It is going to be a messy divorce – if it happens….

When people divorce they want a fresh start, sometimes they already have a new partner in mind. Less often they just want to be clear of a relationship which although once significant  enough to them to generate a marriage, no longer is.

Many headed Hydra

In the Brexit divorce the party suing for divorce is a many headed hydra – during the campaign many promises were made,  some of which have already been disowned by Brextiers. The Brexiters never has and agreement about what they wanted post Brexit.

The Brexiters are already divided and planning to exclude the man who started it all. Nigel Farage’s supporters are not going to accept that and neither is Farage – he will be there constantly criticising the Brexit deal – it is plain foolish to think he can be sidelined. More

In may ways the referendum was like a by-election – there was a strong anti-Westminster vote. Some clearly voted Out and were surprised and dismayed when they won.

Over the next weeks the consequences of the Out vote will become clear, one of the Outers will emerge, from the coup in the Tory party, as leader and the  struggle to develop a negotiating position, to find a consensus, will begin.

Uniting the Hydra will be very difficult. With no manifesto for the Out side in the referendum there is no programme against which they can be held to account. However, everyone who voted Out had a clear idea of what they expected to get and they expect to get it. They were promised their dream and they expect to be given it.  I blogged yesterday about the back tracking already taking place.

Then comes the problem of actually divorcing – of completing the legalities. It is not clear that the Conservatives, under a new Brexit leader, will have the necessary parliamentary majority to pass the large number of documents necessary to accomplish a Brexit. It is not as simple as leaving there is a mass of legalisation to be repealed and new policies and laws agreed.

Then will come a general election, as the new PM tries to secure a working majority. There will have to be a manifesto, the proposals for Brexit will have to be laid out in some detail and by then it will be harder to criticise the Remain side’s concerns as merely scare mongering, there will be evidence in peoples’ everyday lives of the consequences of Brexit.

So the Brexit may not happen. It is not over

It is now becoming clear that divorce proceedings are delayed while a government not yet formed decides what it wants. If Boris Johnson becomes PM it looks as though what Britain wants will be substantially different from what I surmise the Leave voters thought they were voting for.

“It is said that those who voted Leave were mainly driven by anxieties about immigration. I do not believe that is so. After meeting thousands of people in the course of the campaign, I can tell you that the number one issue was control – a sense that British democracy was being undermined by the EU system, and that we should restore to the people that vital power: to kick out their rulers at elections, and to choose new ones. “

“I cannot stress too much that Britain is part of Europe, and always will be. There will still be intense and intensifying European cooperation and partnership in a huge number of fields: the arts, the sciences, the universities, and on improving the environment. EU citizens living in this country will have their rights fully protected, and the same goes for British citizens living in the EU. 

British people will still be able to go and work in the EU; to live; to travel; to study; to buy homes and to settle down. As the German equivalent of the CBI – the BDI – has very sensibly reminded us, there will continue to be free trade, and access to the single market. Britain is and always will be a great European power, offering top-table opinions and giving leadership on everything from foreign policy to defence to counter-terrorism and intelligence-sharing – all the things we need to do together to make our world safer. “

The only change – and it will not come in any great rush – is that the UK will extricate itself from the EU’s extraordinary and opaque system of legislation: the vast and growing corpus of law enacted by a European Court of Justice from which there can be no appeal. This will bring not threats, but golden opportunities for this country – to pass laws and set taxes according to the needs of the UK. 

Yes, the Government will be able to take back democratic control of immigration policy, with a balanced and humane points-based system to suit the needs of business and industry. Yes, there will be a substantial sum of money which we will no longer send to Brussels, but which could be used on priorities such as the NHS. Yes, we will be able to do free trade deals with the growth economies of the world in a way that is currently forbidden. 

“There is every cause for optimism; a Britain rebooted, reset, renewed and able to engage with the whole world. This was a seismic campaign whose lessons must be learnt by politicians at home and abroad. We heard the voices of millions of the forgotten people, who have seen no real increase in their incomes, while FTSE-100 chiefs now earn 150 times the average pay of their employees. We must pursue actively the one-nation policies that are among David Cameron’s fine legacy, such as his campaigns on the Living Wage and Life Chances. There is no doubt that many were speaking up for themselves. “

Read more in the Telegraph

Ironic that we appear to have inadvertently kicked out our PM in a referendum rather than an election, that Boris appears to be writing of ever closer union and of being in the single market without accepting the regulations of the single market and the free movement of labour so fundamental to it.

There is at least one Conservative MP who does not think Boris wanted to win the referendum and that he used it to oust Cameron. She may be right.

Gideon Rachman in the Financial Times does  not believe that Brexit will happen either.

And the Brexit campaigners didn’t have a post-Brexit plan


We are all migrants – House of Commons speech

Inter-generational conflict

Regional madness

Project Farce is Boris delusional?

Kelvin Mackenzie of The Sun admits ‘buyer’s remorse’ after voting for Brexit

The Sun has also got around to telling its readers what Brexit will mean, and they are not happy read the story

‘Go back home’ – Bitter backlash post EU referendum more

Sean O’Grady I voted Leave – but looking at the reasons, it’s undeniable that we’ll stay in the European Union after all read

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Britain sues for divorce – but has no idea what it wants.

