Friday, 11 April 2014
Sunday, 6 April 2014
In this weeks podcast we discuss the expenses scandal and press furore surrounding Culture Secretary Maria Miller, we hear about the latest campaigning Liam has taken part in with our European Candidates Judith Kirton-Darling, Paul Brannen and Jayne Shotton. We also discuss Fair Pay Week, the sale of Royal Mail and much more.
Please press play to listen to the podcast or subscribe via our talkshoe page at http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/132481.
Our political podcast is now available to subscribe on iTunes which is completely FREE from their iTunes store. Click here to subscribe to our Politics Podcast on iTunes. There is no better way of ensuring you do not miss a show as any new shows automatically downloads to your computer each time you open the iTunes application and we have uploaded a new show.
Thanks to everyone who has listened so far.
Friday, 4 April 2014
Tuesday, 18 March 2014
- VAT increased – to 20% from 2011
- Income Tax higher rate threshold cut to £42,475 in 2011-12
- Higher Income Child Benefit Charge introduced 2013
- Insurance premium tax increased – from 2011
- Capital Gains Tax increased – to 28 per cent for higher rate taxpayers from June 2010
- New Beer Duty introduced on high strength beers from 2011
- ISA subscription limit uprated in line with CPI rather than RPI from 2012-13
- Pension tax relief restricted from 2014-15
- Inheritance Tax threshold frozen in 2015-16
- National Insurance Contributions ending of contracting-out rebates from 2016-17
Saturday, 15 March 2014
The budget will look towards the next general election rather than making positive changes and setting the agenda for future economic growth.Later this week the chancellor will present his final budget before the 2015 general election. There is pressure from two former Conservative chancellors, Nigel Lawson and Norman Lamont, for a further cut in the tax of higher earners.
There are plenty of Tory backbench MPs who support further tax cuts for the rich, they would of courses would benefit personally from these measures but its hard to believe that the chancellor would back such a move in a pre election budget.
As announced by the Lib Dems at their conference, there may well be a rise in the amount people can earn before paying any income tax from £10,000 to £10,500. This will be worth around £2 per week to those on the low incomes. However it must be seen in context of other previous budget with bedroom tax charges at £15 a week, the government are tinkering around the edges while wages are falling.
In the Hexham constituency, pay has fallen by an average of £270 a month since the Coalition came to power, the recovery that Conservatives speak of is not being felt in Northumberland.
I hope to hear some announcement that will signify that George Osbourne has listened to the public. Maybe he will show a little humility, and acknowledge that pursuing an austerity only approach has stunted economic recovery.
Related post: Osborne wants us to forget about Tory tax rises: http://liamrcarr.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/forget-it.html
Monday, 3 March 2014
Last weekend, after campaigning in Prudhoe I crossed the bridge. It was a Saturday and I parked up to see how much traffic was using the route. I can confirm that for most of the time I was there there was traffic waiting to cross at one end or another, and the cars do make a bit of a racket as they rattle from one end to the other. We have been assured that the new surface will be much quieter.
Before the meeting I was listening to residents who all agreed that the work is necessary. I heard from some that were concerned that the bridge would be made too wide, resulting in an increase in larger traffic. This is not the case; the stone pillars at either end of the bridge will stay so width restrictions will remain in place, however the current high metal barriers will be replace by conventional angled kerbs. No longer will we have to worry about dings to alloy wheels or loss of wheel trims.
During the meeting itself many concerns were raised, the first of which was the loss of trees from the areas around the bridge. This is a valid concern as many trees have already been cut down. We were told that replanting will take place on all woodland areas, apart from those which are underneath or very close to the bridge. Other environmental concerns were discussed, including the removal of the current paint on the bridge, which is lead based and we were reassured that none of it will be allowed to fall into the Tyne.
Parking was also raised. This is an problem even when the bridge is closed. All contractors' vehicles will be parked in a compound and not in the village. Children from the Prudhoe side who attend school in Ovingham will be dropped off and supervised as they walk across the pedestrian bridge to school.
