A huge Tory leaflet full of irresponsible tosh was distributed through letter boxes yesterday. It is the most misleading collection of claims and statements I have ever seen - promoting the candidacy of Annie the hapless Tory Candidate in the District council election.
Annie suggests that she and her party provided the funds for the new Arts and Science buildings at the school. This is a really staggering misrepresentation. Education money comes straight from central government, The County Council follows ministry orders and simply acts as the bookkeeper. If there has been any political pressure brought to bear by Annie and her friends to divert money to the local school, that would be a serious matter indeed.
Then comes a really big porkie. Annie says that the Conservative County Council has funded a 1m Youth Centre in Chippy. Not true. 800,000 has come directly from a Central Government Fund and owes absolutely nothing to Oxfordshire Tories. The balance has been raided from a fund set up with covenant money from the sale of land at Parker Knoll which Councillor Grantham successfully argued "belonged" to the town
Back to the leaflet.....Annie seeks to give the impression that she has been actively involved in fighting for HGV restrictions, a minor injuries unit, a better ambulance service, getting a grant for the Town Hall, and providing a MUGA. The public need to know that these campaigns have all been running for years and up to this point Annie has not shown the slightest interest in any of these causes. She has not lifted a finger to help. Her attempts to claim some kind of association with these projects is a direct insult to the people who actually did all the work. It is pathetic.
Annie describes the HGV "lorry route" as a Conservative project. What on earth is she talking about. Has she not heard of the A44 Group She claims she will work with a team at the District Council on the problem of heavy traffic. She says her previous experience on highways projects and her marketing and business management skills will help her do this Only one problem Annie. Traffic is the responsibility of the County Council. Absolutely nothing to do with the District!!
Annie says that her friends at the District Council "awarded 98,000 towards renovating the Town Hall and this paved the way for matched funding from other organisations". This is complete tosh. The District Council never loosened their purse strings until the the Town Council was able to show in a detailed submission worked through in detail by Councillor Greenwell that it had secured funding from other sources first - including a huge contribution from the Town Council reserves. The District Council then kindly matched the funding already secured.
Annie now claims to be a big wheel in the Friends of the Town Hall (FROTH) and is even shown on the leaflet showing Dave Cameron a FROTH shopping bag. No word that FROTH was the sole brainchild of her opponent in this election GINA BURROWS who has worked her socks off to make it successful. I am not aware that Annie has done much fund raising to date. Promises. Promises.
Annie is also shown in a photograph "taken by the new hospital discussing the future possibilities" of an MIU with Hilary Biles. I hope Hilary gave it to her straight about the possibilities of an MIU. As Hilary knows and we all know the PCT have refused to contemplate an MIU in Chippy. We will be extremely lucky to get a First Aid set up. It seems highly irresponsible that Annie should be suggesting to the Chippy electorate that she has any chance of influencing that situation.
Another photograph seems to imply that Annie has had something to do with the new MUGA - which she is shown "checking out". If I was either Councillor Coles or Councillor Graves, I would be more than a little put out. Both councillors attended two years of soul-destroying meetings with council officials and suppliers to fight for the new playground and MUGA and achieved a fantastic result. It is cheap - to say the least - to have someone who has never been remotely involved - come along at election time and try and claim credit by association.
Annie also says she is going to "encourage" CCTV for the town and mentions she has already obtained a grant of 78,000. Is she delusional What grant This town has been asked for to pay 15.000 a year (10% of our total precept) for four cameras in the town centre (Witney has 40). The Town Council have unanimously rejected the deal so how does Annie propose to make it happen. Looks as if she plans to declare war on the Town Council's decision. She says that CCTV would eliminate crime, drugs and alcohol abuse. Annie is bonkers if she really believes that. It will simply cut down on the number of police on duty. She says she is a member of the Neighbourhood Action Group. They have never done anything useful but at least she should know better than to make these absurd claims.
My contacts in the policy-making echelons of the Tory Party tell me that a leaflet for a candidate is only ever distributed on the eve of polling day if the party is rattled and worried about a candidate's prospects. So it looks as if the powers that be in Witney are well and truly worried about Annie's chances. Mind you that's not really surprising. Word is coming back from Tory canvassers that while Dave is a shoe-in even loyal true blue party members are drawing the line at supporting Annie. The mystery deepens about how exactly she got chosen....Hilary blames it all on Bob Hayward. Bob says it was the only way to avoid Oliver Herrin being selected. A fellow town councillor (Tory) tells me that Annie offered because nobody else was prepared to have a go. Cicely tells me she volunteered to stand herself but the present committee does not regard her as posh enough so chose Posh Annie instead. What a way to carry on in the selection of a prospective District Council candidate...it just doesn't sound serious. But then Barry Norton only wants somebody as voting fodder to make up the numbers. The last thing he wants is somebody who will fight for Chipping Norton's interests.
Its good that Annie is a volunteer at the Theatre and supports the Jazz Festival but she should stay away from politics. Its way above her head - as this leaflet shows. Her candidacy and this leaflet is an affront to the people of this town.
If you haven't voted yet you owe it to the town to get down to the Town Hall and cast your vote for ex-Mayor Gina Burrows - an experienced, knowledgeable and conscientious member of the Town Council. Its the only way to ensure that we don't get represented in Witney by somebody like Annie who is prepared to put her name to a leaflet which is no more than a distorted and misleading collection of irresponsible tosh.