Beware of what you wish for.

I am being asked by friends and colleagues about what happens next – nobody knows. 37% of the UK electorate has decided that it wants a divorce. When and on what terms is unclear – but it will not be amicable and Britain is already clearly an outsider.

Neither is it clear what future the Brexiters want.

Of course Farage had said that if the result was close there should be a second referendum, he is not saying that now.
“In a 52-48 referendum this would be unfinished business by a long way. If the remain campaign win two-thirds to one-third that ends it.” 16 May 2016

The 17,410,742 people who voted for Britain to leave need to remember the promises that encouraged them to vote Out. They will be broken. We need to hold those politicians to account if they fail to deliver on their promises.

The Leave side has many different visions. No one knows what divorce settlement they want let alone what the ‘spouse’ (all 27 of them) wants.

Already there are Brexiters who are arguing against what people thought they were voting for


Already Farage is distancing himself from the Leave campaign’s commitment to spend the money we no longer will send to the EU on the NHS.

Tory MEP Daniel Hannan back tracking on immigration 

Daniel Hannan (Pic:PA)

Daniel Hannan (Pic:PA)

“People are grown up and they understand this isn’t something that can happen tomorrow.

“No one has ever suggested there is going to be no immigration.

“There will be EU nationals watching this programme now and I want to underline – no one has suggested any change in their status.

“In terms of migration from the EU the one thing we can do as a result is we will no longer be citizens of the European Union.

“If people watching think that they have voted and there is now going to be zero immigration from the EU they are going to be disappointed

“Of course there is still going to be immigration. There are still going to be people coming here to work and you will look in vain for anything the Leave campaign said at any point that suggested there would be any kind of border closure or pulling up of the drawbridge.

“All we’re asking for is some control over roughly who comes in.”

more here


One of the Brexiters is not keen to start divorce proceedings

Brexit campaigner Dr Liam Fox said: “A lot of things were said in advance of this referendum that we might want to think about again and that (invoking article 50) is one of them.

“I think that it doesn’t make any sense to trigger article 50 without having a period of reflection first, for the Cabinet to determine exactly what it is that we’re going to be seeking and in what timescale.

“And then you have to also consider what is happening with the French elections and the German elections next year and the implications that that might have for them.

“So a period of calm, a period of reflection, to let it all sink in and to work through what the actual technicalities are.”

The electorate for the referendum was 46,500,001

Remain 16,141,241 (34% of those who could have voted)

Leave 17,410,742 (37% of those who could have voted)

Remain 16,141,241 (48.1% of those voting)

Leave 17,410,742 (51.9% of those voting)


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The morning after …


I am disappointed but not surprised by the outcome of the referendum and by Cameron’s decision to resign. Those Conservatives who express surprise that he has gone and who signed the letter asking him to stay on should note that you do not always get what you wish for.


There are some grounds for thinking that what we have participated in as a referendum on membership of the EU was actually a campaign to determine the leadership of the Tory party.


If you want to know who voted Out – the best data available is here

The 17,410,742 people who voted for Britain to leave need to remember the promises that encouraged them to vote Out. They will be broken. We need to hold those politicians to account if they fail to deliver on their promises.


Already Farage is distancing himself from the Leave campaign’s commitment to spend the money we no longer will send to the EU on the NHS.

The negative consequences predicted by those experts denigrated by the Outers have occurred. The £ fell as low as $1.3236; against the € the £ dropped 7% to €1.2085;  the FTSE 100 lost 500 points before regaining some ground. Shares in Barclays and RBS fell ~30%. Shares in Bovis Homes down 50% more


£'Euro £'USD



Wise words from Alex Smith



The experts so denigrated by the Outers now have to manage the consequences.

Mark Carney Bank of England

If you want to understand the legal background then read this 

If you want to read about why referendums can have perverse consequences. Read the piece in the New York Times.

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I want my country back…..

On the bus in Manchester this week: two NHS nurses in their late fifties, lamenting the state of the NHS, the queues and waiting lists, the missed appointments, the cost of interpreters, the lack of funding, the state of Britain and what it all means for their grandchildren. They are both going to vote leave because they are sick of Westminster politicians – as one said to the other “It can’t be worse if we leave….”

For once in their lives, every vote counts: for too long, mainstream parties have courted the floating voters and ignored the alienated and the dispossessed. For once in their lives, they have a chance to strike back against the Westminster élite … and who can blame them for taking the opportunity? Their voices have not been heard, except through UKIP. Blair’s failure to deliver Proportional Representation was an historic mistake: two Manchester nurses unrepresented, and millions more like them.

Blair could have improved democracy, built social housing, invested in state schools, in care for the elderly and in doctors and nurses. The Labour Party ignored the needs of their core vote – alienated them and lost them. Data from the Institute for Fiscal Studies suggests that for “working-age adults, inequality has continued to rise (albeit gently) across much of the working-age spectrum.”[1]

With a strong political consensus in Westminster, all the established parties support remaining in Europe: it is not surprising that alienated voters turned to UKIP and the Leave Campaign. They want their voices to be heard; they want some of the safety nets and certainties of the past; they want decent public services, they want their children to be able to find affordable housing. In short: they want their country back.

