Sir Bob Russell http://bobrussell.org.uk/en/ 2014-06-04T08:48:00Z Sir Bob Russell info@bobrussell.org.uk All updates from Sir Bob Russell http://bobrussell.org.uk/favicon.ico http://bobrussell.org.uk/images/feed-logo.png MP's all-night vigil at Commons 2014-06-04T08:48:00Z http://bobrussell.org.uk/en/article/2014/844316/mp-s-all-night-vigil-at-commons Showing that he has lost none of his enthusiasm - nor stamina! - Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell has been queuing through the night at the House of Commons in order that he will be first to Table Motions when doors open at 9am ahead of today's State Opening of Parliament. Sir Bob started queuing last evening at 10pm, outside the doors to the Table Office which is a few yards behind the Speaker's Chair.

Showing that he has lost none of his enthusiasm - nor stamina! - Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell has been queuing through the night at the House of Commons in order that he will be first to Table Motions when doors open at 9am ahead of today's State Opening of Parliament.

Sir Bob started queuing last evening at 10pm, outside the doors to the Table Office which is a few yards behind the Speaker's Chair.

This is the last Parliamentary session before the General Election in May next year.

His first Motion congratulates the University of Essex which this September celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first 122 students starting at Wivenhoe Park in 1964. Sir Bob was the University's Publicity Officer for 11 years until he was elected MP in 1997.

The Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon John Bercow MP, graduated from the University of Essex in 1985.

Sir Bob's second Motion praises the East of England Co-operative Society for its continued success, with an increased turnover and paying a dividend to its members. He emphasises that it is independent of the troubled Manchester-based Co-operative Group.

Liberal Democrat Sir Bob was once a volunteer director, elected by members, of the former Colchester & East Essex Co-operative Society which a few years ago merged with the Ipswich & Norwich Co-op to form the East of England Co-operative Society.

A third Motion calls on the Government to exempt Cystic Fibrosis sufferers from having to pay Prescription Charges.

Over the years Sir Bob has on several occasions queued through the night in order to Table the first Motions of the new Parliamentary sessions. As such this has become something of a Parliamentary tradition for him, although he has not done it every year.

During his 17 years as an MP he has regularly registered the highest voting attendance record of any MP in the country, and recent figures show that he has put more questions to the Prime Minister than any other MP from Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk.

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Nick Clegg praises Colchester Lib Dems 2014-05-27T14:43:00Z http://bobrussell.org.uk/en/article/2014/839447/nick-clegg-praises-colchester-lib-dems Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has phoned Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell to congratulate Liberal Democrats in the town for once again emerging as the leading political party locally. Last Thursday Liberal Democrats came first in the town in terms of the Councillors elected - eight out of 13 - and with the most number of votes.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has phoned Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell to congratulate Liberal Democrats in the town for once again emerging as the leading political party locally.

Last Thursday Liberal Democrats came first in the town in terms of the Councillors elected - eight out of 13 - and with the most number of votes.

Sir Bob said: "The Colchester result was one of the best achieved by the Liberal Democrats in the whole country, so it was nice to receive a phone call from Nick Clegg to acknowledge all the hard work which our councillors, candidates and party workers had put in.

"Liberal Democrats have held number one spot in Colchester for 25 years - and Labour, the third party in the town's politics throughout this time, remain firmly rooted way behind the Conservatives who are second."

Over the past four years the Liberal Democrats have held 25 out of the 26 Borough Council seats they have defended, losing just one.

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Sir Bob's Diary 24th May 2014 2014-05-27T14:20:00Z http://bobrussell.org.uk/en/article/2014/839437/sir-bob-s-diary-24th-may-2014 Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell has a Diary published each Saturday in the "East Anglian Daily Times" (usually Page 41 or thereabouts). It is always illustrated with a photograph. You are invited to purchase the EADT to read it in a newspaper format. The following is what appeared last Saturday: The dawn chorus greeted me as I walked home from Colchester's Charter Hall yesterday morning following the counting of votes in Thursday's Borough Council Elections - a day which had started 21 hours earlier at 7am when I took numbers at a polling station.

Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell has a Diary published each Saturday in the "East Anglian Daily Times" (usually Page 41 or thereabouts). It is always illustrated with a photograph. You are invited to purchase the EADT to read it in a newspaper format. The following is what appeared last Saturday:

The dawn chorus greeted me as I walked home from Colchester's Charter Hall yesterday morning following the counting of votes in Thursday's Borough Council Elections - a day which had started 21 hours earlier at 7am when I took numbers at a polling station.

With results across the country showing a surge of support for the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), in my Colchester constituency (comprising 13 wards) I had the satisfaction that my party emerged with the most votes and most seats, and continues to head the Town Hall administration.

Liberal Democrats held nine of the ten seats we were defending, which leaves us with 25 seats on the Council - just one loss since the 2010 General Election. One of the held seats, Stanway, is not in my constituency.

In my constituency, in terms of votes the Conservatives finished second (two seats), Labour third (two seats) and UKIP fourth (no seats) with Highwoods Independents holding their seat in that area of town.

I now pick up from where my published diary ended last Saturday.

At the conclusion of Tuesday's weekly meeting of Lib-Dem MPs there was an election hustings when eight Conservative MPs standing for Chairman of the Defence Select Committee each addressed Lib-Dem MPs. The share out of chairmanships between the parties is that Defence is allocated to the Conservatives, with all MPs entitled to vote the following day.

Later I spoke briefly in a debate about All-Party Parliamentary Groups, of which I am Chairman of two - Island of St Helena, and First Aid.

I was at the Commons before 7am on Wednesday. I tried to be called to put a question to the Prime Minister, but was not successful.

Mr Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and the Border, was elected Chairman of the Defence Committee.

At lunchtime I went to receptions in support of the plastics industry and to promote Deaf Awareness Week; and at teatime one for British food and drink producers, followed by one for the ATL (Association of Teachers and Lecturers).

During the afternoon I attended a meeting of the Speaker's Committee on the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority; I represent Lib-Dem MPs.

After spending the rest of the afternoon and early evening doing casework correspondence, at around 6.45pm came the ceremony for the Prorogation of Parliament. I then returned to Colchester where on the Thursday I spent the day campaigning for the Borough Council and European Elections.

Almost all his own work! A loaf which Sir Bob Russell created in the bakery at the Tesco supermarket at The Hythe, Colchester, during a “farm to fork” tour for local schoolchildren.

Almost all his own work! A loaf which Sir Bob Russell created in the bakery at the Tesco supermarket at The Hythe, Colchester, during a "farm to fork" tour for local schoolchildren.

I had a full diary of events on Friday. First I joined Year 6 pupils from Old Heath Primary School at the Tesco supermarket at The Hythe for a fact-finding "farm to fork" visit which included the bakery where I prepared a loaf for personal consumption later.

At lunch-time I had a meeting, at an hotel outside Colchester, with the Care Quality Commission about issues at Colchester General Hospital. Also present were MPs Bernard Jenkin (Harwich and North Essex) and Priti Patel (Witham).

Later in the afternoon I went to the annual meeting of Colchester Pensioners' Action Group, which I chaired; I was re-elected President. It was held at Cardinal Bourne Hall in Priory Street. In the evening I attended an elections campaign meeting of Colchester Lib-Dems.