I asked about penalty clauses in contracts for finishing late. These are in place for subcontractors but as Northumberland County Council are using their own workforce to do much of the work there are no penalty clauses for this aspect. I see this is a positive as the council can address any delays due to weather or other circumstances.
I sought assurance that the work would be finished on time: While residents understand the need for the closure, the inconvenience to local people should not be brushed aside or underestimated: Many will have increased journey time which for some will mean a whole year of getting in later from work, and a whole year of increased fuel costs.
I was assured that the build would be completed on time, and that the closure would be for a maximum of 12 months. It is a shame that the Goose Fair will have to be cancelled, it's a shame many people will be inconvenienced, but the refurbished bridge will be an improvement on the existing one and will last for many years to come.
Thursday, 20 February 2014
Winter fuel payments to pensioners are tax-free payments of between £100 and £300. They were introduced by the Labour Government back in 1997. Most payments are made between November and December. We are proposing to bring forward payment of the winter fuel allowance from December to July to allow pensioners to buy their domestic heating oil during the summer months when costs are lower.
There are 4.6 million pensioners in the UK who do not have access to gas central heating. They have to use alternative sources of energy such as oil-fired heating, solid fuel or liquid petroleum gas. This group is more likely to be in fuel poverty than those who do have access to gas because heating costs are higher. Nationally 15% of UK households do not have access to a mains gas supply, rising to 18% of households in Northumberland.
Since 2005 heating oil prices have doubled. Suppliers often put prices up just before the winter payment is due. Bringing the winter fuel payment forward would allow customers in rural areas to pay for their fuel before the winter, so they would get more heating oil for their money.
Although Labours price freeze on gas and electricity is big news, during the freeze, all parts of the energy market will be reviewed. Off grid energy in rural areas will not be overlooked.
Saturday, 8 February 2014
He also discussed the apparently widespread corruption involved in most arms trades, both in government-to-government deals and in the more shadowy world of the illicit weapons market. It was fascinating stuff.
After the debate I was asked by a Hexham constituent, what my thoughts on the topic were. I said that the defence industry employs a lot of engineers both in the North East and Nationally, bringing in export revenue of £8.8Bn in the last financial year. However I was uncomfortable with the idea of our Prime Minister flying round the Middle East earlier this year, on a plane full of arms dealers to secure this investment. My main concern was that weapons produced in the UK could end up being used by governments against their own civilians.
After the meeting I met with some committed Hexham Labour activists for a few hours of campaigning. The main national concerns raised on the doorstep were jobs, and the North being ignored by the government in Westminster. The bus station was also a concern, among both residents and owners of local businesses close by. I hope that following proper consultation a solution can be found that is acceptable to both businesses and bus users.2
From learning about the global arms trade to listening to concerns about local buses, you can't say that the work of a parliamentary candidate isn't varied.
1. For further reading Andrew's book "The Shadow World inside the Global Arms Trade" is out now.
2. Further comment on the Bus Station
Sunday, 19 January 2014
The Conservative-led coalition have demanded cuts of an additional £46m by March 2017. It is difficult to make such extreme savings in such a short time frame without affecting services.
The Conservative MP for Hexham has openly criticised Vera Baird, the Labour Police Commissioner in the Local Press for the way she is implementing the cuts imposed by the government, but the sitting MP is yet to stand up to his own Chancellor and Home Secretary, for imposing additional budget cuts which could result in the loss of 12 police stations across the region including Prudhoe Police Station.
The leadership of the police are being forced to make choices between closing buildings and cutting numbers of police officers but buildings will not be closed until alternative provision is found. I fully support our police and crime commissioner in her efforts to make sure the public are kept safe in spite of these extra cuts, but there is no denying that Government is putting front-line policing at risk.
The police are doing more with less; they need the full support of politicians on all sides.
