Wednesday, 16 May 2007
Views from the East
A busy day yesterday - at lunchtime I was the guest speaker to the Conservative Women's Association in Rochford and Southend. This very well informed and active group meets every month bringing different speakers from across the UK. They wanted to hear about my experiences campaigning across the country. I spoke about the Junior Doctors campaign, our local campaigns for safer roads and the country park as well as political campaigns.
They told me the problems they face in Southend - its a small unitary authority and like others has found it very hard to meet the ballooning costs of social services. "Its the hidden population" they said "we know Southend is growing, doctors surgeries, schools and houses are all full - but as many of these people are recent arrivals they don't appear in the statistics and we don't get funding to help them". Immigration again.
In the evening I was the guest speaker for the Abridge Conservative Supper Club near Epping. They have now been meeting for 30 years and must be one of the oldest such clubs in the country (though their members were far from old!) The last female politician to speak at their club was Ann Widdecombe and many had recently been to another dinner with William Hague as the speaker. No pressure then! They were a great crowd. Epping conservatives like my own local group have recently taking control of their district council. Their first action was sorting out the bins. Our Conservative politicians must make sure they deliver excellent, value for money services at a local level. Unless we run our councils well how will we be trusted to run the country.
Again the questions came into a long exchange about the pressures they see from the increased population. Not surprising given its all over the news at the moment. Not only housing, but infrastructure, schooling and health services. Interestingly it was the people who had come to the UK from other countries in the past who are most concerned about current immigration / migration pressures. They have worked hard and contributed to this economy, they say that those arriving today must do the same.