I spent Saturday morning and afternoon involved in campaigning. In the evening my wife and I attended a fund-raising "call my bluff" event at Christ Church United Reformed Church in aid of the flower fund.

Elections are the bedrock of our nation's democracy, something which in many parts of the world is denied its citizens.

I find it astonishing that a large number of people choose not to vote; although many non-voters can be found amongst those who complain!

Democracy is important at all levels of our public life, so election campaigning is something which people in all political parties should take seriously. This year is my 44th consecutive year involved in election campaigns in Colchester, although it will be 50 years this October (the 1964 General Election) that I canvassed for the first time at the age of 18. There was then a gap until 1971. This year the campaign has involved both the Borough Council and European Elections.

With the House of Commons not sitting this week I spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings holding advice bureaux for residents - and the three afternoons and evenings, as well as an hour or so after breakfast each day, delivering leaflets or calling on residents.

Polling day was Thursday. I like to have a visible role, so at 7am I was a teller when the polling station opened at St Margaret's Church, Monkwick. In the course of the day I visited various polling stations, and did two more stints totalling three hours as a teller before the polls closed at 10pm.

After a brief refresher break at home, I then went to Charter Hall for the counting of votes for the Borough Council (those for the European election will take place tomorrow).

Sir Bob Russell is the only non-Conservative MP in Essex and Suffolk.

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MP asks for better trains for Colchester commuters 2014-05-13T11:05:00Z http://bobrussell.org.uk/en/article/2014/829030/mp-asks-for-better-trains-for-colchester-commuters Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell spoke in Transport Questions in the House of Commons this morning - at approximately 9.44-9.45am. He said that successive governments had short changed East Anglia - and he called on the Secretary of State to add Greater Anglia to the routes where new rolling stock will be introduced.

Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell spoke in Transport Questions in the House of Commons this morning - at approximately 9.44-9.45am.

He said that successive governments had short changed East Anglia - and he called on the Secretary of State to add Greater Anglia to the routes where new rolling stock will be introduced.

Sir Bob told the Commons that he uses the railway line from Colchester to London Liverpool Street.

The Secretary of State, Sir Patrick McLoughlin, said that he recognised the representations made by Sir Bob on behalf of his constituents but made no commitment.

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Sir Bob's Diary for the 10th of May 2014-05-13T10:47:00Z http://bobrussell.org.uk/en/article/2014/829025/sir-bob-s-diary-for-the-10th-of-may Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell has a Diary published each Saturday in the "East Anglian Daily Times" (usually Page 41 or thereabouts). It is always illustrated with a photograph. You are invited to purchase the EADT to read it in a newspaper format. The following is what appeared last Saturday: During Transport Questions in the House of Commons on Thursday I criticised successive Governments for short-changing East Anglia over railway investment, and requested that national plans for new rolling stock should include trains on the main line between Colchester and London.
Don’t do this at home! Sir Bob on fire……he handles a burning methane mamba of soap bubbles at a Royal Society of Chemistry science promotion event held at the House of Commons.

Don't do this at home! Sir Bob on fire……he handles a burning methane mamba of soap bubbles at a Royal Society of Chemistry science promotion event held at the House of Commons.

Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell has a Diary published each Saturday in the "East Anglian Daily Times" (usually Page 41 or thereabouts). It is always illustrated with a photograph. You are
invited to purchase the EADT to read it in a newspaper format. The following is what appeared last Saturday:

During Transport Questions in the House of Commons on Thursday I criticised successive Governments for short-changing East Anglia over railway investment, and requested that national plans for new rolling stock should include trains on the main line between Colchester and London.

The Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Patrick McLaughlin MP, acknowledged my representation on behalf of my constituents; but he gave no commitment.

In date order, from Friday last week my advice bureau for residents in the morning was followed in the afternoon with two meetings, firstly with local representatives of the National Union of Teachers and then someone from a church organisation which offers financial advice to those in difficulties. After this I dealt with letters from that day's appointments and other correspondence.

In the evening I attended a meeting of Colchester Liberal Democrats to discuss the Borough Council and European Elections campaigns. I spent a large part of the three days of the holiday weekend involved with campaigning.

On Saturday morning I attended the annual meeting of the Colchester Food Bank, of which I am Patron, held at St Anne's Church. In the last year more than 2,000 adults and 1,000 children were helped, with an average of more than 70 parcels a week being distributed. It is estimated that each parcel represents donations from at least ten people - prompting me to observe that if it was not for this "generosity of spirit by the people of Colchester" of an increase in the donations of food then such help would not have been possible.

Colchester Food Bank will mark its fifth anniversary in October this year.

At lunch-time I was invited by the charity Arthritis Research UK to visit their newly-opened second fund-raising shop in Crouch Street. A section of the Roman Wall is exposed at the back of the shop.

I had an early start on Tuesday when I caught the 6.06am train from Colchester to London because I needed to be at the House of Commons for an appointment at 9am. Even at that time of the morning, Platform 3 at North Station was packed. Locomotive "Colchester Castle" pulled the train which regrettably was ten minutes late because (according to a station announcement) of over-running track maintenance work.

From my office at the Commons I did a 30-minute detailed telephone interview about Money Advice, an organisation which provides help for those experiencing financial difficulties. This is an increasingly worrying situation for many people. I am not qualified to give financial advice, and with Citizens' Advice Bureaux often unable to help with financial matters things are getting worse. Money Advice is helping as best it can. I would like a levy put on the profits of banks and other financial institutions to fully fund advice organisations.

My next appointment was with a representative of a pharmaceutical company to be briefed on statistics relating to the impact of cardiovascular disease in Colchester, which indicate that some other parts of Essex have better outcomes. I will be pursuing matters with the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group.

In the afternoon was the first of this week's meetings of the Defence Select Committee. At tea-time I went to the weekly meeting of Liberal Democrat MPs, where I spoke about knife crime.

I spent the evening doing casework correspondence and clearing a backlog of e-mails (more than 200) before leaving the Commons shortly after 10pm. I was back at my desk just after 6.30am on Wednesday morning and dealt with a dozen e-mails which had arrived overnight, I sent more than this number; and then at 8am put in my prayer card to book a seat for Prime Minister's Questions at 12 noon.

A clear diary meant that I was able to spend some of the morning catching up on correspondence and the ever-increasing volume of e-mails.

In the afternoon was the second of this week's meetings of the Defence Select Committee at which we finalised our report about Britain's military involvement in Afghanistan. This will be published on Tuesday next week. Over the years I have made three visits to British troops at Camp Bastion, Helmand Province.

I left the Commons at 10.15pm, making it an almost 16-hour day.

Following Transport Questions on Thursday I chaired a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Island of St Helena, which shares its name with Colchester's Patron Saint. An official from the Department for International Development gave an impressive progress report on the construction of an airport (to open in 2016) on the remote island which is in the South Atlantic. It is a British Overseas Territory, one of the last reminders of the British Empire. I visited in 1999; it takes a week to get there by sea from Cape Town.

At lunchtime I attended two events for the launch of important reports. The first was one about the role played by our nation's mothers. The "Mumdex" event was hosted by Asda.

