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Archive for National Politics

The Budget: Main Points For Local Government

The Guardian website has a report here on the impact of today’s budget on local government.

Their key points were:
• Restrictions on public sector pay were announced.
• Welfare Cap to be set at £119bn in 2015-16, rising to £127bn in 2018-9.
• Osborne said house building was up by 23% but this wasn’t enough. He said further reforms to the planning system were being made and that he wanted to get Britain building.
• The government will make £140m available for repairs and maintenance to damaged flood defences.
• Local authorities will also be able to bid from a pot of £200m for filling potholes.

Schools Holidays Petition … And Flood Prevention Funds

green reed

The “A Green Read” website , run by Councillor Michael Hoy, has had a lot of new stuff recently, including


Hullbridge Woman to have her petition debated in Parliament.

Donna Thresher started her Government e-petition back in March 2013 with the simple statement.
“Stop Holiday companies charging extra in school holidays”
The petition is a response to the belief that holiday companies are profiteering during school holidays charging excessive prices far above those that would be dictated by normal supply and demand….
…Lib Dem MP John Hemming has proposed the e-petition for debate in Westminster Hall for 24 February 2014 after the e-petition went viral due to Paul Cookson linking it to his Facebook Group Holiday Price Increase.

Essex County Council releases £1m of emergency funding for flooded roads
Essex County Council have at last listened to the concerns of residents and have at last decided to act on the flooded roads of the County. Below is the press release allocating £1 Million to tackle road flooding in the County….
….. Within Rochford District the one road needing flood alleviation methods that immediately springs to mind is Watery Lane in Rawreth. Some schemes have been put forward including installing a drainage system on the field to the South of the to prevent it draining onto the road as it currently does (and is allowed to do quite legally) and I will be pushing for watery Lane to be put into the top 5 as we all know it floods every year not just in this one.

“10 Reasons Why Mary From Sherlock Should Stick With The Lib Dems”

sherlock

On Buzzfeed here

sherlock1

The list begins with…

sherlock2

New Rules For Licensing Scrap Metal Dealers Come Into Force

Essex County Council Lib Dems have welcomed a new law giving councils greater powers to combat the blight of scrap metal thefts on communities across the country.

Every scrap metal dealer is having to obtain a licence to trade from their local authority under the new Scrap Metal Dealers Act with councils now able to refuse or revoke licences.

The Act also makes it illegal for anyone to buy or sell scrap metal with cash and gives councils new powers of entry and inspection and the ability to shut down rogue dealers.

The Local Government Association, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales and which successfully lobbied alongside industry stakeholders for the new legislation, expects it to help solve a spiraling national problem that costs the UK economy more than £700 million every year.

It will also help protect against unscrupulous thieves targeting churches, desecrating war memorials and causing disruption by stealing electric cables and metal from railway lines.

A Local Government Association survey last year showed that 9 in 10 councils had been the victims of metal theft at a cost of more than £5 million. Stolen gully covers, electric cables and street furniture was leading to people falling down holes, power cuts and local authorities having to spend millions of pounds on repairs and replacements.

Cllr. Mike Mackrory has said:

“Metal thefts have had a hugely negative impact on communities, businesses and councils with trains disrupted, precious memorials desecrated, church and library roofs vandalised, schools targeted and road signs stolen. We are delighted that Liberal Democrats in government worked hard to ensure that this Bill became law”.

“Much of these stolen goods were ending up in scrap yards and out-dated legislation left councils powerless to act and having to pick up the bill to replace them at a time when funding cuts are putting a strain on their ability to deliver vital services.

“This new Act will help tackle this mindless crime and make it easier for councils and the police to both prevent and tackle this criminal activity that causes such damage, distress and disruption.

“It is also supported by responsible scrap metal dealers keen to see rogue traders shut down and prosecuted and stopped from bringing their trade into disrepute. From today, we can all work together to clean up the industry once and for all and protect communities from the scourge of metal theft.”

A Row Brewing….

There’s a big political row brewing over past problems at Basildon Hospital.

Peter Black (no relation) blogs about it here.

According to the Sunday Times Mr. Burnham, who is now the shadow health secretary, is preparing libel proceedings against one of his successors in that post, Jeremy Hunt over remarks made on Twitter. They say that Labour party lawyers yesterday wrote to Hunt demanding that he remove the comments from the social networking site or face further action…. Jeremy Hunt is refusing to back down, which leads me to wonder whether Burnham will go ahead with his threat to sue. After all juries are notoriously (and quite rightly) unsympathetic to politicians and their reputation.

