Below you can read Peter Webb's November campaign diary on behalf of the Surrey branch of the TPA:
CAMPAIGN DIARY - November 2008
5th: Meeting by invitation with County LibDems Chris Slyfield and Hazel Watson (Group Leader). I introduced our beliefs and purpose and offered agenda for meeting in the form of questions for a candidate as first mayor of Surrey from May 2009. This possibility seemed a surprise. A useful exchange of views took place on topical issues concerning County Council managerial performance, qualified audit etc. I left with confirmed impressions of managerial weakness at County Hall. Specific examples were picked up.
8th: It was noted that Simon Heffer in his column in the Telegraph had asked who will be the comedians’ right wing bugbear after Bush? “I suppose it will have to be the Leader of Surrey County Council, who is manifestly asking for it”. Intriguing and mysterious! (Later E-mailed SH but without result)
MPs Anne Milton and Jeremy Hunt were shown in the Surrey Ad as supporting the application of the RSCH (Guildford hospital) for foundation status which would offer community participation, governance by representation, and accountability exactly as for local government. I asked whether this would lead to funding by precepts on the boroughs. (No answer; same tongue –in-cheek question sent to Prospective Parliamentary LibDem candidate on 5th Dec)
10th: Asked County Council regarding audit qualification whether this had been risk quantified and if not what was the point in keeping a register of over 700 risks.
14th: Letters by myself and Nevillle Shearman about the County Council audit qualification published in Surrey Advertiser.
19th: Wrote, after contact with TPA HQ, to Comptroller and Auditor General following letter in Telegraph by Matthew Elliott and eight European counterparts protesting at 14 year failure of European Accounts to pass the Court of Auditors. MEP Ashley Mote then publicly wrote describing the conceptual flaw at the heart which would mean no cure. This I considered to describe exactly the UK government situation and asked appropriate questions. (MPs Anne Milton and Jeremy Hunt subsequently copied in and asked where is the HoC on this ?)
20th /21st: Quoted in newspapers including comment on surprise departure of Surrey County Council Chief Executive Dr Richard Shaw. (The replacement would be controlled by Leader Nick Skellett who is due to step down; against public preference the Exec Cttee recommends against the empowered mayor option.)
24th: With John Bosten of Esher and Ernie Hughes met Ccllr Michael Gosling, Executive Member – Resources, who came prepared with information and some answers to our agenda. Follow up needed.
28th: Met with MP Anne Milton, with Peter Rauch and Ernie Hughes, to hear what she had achieved in our field, and to report our progress on her recommended support for getting up close and personal with Leaders and Chief Executives of boroughs. She had asked a question on the floor of the house. We had, excepting with the County Council, achieved little with the boroughs who largely failed to respond to invitations. PGW dialogue with Waverley Leader has broken down. AM would facilitate a meeting with Ccllr Joan Spiers of Reigate – why her is not clear.
Peter Webb 8/12/08
Congratulations to Peter and the branch for an active November. Meetings with councillors to put our point across, letters and media interviews are all part of how our activists and supporters can push the low tax cause. If you would like to do as Peter has done in setting up a branch and becoming a local voice for lower taxes in your area, please join us for free by clicking here.