The second was jointly by The Children's Society and Step Change Debt Charity, entitled "The Debt Trap", which gave details of how family debt damages children.

Sir Bob Russell is the only non-Conservative MP in Essex and Suffolk.

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MP's concerns over vote fraud 2014-05-06T12:33:00Z http://bobrussell.org.uk/en/article/2014/823768/mp-s-concerns-over-vote-fraud Concerns over potential illegal actions involving postal votes have prompted Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell to ask the Borough's Elections Returning Officer to issue a reminder to all candidates and agents of Election Law and the Representation of the People's Act. In a letter to Mr Adrian Pritchard, who is also the Council's Chief Executive, Sir Bob said: "Information I have received in the past is about people calling on those with postal votes to collect them. This is open to abuse. I am aware of situations in the past when serious doubt has subsequently been expressed as to whether the votes arrived at the Town Hall."

Concerns over potential illegal actions involving postal votes have prompted Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell to ask the Borough's Elections Returning Officer to issue a reminder to all candidates and agents of Election Law and the Representation of the People's Act.

In a letter to Mr Adrian Pritchard, who is also the Council's Chief Executive, Sir Bob said: "Information I have received in the past is about people calling on those with postal votes to collect them. This is open to abuse. I am aware of situations in the past when serious doubt has subsequently been expressed as to whether the votes arrived at the Town Hall."

He added: "Clearly the best course of action would be if no-one involved in the election campaign made such calls. It would remove all thoughts of any irregularities of the sort we have read about in newspapers as happening in other parts of the country."

Sir Bob said that the Council did not collect postal votes and it would be prudent if no councillor, candidate or anyone associated with a political party called on people to collect postal votes.

Postal votes will be issued later this week.

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Sir Bob's Diary 3rd May 2014 2014-05-06T12:26:00Z http://bobrussell.org.uk/en/article/2014/823763/sir-bob-s-diary-3rd-may-2014 Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell has a Diary published each Saturday in the "East Anglian Daily Times" (usually Page 41 or thereabouts). It is always illustrated with a photograph. You are invited to purchase the EADT to read it in a newspaper format. The following is what appeared last Saturday: Following an advice bureau for residents on Friday morning last week, in the afternoon I visited the offices of one of the three bus companies with services in Colchester to discuss its operations.

Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell has a Diary published each Saturday in the "East Anglian Daily Times" (usually Page 41 or thereabouts). It is always illustrated with a photograph. You are
invited to purchase the EADT to read it in a newspaper format. The following is what appeared last Saturday:

Following an advice bureau for residents on Friday morning last week, in the afternoon I visited the offices of one of the three bus companies with services in Colchester to discuss its operations.

They are now considering my suggestion for a new route which would provide a direct link via the town centre to Colchester Hospital.

Later, at my constituency office, I had a meeting with representatives of an inter-faith group.

In the evening I attended the annual meeting of the Colne Endeavour Band, of which I am a Patron, held at St Helena School. The band includes those with learning difficulties.

Saturday morning started with breakfast at Alderman Blaxill School where staff volunteered to come in to help Year 11 students, who will shortly to sit exams, to spend three hours of intense revision.

In the afternoon I supported a dog micro-chipping event by The Dogs Trust at Jollyes pet store, Turner Rise. Around 50 owners participated. In the evening I attended a diverse culture event, organised by Tendring and Colchester Minority Ethnic Partnership, at Alderman Blaxill School.

Sunday involved two major events to celebrate England's Patron Saint. In the morning was the St George's Civic Service with the Mayor leading a parade from the Town Hall to St Peter's Church.

This photograph by Sir Bob Russell shows some of the estimated 2,000 members of the Scout and Guide Movements who took part in Sunday’s St George’s Day Parade and Service held in the grounds of Colchester Castle.

This photograph by Sir Bob Russell shows some of the estimated 2,000 members of the Scout and Guide Movements who took part in Sunday's St George's Day Parade and Service held in the grounds of Colchester Castle.

In the afternoon around 2,000 members of the Scout and Guide Movements from the Colchester area paraded through the town centre, past the Town Hall where the Mayor and Commissioners took the salute, to the Castle Park. The parade was led by Brownies for whom this is their 100th anniversary year.

In my role as President of Colchester Scouts I addressed the gathering, telling the huge crowd that the founder of both Scouts and Guides, Lord Baden-Powell, had previously served as an Army Officer at Colchester Garrison in the latter part of the 19th Century.

On Monday morning, at my constituency office, I had a meeting with the Head and Chair of Governors of a secondary school to discuss future provision in Colchester.

Later I did an interview with BBC TV East over Government proposals that long-term unemployed people should be required to undertake community work in return for benefits. While I support the principle, I stressed the importance that this would not be right for those with medical conditions.

Although the House of Commons returned after a break of two weeks for Easter, rarely for me I was not present. I took advantage of an offer from my Chief Whip to keep myself busy in the constituency. I spent much of the day in my office dealing with correspondence. In the evening I did election campaigning.

Tuesday morning was also spent in my office before I caught the train to London (powered by "Colchester Castle"). There was a meeting of the Defence Select Committee in the afternoon, and the weekly meeting of Lib-Dem MPs at tea-time.

Then I went to a reception to support former Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans MP on his return to the Commons following his court acquittal of serious sexual assault charges.

For Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday I welcomed as my guests two radio presenters from BBC Essex, Steve Scruton and Ian Wyatt.

Earlier I had attended a chemistry event by the Royal Society of Chemistry to support science in the UK.

Later in the afternoon I returned home to accompany my wife to Colchester General Hospital for a physiotherapy update following her replacement knee operation. She has done so well they do not need to see her further there. We now await a final check with the consultant who did the operation. We are very pleased with the Hospital.

There was an early start on Thursday morning when I caught a train from Colchester just after 6am to be at the of Commons for a breakfast, organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Armed Forces, with the Commander of US Army Forces Command. He spoke warmly about the Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade who he knew from joint operations.

Later at business questions I raised the case of NHS ambulance personnel in Essex who had that day lost their jobs because of a contract awarded to a private company who had refused to allow NHS staff to transfer to them. My concerns are now being investigated by the Department of Health.

At lunch-time I went to the nearby studios of BBC Television to do a live interview on the Daily Politics programme about my request that England should be granted a public holiday to honour our Patron Saint, St George.

In the afternoon I had a meeting with a family about the medical circumstances of the death of a relative which they wish to have investigated.

Yesterday morning I opened a new "99p store" at the retail park off Sheepen Road - and in a 99-second trolley dash I collected food worth £99 for the Colchester Food Bank of which I am Patron.

I then had an advice bureau at my constituency office.

Sir Bob Russell is the only non-Conservative MP in Essex and Suffolk.