Monday, 13 January 2014
Plans are at early stages and will be available for public consultation. I would urge community representatives on all sides and members of the public to have their say, on what the alternative provision should look like and where it should be located.
The sitting MP has already indicated that he is disappointed that the council "Has abandoned grand schemes" The reality is that there is no money in council budgets for grand schemes, the council, like many Northern councils are seeing the money they receive from from the treasury, cut year on year.
The MP for Hexham voted in favour of a finance bill which has seen spending on services for the people of Northumberland fall by £130M: It is impossible to cope with that level of reduction without any effect on services. Some councils in the UK are not having to make such choices, some in the South of England have actually enjoyed a modest budget increase.
All we see is criticism of a Labour led Council in Northumberland for the way they are implementing the cuts being demanded by a Conservative led Government in Westminster. My question is this: When is the sitting MP going to stand up to his own leader and chancellor and ask questions about the disproportionate effect of Government policy on services in the Hexham constituency?
Wednesday, 1 January 2014
I am frankly dismayed at Mr Opperman’s stance on the issue of MPs pay.
An MPs current salary of £65,768 would be considered by many as generous. There are families in the Hexham constituency who will struggle to make ends meet in January. Prices are rising faster than wages so the timing of this announcement could not be worse.
I also believe that being an MP is a full time job and any duties outside of public life have an impact on the work of an MP. The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority could look at the issue of MPs doing second jobs, instead of focusing on wage rises.
I accept that MPs salaries should be decided by an independent body but when that body makes a proposal that is so out of step with the public mood, it must be rejected.
Saturday, 21 December 2013
On planning, the Government has promised to 'devolve greater power and freedoms to local government and community groups through the Localism Act'. This has yet to become a reality: Large corporations and developers can effectively ignore decisions made by local councils by appealing unfavourable outcomes in the high court, which is exactly what UK coal have done with the Bradley surface mine application, over in County Durham. The initial decision of the planning inspector to listen to local concerns and refuse planning permission has been quashed in the High Court. I'm part of the Whittonstall action group who are opposing a similar development near Whittonstall first school. The worry is that if Northumberland County Council listen to local concerns and recommend refusal then appeals will be lodged and the decision will be simply transferred from Northumberland to London.
This is where local plans, such as Northumberland's Core Strategy become important. The core strategy is a plan for the next 15 years that includes the designation of areas of land that can be used for particular purposes. If an area does end up being designated for housing after public consultation, it may not necessarily have houses built there, but that planning permission for a new housing development will be more likely to be granted if it is inside rather than outside this area. Long term planning is essential in both local and national government and plans that are made must go beyond our electoral cycles.
The Conservatives have missed the deadline for initial consultation which ended on January the 2nd. It is easy to make quick political points, but more difficult to make tough choices for the long term.
Local plans are the only means by which the extent and nature of development can be decided locally. By refusing to engage in the core strategy we are leaving the door open for developers to apply, be knocked back because of the strength of local feeling and then simply have the decision overturned because local strategies are not in place or not robust enough.
Hopefully, when the plan is completed, many opinions can be taken into account and the views of local residents will be have been heard.
Documents can read here (click to go to NCC core strategy page)
Saturday, 14 December 2013
Schools do need good teachers, but instead of addressing the government's shift to allowing people with no teaching qualifications to teach, Wilshaw choses to criticise good teachers for living in the wrong place. There are issues in some local authorities, and the two Michaels; Wilshaw and Gove, are very quick to point out failings, but pointing out failings is not enough, and saying that good teachers should move around more is definitely not enough.
The Education Secretary enjoys making an example of entire regions of the UK, he said he could "smell defeatism" in schools in East Durham, it later came to light that he had never visited a school in East Durham.
Real improvement in schools can not be imposed by a national body, it has to come from inside the school itself. It has been announced that Ofsted will spend longer in failing schools but this is not the answer either.
