Icy Roads and Channel Tunnel Trains

People often say that when we have a bit of snow everything grinds to a halt. Today is no exception. We've heard of several problems on the Channel Tunnel, with 1000s of passengers stranded on trains. Why can't we get it right? Countries with far worse weather conditions seem to cope, so why can't we?
The Council seemed to forget that the bad weather was on the way, and there was little evidence of gritting of the main roads, never mind any minor routes!
The vast majority of drivers were being very cautious, but there were numerous accidents throughout the day. What was most disappointing was to witness the mindless idiots who thought it would be clever to build an enormous snowball and then leave it in the middle of Mauldeth Road West just over the brow of the bridge so that drivers could not see it until after they had driven over the bridge heading towards Withington from Chorlton.
I stopped the car and got out and along with a pedestrian we managed to move the snowball (it needed 2 people to move it) on to the safety of the pavement. The mindless kids who had left the snowball in the road seemed to think that it was very funny, even though their stupidity could have caused a fatal accident.

Mark Hughes Sacked!

This afternoon I went to watch City against Sunderland. Having gone into a quick 2-0 lead, we should have won the game easily. Of course anyone who knows City will know that we never do it the easy way. We eventually won 4-3, although it should probably have been about 5-1.

On the way back from the match we heard that Hughes had been sacked and that the club would be making a statement later on in the evening.
Mancini has been appointed by the club and there is plenty of speculation that he had already been offered the job some time ago. That's football I'm afraid, but given that Hughes has got us to the semi-final of the League Cup (for the first time since 1981), we're 6th in the league, and if we win the next 2 games we'll have the target points that were agreed for the end of 2009, it is very harsh.
Personally I would have liked to see Mark Hughes get more time, but the new owners of the club probably think that we should be doing better than we are. One thing is for sure, the weight of expectation is going to be very high for Mancini!

Christmas Coffee Morning at Chorlton Methodist Church

This morning I went along to another Christmas coffee morning, this time at my own church, Chorlton Methodist Church on Manchester Road. I think that this is the final one before Christmas!

Chorlton Meadows/Hardy Farm Planning Committee

This afternoon the planning application for the all-weather pitch, new main pitch and floodlights at Chorlton Meadows/Hardy Farm came to the Planning Committee. Lots of residents turned up to show their opposition to the development, even though we were expecting it to be deferred for a site visit.

At the beginning of the meeting the Chair, Cllr Tony Burns, who is supposed to be neutral as Chair of the Planning Committee, said that after representations from Chorlton's Labour councillors and Labour Candidates, the committee had decided to defer the application for a site visit. So much for political neutrality on the Planning Committee. I, along with Lib Dem councillors, Norman Lewis, Tony Bethell, Bernie Ryan and Paul Ankers, had requested a site visit weeks ago, but unsurprisingly Labour's Cllr Burns didn't see fit to mention that!

The important point is that a site visit has been agreed, which will take place in January. We now have to persuade the councillors on the committee that this application is not acceptable. We have a strong case, but that doesn't mean that the plans will necessarily be rejected. I hope that by visiting the site the committee will recognise the negative impact that the development would bring.

If you want to know more about the campaign to stop the development click here. There's also a facebook group decidated to the campaign with over 6,000 members. You can access it here.

Brookburn School Christmas Card Competition

This morning I visited Brookburn School to hand out certificates for my Christmas Card competition. It was a very busy morning because there were about 100 entries from Brookburn, the most from any school this year. I really appreciate the local schools' enthusiasm for the competition every year.

Burnage Walk-in Centre Petition

Following on from my question to the Prime Minister last week, this evening I submitted a copy of the petition against the closure of the walk-in centre to the House of Commons. We need to keep up the pressure to try to persuade the PCT to change their mind and keep it open.

Party People and Binge Drinking

This afternoon I was over at 4 Millbank to record this week's edition of Party People, the ITV late night politics chat. This week the discussion turned to binge drinking and the forthcoming health select committee report that is expected to recommend a minimum unit price for alcohol. This is a pretty blunt instrument, but if it were to be introduced it would need to be as part of a wider attempt at tackling binge drinking. Supermarkets selling alcohol at a loss to encourage more people to go to the supermarket  should not be allowed.  We need to look at the licensing laws which have encouraged later hours in most bars, as well as tackling street drinking. And personally I would like to see changes to the taxation system to encourage a move away from stronger beers and wines, and giving an incentive to brewers to shift the emphasise from strength to taste. Yesterday I was told of a beer available at a beer festival that was 40% by volume, the same strength as most spirits, 10 times stronger than most beers. This is simply ridiculous, and I'm sure that it can't taste too good either!

UKPFC v Parliamentary Police

This morning the Parliamentary Football team had its annual match against the police who look after Parliament. We've had 3 good games against them in my time in Parliament. The first game we won, and then last year was a close 2-2 draw.

The game this morning was very one-sided, with our team missing a host of chances, and ending up winning 1-0. I scored the winning goal from the penalty spot, after being hacked down by Colin (a big City fan in his City goalie shirt), the police keeper. We therefore retain the "golden boot"!

Trailblazers and the Inclusion Now Campaign

I am a member of the All Party Group on Muscular Dystrophy and so after Party People I went to the Trailblazers event in Parliament.

The Trailblazers network was launched in July 2008 and is the first ever national network of young people with muscle disease. Trailblazers, which is part of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, is a gateway for young people to learn new skills and help themselves and others to make a difference in their communities, as well as being a fantastic opportunity to engage young disabled people in politics.
Trailblazers has already launched two reports on accessibility for young disabled people in the UK. These were based on the experiences of the members of the network when using public transport and studying at university. It is shocking how little regard is taken towards accessibility at many Universities, and there remains a lot to be done to improve accessibility on our transport network.

York Nativity Play at Emmanuel Church

This evening I attended the York Nativity Play at Emmanuel Church, which is part of the Mystery Play Cycle. It was incredibly well done, with a superb cameo role by King Herod.

It was also great to see Tony Lola involved in the performance after he and his family were allowed to stay this year, following a long battle with the Home Office to be allowed to stay in the UK.

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