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Sir Bob's Diary 26th April 2014 2014-04-28T15:48:00Z http://bobrussell.org.uk/en/article/2014/818464/sir-bob-s-diary-26th-april-2014 Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell has a Diary published each Saturday in the "East Anglian Daily Times" (usually Page 41 or thereabouts). It is always illustrated with a photograph. You are invited to purchase the EADT to read it in a newspaper format. The following is what appeared last Saturday: Main activity this week revolved around the visit to Colchester on Thursday by the Deputy Prime Minister. Nick Clegg spent five hours in town on what was his fifth visit since he became Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell has a Diary published each Saturday in the "East Anglian Daily Times" (usually Page 41 or thereabouts). It is always illustrated with a photograph. You are invited to purchase the EADT to read it in a newspaper format. The following is what appeared last Saturday:

Main activity this week revolved around the visit to Colchester on Thursday by the Deputy Prime Minister. Nick Clegg spent five hours in town on what was his fifth visit since he became Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

In the prestigious setting of the Moot Hall he made the national launch of the Party's European Election campaign. My role was to make the warm-up speech in advance of Mr Clegg.

I said that Colchester was Britain's first European city.

Referring to almost 2,000 years of history from the Roman invasion (with its army drawn from large tracts of Europe) of Britain in AD:43 - when Colchester was established as its first capital - and centuries' later the arrival of the Saxons and Angles and others from mainland Europe, and the Norman Conquest in 1066, I observed: "So who are the British? We are a mongrel race - and we are the better, and stronger, for it."

I added: "The British people are people whose DNA is pan-European."

It was an honour for me and the local party that our party's headquarters in London chose Colchester for the launch of the European Election campaign.

It was my suggestion that the Moot Hall should be the venue because it is from this site, where today's Town Hall is located, that local government in Colchester has been centred for more than 800 years from the time of the original Norman Moot Hall being built here.

In the afternoon Mr Clegg went to Hazelmere Infant School, on the Greenstead Estate, followed by a visit to the Nanna's Day Nursery which is located on the same site. I accompanied Mr Clegg on these two visits which he did in his role as Deputy Prime Minister.

My diary published last Saturday ended at tea-time on the Wednesday. In the evening I did more campaigning for the Borough Council and European Elections on 22May.

On Thursday I held another Advice Bureau for residents, with appointments in the morning and afternoon. There was more election campaigning in the evening.

I will not knock on doors on Sundays, or Good Friday, so last Friday was free of active campaigning. Instead my wife and I joined friends from Christ Church United Reformed Church for lunch, at The Shoulder of Mutton at Fordham. For decades the congregation has had an annual walk on this special Holy Day, a different route each year, although it is some time since we participated in the walk itself.

Saturday morning was spent on election campaigning. In the afternoon, with our four grandchildren, my wife and I had a lovely time at our beach hut at Brightlingsea.

In the evening I attended the final performance of this year's Colchester Scouts and Guides Gang Show, held at The Mercury Theatre. Now in its 44th year, this year's show had a cast of 72 youngsters (with a similar number of people helping to put it on). I am President of Colchester Scouts.

A quiet Sunday was followed by Bank Holiday Monday during which I delivered leaflets although I refrained from knocking on doors.

Later, by invitation, I visited a stall in Culver Street West where a new Essex-wide organisation called "Where is the Care?" (about elderly and vulnerable people) invited passersby to share their experiences of care for older residents.

On Tuesday morning I visited Philip Morant School for a general tour. Then I accompanied my wife to Colchester General Hospital for a follow-up to her replacement knee operation from six weeks' ago. She was given an encouraging progress report.

I spent the rest of the day in my constituency office dealing with correspondence. In the evening I did some election campaigning.

After a brief visit to my constituency office on Wednesday morning I travelled to London where I was the guest speaker at a lunch-time gathering of the Surrey County Cricket Dining Club. It was held in the wonderful setting of The Oval, home of Surrey Cricket and where Test matches are played.

Surrey were playing Essex in Division Two of the County Championship. Although the game ended in a disappointing draw, I saw England Captain Alistair Cook score a century for Essex.

Back in Colchester for the evening, I did some more campaigning.

Nick Clegg and Sir Bob Russell with youngsters at Hazelmere Infant School.

Nick Clegg and Sir Bob Russell with youngsters at Hazelmere Infant School

Thursday was Nick Clegg's visit to Colchester. Later in the afternoon I went to Alderman Blaxill School at Shrub End for a filmed interview with a former student, now at a college doing media studies, who is making a documentary about the school which closes in July after 59 years because of falling secondary rolls across Colchester.

However, all is not lost. I have campaigned successfully for the school to be made available in three or four years time for children of secondary school age when the huge increase in children at primary schools will need places post age 11. Not yet decided is what its status would be. In the meantime the site and buildings will be used for other educational purposes, full details of which are awaited.

Yesterday morning I had an Advice Bureau.

The House of Commons returns on Monday after the two weeks' break for Easter.

Sir Bob Russell is the only non-Conservative MP in Essex and Suffolk.

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Clegg: The fight is on 2014-04-24T17:00:00Z http://bobrussell.org.uk/en/article/2014/815624/clegg-the-fight-is-on Today, Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg launched the Liberal Democrats' 2014 European election campaign. The launch took place in Colchester at a rally with activists and supporters, followed by a public town hall-style Q&A session hosted by Heart FM. Speaking at the launch event, Nick Clegg said:

Why are you IN?Today, Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg launched the Liberal Democrats' 2014 European election campaign. The launch took place in Colchester at a rally with activists and supporters, followed by a public town hall-style Q&A session hosted by Heart FM.

Speaking at the launch event, Nick Clegg said:

"The election on the 22 May is about one thing: do you think Britain is better off in the EU, or do you think we should be out? Finally the big question at the heart of the European debate is being addressed. At long last someone is taking on the Eurosceptic establishment - and it's us.

"Ukip and others have been allowed to peddle their myths unchallenged for decades, claiming that all of our problems would magically disappear if the UK just left the EU. But it's a dangerous fantasy. It's the surest way to jeopardise jobs, risk our fragile economic recovery, and it will leave Britain alone and diminished in the world.

"The fight is on. The isolationists are not going to get a free run of this debate any more - not when there's so much at stake. Every gain they make on 22 May takes Britain a step closer to European exit and they need to be stopped. We need Liberal Democrats elected to the European Parliament where we can do what's right for Britain.

"If not us, who? The Labour Party? The Conservatives? Where are they? What are they doing to stop the populists and the xenophobes? Nothing. Ed Miliband and David Cameron are now officially Missing in Action - saying the bare minimum in this debate because they are too scared of losing votes to Nigel Farage; because they're so desperate to cover up the deep divisions in their own camps.

"Well the Liberal Democrats aren't scared to speak up. We are Britain's party of IN and we are standing up for staying in Europe - loudly, passionately and unequivocally - because that is how we keep this nation stronger, safer and richer too.

"We are IN for jobs. For the millions of businesses who rely on trade with our neighbours.

"IN because it's how our police cooperate with their European counterparts to put more criminals behind bars.

"IN because we need to work with the rest of Europe to protect our environment and tackle climate change.

"IN because Britain is always at its best when we are open, outward-facing and engaged, a leader on the world stage.

"Anyone who agrees that we are better off IN - whether that's businesses, the crime fighting agencies, progressive voters and people who care about the environment: make yourselves heard. If you are holding back, ask yourself: what are you waiting for? The fight is on. The threat is real. It's time to pick a side."

