* THE Tory team-shot was missing a few faces when the Camden group got together on the steps of the conference centre last week. Leader Andrew Mennear, who jokes he won’t go to another conference until the Conservatives return to Blackpool, wasn’t there. And neither was Frognal councillor Laura Trott – although she was in Manchester for the week. She had a busy job chasing around after Cabinet Minister Francis Maude, for whom she works a special adviser. In an interview with the Independent on Sunday, Maude had just explained the National Trust’s views on government planning reforms were “bollocks”. Fruity language always keeps your aides busy.
* THE last train home from Manch was a busy affair. Will Hutton was heading home on it, as was Orpington MP Jo Johnson. As the Mayor’s brother walked up the aisle he must have seen all the people making the journey fly with cans of Carlsberg and buckets of wine. What did he think? Boris after all banned drinking on public transport in one of his first moves as London’s No. 1.
* BELSIZE councillor Jonny Bucknell didn’t quite rip Philip Hammond a new one (to drop shamefully into Jeremy Kyle parlance) when they came face to face in a HS2 meeting – but he gave it his best shot. JB told Hammond that he should ‘bite the bullet and scrap the whole thing’, and then spend the cash on sorting out the rail link down to Cornwall. Whatever you think of local politicians, he says what he thinks and won’t be restricted by party lines. He left the meeting with his Union Jack flag – a leftover from the Royal Wedding he loved so much – sticking out of his rucksack.
* That HS2 meeting where Jonny got angry was hosted by the rail mag, Transport Times. It has the ‘most influential readership’ and the ‘best ‘columists’.