It’s a lovely time of year. Beeston springs back into life, stuff happening everywhere, and my toads sing.
I haven’t mentioned them for a while, so readers may be unaware I keep some very charming Oriental Fire-Bellied toads, and have done for about 6 years now. Small little green and orange creatures, that spend the day swimming, eating and basking, and, at this time of year, singing. It’s a soft, barking noise, like a puppy in the distance. They combine, harmonising, building tempo and pitch. It’s a unique noise that signals winter has well and truly done one.
Chirps of a different type come from Soubry HQ. Smelling an election just over a year away, she decides its time to find a song to sing that will woo over Beestonians: if she can’t get a decent vote here, the largest conurbation in Broxtowe, her chances of a second term are roughly that of a pie spending a second night in Eric Pickles fridge.
So easy target, the tram. Who cannot support the businesses and homes that have suffered through the works? Independent shops, in the main, are being hit much more than chain stores, who can rely on head office keeping them afloat for the duration.
I’ve tried to do my bit, especially with The Beestonian. We were the initiators of the Street Party last year, and we’ve ran lots of copy expounding the area’s brilliance,and continue to do so. The initiative that has set up around Beeston Continuum features Chilwell Road, and most of the tram route, as key areas of development for a post-tram Beeston. I’ve attended a ton of meetings looking into how businesses can survive in the climate. Also, and perhaps most practically, I’ve tried to actually use the businesses when I can.
We all know how important it is to do this. We are all supportive of this, and to make political capital out of it would be rather distasteful, no?
Soubry has done that, with some hilariously contradictory language. ‘THIS IS A NON-PARTY POLITICAL ISSUE’ she bawls in another of her increasingly deranged emails, then picks out non-Tory councillors for a slagging off for not signing her petition (which also begs the question: did she check every name of the 2,000 she got?).
Perhaps some people didn’t want to sign as they saw it as blatant electioneering? Perhaps they thought it rather hypocritical of Anna to run a petition when she has forthrightly stated before that when she is presented with any such collective action, such as petition or letter-writing campaigns, she bins them? Or ignores them and lies to the Commons -see previous posts on the obscene way she treated our local postal workers. Maybe it was the show-boating way she also used the (non-party political) petition to get people to sign up for her newsletter.
Or maybe there is an even more awful hypocrisy here. Let’s have a look back into history.
Anna’s position on the tram, as is the case with most of the local Conservatives, has flip-flopped for years. As has the Tory line on support for businesses.
Let’s bust a few myths here. The present pot of money for the businesses hit has yet to be exhausted. Talking to businesses, the real problem is in it’s allocation. That is a difficult job as no two businesses are alike, and have been hit in different ways.
Soubry wants the money to come out of the County Council, from an already vastly diminished pot thanks to Eric Pickles’ cuts. Why doesn’t she campaign for funds from central government?: after all, Cameron advised money was no object when floods hit the swing seats West of London.
Strangely, when the Council was under Tory control, they were very much AGAINST helping Beeston businesses while the tram was underway. Let’s go back to 2009, when the terms of the tram development were under discussion, Cllr. Richard Jackson (Tory, Chilwell) put forward, and voted on a clause stating that NottsCounty Council would not provide ANY financial assistance to businesses. This was in an official meeting on September 24th, 2009, and full minutes can be found here
So lets be absolutely clear whats going on. The same financial aid that Soubry and her local Tory councillors Richard Jackson and Eric Kerry are lobbying and collecting signatures for is the SAME package they threw out when the Tories ran the council. Indeed, it looks like this was a whipped position. It is highly doubtful that Soubry was unaware of this unilateral stance.
I thus ask Soubry, and local Tories, to explain what caused such a major change of heart. Do they regret voting against the same aid package they are now campaigning for? Doesn’t such rank hypocrisy ever bother them?
While I wait, my toads will bark on, singing their tiny songs into the night.