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Sir Bob hits out at neglect of roads by Conservative-led Essex County Council 2014-04-11T16:09:00Z http://bobrussell.org.uk/en/article/2014/808592/sir-bob-hits-out-at-neglect-of-roads-by-conservative-led-essex-county-council Pre-Easter Recess General Debate Sir Bob Russell, MP for Colchester At the pre-Easter General Debate in the House of Commons, Sir Bob Russell attacked the neglect of our roads and pavements by Essex County Council. He also revealed his cunning plan to improve the situation! Below is his speech to the House.

Pre-Easter Recess General Debate

Sir Bob Russell, MP for Colchester

At the pre-Easter General Debate in the House of Commons, Sir Bob Russell attacked the neglect of our roads and pavements by Essex County Council. He also revealed his cunning plan to improve the situation! Below is his speech to the House.

"Mr Deputy Speaker,

I have a cunning plan to get pot-holed streets in Colchester filled-in!

I am going to invite the organisers of the Tour de France to have one of the stages of this great cycling event held in Colchester - Britain's first city, created AD:49, and the first capital of Roman Britain.

This would guarantee that the pot-holes in Colchester - wilfully neglected by Essex County Council in contrast to other parts of Essex - would be attended to, at least on the route taken by some 200 of the world's leading racing cyclists.

I know this is true because regional television this week featured that part of rural Essex which the Tour de France is going to this year.

Every inch, every foot, every yard, every furlong of rural roads which the cyclists will speed along - probably not noticing the wonderful scenic beauty of the Essex countryside - has been surveyed for potholes.

By the day of the race, every pothole will be filled in - even those that, elsewhere, would not be deemed of sufficient depth by Essex County Highways to need to be filled in. Clearly Essex County Council considers that cyclists from around the world are worthy of greater attention and safety consideration than the residents of Essex whose Council Tax will go towards the cost of making the Tour de France route safe.

Professional cyclists toppling from their machines because of an Essex pothole would not look good.

Talking of looking good, in the picturesque village of Finchingfield - said by some to be the most attractive village in Essex - it is assumed that the world's media will regard this as a good place to photograph and film the cyclists speeding through.

Here, it has not been a question of filling in potholes. Oh No. A patchwork quilt appearance of the road surface might spoil the photographs. So, at great expense, the whole road has been re-surfaced to ensure a pristine surface the likes of which are rare in most of Essex.

So, if I can get the Tour de France to come to Colchester it would ensure that our potholes are filled in.

I am sure my constituents could design a route to maximise the roads and potholes to be attended to in their area. For example, on the Monkwick Estate I would nominate a route including Queen Elizabeth Way, Prince Philip Road, Prince Charles Road and Coronation Avenue.

Mr Deputy Speaker, behind my mockery there is a serious point - namely the performance, or lack of, when it comes to highway maintenance in Colchester under the auspices of Essex County Council. Indeed, this was something which I raised at Communities and Local Government Questions on Monday; to which I got an encouraging response from the Secretary of State who is, of course, like me an Essex MP and thus fully aware of the short-comings of County Hall at Chelmsford where favouritism rules.

Until a few years ago, Colchester Borough Council was responsible for highways maintenance and street lighting. Then the County Council grabbed this work. Result: our roads and pavements are the worst I have ever known; and the County has switched off our street lights from midnight.

Now while there is a case for tackling light pollution, a total black-out is not what most of my constituents want. I have tried to get a meeting with the Cabinet Member responsible, but he will not reply to my letters. Indeed, he is on record as saying that when he gets a letter he disapproves of he throws it in the bin. That's democratic accountability in Conservative-run Essex County Council.

Complaints about highways maintenance is currently the biggest local issue raised with me by residents. When Colchester Council looked after highways, pavements and street lights, complaints were few and far between.

It all changed, and got worse, when Essex County Council took over.

And it has got even worse, much worse, over the past two years following the decision of the County Council not to continue with nine contracts covering different parts of Essex but rather to lump them altogether in a single contract - worth £3 billion over ten years from 1st April 2012. This has been awarded to national company Ringway Jacobs whose HQ is in Sussex.

So while we have a Government and a Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government promoting "localism" - a concept I support - Essex County Council has centralised highways to a devastatingly negative degree.

In the good old days when Colchester Borough Council's Highways Depot was opposite where I live, potholes in roads and damaged pavements would be attended to in a matter of days. It is now months - if you are lucky.

If we are serious about localism, then let's return to how it used to be. The local council using local people with local knowledge - people with pride and a personal commitment to the area - to undertake this important work.

On a personal basis, I have reported five times to Essex County Highways the dangerous condition of the pavement outside my constituency office. This is a narrow pavement to a through-traffic route which is used by a large number of vehicles, many of them travelling too fast for the conditions.

My office has witnessed, via CCTV cameras, four occasions when youngsters on mini-scooters have tumbled after hitting a pothole. Fortunately each time the youngster fell forward. My concern is that on another occasion they could topple into the road, under the wheels of a passing vehicle. On two occasions I was in my office when youngsters toppled from their scooter, with the resultant tears. On one occasion I administered first aid to a three-year-old boy's bleeding knee.

Five times I have reported the dangerous pavement. Earlier this year I managed to get two people from the Highways Department to visit. The result? Nothing. My fifth letter, subsequent to this visit and following a further incident, this time involving a four-year-old little girl, got an acknowledgement - but weeks' later, the potholed pavement still needs attention."

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Bob Russell MP thanks Colchester for supporting UK action helping halve child deaths from Malaria 2014-04-10T14:47:00Z http://bobrussell.org.uk/en/article/2014/808312/bob-russell-mp-thanks-colchester-for-supporting-uk-action-helping-halve-child-deaths-from-malaria To mark World Health Day, Sir Bob Russell, Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester got involved in Getting Malaria? This experiential event inspired, engaged and thanked supporters of all political parties for backing UK action to fight malaria. It gave Sir Bob Russell an opportunity to find out more about the transformational difference being made to millions of people around the world thanks to UK leadership and increased global action to save lives from malaria, one of the world's most deadly yet preventable diseases.

To mark World Health Day, Sir Bob Russell, Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester got involved in Getting Malaria? This experiential event inspired, engaged and thanked supporters of all political parties for backing UK action to fight malaria. It gave Sir Bob Russell an opportunity to find out more about the transformational difference being made to millions of people around the world thanks to UK leadership and increased global action to save lives from malaria, one of the world's most deadly yet preventable diseases.

Sir Bob Russell was one of over 30 MPs and Peers in attendance at the event, hosted by charity Malaria No More UK and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases at Portcullis House in Westminster in the build up to World Malaria Day on 25th April.

Sir Bob Russell thanked his constituency and promoted the good news message that UK action against malaria has helped drive the remarkable global effort that has seen child death rates from malaria halved since 2000.

The UK is a global leader in the malaria campaign through both its support for action on the ground and as a global pioneer of lifesaving solutions through leading research and development institutions and businesses. Strong UK support is continuing to drive progress towards the UK's goal of helping at least halve deaths from malaria in 10 or more of the worst affected countries by 2015.

Sir Bob said: "It has been fascinating to learn more about the future of the malaria fight and what has already been achieved thanks to increased UK and global action against this killer disease. I hope people across Colchester will be proud to know that UK action is helping save over 1,600 lives every day - that is the equivalent of the entire population of Colchester, every two months".

