Tuesday, 1 May 2012

On the doorsteps across the East of England

Having spent the past few weeks locked down in Brussels negotiating for Britain on a plethora of legislation it has been really good to spend some time back in the East of England knocking on doors, finding out what people are worried about and listening to the stories from local councillors and candidates who have been on the local election campaign trail for many weeks. I have been to North, South, East and West of the region from Peterborough to Thurrock, Yarmouth to Watford via Harlow, Cambridgeshire, and St Albans. In every area there are true local issues raised; from lamp posts to traffic logistics, ponds to planning issues. People want their local councillors to work hard, but they are also very concerned about the lack of money in their pocket and want low bills. Some have raised tax issues, petrol prices and policing. Some genuinely seem surprised (and pleased) to learn that the budget put over £15 a month back into the pockets of nearly 20 million people on lower incomes. This message from the budget was so missed by the press coverage. Despite the news coverage this week, not a single person has spoken to me about "ministerial code of conducts" or the queues at Heathrow. I've no doubt that the election turnout will be low, people are worried about the economy and many will show their concern by simply staying away from the polling stations. As a mid-term election in very difficult economic times there are bound to be people voting against the parties in Government. However, I have also met some really outstanding local candidates, many of whom are standing for the first time. It has been horrid weather for canvassing but where the candidates have been able to get out and meet people they have won promises of votes so this has given me hope for the future.
In beautiful St Albans today we came across this street sign. The European Commission could do with taking a large dose of Temperance with respect to their outrageous budget hike proposals. One bit of good news from Brussels is that I'm feeling a bit more confident that I might win the battle for keeping buy-to-let mortgage market open. It would be devastating if this market closed, not just for investors and savers but for those who rely on private rental property to put a roof over their heads.

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