The repeated failure of mainstream parties to deliver – despite the UK’s oil-fuelled boom, and the imposition of austerity in the wake of the 2008 banking crisis – has created a very large group of disaffected voters. Immigration and the EU, so often the convenient scapegoat for British politicians when they failed to deliver on their extravagant election promises, have been successfully used to create the campaign for Brexit.

I want my country back – but it is not credibly possible to blame the European Union: for the UK governments’ failure to build houses, for the Academies, for privatisation, for the excesses of banks and  bailouts, for the underfunding of the NHS, for the failure to provide adequate care for the elderly, for the Iraq war, for the Syrian refugees. None of this can be laid at the door of the EU. The fault lies in Westminster and Whitehall.

The Brexit campaigners are not a government in waiting – they do not have a credible alternative to membership of the EU. They accuse the Government and the Remain campaigners of scare-mongering because they point to the dangers of leaving. But the Brexit campaigners have not told us what their plan is. Indeed it is difficult to believe that such a diverse group could agree on an alternative strategy.

Boris has said that VoteLeave is not an “alternative government”, although his Vote Leave colleague, employment minister Priti Patel, asserts that they are “campaigning to take back control of our country and our government and unleash that control back to the British public.” [2]

It would take much greater constitutional change than merely leaving the EU to achieve that and to give back control to the public. That is NOT on offer.  Although claiming not to be an alternative government, VoteLeave did on 15th June commit to end free movement of labour, curb the power of EU courts and conclude a UK-EU free trade deal by May 2020.  Even if they could deliver that, it is, according to them, at least four years away. more

The VoteLeave group is not a government in waiting. They agree only that they want to leave Europe and that Britain will prosper if we leave. If there is a vote for Brexit, the leave coalition will fragment. They are unable to tell us which form of trade deal they envisage negotiating and in reality it is hard to see how the UK could have the benefits of free trade into the single market without accepting the principle of free movement of labour. The Brexiters make much of how much the EU needs access to our market. Maybe some countries do, but we’ll be negotiating with all 27 – and they do not all benefit from trade with us. Divorce settlements are generally bloody affairs.

Essentially the British electorate is being invited to jump off a cliff on little more than a wing and prayer.

The Brexit campaign is technically populist.[3] Leading politicians, some of them in the Cabinet, are seeking to secure the support of ordinary people by promising to give them what they want and by attacking the establishment – of which, of course, they are a part.

There has been a great deal of mudslinging in this political circus – a great deal more heat than light. However, on major issues of principle, there have been some significant shifts of position. For example, Boris Johnson quoted at length in the Telegraph on 25 October 2013 [4]

I’m probably about the only politician I know of who is actually willing to stand up and say that he’s pro-immigration.”

“I believe that when talented people have something to offer a society and a community they should be given the benefit of the doubt,” Mr Johnson added.

Some backbenchers have voiced the opinion that Mr Johnson is the only Conservative capable of combating the threat to the Tories from the UK Independence Party.

However, the [former] Mayor’s views on migration could distance him from backbenchers if he was to ever attempt to become the Conservative leader.

Earlier this year, Mr Johnson called for a one-off amnesty for illegal immigrants.

He challenged the Coalition’s opposition to an amnesty and said that illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay after 12 years in Britain.

Mr Johnson said on Wednesday: “I’m not going to resile from or going to dismiss the notion that you’ve got to be tough on illegal immigration.

“Frankly it was, if I may so, the active decision of the Labour government to turn a complete blind eye that undermined immigration in the eyes of many people in this country.

“And you should think about that because it did serious social damage.”

He added: “I go back in a pedantic way to this distinction between legal and illegal immigration. It is vital that we do make that distinction. I’m probably about the only politician I know of who is actually willing to stand up and say that he’s pro-immigration.”

People are entitled to change their view – but they need to, and should be able to, explain why. The big risk is that if the public votes for Brexit, and IF a large and immediate reduction in immigration does not occur then the disillusioned, alienated and marginalised will move further to the right.

I am of the same view about the EU as Churchill was of democracy – I agree with him about democracy too – unless there is an assuredly better prospect on offer then take Hillaire Belloc’s advice:

“…always keep a hold of nurse
For fear of finding something worse.”

There is much to criticise in the EU – the gravy train and a lack of democratic accountability – as there is in Westminster. We fail to hold our MEPs and MPs to account – too much power rests with the national governments in the Council of Ministers – but it is our Government Ministers who exercise the national veto on our behalf in the Council of Ministers.