The UK's support has helped underpin recent global success in the malaria campaign with child death rates from malaria halved since 2000 and over three million children's lives saved - that's more than the population of the entire West Midlands. But malaria can bounce back hard and fast if efforts to fight it are not maintained. The UK has a vital role to play in continuing to drive forward progress against malaria, helping to sustain international political will and financial commitments to save lives and protect against the threat of malaria resurgence.

Malaria No More UK helps inspire UK public, political and private sector support for the fight against malaria. Executive Director James Whiting, says: "We were delighted to welcome Sir Bob Russell. His support and the backing of people across Colchester and beyond is making a tangible difference to millions of lives today. We passionately believe that no child anywhere should die from a preventable disease that costs less than a cup of tea to treat. I hope people across Colchester will be inspired to join our campaign to be the generation to end deaths from malaria".

The event was hosted by Sky News Anchor and malaria survivor Lukwesa Burak who encouraged guests to get involved in a series of malaria moments on offer. Sir Bob Russell was given the opportunity to:

  • Test his appeal to live mosquitoes by placing his hand on the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine's Live Mosquito Box to see if the mosquitoes responded to his scent. This is a part of the London School's research to deepen understanding about mosquitoes and how to prevent malaria.
  • Shape the future of the malaria fight at Malaria: The Future using Imperial College's sophisticated modelling tools to show the effect that varying levels of global funding and their allocation could have on the malaria fight.
  • Compare the difference in test results betweenpre-screened safe blood and blood infected with malaria at the Malaria Testing Clinic.
  • Speak with health professionals at the Malaria Awareness Centre. An opportunity to hear essential travel advice about staying safe overseas. Last year over 1,300 Brits returned to the UK having contracted malaria.
  • Get involved and help fight poverty at the Malaria and Poverty area, by signing up to Live Below the Line - the innovative anti-poverty campaign whereby people get sponsored to live on £1 a day for all food and drink for 5 days (28 April - 2 May). Malaria No More UK is one of the major charity partners highlighting malaria as a leading, avoidable cause of poverty in Africa.

Learn about the History of Malaria, an area showcasing some of the key historic and global moments in the malaria fight, starting from 30 million years ago when the first traces of malaria were recorded.

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Bob Russell MP thanks Colchester for supporting UK action helping halve child deaths from Malaria 2014-04-10T14:47:00Z http://bobrussell.org.uk/en/article/2014/808317/bob-russell-mp-thanks-colchester-for-supporting-uk-action-helping-halve-child-deaths-from-malaria-1 To mark World Health Day, Sir Bob Russell, Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester got involved in Getting Malaria? This experiential event inspired, engaged and thanked supporters of all political parties for backing UK action to fight malaria. It gave Sir Bob Russell an opportunity to find out more about the transformational difference being made to millions of people around the world thanks to UK leadership and increased global action to save lives from malaria, one of the world's most deadly yet preventable diseases.

To mark World Health Day, Sir Bob Russell, Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester got involved in Getting Malaria? This experiential event inspired, engaged and thanked supporters of all political parties for backing UK action to fight malaria. It gave Sir Bob Russell an opportunity to find out more about the transformational difference being made to millions of people around the world thanks to UK leadership and increased global action to save lives from malaria, one of the world's most deadly yet preventable diseases.

Sir Bob Russell was one of over 30 MPs and Peers in attendance at the event, hosted by charity Malaria No More UK and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases at Portcullis House in Westminster in the build up to World Malaria Day on 25th April.

Sir Bob Russell thanked his constituency and promoted the good news message that UK action against malaria has helped drive the remarkable global effort that has seen child death rates from malaria halved since 2000.

The UK is a global leader in the malaria campaign through both its support for action on the ground and as a global pioneer of lifesaving solutions through leading research and development institutions and businesses. Strong UK support is continuing to drive progress towards the UK's goal of helping at least halve deaths from malaria in 10 or more of the worst affected countries by 2015.

Sir Bob said: "It has been fascinating to learn more about the future of the malaria fight and what has already been achieved thanks to increased UK and global action against this killer disease. I hope people across Colchester will be proud to know that UK action is helping save over 1,600 lives every day - that is the equivalent of the entire population of Colchester, every two months".

The UK's support has helped underpin recent global success in the malaria campaign with child death rates from malaria halved since 2000 and over three million children's lives saved - that's more than the population of the entire West Midlands. But malaria can bounce back hard and fast if efforts to fight it are not maintained. The UK has a vital role to play in continuing to drive forward progress against malaria, helping to sustain international political will and financial commitments to save lives and protect against the threat of malaria resurgence.

Malaria No More UK helps inspire UK public, political and private sector support for the fight against malaria. Executive Director James Whiting, says: "We were delighted to welcome Sir Bob Russell. His support and the backing of people across Colchester and beyond is making a tangible difference to millions of lives today. We passionately believe that no child anywhere should die from a preventable disease that costs less than a cup of tea to treat. I hope people across Colchester will be inspired to join our campaign to be the generation to end deaths from malaria".

The event was hosted by Sky News Anchor and malaria survivor Lukwesa Burak who encouraged guests to get involved in a series of malaria moments on offer. Sir Bob Russell was given the opportunity to:

  • Test his appeal to live mosquitoes by placing his hand on the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine's Live Mosquito Box to see if the mosquitoes responded to his scent. This is a part of the London School's research to deepen understanding about mosquitoes and how to prevent malaria.
  • Shape the future of the malaria fight at Malaria: The Future using Imperial College's sophisticated modelling tools to show the effect that varying levels of global funding and their allocation could have on the malaria fight.
  • Compare the difference in test results betweenpre-screened safe blood and blood infected with malaria at the Malaria Testing Clinic.
  • Speak with health professionals at the Malaria Awareness Centre. An opportunity to hear essential travel advice about staying safe overseas. Last year over 1,300 Brits returned to the UK having contracted malaria.
  • Get involved and help fight poverty at the Malaria and Poverty area, by signing up to Live Below the Line - the innovative anti-poverty campaign whereby people get sponsored to live on £1 a day for all food and drink for 5 days (28 April - 2 May). Malaria No More UK is one of the major charity partners highlighting malaria as a leading, avoidable cause of poverty in Africa.

Learn about the History of Malaria, an area showcasing some of the key historic and global moments in the malaria fight, starting from 30 million years ago when the first traces of malaria were recorded.

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Sir Bob wants Colchester to look after Highways 2014-04-07T15:45:00Z http://bobrussell.org.uk/en/article/2014/806112/sir-bob-wants-colchester-to-look-after-highways Colchester Borough Council may be able to get back control of highway maintenance and street lights after the Town's MP Sir Bob Russell raised the issue in the House of Commons this afternoon. And it would appear that he has support from Communities and Local Government Mr Eric Pickles who is also MP for Brentwood and Ongar.

Sir Bob Russell MP in the CommonsColchester Borough Council may be able to get back control of highway maintenance and street lights after the Town's MP Sir Bob Russell raised the issue in the House of Commons this afternoon.

And it would appear that he has support from Communities and Local Government Mr Eric Pickles who is also MP for Brentwood and Ongar.

Speaking during Communities and Local Government Questions, Liberal Democrat Sir Bob said: "A few years ago, Essex County Council grabbed highways maintenance from Colchester Borough Council.

