knowledge and a bit of determination at approximately 4.00pm yesterday we completed the last door of our first leaflet drop for the District Council elections.
We started in Sparham, not too many folks about but had a big discussion about the Spare Rooms Subsidy which affects a few people in Breckland and proposed that I go back and have a meeting with the residents about that and any other issues, offered to do this either before the election, or after.
Better reception just down the road where a number of folks said something like “we will be supporting you”
On to Bawdeswell. Really nice to canvas in the warm sunshine, shirt sleeve order today. Visiting a few well known addresses and met some folk I had not seen in four years. It’s amazing how you do only see some people when electioneering, although I do regularly visit all the villages in my ward.
Just as we were completing the village we met John who gave us an update on the village hall progress. This was a topic of conversations around the village. Many are looking forward to it being re-opened as the community heart to the village.
On to Foxley. We split the village, Bill took West Foxley I took East Foxley. The real split was done by the upgrade of the A1067 several decades ago, but for us it meant that we had a good dividing line and we finished almost exactly together. Most of those I met were very happy with Breckland, one said he would vote for no one as he thought all politicians are the same, and not to be trusted. I am sure he would get the government he deserves if everyone thought like that. Most people do like to live in a democracy and the elections every few years does keep us all humble and receptive to people desires and needs.
On to Brisley. This is the one village which is entirely new to us both. The village is made up with a small centre, one street and a vast village green with a scattering of houses all around. It is a job where you need a car.
This was my day to shine, Bill called on a person who looked at the leaflet and, pointing, said I know him (me) he attended our last parish meeting – Bill had sat right beside me there??? It’s who you speak to which counts.
We will now take a few days off before doing it all again. In a town we might do three or four drops, but in a rural area two is good. Seeing what we can do to help others before we start over again
Off to Light Dragoons Parade in Dereham , see you there?
Spent eight hours campaigning yesterday…Working with Bill is new to me having always had a single member ward, but it does make the job a bit more pleasant in that we get to share the triumphs and disasters, like when some guy takes your leaflet from your hand, walks to his bin and puts it in – this same person asked for my help on personal problems with council a few weeks ago, and got his answers!! Or when Bill is greeted with “I know you – you got our road sorted.”
Completed Hockering village in about 4 hours. Had a few interesting chats with locals and with visitors to the area. This is home territory as I live in the village but still saw a few places I had not been to before – I emphasise I have never represented this village at Breckland – and that is my excuse.
Then off to do the more rural parts of Bawdeswell, Foxley, Sparham and all of Bylaugh.
Here we start to envy our more urban colleagues. Long drives and distance between front gates mean that it can be easily half a mile between one group of two or three doors and the next. What it does do though, and those townies never get, is some of the finest countryside and gardens in England, thats the sin of envy dealt with (for me anyway). Saw the first peafowl of the campaign today, we used to have some but foxes eventually saw them off. one guy had guinea fowl, very tame ones, these are usually the very best burglar alarms in the world, and living on a bluff above lakes and woodland, fantastic spot! I know I bang on a bit about this area, but we a just so fortunate to live in and adjacent to the delightful Wensum Valley. Resolved that after the election will spend more time walking and (perhaps) cycling in the area.
Today and Friday will be concentrating on the centres of those villages we started yesterday plus Brisley and then we will have completed our first full drop. We then of course have to do it all again with the second leaflet……..At least the legs are getting used to it, really should get a pedometer.
Have a good day
Yesterday completed all of Lyng village with a leaflet in every door and lots of conversations mostly very supportive of what we are doing in Breckland. I was struck yet again on the magnificent views over the valley from the top of the ridge which separates Hockering from Lyng at this point. Every four years a councillor gets to travel every road in his/her ward in a very short time period and it really demonstrates the magnificence of the county we live in. The Wensum Valley at Lyng is truly wonderful.
Finished the day in Bawdeswell Church for the Parish Council Meeting. Great to have an update on the Village Hall Project. Should be running by June and grand opening in July.
Met a new couple in the village who attended the PC it’s good when the public come along to ensure that this first, and in many ways most important, rung in our national democracy is working well.
Off in half an hour to start leafletting in Hockering, will then go on to Sparham and we will see where the day ends.
Late start today, hence time to do this blog. It will be a late finish also.
Will be working in Lyng , then onwards according to time. Day will be split with a Planning Inspectorate visit/inspection at 2.00pm, this is always a traumatic time for the folks involved as they obviously want to live in their chosen location. As usual in these situations the planning rules have been stretched to breaking point – not sure which way I lean on this one, and glad it’s not my decision.