I also think that the EU is too pro-Big Business – so are many of out Westminster politicians – but consider this from Anthony Hilton in the Evening Standard in February:

“I once asked Rupert Murdoch why he was so opposed to the European Union.
‘That’s easy,’ he replied. ‘When I go into Downing Street they do what I say; when I go to Brussels they take no notice.” [5]

Many have argued that there is a lack of facts in this campaign, that they only tell us what they want us to know. There is a lack of facts in all campaigns but, ironically, there have been more in this one than in most. The facts are readily available on the BBC website[6] – lots of them on the economic impacts, jobs, the cost of EU membership[7] (£276m with the rebate and £161m nett, less than 0.5% of GDP), immigration (more arrive from outside the EU than within) and sovereignty – we are out of the single currency, the Schengen Agreement and we have a veto on foreign and defence policy.  Competition policy and enlargement of the single market to the east were all strategies championed by Britain. A single market requires a level playing field of regulation – unfortunately, the Brexit campaigners make no distinction between regulations and laws. We hear much about the red tape that will be removed if we leave the EU, but those businesses which want to sell in Europe will need to comply and Britain will no longer be part of determining those regulations. There will be lots of scope for the creation of non-tariff barriers against UK business interests.

The EU offers a safety net of workers’ rights, health and safety legislation, clean beaches, and air and water directives. The anti-EU campaigners have been less than specific about which red tape they would remove and very free to offer increased funds for farm subsidies and the NHS – popular, populist promises but with plenty of wiggle room. Becoming internationally competitive by cutting labour costs may be the biggest advantage of leaving the EU for employers but it will bad news for many of those who may be misled into voting for Brexit on Thursday. Further austerity will hit their living standards and public services.

The dismissal of experts is a classic populist strategy: facts and informed opinion do matter. One of the legacies of this campaign is likely to be a rejection of informed opinion in favour of stirring up and spreading prejudice. The BBC’s impartiality has benefited the Brexiters who have had airtime to repeat their claims – the £350m a week claim has stuck because it has so often been repeated, even though it is not true. When the Remain campaign calls it for what it is they, are accused of mudslinging; when they point out the dangers of a Brexit they are accused of spreading fear.

There are a few obscure facts of which have emerged during the campaign

  • The EU is encouraging new “sharing economy” firms such as Uber. Katainen, the commission’s vice-president, said on June 2nd “We want to keep up, and keep Europe as open as the US for new innovative business models, at the same time as addressing the negative effects.”
  • 800,000 people in Britain are employed in the car industry
  • In March 2015 it was a European Court of Justice ruling that annulled an ECB document which would have resulted in Euro clearing moving from London to within the Eurozone. The ECJ does not always rule against our best interests.

The facts are complicated – if you want to know how often Britain has lost out in votes in the EU – been on the losing side – take a look at the Full Fact website – the government has been on the losing side 2% of the time since 1999; government ministers were on the winning side 95% of the time. The balance has shifted in recent years. The detail matters.[8]

Britain cannot leave Europe: we can leave the EU, but we cannot leave Europe. If our leaving further weakens Europe – and we are seeing the rise of right-wing and populist parties across the continent – then we will find ourselves with increasingly unstable neighbours; as so often in the past, we shall find ourselves sucked into European conflicts. Trump has said that he would “certainly look at” pulling the United States out of the international security alliance, because it is “obsolete” and “is costing us a fortune.”[9] The destruction of the EU is not in our interest.

As The Economist has pointed out

“If Britain leaves the EU, it is likely to end up poorer, less open, and less innovative. Far from reclaiming its global outlook, it will become less influential and more parochial. And without Britain, all of Europe would be worse off.   .. [and to maintain access to the single market] .. Britain will have to observe EU regulations, contribute to the budget and accept the free movement of labour – the very things that Leave says it must avoid.” [10]

I want my country back too. It will not be achieved by leaving the EU – quite the contrary –  if the populists win the referendum we’ll be moving in the other direction.

I should have turned to those two nurses and pointed out that things can get worse – on Thursday things could get worse, be careful what you wish for.

There is a rising star in the Conservative Party – she is from north of the border. She had the last word for the remain campaign in last night’s debate, listen to what Ruth Davidson had to say


Caroline Ashley is a friend who has written eloquently about why she is voting remain, read what she has to say.

There are some useful links in her piece if you want to read more

[1] p.36

[2] June 1st





[7] The Telegraph printed the facts in February – it is less than the budget for the Home Office and also



[10] The Economic June 18th 2016 p. 13

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Cruising has major negative social and environmental impacts

The visit by Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas to Southampton has raised again the issue of the pollution caused by cruise lines.

Harmony of the Seas

Noxious emissions and air pollution near airports is a major problem but pollution around marine ports is also an issue. In London and Southampton air pollution caused by marine transport is a major issue and there is evidence that it damages residents’ health.  Harmony of the Seas has two four-storey high 16-cylinder Wärtsilä engines which would, at full power, each burn 1,377 US gallons of fuel an hour, or about 66,000 gallons a day.

The Guardian has a dramatic graphic revealing the scale of the emissions and quoting Daniel Rieger of the German environment group Nabu.

“Cruise companies create a picture of being a bright, clean and environmentally friendly tourism sector. But the opposite is true. One cruise ship emits as many air pollutants as five million cars going the same distance because these ships use heavy fuel that on land would have to be disposed of as hazardous waste.”   More

Paul Mills, a journalist, has written about being an undercover waiter on a cruise ship.

