December 2008

Sun, 14 Dec
This was the day that Seb Green thought he'd never see. But, after walking around Britain for nearly a year, the young man strode back into his home town of Weymouth, with this faithful collie Flash beside him. I remember meeting Seb about a year ago when he first proposed this tough challenge. Despite his age, I saw something in the young teenager which prompted me to support this effort. I just had a feeling, let's call it that, that he'd succeed.
I watched him disappear from sight some 10 months ago and I saw him back this morning. He looked the same, fitter certainly, but it was a very much more grown up young man who marched across the finish line, looking almost baffled by all the attention and fuss.
I can't mention this story without telling you about Mary Harper. She runs the DOE office for the region and has mentored Seb from start to finish. Mary's put her life on hold to support Seb, who she's cajoled, encouraged and loved as he marched around Britain. Her selflessness is exemplary and it has been a real pleasure getting to know her. I'm sure Mary and Seb will be friends for life and I know Mary will be watching his progress with interest.
Seb's not sure exactly what he wants to do, but the Royal Marines is one option. He'd certainly find the selection less challenging than perhaps his colleagues, who won't have the advantage of a 3,500 mile hike under their belts.
But, whatever Seb does, he will make a success of it. When I spent two days walking with him along the Cornish coast, I saw a resolve which will guide him well. Good luck,Seb, for the future, and welcome home.

Fri, 12 Dec
I was invited by the Rifles to attend a briefing in Dorchester. Several of the VIPs were absent, as Prince Charles had decided to visit Thomas Hardye School, but that didn't detract in any way from the event itself. I was fascinated to hear what the Rifles are up to and with 18 months of operations in Afghanistan ahead of them they're all pretty busy. What struck me most is how everyone has closed ranks to form a safety net of support for all the families left behind. A soldier in the field operates far better if he knows that all is well back home.
We should be so proud of our armed services. They've been at war for some time now; the nation hasn't.
And, then, later in the evening, I joined another crowd of professionals in the rain and wind in Weymouth. I'm taking about the police force, of course. Here, too, I was struck by everyone's professionalism. They just got on with the job, ensuring that you and I can rest easy in our beds while the young men and women of Dorset police are out catching criminals.
It was a surprisingly quiet night, but that was due to the weather more than anything else. Although there's no doubt the credit crunch has dampened spending.
Don't forget this dedicated force as you cosy up round your tree this Christmas. They do a superb job, sometimes in the face of great danger and stress. We owe them all a big thank you.

Thu, 11 Dec
I enjoyed a very good lunch with two prominent businessmen at Southwell Business Park on Portland. Business is the key to jobs and prosperity for our region and I was keen to find out just what we, a Conservative government, could do to help entrepreneurs like the two I was lunching with.
Labour believes in the State and the public sector and pours billions of pounds of our money into what I describe as the 'unproductive sector'. History has proved again and again that this is madness and I shall be fighting hard if elected to release business from the stranglehold of regulation, which is crippling this country.
What a place Southwell Park is. And now the hotel's open, the enterprise has come alive. And the views up there are quite stunning. We are lucky to live where we do.

Wed, 10 Dec
The morning began at the site of the proposed new recycling centre at Swanage. About 30 local residents, local politicians and the county council brief holder Hilary Cox attended, The intention of the meeting was for residents to hand over a petition calling for the retention of a centre in the town.
It was meant to be non-political (an expression increasingly used by Labour and the Lib Dems) but that was evidently not the case when a prominent Lib Dem began attacking the county council in a speech to the assembled crowd shortly after the petition had been handed over in front of the Press.
By this time I'd had enough and stepped in to deliver my own impromptu performance in an affort to get some balance and some truth into the affair. There were some mutterings from the odd Lib Dem which was to be expected from an organisation which hijacks just about any organisation it can under the guise that everything they do is 'non political'. But when the elections come round, you suddenly find the Lib Dems have saved the world! Rather like someone else we know.
Anyway, I and others have been working with both councils to ensure this recycling plant remains in Swanage, where it is needed. And I am optimistic that this will happen. Then, it was back to the Conservative Club to meet more members and enjoy a delicious sandwich, courtesy of the club.

Tue, 9 Dec
The Swanage Conservative Club is always a hub of activity and fun. And today I popped in there to meet as many people as I could. I bumped into the town's mayor, enjoying lunch with members of his Stroke charity. And of course there were the familiar faces, most of whom come to the club for a beer, a chat and friendship. The club has a wonderful atmosphere and is still buzzing from David Cameron's recent visit. I'm pretty certain that a Conservative leader has not visited for many a year, and Mr Cameron's was much appreciated.

Mon, 8 Dec
We held a coffee evening in the Church Hall at Littlemoor. The purpose was to meet residents who wanted to meet me and my colleague Andy Cooke, who's the county council candidate for this area. I have to be honest, not many people came, but it was a real pleasure meeting those who did. One gentleman had a query over bicyclists using the pavement. I told him I'd ask the police what their policy was and come back to him.
And a lady from another part of Weymouth had come with the sole intention of meeting me after I'd tried to help save a day care centre used by her brother. I was very touched by her kindness and effort.

Fri, 5 Dec
Today, I returned to see how the relief road was progressing. I had a very interesting and informative brief by a section engineer. He was surprisingly young, but at 25 had already been involved in a number of huge projects, not least the Channel Tunnel.
I also met the works manager, Richard Thorington, who, as you can imagine, is a busy guy. He's optimistic that the road will certainly be ready for the Olympics and is doing all he can to ensure the project runs smoothly.

Wed, 3 Dec
Peter and Janet Blakey's post office in Broadwey, Weymouth, was closed on 3 November by Labour. A few days later it reopened, completely refitted and now selling local farm produce. It was a bold and courageous move by the couple, who were hurting after months of waiting and the accompanying uncertainty.
Today, the couple organised a business fair in the Memorial Hall just up the road from their shop. Several local businesses attended and many residents dropped in during the three-hour event. I spoke with several retailers and they were full of praise for Peter and Janet. Times are hard, but retailers like Peter and Janet are working even harder to combat the down-turn. One can only admire their determination and sheer pluck.