Superb night for Lib-Dems in Stratford upon Avon

Local election results: Stratford-on-Avon District Council
No need for spin in Stratford upon Avon after last night’s local election result, where there was a swing of five seats from Conservative to Liberal Democrat.
Beverley Mann defeated Peter Barton in Harbury
Richard Cheney defeated Trevor Russel in Shipston
Kate Rolfe romped home to a substantial win in Alveston
Trevor Honychurch picked up Stratford Avenue and New Town
Ron Cockings became the new councillor for Stratford Guild and Hathaway
Joyce Taylor was elected in Stratford Mount Pleasant
Paul Beaman retained Studley
Lib Dem Michala Piotrowski came within an agonising 5 votes of unseating Susan Main in Wellesbourne, which is in Stratford upon Avon district council, but not in the parliamentary constituency.

This is a superb result on a night where, in many places, the Tories were counting up their trophies.

Well done to all those who made it happen!

Delighted to be elected Chair of Lib-Dem Parliamentary Candidates Association

I was delighted last night (Tuesday) to be elected as Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidates Association, to serve two years from 2008 to the end of 2009. The PCA represents Liberal Democrat candidates across the UK’s 660 Westminster parliamentary constituencies, as well as candidates for the Scottish, Welsh and European parliaments.

This is a great honour and a privilege, and I intend to serve with verve and diligence. I am constantly amazed by the talent, integrity and determination of up and coming Lib-Dem candidates. The party has added new parliamentarians at every election for the last fifteen years, and I am confident that this will increase at the next election.

Mind you, this role will not be taking any time away from my efforts in Stratford upon Avon. My aim is to win here at the next general election and serve the constituency with the passion and hard work.

The last twelve months have been my best ever — I was selected as Stratford upon Avon’s parliamentary candidate in February, completed a half-marathon in April, became West Midlands fencing captain in June, reached the UK top 50 for fencing in September, was honoured in a major health service award in November, reached the UK top 40 in December, and have been honoured again with this tremendous vote of confidence in January. I have to say I’m looking forward to what the rest of 2008 brings.

Stop this madness!

Stop this madness!

Saying no to felling historic trees in Stratford One of my earliest memories of Stratford upon Avon is the beautiful willows along the banks of the river. But now someone wants to chop them down. The Bancroft trees, along with the footbridge, face the axe as part of the ‘World Heritage’ proposals for Stratford upon Avon, and the Tory-run council is planning to  approve the plans this week. What madness is this? The trees are part of the historic character of Stratford, which makes its waterfront a world attraction. True, some of the trees have become diseased. Most have not — but the spurious argument being put forward is that the only way to protect the remaining trees is by chopping them down. Protect… by chopping them down… ?  Willow trees take hundreds of years to grow. The real reason for the proposed cull  is to ‘create vistas’ as part of Stratford’s regeneration. As everyone knows, I am a strong supporter, and have been since my days at West Midlands Arts, of the plans for the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. But these plans do not involve, or require, the destruction of trees. Nor is Stratford an urban-deprived council estate in need of drastic surgery to make it habitable again. More

Why I did the Shakespeare half-marathon

Why I did the Shakespeare half-marathon

Start of the half-marathon First lap of the Shakespeare half-marathon At the finish of the Shakespeare half-marathon
I need to begin by saying I’m not in any sense a runner. Until two weeks ago, the furthest I had willingly run in my life was three miles. I’m fairly sure they tried to make me run further than that when I was at school. But I’m also fairly sure that I walked as much of any cross-country run as I could get away with.
Three weeks ago, while I was recovering from the Birmingham International Fencing Competition, one of the Stratford upon Avon Liberal Democrats emailed me to say “you should definitely do the Shakespeare half-marathon”. At any other time I would have definitely agreed with her, and definitely not done anything about it. But I was already conscious that fencing at the club level was demanding less of me than when I started: as I’ve got better at it, I need less energy to win. At the club level that is. In major national competitions, it’s a different game. It was definitely time to start doing something to push my performance up. More

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