More damagingly though such a court case could lead to a very public and forensic dissection of Andy Burnham’s time in charge of the NHS. Would any minister, irrespective of party voluntarily agree to such a scenario?

“Scrap Business Rates on small shops,” says Colchester’s MP

From the website of Colchester Lib Dem MP Bob Russell :

September 11, 2013 2:41 PM

Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell has called on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to scrap Business Rates on small shops – and for the introduction of a levy on out-of-town retail car parks so that the Treasury does not lose revenue overall. He made the call during Treasury Questions in the House of Commons.
And to his pleasant surprise, the Chancellor, the Rt Hon George Osborne MP, said in answer that “I will take the suggestion as a good submission for a future fiscal statement.”
Afterwards Liberal Democrat Sir Bob said that if Business Rates could be scrapped for small shops – such as specialist shops in Colchester Town Centre as well as those in the various neighbourhoods of the town, and also in villages – this would help many of them to have a better chance of survival in increasingly difficult trading times.
Sir Bob added that there was not a level playing field for retail establishments, with out-of-town stores having a major advantage over established town centres and smaller shops. “A levy on car parks at these mega retail locations would be negligible for the overall turnover they enjoy, but the sum collected would offset the cost of removing Business Rates from small shops and neighbourhood stores which would thus tick a big box in the Coalition Government’s localism agenda and the last Labour Government’s sustainable communities legislation.”
His idea is not a new one, but in the past his efforts have been rebuffed.
Sir Bob observed: “The Chancellor’s comment has encouraged me to now follow this up with a formal proposition for the Treasury to consider for the next fiscal review.”

 

 

 

A Motion Worth Moving?

We’ve just had the following letter by email from the campaign unlockdemocracy.org

We’d be interested to know what our readers think about this – and especially if councillors from other parties would support it too.

Dear Councillor Black

Local pubs are in serious decline. Twenty-six pubs close every week across the country.

In many instances, valued community pubs are converted into other uses such as betting shops and pay-day loan stores or are demolished, without planning permission being required. This means that local communities and the councils that represent them have no say before local pubs are lost to the local area forever.

We are therefore asking if you could please put forward a motion for your next Council meeting resolving to submit the following proposal under the Sustainable Communities Act:

“That the Government help protect community pubs in England by ensuring that planning permission and community consultation are required before community pubs are allowed to be converted to betting shops, supermarkets and pay-day loan stores or other uses, or are allowed to be demolished.”

Below is a suggested motion you could use for convenience.

Pubs inject an average of £80,000 into their local economy each year and support almost one million UK jobs, 46% of whom are 16 – 24 year olds.[1] They are a vital part of local economies.

The demolition of pubs is classed as “permitted development” meaning planning permission is not required. Between 2003 and 2012, 414 former pubs were demolished in London alone[2].

The Sustainable Communities Act is an ideal tool to use to deal with this problem. If lots of councils jointly submit this proposal to government under the Act, it will put significant pressure on government to make the necessary changes to the planning system.

I should be grateful if you could please let me know if you do put forward a motion to your Council on this.

Kind regards,

Daniel Flanagan

Projects Manager

Local Works

Where Your Tax Goes

There’s an interesting analysis in the Daily Telegraph of how the money people pay in income tax and national insurance is spent. You can find it here.

To put things in context, average annual earnings of those working  in our district are about £22,000.

 

If you earn £20,000 per year you pay Income tax of £ 3110.20 and National Insurance of 2069.76 – a total of £5179.96.  According to the Telegraph report  that is spent as follows:


 

If you are doing better and earning £50,000 per year you are paying this much:

 

 

And what’s included in the big amount for “Welfare and Pensions?” According to the Guardian earlier this year , the biggest chunk of that goes on pensions:

47% of UK benefit spending goes on state pensions of £74.22bn a year …. It’s followed by housing benefit of £16.94bn …. and Disability living allowance of £12.57bn . ….Jobseekers’ allowance is actually one of the smaller benefits – £4.91bn in 2011-12….

Our contribution to the EU is probably a lot lower than most people would expect.

“Green Party Leader Coming To Hullbridge And Hockley”

It’s probably been a looooong time since a leader of one of the political parties came to our district. David Steel stopped off for a photo at Rayleigh Weir in 1983, but we can’t recall any others since then.
However according to Cllr Michael Hoy, the leader of the Green Party, Natalie Bennett, will be coming to Hullbridge and Hockley tomorrow.

