Sunday, 25 September 2011

Organ Donation: Opt In or Opt Out...the debate begins

I have to confess that I have strange hobby of keeping an eye on what is going on over at the Welsh Assembly.

Since its conception in the Government of Wales Act 1998 following a referendum in 1997, the Welsh Assembly has reminded me of Lib Dem conferences in years gone by for having a tendency for discussing trivia and debating issues that the general public could not care less about, like when Assembly time was given to discussing the merits of whether Charlotte Church should win rear of the year.

This week however, I noticed that the Welsh Assembly are planning to issue a white paper in the Autumn on presumed consent on Organ Donation.

At present the UK adopts an opt in policy on Organ Donation but if this white paper becomes law in Wales then it would reverse to become and opt out policy and for those to chose not to opt out then the law would assume that you have given presumed consent to donate your organs.

A change in the law is one that I would fully support especially as there is a shortage in organ donation especially within ethnic minority communities.

I know a change in the law would raise huge civil liberties debates and there would also be the religious arguements as well.

I am a passionate believer in civil liberties and as long as there was an opt out facility then I do believe these arguments have been answered. If this white paper should become law then I also believe that there needs to be a widespread advertising campaign so that every family would be having this debate to ensure an informed decision can be made.

Those against such plans always point to the fact that the state has no business owning your body. This arument falls down for me as in any death the coronor always owns the body until they pass the body back to the family a coronors are employd by the state.

Whatever the final outcome, I just hope that parties give Assembly members a free vote on the issue. Should this become law in Wales I think this could follow suit in the rest of the UK.

The trust cost of PFI unravels

Staying with the NHS, the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley this week told The Telegraph that some NHS trusts are 'on the brink of collapse' because of of costly private finance initiative schemes.

I have always been a sceptic and an open critic of pfi schemes as under the PFI deals, a private contractor builds a hospital or school. It owns the building for up to 35 years, and during this period the public sector must pay interest and repay the cost of construction, as well as paying the contractor to maintain the building.

Hopefully this should be the final nail in the coffin for the pfi Shoebury Health Centre on the Garrison.

Labour: The party of the NHS

This week, after costing an estimated £12.7 Billion so far, the Government have pulled the plug on the disastrous vanity IT project.

The NHS IT project was a prime example of New Labour's prolifigacy in their 13 years of power. It is startling to believe that this figure would have paid the salaries for 60,000 nurses for a decade.

Nick Clegg was bang on the money for me when he told the Lib Dem conference this week never ever trust Labour with the economy again. Hopefully this will dispell the myth once and for all that Labour are the party of the NHS.

Monday, 19 September 2011

2012 Council Budget - Have Your Say

This year to support budget decisions the Council has put forward an online budget simulator as its public consultation.

The simulator, which has gone live today until 30 October, will allow users to see the impact of what savings of 10% could mean for services.
It does this by showing the possible consequences when the user increases or decreases the budget for service areas.

The budget consultation activity is designed to help determine residents’ priorities and provide information to support the budget setting process. The simulator can be found at

Parliamentary Constituency Review

In an effort to reduce the number of MP's from 650 to 600 it was inevitable that changes would have to be made to the to the current constituencies which cover the Southend borough in the Boundary Commission review.

In the review, it is proposed that the wards of Leigh and West Leigh will join Castle Point with Milton, Victoria & St Lukes moving from Rochford & Southend East to join with the remainder of Southend West. Rochford & Southend East will then be swelled by Hockley & Hawkwell. This would mean that Southend would be represented by 3 MP's rather than the current 2.

Should the proposals be approved surely it would be better to rename Southend West Southend Central and rename Castle Point, Castle Point & Southend West?

The proposals are currently out to consultation and a final report will be made by 1st October 2013.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Shoebury Heritage Centre

This week saw the first cabinet meeting after the long summer recess. One item which I was delighted to see on the agenda was the proposal which will finally see a Heritage Centre created at the Drill Shed on the Shoebury Garrison site.

A Heritage Centre was always planned for the Grade II listed building as part of the agreement to award planning permission but a consortium of groups led by the Shoebury Society are set to form a management team to enable memorabilia and artifacts from the Garrison to be displayed to the public.

Despite these plans, back in February, Independent Party councillors for Shoeburyness Ward Anne Chalk and Mike Assenheim were openly campaigning for a Heritage Centre at the HInguar School site when the pupils move to the new school currently being buit on the Garrison development.

I always though that this campaign was odd, disingenuous at best, as Cllr Assenheim was on the Hinguar Schhol Project Board and never objected to the decision that the new school would be built and part funded by the sale of the current Hinguar School site.

Conspicuous by their absence over the summer, Anne and Mike made their 2011 political return with a traditional distortion of the truth, by trying to claim the credit for the Heritage Centre at the Drill Shed in the Southend Echo. You couldn't make it up.

Based on previous experience, it would appear that Mike's re-election campaign has started a little earlier than usual! 

Monday, 5 September 2011

The truth behind the English Democracts Southend Branch

Over the weekend, I managed to obtain a copy of the latest English Democrat leaflet delivered to certain parts of West Shoebury.

The English Democrats are a small party with only 5 councillors although they do have have an elected Mayor - Peter Davies - in Doncaster who shot to national prominence when elected in 2009 on a pledge of reducing reducing waste and political correctness but failed to mention to the residents of Donny that he admired the Taliban for their record on 'family values' in his election material.

Whilst reading further down the leaflet I was surprised that it was promoting a link to the website

For all the politicos out there 'Patriot' is the name given to BNP literature. During the run up to this years elections, I blogged that this particular blog was suggesting that there was no difference to the BNP, UKIP or the English Democrats.

Over at the Southend Patriot it reported in a post back in March that the BNP Southend branch organiser, Stuart Freeman, had been ousted from his role following failed coup by party members to oust Nick Griffin as the leader of the party claiming that he had taken a well earned rest from local politics. Stuart is known to local Conservatives as he also lives in West Shoebury ward.

If you thought leadership contests were bitter in the Conservatives, Labour or the Lib Dems they are mere playground spats compared to the BNP contest which has lead to court cases galore and members leaving in their droves.

In a post during August, the Southend Patriot announces that a Southend branch had been established, I was surprised to see Stuart Freeman at the top table with Robin Tilbrook (English Democrats Leader).

The English Democrats links with the BNP do not end their as it has also been announced that Eddy Butler, a challenger to Nick Griffin has also joined the English Democrats.

So far the English Democrats have avoided scrutiny in its links with the BNP. As disenfranchised former BNP members find their new home in the English Democrats scrutiny will be far more intense.