Thursday, November 11, 2004

More from the press

One from PA News:

Blair boost for good health in older people (2 November)
Prime Minister Tony Blair was given some exercise tips for later life today as he helped launch a new report claiming older people are now healthier than ever before.
[...]
The Liberal Democrats said that the Government had failed to meet the overwhelming majority of targets it set in the NSF for older people.

Sandra Gidley, spokeswoman for older people, said: "This is damning evidence of the Government's failure to provide for the health and social care needs of Britain's vulnerable elderly.

"It's high time that the Government admit that they have failed to reach their own targets set out in the NSF.

"Action needs to be taken to give older people the rights and equality they deserve - a start would be to include a new single equality body in this month's Queen's Speech."
And a number from This Is Hampshire:

Main Post Offices now face the axe (3 November)
Just when they thought it couldn't get much worse. Days before a massive consultation on the future of 12 of the region's urban post offices ends, those fighting to keep vital community services have been rocked by yet another bombshell.
[...]
In Romsey the branch is in Church Street. MP Sandra Gidley said she would fight the closures,

She added: "Romsey Post Office provides an invaluable service to the community and must stay open. If it does close then people will have further to travel and will not have local access to services such as renewal of car tax and passport checking.

"It is pie in the sky to believe that supermarkets and other large concerns will want to take over these businesses when all the evidence is to the contrary."
Web-raging Yanks! (5 November)
It seemed an innocuous comment about an election several thousand miles away.

However, Romsey MP Sandra Gidley has enraged Americans with her Internet statements about George Bush's re-election to the White House.

The Lib Dem spokesman for older people and women wrote on her website diary: "I find it totally incomprehensible that a thinking public should re-elect him at all."

In a matter of hours she was bombarded with more than 50 messages, many from furious Americans. Ranging from the abusive to the witty to the plain-speaking, the e-mails flooded in from all parts of the States.

Less than 12 hours later backbencher Mrs Gidley posted another diary entry on her website, called a 'blog'.

It read: "I was somewhat taken aback by the comments on the previous post - hey guys, it was only an opinion! Am new to this blog lark but I realised that I had effectively been 'flamed'.

"What I will concede is that I was not entirely surprised by the result but was surprised by the strength of the popular vote, and being a Brit I struggle to understand it."

The website, www.romseyred-head.blogspot.com [sic], was only launched two months ago by former chemist Mrs Gidley.

Every day she uploads diary extracts onto the Internet, ranging from her opinions on the gambling bill to her thoughts about Saturday night pop competition, X-Factor.

The election 'post', added at 11.43am on Wednesday, said: "I have made it clear that I wanted Kerry to win but I was never sure that he could actually pull it off.

"I always thought that it would be very close but what has really depressed me is the huge increase in the popular vote for Bush. I find it totally incomprehensible that a thinking public should re-elect him at all. Can't see that there's much sport to be had in Prime Minister's Question Time on the back of this."

A spokesman from the London-based American Embassy told the Daily Echo: "Many Americans may have taken offence but I would be very surprised if, upon reading the subsequent comment, they would think anything other than that she is a thinking person interested in engagement and discussion.

"I take a very American perspective on this whole thing. While my countrymen may be angered or may disagree with the opinion, it's our belief that every individual should have freedom to say what they think."
Church to be replaced (5 November)
CHURCH officials have announced a GBP 1million scheme to replace North Baddesley's All Saints' Church - half a century after the original one was built.
[...]
The first vicar of All Saints' Church, the Revd Ian Hamel-Cooke is due too attend the anniversary service along with Romsey's MP Sandra Gidley, borough mayor Neville Whiteley and Romsey's mayor Dorothy Baverstock.
Romsey post office not on closure list (5 November)
Royal Mail officials have denied Romsey Post Office is heading for the chop in a nationwide review of high street branches.

The Post Office's chief executive David Mills confirmed he is writing to every MP in the country to reassure them about the long-term future of branches such as Romsey's Church Street branch.
[...]
Issuing a 'hands off Romsey Post Office warning, the town's MP, Sandra Gidley, said: "Romsey Post Office provides an invaluable service to the community and must stay open. If it does close then people will have further to travel and will not have local access to services such as renewal of car tax and passport checking.

"The problem is that Royal Mail have not thought through how to run a business in the 21st century and have not adapted to the changing lifestyles of the public. At the head of the business there is a narrow mindset which has complained about the erosion of existing services but has not actively embraced new ideas or devised ways of attracting new business."

She added: "It is pie in the sky to believe that supermarkets and other large concerns will want to take over these businesses when all the evidence is to the contrary.

"The closure of rural post offices under the Conservatives was a scandal but the further closures under Labour are nothing less than a national disaster."
MPs' costs add up to GBP 170,000 each (5 November)
The area's [Andover's] three sitting MPs - Sir George Young, Michael Ancram and Sandra Gidley - cost their constituents around £170,000 each for the year ending March 2004.

The financial cost of the three MPs, includes how much they claimed in allowances for the year ending in March.

All MPs representing seats outside central London are entitled to claim for additional allowances to cover the costs of staying overnight away from their main home - for the purpose of performing parliamentary duties up to a maximum of GBP 20,333.

Messrs [sic!] Young, Ancram and Gidley claimed £16,757, £14,428 and £19,719 respectively.

Incidental expenses paid to meet the cost of accommodation and equipment for surgeries, other office services and certain travel and communications can be claimed up to a maximum of £18,799.

Messrs Young, Ancram and Gidley claimed £18,799, £16,111 and £18,739 respectively.

The biggest item in the MPs expenses is the cost of paid staff.

The maximum amounts available depends on where the MPs constituency is.

On this account Sir George claimed £68,023, Mr Ancram £67,916 and Mrs Gidley £67,891.

Travel expenses ranged from £6,486 for Mrs Gidley to £6,909 for Sir George up to £8,874 for Mr Ancram. MPs living furthest from London tend to have the highest travel costs.
Improvements to A36 in New Year(5 November)
New Year congestion is on its way to Wellow as highway bosses continue their efforts to fit more safety measures on to the accident-wracked A36 and carry out resurfacing at the same time. The trunk road linking Southampton with much of the West and Wales has already been the scene of considerable safety work including the installation of speed cameras and the accident rate has dropped dramatically.
[...]
Romsey MP Sandra Gidley has also been in contact with the Highways Agency and said it was disappointing that the work had not been completed, as planned, by the end of this year. But she added: "It would have been stupid to disrupt traffic to put the safety measures in and then disrupt it again for the resurfacing.

"I have asked the Highways Agency to do all it can to minimise disruption to residents and businesses and I have asked for additional signing, with flashing lights, on the approach to the village from the west."
Hospitals cash crisis talks (8 November)
As health bosses struggle to make GBP 15m of savings, MPs grill NHS trust chief executive to demand answers about the financial crisis.

Two Hampshire MPs are today demanding answers from Southampton health bosses as to why they have sunk so far into the red.
[...]
Former health minister John Denham blamed bad management, and demanded a meeting with health bosses.

He wanted to know why the trust was so severely in debt, despite receiving record funding from the government.
[...]
Taking a different view on the matter, however, Liberal Democrat MPs Mark Oaten and Sandra Gidley both firmly believed the financial crisis faced by both Southampton's NHS trust and Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare Trust, was down to a gap between healthcare funding in the north and that in the south.

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