Clearly the election there is hotting up…..

We’d like to officially deny the rumour that David Cameron was going to come, but was afraid of getting marooned in Watery Lane!

Watery Lane

Fewer People Paying Income Tax…..

With the latest budget announcements:

In Rochford District….

…….. 3,610 people will have been removed from income tax altogether since 2010

…….. 33,100 people will have had their income tax reduced.

The Good News For People On Low Pay….

An Unwanted Pickle

 

Colchester Lib Dem Councillor Nick Barlow writes here on Government Minister Eric Pickles – and he is pretty blunt. Here’s an extract:

…  Instead of assistance and help from the Secretary of State, there is instead a hectoring of local government and a stubborn refusal to engage with anything councils have actually done to address the financial crisis. This is exemplified in the list of fifty money-saving ideas the Department for Communities and Local Government have published.

——–

This was accompanied by Pickles stating that councils must ‘do every single one’ of these ideas. Yet again, Pickles proves that ‘localism’ is just a sham – even more so than under Labour, his DCLG expects councils to dance to Whitehall’s tune in exchange for funding.

——–

The general consensus from people I know in local government to the list has been ‘but we’re doing all that already!’..

Mr Pickles may end up being the worst minister for local government ever.

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Daily Reporting by Chris Black

With support from:
Ron Oatham Ron Oatham Bruce Smart Bruce Smart Chris Stanley Chris Stanley

Latest Comments

  • Brian Guyett: I think its appropriate to ask WHY make this statement at this time. What is their aim?
  • Jim Cripps: So , £2.1 million spent over 7 years and they have only just realised that the Core Plan ( for each...
  • A.mattbhews: Without breaking any code of conduct,I would like to say I am somewhat surprised at the Councillors...
  • Christine Paine: I was staggered and am still spluttering with disbelief/rage to read in the Echo tonight that...
  • Jim Cripps: A good point Brian , in fact it is now obvious that most Towns & Villages in all the SE Essex...
  • Corey Vost: It is becoming increasingly obvious that ECC Highways have precious little intention of adopting this...
  • Christine Paine: Thanks Chris. I think noise depends to a great extent on wind direction. At least, with quite a few...
  • Tom Smith: Thanks
  • Chris Black: Christine – I spoke to the licensing people yesterday. They visited the site the day before with...
  • Chris Black: Hi Tom – its a good question, things have gone quiet on that. I will try to find out.
  • Tom Smith: Hi, Is the Waste recycling centre still being moved from Castle Road to this area? There seem to be no...
  • Brian Guyett: A welcome, overdue initiative but I agree with John Mason – we need to consider the whole...
  • Jim Cripps: PS: And can you explain how a party political leaflet “in touch” has the authority to cancel...
  • A.mattbhews: Please note this is not a flood prevention solution but is the replacement of a foul sewer . Despite...
  • Jim Cripps: Well done Chris/ John and sorely needed as they have already cancelled two promises ( RTSSC & new...
  • Jim Cripps: Two quotes for you :- Cllr K Hudson via Evening Echo ( Fri 11th April ) – “The process we...
  • Jim Cripps: That is exactly why it is later ( negative election impact ) , however all the voters need to do is ask...
  • Jim Cripps: Greenbelt – it is’nt the same show ( the Battlesbridge one is in June ), the one last weekend...
  • John Mason: As far as I can see “by 9 April” quoted in your Article allowed “the 5 day rule”...
  • Greenbelt: The ‘RaveR 17; type event last year which caused many complaints on this site was clearly audible...
  • Christine Paine: We could hear it over the television. I’ve got nothing against the showground as such,...
  • admin: I would think you can hear it over half of Rayleigh, with the windows closed….
  • admin: Not sure…
  • John Mason: So what happens next please?

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The Core Strategy

This is the official master document for planning policy in our district! To download it, click here click here. (2.5mb)

Planning Applications…

If you want information on a particular planning application, you can find it on the District Council website here.

If you want to know what new planning applications have been submitted this week, click here.

Reporting A Problem

If you want to report a problem, you can email Lib Dems councillors by clicking here.
There's also an independent website called FixMyStreet. It's very good for reporting minor street problems like holes in the road, grafitti or failed streetlights. You can find FixMyStreet here.

The Roads That Need Repairing


The County Council admitted in July that over 200 roads in our district need repairing! They say they will fix them by May 2013. Click here to see the list.

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