School improvement departments used to exist with the local education authority framework but local authority budgets have been slashed by this goverment. Staff who work in the council education department, but who do not work in front of young people on a daily basis, have been seen correctly, as non-front line staff, who can be made redundant, without affecting teacher-pupil ratios or numbers of support staff in schools. In addition to this, many schools are now out of local authority control. There is very little organisation to address school improvement on a regional basis.
A system of regional school improvement boards could be introduced, this would not replace Ofsted, but it the role of Ofsted to identify areas of improvement, this is distinct and separate from the role of working with teachers and school leaders to bring about positive change.
The board should not be made up of bureaucrats but staffed by current practitioners, Advanced Skills Teachers already exist, they are given a reduced timetable, would remain in post and could share good practice in their own region. Outstanding teachers could even take a sabbatical for a year to work for the School Improvement Board, they could liaise directly with teachers, for an extended period to make real improvements in Teaching and Learning.
Teachers would be able to share their expertise in their own region, they, better than anyone, understand the challenges faced by fellow teachers nearby, and how these can be addressed. Good teachers don't need to move house, but they might be able to move teaching in the right direction.
Friday, 6 December 2013
He was locked up for his part in the struggle against an evil system, and could have allowed anger to consume him. He chose instead, to forgive his captors.
He could have used his position as one of the leading lights in the ANC, to call for an all out war against the government, but not Mandela, he chose a different path.
Mandela chose reconciliation rather than revenge. He chose democracy rather than seizing power.
He has left our world now, but he has left a better world behind, than the one into which he was born.
|"To be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that |
respects and enhances the freedom of others." Nelson Mandela
Friday, 22 November 2013
Cameron will claim that food banks are a triumph of his big society but they are in fact needed because the failure of the state to look after the most vulnerable in society. Many donations come from older people who have lived through times when families and communities had to pull together in hard times.
Food banks are not unique to traditionally working class areas. I went on holiday with my family, camping in the New Forest. The towns and villages look very expensive places to live, one had a Ferrari dealership and many houses won't leave you any change from a Million pounds.
I was surprised to hear that the local churches were collecting food to distribute in leafy Southern towns. There is a now food bank in Hexham, it seems that even in areas which are sometimes thought of as better off, there is real hardship.
With Christmas fast approaching there are families who are really struggling with unemployment, low paid work, social security delays and the bedroom tax. Prices are rising, wages and social security payments are frozen and there is just too much month left at the end of the money.
Donations of food can be left at most churches, and I noticed that the Co-op in Prudhoe has a collection point.
The conduct of Tory MPs during Labour's opposition day debate on foodbank use, has been roundly criticised, they were laughing at the poor in their own consitituencies. The reality is clear: Poverty can be found, wherever we choose to look for it.
Thursday, 31 October 2013
There are several consultation meetings taking place during November where plans will be available, and residents will get a chance to have their say.
All the meetings start and finish at the same time and are in two parts:
1. Exhibition of plans 3-6pm
2. Public meeting 6.30-8.30pm
Thursday November 7: Prudhoe, Spetchells Centre, Front Street.
Tuesday November 19: Hexham, Prospect House, Hallgate.
Thursday November 21: Ponteland Memorial Hall.
Thursday November 28: Haltwhistle Library, Westgate.
Monday, 28 October 2013
Friday, 25 October 2013
There are many reasons why people would object to having a large Tesco built on the edge of their town. It may adversely affect small businesses in the town. There is already a medium sized Tesco less than a mile from Consett at Delves Lane: This will be closed so there is some balance there. People from outside Consett may come to Consett to shop, and it may attract further development as happened in Team Valley and more recently Kingston Park, two places where people from Consett go, but probably wouldn't have been to if it wasn't for the large retail parks there. Many people commute from the the Derwent Valley to the Newcastle area and will use the superstores there. The Consett commuter is more likely to shop closer to home as a result of this development.