“It was hard to feel good about leaving the boat. With debts to pay off, a shortage of jobs at home and families to feed,quitting just wasn’t a realistic option for many of my colleagues. What’s more, it had long become apparent that many of them were getting a far rougher deal than I was.I met an Indian dishwasher, earning approximately $2 an hour,on an eight-month contract without a single day off, who had to borrow money to pay a $3500 agency fee to join the ship. He reckoned he would probably have worked about a year without managing to save anything. Given he hadn’t seen his family for a year and a half and had one of the most physically demanding jobs on board, his story is the one that made me most immediately angry and upset.” More

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For seven consecutive months the global average temperature has been at least 1C above the 1951-80 mean for that month.

Last month was the hottest April on record globally – and the seventh month in a row to have broken global temperature records. Nasa data shows that the global temperature of land and sea was 1.11C warmer in April than the average temperature for April during the period 1951-1980. more

The BBC have a graphic which shows how the average global temperature has risen

“The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for April 2016 was 1.10°C (1.98°F) above the 20th century average of 13.7°C (56.7°F)—the highest temperature departure for April since global records began in 1880. This value surpassed the previous record set in 2010 by 0.28°C (0.50°F). This was also the fourth highest monthly temperature departure among all 1,636 months on record, behind March 2016 (1.23°C/2.21°F), February 2016 (1.19°C/2.14°F), and December 2015 (1.12°C/2.02°F). Overall, 13 out of the 15 highest monthly temperature departures in the record have all occurred since February 2015, with February 1998 and January 2007 among the 15 highest monthly temperature departures. April 2016 also marks the fifth consecutive month (since December 2015) that the global monthly temperature departure from average has surpassed 1.0°C (1.8°F) and it is the 12th consecutive month a monthly global temperature record has been broken, the longest such streak in NOAA’s 137 years of record keeping.” more


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The ancient Town and Port of Faversham has a new Mayor

Last night Faversham invested its new Mayor in the presence of  Lord Boyce, Lord Warden of Cinque Ports and Constable of Dover Castle, Faversham is a member of the Confederation of the Cinque Ports and many Mayors of the Cinque Ports were at the investiture last night.

It was as though Faversham had rediscovered its Port and the importance of Faversham Creek – Lord Boyce had visited the Purifier Building and seen the work of the Faversham Creek Trust.  He reminded those present of the importance of maritime Kent and of Faversham’s contribution to it.

Our new Mayor Shiel Campbell was entrusted with the Wand of Office, the emblem of straightness and integrity of rule.  In her acceptance speech, Shiel

  • committed herself to bring back mutual respect to relationships in the town.
  • to develop means by which the Town Council could be more proactive in planning and development matters
  • complemented the Faversham Creek Trust and its efforts to raise £125,000 for the Swing Bridge

There were gasps of surprise and delight at her support for the work of the Faversham Creek Trust.

Proceedings were closed by the Mayor’s Chaplain, the Revd Simon Rowlands with a prayer for Faversham’s safety, prosperity and welcome.

Last night it felt as though the tide turned in Faversham and that the Town was no longer turning its back on the Creek.

In Shiel’s own words: 

“There are three things I would like to promote in my Mayoral year:

Firstly, to build on and extend the levels of communication and co-operation with town residents and businesses.  It is a natural progression of the digital age that we live in that information can be quickly and easily sourced via websites and I would like to see this encouraging more people to come along to the Town Council meetings and take part, in a co-operative, collaborative way.  I believe we can get much more done by working together and building bonds.  So much more is achieved with a congenial conversation over a coffee than a correspondence clash via the local papers.

Secondly,  with four proposed major housing developments affecting the town, one from each point of the compass, the time is right to have some sort of forum to discuss and shape ideas and to address the fine detail regarding space and design within each development.  To have one good strong voice to advise and negotiate with the developers at the outset and not at the end.  It may also be that we can look at the knock on impact of all this development upon: traffic, transport, parking, cycling, walking, green corridors etc and a single port of call for discussions about major infrastructure requirements like roads, schools, surgeries and so forth.  There will be more of this at the Annual Town Meeting on the 23rd May.

Thirdly: I have been attending the Ladies’ Coaching sessions at the Recreation Ground on a Wednesday morning for 11 years, I have never done anything for that long and I still have lots to learn!   So, just for a bit of fun, and to encourage a more active local business integration, I hope to set up a Tennis Tournament, to rival former Mayor Ken Neame’s Industrial Bowls Tournament. 

Finally, the Mayor’s Charity, In recognition of the amazing work that was done by this charity last year, in having the vision and drive to think outside the box and find a way to make possible what seemed impossible, then in being part a very tricky deal of match funding from several separate bodies and giving us an outstanding example of what can be done when you turn from conflict and controversy to collaboration and co-operation.  Lastly in raising the £125,000 needed to get the whole show on the road in an eyewateringly short 5 months.  I am immensely pleased to announce that the Creek Trust will be my principle charity for the year. 

