Craig Mackinlay for PCC

I am today officially endorsing Cllr Craig Mackinlay for the role of Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent.

Cllr Mackinlay is the former UKIP acting leader and parliamentary candidate who turned to the Conservative Party in 2006. He stood in the Labour-held River ward on Medway Council in 2007 and stole one of their two seats.

Indeed, I was privileged enough to have campaigned with Cllr Mackinlay on behalf of Mark Reckless in May 2010, David Craggs in August 2010, Andrew Mackness in October 2010 and Craig Mackinlay and Andrew Mackness in May 2011.

Three of those elections were incredible successes; the fourth, in October 2010, still saw an increase in the number of Conservatives turning out to vote.

Since being first elected, Cllr Mackinlay has proven he has what it takes to be a strong and successful PCC; he has both worked with Kent Police and argued against them as circumstances dictated.

The PCC has the important role of managing the budget and setting the priorities for Kent Police.

As a chartered accountant, managing a balanced yet effective £300m budget will not prove problematic for Cllr Mackinlay – and he has pledged to keep the front line intact against growing central government austerity.

Meanwhile, he has set out a clear manifesto for policing priorities in Kent – influenced by discussions with concerned residents, his role on the Kent Police Authority and his role as a magistrate on the North Kent Bench.

There are two hurdles remaining for the three candidates who have been nominated and shortlisted: the Conservative Party hustings in Tonbridge on 9 June, Canterbury on 15 June and Hoo on 17 June, before the successful Conservative candidate then seeks the approval of the Kent electorate on 15 November.

I will, of course, be supporting whoever ultimately becomes the Conservative Party candidate for the Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent.

However, I hope that Conservatives across Kent and Medway will recognise that Cllr Craig Mackinlay is the most suitable candidate to fly the Conservative banner in November and give their vote to him in their selection meeting next month.

Birmingham Mail letter: Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Appalled by Legion cheat

SPEAKING as both a law student and Royal British Legion volunteer, I was horrified to read about the actions of Geoffrey Henrick in the Birmingham Mail (February 22).

Where I live in Medway (I’m here in Birmingham visiting family and friends), I have been volunteering to raise money for the Poppy Appeal since I was 12 and have supported the Royal British Legion for most of my life.

It makes me sick to the stomach whenever governments (of whatever persuasion) betray the trust and relationship they have with our services and ex-services community, but to discover that the betrayal has come from a holder of immense responsibility and trust within an organisation that has campaigned tirelessly for our Armed Forces family since its inception kills a little of the faith I have for humanity.

Alan W Collins, by email

For background to this letter, see this article in the Birmingham Mail.

Medway blogger attacks anti-war protesters for vandalising charity billboards

Medway blogger Alan Collins has attacked anti-war protesters for vandalising billboards advertising the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.

Mr Collins, a member of the Royal British Legion and the Royal Air Forces Association, as well as a former member of the Air Training Corps, expressed his anger at the tactics used by the protesters.

“The whole point of the Poppy Appeal is to promote and finance support for servicemen who have fought bravely and professionally for our freedom,” Mr Collins said.

“They fought, and in many cases, died to give us the freedom to protest, not to give us the freedom to commit criminal acts.

“I’m not saying I don’t disagree with what the protesters are saying. There are many questions that need answering about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but this is not the way to go about getting heard.”

Alan Collins has long been a supporter of Britain’s Armed Forces, helping to collect money for the Poppy Appeal for the last few years, and his comments came after vandalism of the billboards with messages including “For their sake, bring ’em home” and “For their sake, prosecute Blair” angered him.

Mr Collins added: “the Poppy Appeal isn’t about arguing about which wars are just and which should never have been entered into. It’s about supporting and helping our servicemen and women for their bravery and professionalism.

“The fact that these people have manipulated the Poppy Appeal campaign for their own political protest is, quite frankly, disgusting.”