Tonight I will be attending Bawdeswell Parish Council. Its an interesting agenda as usual and this will probably be the second last meeting to be held in the Church.
The village hall should be available for June. The New Hall is well on the way to completion and will probably be up and running at the end of May. It will be officially opened in July with a weekend of celebrations. Well done to all the village.
Later in the week (Thursday) will be attending the parade, church service and reception for the farewell to the Light Dragoons. They will be missed in Breckland, and in particular Swanton Morley, but in a few months the barracks will again be filled this time with The 1st the Queens Dragoon Guards. It will remain one of the seven core army bases in the the UK.
Also Thursday meeting with local MP in the late afternoon
A date for the Diary….Hustings meeting in Dereham will all candidates for Westminster election on 20th…This is of course the minor event happening on 7th May
End of first week of campaign and just finished half the houses with the first leaflet. Six hours walking the streets is better than working for a living!! This week we have deliverd to every house in Gateley, Guist, Twyford, Bintree, North Tuddenham, Billingford North Elmham and Elsing
Actually cold knocking is the best bit of being a councillor.
Next week will be concentrating on Hockering, Lyng, Sparham, Bawdeswell, Foxley, Bylaugh and Brisley. We have done a pre election leaflet in parts of all of these but will get them all done with our first election leaflet next week – taking Sunday off from deliveries.
Will be taking Morning Service in Nth Tuddenham Church tomorrow morning.
Issues of today centred around planning, anti Labour and UKIP pro and anti.
Had some very good responses to Breckland policies, and our low council tax was appreciated – business men/women I spoke to really appreciated how we support business.
One food seller did complain that he dropped a point on scores on the doors because of paperwork – will look into how how we can help if re-elected. Scores on the doors is one of the really good policies trialed in Breckland and rolled out over most of the country. Make sure that where you eat out they have a three, four or five. If not displayed ask why, and you can always check them out on the website
Today we launch the Manifesto for a conservative Breckland for the next term
See you in Queen Mothers Garden at 10.00am
Covered huge area in square miles of the Ward yesterday, including many isolated houses and small groups of houses.
Completed the villages of Gateley, Guist, Twyford and Bintree, with a smattering of remoter houses in Bintree. We have now visited every house in these villages with our first election period leaflet – plus parts of North Elmham.
Issues raised on the doorstep yesterday included.
Planning – always a delicate matter as every contested application has perceived winners and losers. I was able to re-assure regarding some fears and will follow up on others.
Environment Agency – District Councils have limited powers when dealing with this raather autocratic organisation, but I will be following up after the election as more details are given to me
UKIP – both supporters and opposers. Worry about their policies for local politics.
Big News yesterday was that close of nominations was at 4.00pm sharp, we soon learned that Breckland were on the ball and the lists published. Our Ward – Upper Wensum - has just three candidates Bill and me plus one UKIP – It does mean that at least one of us will be elected, hope its both….
Today we will be visiting in North Tuddenham, Elsing and the remoter groups of houses in Hockering and Lyng. We are both engaged in the morning, so will not be under way until lunchtime. It is the Launch of the Breckland Manifesto plus a couple of briefings. Bill is in County Hall.
See you out there
Leaving in a few minutes to visit Gateley, Guist, Twyford. Plus the last few houses in Bintree and Billingford. Then time permitting will be in North Tuddenham later this afternoon.
This is all new territory for me but am looking forwards to representing you after the election. Will be out with Bill Borrett (who does of course know the area) knocking on doors where we can and leaving a leaflet if you are out. Always remember that we are available to answer your questions about any matters pertaining to local politics.
One way of doing this is to visit your home and sit down with a group of neighbours – you will bounce questions off one another and we will seek to answer there and then, but if not will e-mail answers to all those gathered. This need not just be supporters, its good to get a whole street together, you boil the kettle and I will bring the biscuits. A dozen is about the right number, evenings or weekends OK. This sort of reflects the old hustings meetings of a bygone age, good fun for you and me and gets to the heart of issues you may have
Its not the promises that count – it’s character
Support BAMBRIDGE & BORRETT on May 7th for Breckland District Council between us we have served on Breckland for 20 years
Biggest issues of last two days.
Village shops – well we do all we can to support them. Let me have your opinion on email@example.com
Billingford Fishing Lakes – had both sides of argument lobbying me, Don’t know enough yet but I will form an opinion, but do let me have yours
Town Car Parks – Breckland Conservatives have ensured they are still FREE and we will keep them that way