This group has restored a derelict building and helped to bring the Creek back into good use, it has set up boatbuilding apprenticeships and courses for the long-term unemployed.  It has been a long hard road and feelings have run high, but much has been achieved on both sides and now is the time to put the pain behind us and make the most of what we have, working together towards a bright and vibrant creek to be enjoyed by all.  This afternoon, the Admiral of the Cinque Ports, Lord Boyce was shown around and I know he was very impressed by all that he saw.”

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Airbnb – bringing hosts and guests closer together

Speaking in India Nathan Blecharczyk told the BBC the willingness of people to stay in the home of a stranger showed the demand for personal connections while travelling.

Airbnb enables travellers to “experience a place like you live there” – in 191 countries and 34,000 cities. “What we’ve demonstrated is there’s an immense appetite to travel more authentically and immerse yourself in culture… as opposed to having a commoditised experience,”

Airbnb is planning to bring hosts and guests closer together:

“Maybe that’s someone going for a bike ride on their favourite bike route or doing a game of Frisbee, something as simple as that,” he said.

“But connecting with real people having a good time, that’s something not currently available in the professionalised world of hospitality.” More

Co-founder Blecharczyk on responsibility: 
“The responsibility is between guest and host, ultimately,” Blecharczyk says. What Airbnb has, in place of responsibility, is an investment. “If trust is compromised, our brand gets hit, trust in homeshare gets hit. And so we have a vested interest to make sure such things don’t happen. And if they do, to take care of it.”   More

From May 1st in Berlin private tourism rentals are being limited by a new law known as Zweckentfremdungsverbot – prohibition of improper use

“The law, which allows homeowners to rent out only spare rooms rather than entire homes, was passed in 2014 but included a two-year transition period that has now elapsed.

Andreas Geisel, Berlin’s head of urban development said it was “a necessary and sensible instrument against the housing shortage in Berlin.”

Those caught breaking the new law could be fined up to 100,000 euros (£78,500). More


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Southend, domination by London commuters and the threat to local identity

On April 5th the Evening Standard reported that house prices ‘rise by £3,000 a minute as you approach central London by train’. “Living just 20 seconds further away from one of London’s major transport hubs can shave an average of £1,000 off the cost of a home, according to research by estate agents Savills.” Housing costs in Faversham, my hometown, have risen by 26% over the last five years and by 39% over the last ten years.

This in tonight’s Evening Standard 

Southend is not just London extended

Readers of the Evening Standard who live in Southend-on-Sea will have enjoyed Ruth Bloomfield’s jolly article [“Home for tea and a dip in less than an hour”, Homes and Property, April 20]. They will probably feel proud to be part of the “influx of London commuters … breathing new life” into our erstwhile “old-fashioned Essex seaside town”.

However, Southenders, especially those under 40 and working locally, may not enjoy the “impressive price rises” quite so much as they save to buy a home for their families. They may also feel their part of Southend is under invasion as small businesses are being forced to close and are being replaced by growing battalions of estate agents and solicitors’ offices greedily jacking up house prices.

I love living in Southend precisely because, unlike London, it does not have lots of dress shops and wine bars — instead, we have specialist  and idiosyncratic shops. I enjoy the company of characters I see every day, most of whom do not enjoy yachting, tennis, horse riding or going to art classes.

This is my home — and I hope it will be for many years to come.
Paul Miller


Local identity matters.

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Africa Responsible Tourism Awards

On April 1st, I chaired the judging of the African Responsible Tourism Awards in Johannesburg with the benefit of the expertise of carefully chosen professionals from throughout the tourism industry in Africa.  Details of the judges can be found here

The judging of the Responsible Tourism Awards always creates and exciting and rewarding day as the judges debate,  back and forth, about who should win and why. It is an exhaustive process, often the difference between winning Gold and winning Silver is small. It is a significant achievement to be shortlisted and those who win medals should all be proud of their achievement.

The African Responsible Tourism Awards are part of a growing family of Responsible Tourism Awards run according to the principles and procedures established by the World Responsible Tourism Awards.


Overall Winner: Naboisho Conservancy, Kenya
“Prior to setting up Naboisho Conservancy, four years of consultation with the 554 landowners lead to 94% of them signing over their land to a holding company with their own appointed directors who have in turn entered into a management agreement with Naboisho Conservancy. The community gets direct and tangible benefits from wildlife conservation; no other activity provides as much income to as many people as Naboisho Conservancy. With these direct benefits there is less need for the community to rely on other destructive practices such as intensive farming and over grazing by too many cattle. This in turn furthers the cycle for a sustainable future for community driven wildlife conservation.  Naboisho Conservancy pioneered controlled livestock grazing and holistic rangeland management. The co-existence between wildlife and cattle, where the interests of wildlife and traditional Maasai livestock practices are mutually respected and genuinely integrated is remarkable. The term ‘Naboisho’ literally means “coming together” in the Maasai’s Maa language and this is exactly what Naboisho Conservancy represents.”