Today we have pot-holed streets, broken pavements and the street lights are turned off at midnight.

"Will the Secretary of State support me in getting Highways powers restored to Colchester Borough Council."

Responding, Conservative Mr Pickles concluded by saying "if we talk together with our friends at the County some kind of devolution could take place."

Afterwards Sir Bob said he was encouraged by the response from Mr Pickles.

"Colchester Council was previously responsible for highways, but since Essex County Council took over there has been a serious deterioration in maintenance - the number and size of potholes is something which did not happen when the Borough was in charge, and our pavements were also much safer.

"And now we have the County turning off our street lights.

"Things would be much better if the Borough Council was once again responsible for looking after the town's roads, pavements and street lights."

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40 years ago local government was more local than it is now 2014-03-27T13:03:00Z http://bobrussell.org.uk/en/article/2014/804059/40-years-ago-local-government-was-more-local-than-it-is-now Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell has a Diary published each Saturday in the "East Anglian Daily Times" (usually Page 41 or thereabouts). It is always illustrated with a photograph. You are invited to purchase the EADT to read it in a newspaper format. The following is what appeared last Saturday: Forty years ago, on 1st April 1974 the biggest upheaval of local government in England since the 19th Century took place. Hundreds of local councils were abolished, and merged into larger districts.

Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell has a Diary published each Saturday in the "East Anglian Daily Times" (usually Page 41 or thereabouts). It is always illustrated with a photograph. You are invited to purchase the EADT to read it in a newspaper format. The following is what appeared last Saturday:

The last Colchester Town Council which ended on 31st March 1974, the town merging with rural areas to form Colchester Borough Council.

The last Colchester Town Council which ended on 31st March 1974, the town merging with rural areas to form Colchester Borough Council. Forty years later, the sole survivor still active in political life is a young Councillor Bob Russell pictured left of centre in the second standing row

Forty years ago, on 1st April 1974 the biggest upheaval of local government in England since the 19th Century took place. Hundreds of local councils were abolished, and merged into larger districts.

For Colchester, where local government has been administered since Norman times from the same site where today's Town Hall stands, it dramatically changed the whole character of local democratic accountability with the historic boundary which had existed for upwards of 800 years being swept aside as the town merged with much of its rural hinterland.

But the new boundaries were not logical. Ardleigh, whose parish includes the top end of Colchester's Ipswich Road, was left in Tendring as was Elmstead Market. Yet both are on Colchester's doorstep whereas Tiptree is several miles away and has less affinity with Colchester than these two villages.

Joining the town of Colchester were three other local councils - villages in the confusingly named Lexden and Winstree Rural District, and the small Urban District Councils of West Mersea and Wivenhoe.

Lexden and Winstree comprised villages in the former Saxon Hundreds bearing these two names, except that Lexden itself was in Colchester town and not the Rural District Council area which had Lexden in its title. Confusing it was, particularly since the Council offices were at Lexden Grange, Lexden Road!

Elsewhere, five local councils merged to form Tendring District Council; five to form Braintree District Council; and three to form Maldon District Council.

Similar merges of local councils also took place in Suffolk, plus the merger of East and West Suffolk County Councils. Ipswich, a County Borough Council responsible for all aspects of local government, lost many powers to the new Suffolk County Council but unlike Colchester it retained its historic boundary and did not merge with nearby villages.

For the new Colchester Council - it was known for its first few weeks as Colchester District Council before the relevant authorisation came through to become Colchester Borough Council, with the short-lived Chairman then being appointed Mayor - it is my belief that this was a black day for the town and its residents.

Too often the rural tail has wagged the head.

The marriage of town and country was also not welcomed by many people from the rural areas either. It was a forced marriage.

In 1974 the population of the new Colchester Borough was 130,000 - today it is approaching 180,000.

The four Councils which merged had a total of more than 90 Councillors - the new Council has 60 Councillors, a cut of at least a third......and in the past 40 years the population has increased by around 50,000.

Colchester Town Council had 36 members; Lexden and Winstree Rural District Council around 40 (I cannot remember the precise number), while the two Urban Districts of West Mersea and Wivenhoe each had nine councillors.

The new Colchester District Council had been elected on 7th June the previous year, and ran as a "shadow" Council alongside the four existing local authorities.

The composition of the new Council was: Conservative 28, Labour 27, Liberals 1, Tiptree Residents' Association 3, and Independent 1. There was a joint Tory-Labour administration.

Over the years the number of Conservative Councillors has fallen, Labour now has only about a quarter it once had, while the Liberal Democrats (successors to the merged Liberals and Social Democratic Party) have been the dominant party in Colchester for nearly 30 years.

Prior to local government re-organisation, Councillors did not receive any allowances. Indeed, Councillors personally funded what they did in terms of phone calls, postage and stationery.

From April 1974 allowances were paid, albeit relatively small sums initially.

In 1974, Councils were run on a committee system with every Councillor involved in the decision making process - in the case of the new Colchester Council we had committees with a total of 120 places, with every Councillor having two committees. All Councillors were thus equal.

Each committee met once in a six-weekly cycle, with full meetings of the Council every six weeks.

Today, because of a system imposed by the last Labour Government, a cabinet system of local government is now in place which means most Councillors are not involved in most of the decisions. And a huge amount of decisions are delegated to officers.

A return to a committee system - for which the Coalition Government has allowed local councils to choose to do if they wish - would once again involve all 60 Councillors in more democratically representing the residents who have voted them into office.

On 1st April 1974 Colchester lost running education and libraries to Essex County Council; water and sewerage to a new public body called Anglian Water, later privatised by the Thatcher government; and elements of public health to the NHS. In more recent years the County Council has taken over highways maintenance from Colchester.

Sadly, as I said in the House of Commons earlier this month, local government re-organisation 40 years ago diluted the word "local".

If we are serious about localism, of local councils making local decisions, then local councils should have the powers they once had.

Sir Bob Russell is the only non-Conservative MP in Essex and Suffolk.

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Transport Minister attends Lib-Dem Annual Dinner 2014-03-25T12:21:00Z http://bobrussell.org.uk/en/article/2014/795063/transport-minister-attends-lib-dem-annual-dinner Transport Minister Baroness Susan Kramer was the guest speaker at the annual dinner of Colchester Liberal Democrats. She gave an upbeat speech on the role of Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government, pointing out that Lib-Dems had ensured greater fairness in government as the two parties of the coalition had wrestled to deal with the serious financial crisis created by the last Labour Government which in 2010 had left Britain on the brink of bankruptcy.
Sir Bob Russell MP, Baroness Kramer and Jenny Stevens, Constituency Chair at the Constitunecy Dinner

Sir Bob Russell MP, Baroness Kramer and Jenny Stevens, Constituency Chair at the Constitunecy Dinner

Transport Minister Baroness Susan Kramer was the guest speaker at the annual dinner of Colchester Liberal Democrats.

She gave an upbeat speech on the role of Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government, pointing out that Lib-Dems had ensured greater fairness in government as the two parties of the coalition had wrestled to deal with the serious financial crisis created by the last Labour Government which in 2010 had left Britain on the brink of bankruptcy.

Baroness Kramer, who served as an MP with Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell before going to the House of Lords, said that if Britain had a government run by just the Conservatives then it would be very right wing.

