David Burbage’s weblog

Politics in the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead

  • About David Burbage

    David Burbage MBE was Leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council from 2007-2016. This blog : Promoted by Geoff Hill on behalf of David Burbage and all other Windsor and Maidenhead Conservative candidates, all of 2 Castle End Farm, Ruscombe, Berkshire RG10 9XQ
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Archive for February, 2009

Business Watch in H&F

Posted by davidburbage on February 28, 2009

This is me visiting Shepherd’s Bush Market in Hammersmith & Fulham, with their Business Watch programme linking in local businesses with the Council and the local police. A very well organised programme with enthusiastic market organisers, the Conservative Council and police working together. The large increase in local policing makes visibility and safer streets a reality.

I think the sergeant was saying that robberies have fallen from 55 in January 08 to just 5 in January 09.

db-gs-bd

I’m standing with Cllr Greg Smith and Cllr Belinda Donovan .

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Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

A very busy week

Posted by davidburbage on February 27, 2009

Monday was our pre-budget Group meeting with plenty on the agenda, and very well attended.

Tuesday was Budget Council. At 1.9% (the Libdems shamefully abstained) our Council Tax is set to be the lowest outside London in the entire country.

The Taxpayers Alliance came to visit and witnessed the passing of our motion that endorsed their, and George Osborne’s call for greater transparency in the public finances. The prop in the picture is the list of all of the Council’s invoices over £5,000 for January (and we are going to run the report down to the £500 level when it goes live).

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This photo is with Mark Wallace and Cllr Liam Maxwell

Wednesday we were lucky enough to be invited to talk to Shadow Chancellor George Osborne about our motion and how we’re likely to implement it.

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Adam Afriyie and Theresa May joined us to inspect the long invoices list earlier.

Thursday was Cabinet where we passed the decision to pilot Recyclebank was passed and we hope to get that all going later in the spring.

And today I visited Hammersmith and Fulham and saw how their Business Watch operated in Shepherd’s Bush Market, and also discussed how they continue to cut their council tax by 3% a year!

Posted in Conservative success, Council, Tax | Leave a Comment »

High Court – “May” I make a contribution

Posted by davidburbage on February 17, 2009

We lost our case at the High Court today to overturn the Fire Authority’s decision to withdraw night cover from Windsor Fire Station.

It’s frustrating on many levels.

Firstly, we don’t get to decide as a Council, despite being a top tier authority, what level of fire service our residents can pay for. At the moment, even if Windsor residents wanted to pay sufficient monies to operate a 24 hour fire station, they aren’t allowed to make that choice. They are dependent on councillors from other authorities who have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by denying Windsor its existing facilities.

Secondly, the Government won’t let the Fire Authority (even if it wished) raise the precept to a level sufficient to fund night cover at Windsor. Now, the amount is extremely small beer per person, but for some reason a magic 5% number is centrally imposed to prevent an authority deciding on an appropriate level of service in the 21st Century based on a 20th century precept level.

Thirdly, it is not possible for the Fire Authority to levy different levels in different areas for different levels of service.

Fourthly, the Government decides the criteria by which an authority must deploy its resources.

Fifthly, population records (which feed into the computer models that drive the previous point) are woefully out of date and apparently show Slough’s population decreasing…. In fact, there are plenty of unregistered housing in multiple occupation presenting a great fire risk that go completely ignored by the models.

In terms of the court case itself, the legal arguments were detailed and hard to pick apart, but the basis of the challenge was that Windsor’s specific risks hadn’t been explored by the Fire Authority and hadn’t been put to consultation. The Authority said that they followed procedures and that we were complicit in doing that because we’d been there all along, so why weren’t we saying what we are saying now, then? Of course, we did say those things needed proper consideration at the Fire authority meeting but to no avail.

It is, as the BBC reporter pointedly remarked, a pretty sad day when the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service reduces their fire and rescue service to Royal Windsor.

We still want to restore the service back to 24 hours.

PS: to explain the title. I contributed one word to proceedings today, clarifying for the defence (who were referring to me being there) who pointed out I was now the Leader of the Council, since July 2007?

“May” I said. My High Court debut.

Posted in Uncategorized, Windsor | Leave a Comment »

Just say no to dumbing down

Posted by davidburbage on February 11, 2009

My instinctive reaction to the ever-rising grades we hear from schools – and universities now – is that there is not an increase in brain power of our children, rather there is a confluence of more teaching-to-test, more coursework, lower pass marks and the rest of it.

The point of examinations is not really to reward the student, but to grade by ability based on the subject matter at hand so that the “qualification” (an important word) means what it says. Yes, we need to recognise hard work and yes, we need to ensure we don’t just fail people who are actually pretty good, but if 90% of the country’s students who took the exam are better than you at chemistry, we (and employers and higher education establishments) should be told.

There are four opportunities to get this right – by choosing the syllabus wisely (all the time in the world), by students choosing the right level of exam course correctly (lots of time), by marking accurately (apparently, increasingly difficult) and by grading accurately and properly (easy to say but requiring a political steer).

I can never work out why there is not a simple system that is consistent across the years, where the top 10% get an A, the next 15% a B,C,D,E and so on, the bottom 30% an F or a U. How hard can that be? If that’s not acceptable (as you will get the story that there are better ‘years’ than others but surely across thousands of students, that is a nonsense argument) – so if we published the percentages achieved, then focus could be moved onto the results achieved, the examination itself and the syllabus / teaching but at the moment that’s just not feasible.

John Smith –

Chemistry, 65%, 91st percentile result, grade A
English Literature, 67%, 69th percentile result, grade C

and so on. We have all this data, so why don’t we use it sensibly for the benefit of all concerned?

The big thing with statistics is that to be useful, they have to be consistent. But in education, they aren’t because of the obfuscation of moveable grades (there is a big irony there).

What inspired this post :

Score 18%, pass a science exam

It must be ‘too hard’ then, says examiner

edit : more Labour education nonsense; why they don’t do French any more

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7867323.stm

Posted in Education | Leave a Comment »

Wot proper banking was

Posted by davidburbage on February 11, 2009

Read this account from select committee chairman John McFall

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7861556.stm 

Also see at the end of that piece, the Union Jack is flying at our Town Hall, and at the Guildhall….

Posted in Conservative success | Leave a Comment »

Barclays Bonuses

Posted by davidburbage on February 9, 2009

Surely if Barclays are making real money when all around them, other banks are losing money (and we’re having to pay for it big time) – why should we complain if they get a bonus from their own stock value and profits?!

If I was running Barclays I’d be proud not to be taking the Govt handout.

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Fountains not going

Posted by davidburbage on February 8, 2009

A small bee in my bonnet that has been buzzing over the past few months is fountains in the Royal Borough.

There was a letter to the Express (or was it the Observer) a few months back about a fountain in Windsor – why wasn’t it working? Investigation revealed it wasn’t a decorative fountain, but a water (drinking) fountain which attracted the wrong kind of liquids late at night.

This week, I discovered another fountain, also not operational, in Grenfell Park. This is it

grenfell-fountain

The words were also hard to read directly, but it appears to be a donation / gift.

Am on the case.

Posted in Maidenhead | Leave a Comment »