Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Good things and Bad things...

Times are more than tough, bad news and blame games everywhere... I will try to be positive.

My good thing of today was the Family Railcard that took me and 4 children (not all mine!) for a day trip to London from Cambridge for just £25. The bad thing was the journey back - not a single seat left - one child sitting in the luggage rack, two under the luggage rack and me and the fourth sitting in the alley beside the luggage rack. This was "travelling outside the rush hour". It is a fair assessment of infrastructure failings in the East of England.

The past few weeks have been sooooooo busy .... With some of the other Candidates for the European elections we have been learning and listening... here are some of the things I've been to see...

In Norfolk, we've been to see where the land is falling rapidly into the sea, I've met local business owners who are trying keep grounded in the economic land-slip and visited a NHS clinic that is facing having the rug pulled from under them despite massive local protest.

In Suffolk, I've met doctors who don't know how they will staff rotas in the future and the head brewer who is concerned about pub closures but very concerned about what increased taxes from Gordon Brown will do to those left.

In Essex, we've been to see post offices that have closed and ones that the county council are re-opening. We met the world record holder "Turkey Plucker" - yes he does exist, over recent years he has been a pioneer for local food and puts 120,000 turkeys on your tables each Christmas - the last thing he needs is the new regulations that are coming over the hill from Europe.

At home in Cambridgeshire, we've met council leaders about the state of the roads, hi-tech industries with real solutions to cut our electricity bills from the "standby" buttons. We've seen the raw end of the lower-tech companies who supply those hi-techs. I've met wheat growers who have used an EU Grant to help make "British Bread" available across the UK as well as those scientists looking at the seeds that could help feed the future.... its also been great to talk to some pupils in schools because they are our future.

In Hertfordshire, I met commuters worried about what future there is for financial services in London - great uncertainty, and especially so from the pensioners I met.

My own trips to Bedfordshire over the past fortnight were "snowed off", other team members have been keeping an eye in the sky (at the airport) and down below at local businesses many of which have a national or international reach.

There is a lot of work that needs to be done - for those commuters that I met sitting in the luggage rack and it would be much easier if basic problems like infrastructure had been sorted out many years ago.