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Statement on the Budget by Colchester MP Bob Russell 2014-03-19T14:08:00Z http://bobrussell.org.uk/en/article/2014/791963/statement-on-the-budget-by-colchester-mp-bob-russell Statement on the Budget by Colchester MP Bob Russell "None of the good, sensible financial measures announced in the Budget would have been achieved without the Liberal Democrats being in Government - of which raising the personal level of income on which Tax is paid is the most obvious achievement by the Lib-Dems.

Statement on the Budget by Colchester MP Bob Russell

Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the Rt Hon Danny Alexander MP, in front of the “jobs stall” at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference in Glasgow. ((c)Manny Begum, Yaadein Photography)

Sir Bob meeting with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury last year to discuss the increases in employment in Colchester.

"None of the good, sensible financial measures announced in the Budget would have been achieved without the Liberal Democrats being in Government - of which raising the personal level of income on which Tax is paid is the most obvious achievement by the Lib-Dems.

"We must never forget the financial mess the last Labour Government left Britain in 2010. That is why the people of our country have endured austerity and spending cuts - that is Labour's legacy!

"The good news is that, thanks to the Lib-Dems in government, the British economy is on the road to recovery."

Sir Bob said that he welcomed the cut in the tax on Bingo - which he championed on a recent visit to Colchester Gala Bingo Club - freezing of tax on fuel, and a cut in tax on beer.

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MP will oppose Assisted Dying 2014-03-13T14:08:00Z http://bobrussell.org.uk/en/article/2014/789257/mp-will-oppose-assisted-dying Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell has said that he will vote against proposed legislation which would legalise "assisted dying". Liberal Democrat Sir Bob said that while he acknowledged the strong emotional arguments both "for" and "against" the proposal, his considered view was that this was not something he could support on ethical and moral grounds.

Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell has said that he will vote against proposed legislation which would legalise "assisted dying".

Liberal Democrat Sir Bob said that while he acknowledged the strong emotional arguments both "for" and "against" the proposal, his considered view was that this was not something he could support on ethical and moral grounds.

He added: "The vote in Parliament will be what is known as a conscience vote. Quite simply, I cannot reconcile the concept of assisted dying with my Christian upbringing."

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Sir Bob 1st with questions to the Prime Minister 2014-03-13T14:08:00Z http://bobrussell.org.uk/en/article/2014/789262/sir-bob-1st-with-questions-to-the-prime-minister Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell has put more questions to Prime Minister David Cameron than any other MP in Essex. And more than any Labour MP in the whole of Britain! Figures published today show that Liberal Democrat Sir Bob - with 15 questions at the weekly Prime Minister's Question Time - has registered the fourth highest in the country since the 2010 General Election.

Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell has put more questions to Prime Minister David Cameron than any other MP in Essex.

And more than any Labour MP in the whole of Britain!

Figures published today show that Liberal Democrat Sir Bob - with 15 questions at the weekly Prime Minister's Question Time - has registered the fourth highest in the country since the 2010 General Election.

In addition to his success rate at Prime Minister's Questions, throughout his time as MP Sir Bob has registered the best voting attendance record of all MPs.

Those MPs called to put a question to the Prime Minister can do so by one of two ways. The first is to submit their name for the weekly draw from which 15 MPs get their name on the order paper. The other way, as can be seen when watching television, is when MPs bob up and down during the 30-minute session each Wednesday in the hope that The Speaker will call them.

Sir Bob's 15 questions have been a combination of these two methods. His most recent was two weeks' ago (26 February) when he criticised Mr Cameron for cutting the size of the Army.

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MP defends firm over financial slur 2014-03-07T14:59:00Z http://bobrussell.org.uk/en/article/2014/784832/mp-defends-firm-over-financial-slur Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell has supported a local firm who he told the House of Commons had been wrongly criticised by a credit rating company. Sir Bob said that Colchester company Fast Foods Supplies (Anglia) Ltd had been operating for 26 years, is expanding and taking on more staff, but credit rating company Experian said the business was a high risk and had a bad credit record.
Sir Bob Russell MP in the Commons

Sir Bob speaks in the House of Commons

Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell has supported a local firm who he told the House of Commons had been wrongly criticised by a credit rating company.

Sir Bob said that Colchester company Fast Foods Supplies (Anglia) Ltd had been operating for 26 years, is expanding and taking on more staff, but credit rating company Experian said the business was a high risk and had a bad credit record.

He told MPs: "That is not true."

Referring to the "negative impact" that such a "false commentary" could cause, Sir Bob asked for a debate on credit rating companies.

Responding, the Leader of the House, the Rt Hon Andrew Lansley MP, said that credit rating is used widely by reputable companies, but that "it needs to be done accurately."

Acknowledging that Sir was representing his constituents' interests, Mr Lansley added that Experian, "as a highly reputable company, is as concerned as anybody to ensure that its credit ratings are accurate."

Afterwards Sir Bob said that that Fast Food Supplies (Anglia) Ltd had sought his help because they were aggrieved that their expansion had seemingly been wrongly assessed as if the business was in trouble. "I hope that by drawing this matter to Parliamentary attention the record will be put straight.

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Sir Bob Russell MP launches Colchester's campaign to create 100 apprenticeships in 100 days 2014-03-06T11:08:00Z http://bobrussell.org.uk/en/article/2014/783971/sir-bob-russell-mp-launches-colchester-s-campaign-to-create-100-apprenticeships-in-100-days Recruiting "100 apprentices in 100 days" is the challenge to local employers which has been issued by Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell. In partnership with the Colchester Institute, the "Colchester Daily Gazette" and the National Apprenticeship Service, on Wednesday 5th March Sir Bob launched the Colchester campaign at an event held at The Minories, the art gallery operated by the Institute at the eastern end of the High Street.
Sir Bob launches the '100 in 100' campaign in Colchester (Fionnuala Wayland)

Sir Bob launches the '100 in 100' campaign in Colchester

Recruiting "100 apprentices in 100 days" is the challenge to local employers which has been issued by Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell.

In partnership with the Colchester Institute, the "Colchester Daily Gazette" and the National Apprenticeship Service, on Wednesday 5th March Sir Bob launched the Colchester campaign at an event held at The Minories, the art gallery operated by the Institute at the eastern end of the High Street.

This is part of a national campaign launched by the Coalition Government to get more employers to recruit apprentices. Sir Bob launched his Colchester campaign during National Apprenticeship Week.

Later, at the House of Commons, following a Statement by the Minister for Skills and Enterprises, Mr Matthew Hancock (MP for West Suffolk), Sir Bob told other MPs:

"This morning, in Colchester, I launched a campaign for local businesses to recruit 100 apprentices in 100 days.

The campaign is supported by the Colchester Institute, the Colchester Daily Gazette and the National Apprenticeship Service in the part of the country which the Minister and I represent.

Will the Minister welcome this Colchester success story which follows a fall of more than 600 in the town's unemployment figures in January from January 2013."

And, yes, the Minister did welcome what Sir Bob had said!

Published and promoted by Gary Scott on behalf of Sir Bob Russell and Colchester Liberal Democrats, all at Magdalen Hall, Wimpole Road, Colchester CO1 2DE
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