I was born in Tavistock 61 years ago and am a third generation resident. I was educated in Tavistock before going to get a degree in biochemistry at Birmingham University. Having taught science, spent a year in educational administration in Canada and served a six-year commission in the Royal Air Force, I returned to Tavistock permanently in 1982. I now work from home, mostly as a freelance computer consultant, but spend most of my time on my duties as a Councillor.
I was elected to the Town Council in 1987 and to West Devon Borough Council in 1991. I have chaired both of the Town Council’s standing committees and was Mayor of Tavistock in 1999-2000. I stood down from the Town Council in 2003. I have been vice-chairman of West Devon’s Policy & Resources Committee (twice) and the County/West Devon Partnership Committee until it was disestablished, since when I have served on its replacement committee (HATOC).
For the last eight years I have been chairman of West Devon’s Planning Committee. I also sit on the Board of West Devon Homes, which delivers West Devon’s housing service and I am a Governor of St Rumon’s School and was recently appointed a Trustee of the Morwellham Trust.
Why me?I offer three reasons for considering me for one of the three votes you have on 3rd May: my record, my independence and my reputation for sticking my neck out.
My record shows that, during 8 years as Planning Chairman, the Borough Council has levered in nearly £1.4 million of extra money (called Planning Delivery Grant) from government because we have consistently met our targets. This would otherwise have made a dent in your pockets from Council Tax. We have also made a significant dent, through the planning system, in the shortage of affordable homes, including Godolfin House. My work with West Devon Homes also links to this.
My independence from a political party ticket brings me flak from both Conservatives (whom I broadly agree with on many issues) and Lib Dems (whom I broadly disagree with about most things). I do not object to Political councillors, but I do not think they ought to have overall control of local councils. My experience of four terms has shown that councillors work together better as a team then they do when a single party has control and everyone else feels obliged to "oppose".
My habit of sticking my neck out by telling people "how it is" rather than what they want to hear - especially over contentious planning issues - has not won me any points for being "cuddly". You either appreciate this or are put off by it; but at least you know that I give straight answers. That's why you will find all my election material since 1995 on the World Wide Web.
The downside of being independent, apart from having to do all my own legwork, is that I cannot tell you everything in a leaflet, so I use the "web" to deal with things in more detail. It is up to you whether you want to wade through my rants, but you cannot say I have not told you where I stand on relevant issues.
Some of you may have seen a television program on Channel 4 on 8th March. It was a bit simplistic, but the message was clear: there is a lot of uncertainty about the causes of the Climate Change that all the media are winding us up about. My early training in the natural sciences tells me that, whenever anyone tells you that the "consensus amongst scientists is ..." implying that therefore it must be true, he is speaking as a politician, even if he appears to be a scientist. That does not necessarily make him wrong, but science and politics generally make poor bedfellows. I'll expand on this through my website: there isn't room here.
I don't buy the notion of CO2 as a guilty party - it is the very basis of life: without it, there would be no plants. Nor do I buy the notion that Global Warming is an impending disaster: it wasn't during the Middle Ages, why should it be now? So I don't buy into "reducing carbon footprint" as a reason for taxing energy use - that is a different issue.
What I do see is a lot of new tax streams if we let politicians get away with the Great Climate Change Swindle. I have already made myself a bit unpopular in Council with this line, but it now looks as though I am probably right, after all. So was Galileo, despite the "consensus" of his time.
All of the political parties are now signed up to this crazy notion and committed to bullying us all into submission to it. Whilst there may well be other reasons for being economical in our use of energy, Climate Change is not one - and I do not like being conned. I fear that you cannot rely on party political councillors not to toe their party line.
If you feel that you want at least one Borough Councillor who does not mind taking an unfashionable - and in some quarters highly unpopular - stand, then you may care to use one of your three votes to put me back at West Devon for another four years - if the council survives that long ... now read on ...
If this sounds like a re-run of something I said four years ago, that's because it is. Government has not given up on "reorganising" your local councils. They did not get their way over Regional Government, so they appear to be trying to undermine existing councils administratively - and very quietly. You will hear very little about it, but the funding arrangements are being changed so that a lot of the money that comes to us from central government will in future go to "partnerships" which will dish it out to individual councils, through "Local Area Agreements" with very little direct accountability to you, the electorate. The only input that your Borough Council is likely to have is a single representative on a Devon-wide semi-quango. The effect of this is likely to be that the councillors you elect will have very little say in how your money is spent, or even whether it is spent within West Devon.
I have to tell you that I do not know whether it will be possible to work around this to maintain the kind of accountability that I think an elected councillor ought to have. The best I can do is to tell you how I see the future - rather darkly - and to invite you, if you want the sort of councillor who tells you the truth as he sees it, rather than trying to tell you what he thinks you want to hear, to make that clear by putting a cross against my name on your ballot paper on 3rd May.