Best for Beach Tourism Gold Winner: Nkwichi Lodge
“To help bring the world’s most biodiverse freshwater lake and a 120 000 ha of lakeshore and escarpment under formal protection – in partnership with 16 villages – are remarkable achievements.  Gold Award winner Nkwichi Lodge on Lake Malawi is completely solar powered and plastic-bottle free. It is the engine behind sustainable agriculture and aquaculture farms where skills are built and produce for the lodge and community cultivated, a maternity clinic, schools and boarding house for girls, a range of community enterprises that generate income and reduce travelling distances, and community sport teams and events that also celebrate local culture.”

Best for Beach Tourism: Innovation  Gold Winner: Shark Spotters
“Shark Spotters’ solution to safe beaches removes the fear factor from enjoying Cape Town’s beaches while working to protect sharks, particularly the Great White Shark – a globally threatened species. This pioneering and innovative approach netted a Gold Award.  Spotters positioned on the mountainsides surrounding swimming beaches look out for sharks near shore and use a series of flags as a warning system. Community members benefit from employment and skills development, and beachgoers get to learn about sharks and their place in the ecology.”

Silver Winner: Baobab Beach Resort
“The judges appreciated the wide range of in-house environmental management practices that reduce water and energy use and help to manage waste at Baobab Beach Resort. Efforts to protect children from exploitation, conserve the coastal forest environment, reach out to communities through tours for guests and a weekly village market, contributed to a Silver Award.”


Best Contribution to Cultural Heritage Conservation

Gold Winner: Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve|
“The Gold Award went to Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve, custodian of over 130 unique San rock art sites. At its heart Bushmans Kloof is about the conservation of this remarkable heritage and culture. Over the past few months Bushmans Kloof has been one of the main sponsors of a unique troupe of dancers from Wupperthal – a small, impoverished village in the area. Die Nuwe Graskoue Trappers has not only been reviving the art of the Rieldans – a traditional dance form – but has also placed Wupperthal on the world map – taking the 2015 World Champions of the Performing Arts by storm.” |

Silver winners: Segera Retreat  &  Wilderness Safaris
“Silver Awards went to Segera Retreat in Kenya for the range of traditional cultures with which travellers can authentically engage to the benefit of local livelihoods and the conservation of diverse cultures and to Wilderness Safaris for their efforts, since 2011, to ensure that their safari camps express and present the cultural heritage of the local communities.”


Best Operator for People with Disabilities

Silver winners: ATKV Goudini Spa Flamingo Tours
“Equitable access to holidays for people of all abilities and incomes remains a big issue in Africa. The judges’ decision not to award a Gold in this category reveals that much work still needs to be done in the tourism sector.  However, there are two Silver Awards. The judges recognised that ATKV Goudini Spa sets a good example of creating an accessible leisure environment not only for people with mobility limitations, but also people who are blind and deaf.  The resort’s relationship with the disabled community is admirable.  And the affordability of the product is especially important for a people who are burdened by significant financial constraints.   Similarly, Flamingo Tours caters for a wide spectrum of functional limitations, and like ATKV Goudini Spa, is very committed to run an operation that does not harm the environment.”


Best for Poverty Reduction

Gold Winner: !Xaus Lodge
“The judges were particularly pleased to see so many worthy entries on the longlist for this category, as in the World Awards, competition is tough. More and more businesses understand the importance of using tourism to address poverty, in the Awards more emphasis is now being placed on the evidence which businesses can provide of their positive impacts. The Gold Award went to !Xaus Lodge a community-owned, commercially managed lodge in the South African part of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The judges were particularly impressed by both the scale of the contribution and the transparent quantification of the economic and social benefits flowing to the economically poor and marginalized communities of the Khomani San and Mier from their lodge.”

Silver WinnersChitabe Camp & Sani Lodge Backpackers and Drakensberg Adventures & Simien Lodge
“There were three Silver Awards reflecting the strength of the longlist in this category. Chitabe Camp in the Okavango Delta was recognised for its commitment to raising the living standards of their employees to ensure that their whole family is raised out of poverty through higher than inflation annual salary increases, annual school education donations and generous profit share pay outs. Sani Lodge Backpackers and Drakensberg Adventures has made a major contribution to local livelihoods and poverty reduction over many years and by involving Basotho stakeholders created opportunities  for communities to proudly showcase their unique cultural practices, engaging with guests in an authentic manner, thereby earning their respect. The Simien Lodge in the remote Simien Mountains National Park of Ethiopia has adopted a broad approach to addressing poverty by improving livelihood standards and education, by encouraging creativity in sports and contributing to the conservation of cultural and natural heritage, consistently addressing local issues identified by the community.”


Best Accommodation for Responsible Employment

Gold Winner:  Spier
“The judges were looking for examples of businesses able to demonstrate an exemplary responsible approach to the employment and treatment of staff. This was a strong longlist reflecting the progress being made in raising employment standards by an increasing number of businesses. The Gold went to Spier in the Western Cape of South Africa for the transparent reporting and the breadth of their approach to improving the employment conditions of their staff ranging from addressing the issue of safety on public transport to their provision of Individual Learning Spend budgets to support the development of skills and knowledge, for personal development and innovation for the employee and their family for example by using it to pay school fees.”

Silver WinnersChobe Game Lodge & Leriba Hotel
“Silver Awards went to Chobe Game Lodge in Botswana and Leriba Hotel in Gauteng, South Africa. The judges were impressed by the breadth of the approach being taken to improving employment conditions of the staff at Chobe Game Lodge and in particular by their success in addressing gender issues, with a full team of 14 female guides. At Leriba Hotel & Spa there is a broad commitment to upliftment, training and recognition. The Green Diamonds initiative was created when Leriba Hotel Group identified the need to empower its employees above the standard legal requirements. The judges were particularly impressed by their ABET centre which provides continuous staff development training.”


Best Responsible Tourism Marketing Campaign

Gold Winner: Great Plains Conservation
“In the Marketing Campaign category the judges looked for an example of a company which had run a successful campaign. The judges gave the Gold Award to Great Plains Conservation operating in Botswana and Kenya for their success in raising awareness of the importance of conservation through traditional and social media and in converting the public into ambassadors for wildlife. In just one talk in 2015 in China the Jouberts reached 195 million and Great Plains Conservation’s social media channels are followed by over 1.5 million daily.

There were businesses on the longlist which use Responsible Tourism well in their marketing but there were none to which a Silver could be awarded for a particular campaign.”


Best for Public Policy and/or Support

Gold winner:  National Department of Tourism, South Africa
“It is 20 years since the new post-apartheid government in South Africa adopted Responsible Tourism as a fundamental part of its national tourism strategy recognising that tourism has a responsibility to make a significant contribution to making South Africa a better place to live in and uplifting the quality of life, particularly of the disadvantaged and economically poor. This was recognised in the Cape Town Declaration of 2002 which launched the Responsible Tourism movement internationally. This Public Sector Policy category was designed to focus attention on those government agencies which have adopted clear policy frameworks to encourage tourism businesses to take more responsibility – we placed less emphasis on “support” because tourism businesses too often look for financial incentives or subsidies. In a period when, internationally, governments generally have been reluctant to regulate, progress in securing private sector engagement and compliance has been slow although some businesses have contributed a great deal, many have failed to respond to the challenge.

The National Department of Tourism in South Africa won Gold for its steadfast commitment over 20 years to the principles of the 1996 white paper, the legislative and policy work and support programmes which have flowed from it, including the Responsible Tourism Standard, Tourism Incentive Programme and the adoption and application of Responsible Tourism principles by provinces and cities and by agencies like SANParks.”

Silver winners: City of Cape Town & Ministry of Tourism, Morocco
Silver went to the City of Cape Town and Morocco. The 1st International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations took place in Cape Town in 2002 and there have been many initiatives to encourage businesses to respond to the social, economic and environmental challenges experienced in the City. In Morocco the Ministry of Tourism has secured support from other government departments, local authorities and the private sector for its Vision 2020. Based on a multi-stakeholder process, using UNEP’s Sustainable Consumption and Production approach, the Ministry of Tourism has taken the lead and created the policy framework – it remains to be seen how the industry responds.

Best for Wildlife Conservation

Joint Gold Winners Mara Naboisho Conservancy & Ol Pejeta Conservancy
“The Wildlife Conservation category had a very strong range of initiatives on the longlist many of them outstanding. This year the judges focussed on wildlife conservation initiatives which use tourism to benefit local communities and to conserve wildlife rather than on tourism businesses which contribute to conservation. There were two Gold Award winners in the category both in Kenya and both conservancies:  Ol Pejeta Conservancy and the Mara Naboisho Conservancy.

The judges recognised that these are two outstanding examples of how tourism can be used by conservationists to protect habits and species and to uplift local communities. The Mara Naboisho Conservancy has increased lion density and providing 142 jobs, secure income to 554 local Maasai households and further indirect benefits to ~10,000 local people. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy still maintains a herd of 6,000 beef cattle, it is one of the few conservancies in the world able to cover almost all of its basic operating costs (US$ 6 million) through its own, sustainable, commercially generated revenues from tourism and agriculture.”

Silver WinnerConservation Travel Foundation
“Silver went to the Conservation Travel Foundation, a non-profit organization in partnership with and supported by Ultimate Safaris in Namibia for its innovative Conservation Safaris where guests pay a premium in exchange for the privilege of being able to interact with those involved in local conservation projects, and get satisfaction from making a significant contribution to conservation.”


People’s Choice in Responsible Tourism

Winner: Marine Dynamics

“Voted for entirely by the public, the People’s Choice in Responsible Tourism Award allows members of the public to vote for the most inspiring category winner from 2015. Winner Marine Dynamics provide very high quality shark cage diving experiences. They are industry leaders, a commercial operation which operates to the highest conservation standards, where every trip has a marine biologist aboard to provide interpretation and collect data for scientific research. An operator that makes a significant contribution to conservation and the local economy.”


For more information on the African Responsible Tourism Awards and the sponsors visit

For the list of Finalists go to






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Harold Goodwin