Tesco have been implicated in the Workfare scandal; they have been accused of taking people on jobseekers allowance to stack shelves instead of paying a wage for this. Large supermarkets pay many workers low wages which require them to remain on benefits. By employing a workforce that is subsidised by taxpayers, supermarkets are effectively making profits for shareholders because the state allows them to avoid paying a living wage. The living wage argument is compelling but I feel that debating this would not be appropriate at a time when over 1 million young people are out of work. It is an argument for another day.
Tesco always seem to attract controversy: Their charity work attracted criticism when work support for cancer research was reduced and they sponsored the gay pride festival shortly after. They are criticised by farmers for driving down the prices of British produce. They have been castigated by a Celebrity chef for chicken welfare standards, and most recently they are the first retailer to postpone retirement until 67. I hope all retailers gradually adopt more ethical practices both in the way they source their food and in the way they treat their workers.
There are positives to the development: After a long wait, almost a lifetime in my case, something is happening on the steelworks site. What is in symbol of the humiliation of unemployment will bring employment, around 250 jobs. Morrisons is also expanding, Argos is looking at the old Morrisons site and there is talk of B&Q being interested. Tesco will contribute £400 000 towards town centre regeneration1 which may do little to appease local traders but is some compensation.
Retail may seem an unlikely development at a time when people do not have a lot to spend but there must be demand: There are plans for 3000 new homes in the area; population is increasing; it is time for Consett to look to the future. Added to the school and sports centre on the old Civic Centre site, we are looking at developments worth in the region of £100 Million2 being built in Consett in the next few years and although a state of the art school, a Tesco Extra and other retail outlets are not going to solve the problems of unemployment and lack of opportunity, every little helps.
2. A conservative estimate
Wednesday, 23 October 2013
Right now we can see clear differences in policy between the two parties that has not been seen since Thatcher was in power. Politicians for too long have tried occupy the muddy centre ground. New Labour stuck its flag firmly in the centre and won elections, Lib Dems have fashioned careers out of wriggling into the tiny space between the two main parties, they are still trying it now, claiming that they should be the party in a never ending coalition government because they make the Tories nicer and Labour meaner. Cameron came to power after reforming his Party, into Compassionate Conservatives; how quickly the mask slips.
When times are good the detail of economic policy is something that you can read about in the FT if you are that way inclined. During a recession however, every detail is front page news. The priorities, of both government and opposition, are laid bare.
On health the government are on the side of private healthcare providers. The health and social care act which allows private companies to get a slice of the NHS budget, is one of the few acts that Labour will repeal.
On education the government priority has shifted to academic qualifications in traditional subjects and values memorising facts over skills development. There is a choreographed split between Clegg and Gove on free schools, which not not change the implementation of a policy which Clegg could have voted down had he chosen to oppose it when it came before Parliament.
On welfare the line is less defined, with Labour and Tories alike trying to be "tough on benefits." The divide however can been seen in the approach; with Labour guaranteeing a job people who are out of work for 2 years. Under Iain Duncan-Smith the DWP are sanctioning more job seekers than ever before. The job-centre stop payments then give the person being sanctioned directions to the local food bank. This is the poor feeding the poor; many donations come from pensioners who have memories long enough to remember a time before the welfare state.
Rising prices and falling wages are the battle lines on which the 2015 general election will be fought. Energy prices are spiralling out of control and David Cameron has persisted in stubbornly staying firmly the side of the big energy companies. A Tory will always say that market forces must to be interfered with, but when the market is rigged it will not sort itself out, only a government can fix it. The public, the Labour Party and even John Major agree that now is the time to act - something needs to be done.
All political parties from Cameron's Conservatives to Mao's Communists will claim to be on the side of 'hard working people' However decisions like selling the Royal Mail off cheap show how clear it is that the Tories are still a party of rich men, paid for by rich men, implementing policy which protects the interests of rich men. Under the Leadership of Ed Miliband the Labour Party is developing policies that really will benefit the many and not the few.
Wednesday, 2 October 2013
Ed started by thanking his partner Justine, Dave mentioned that his wife ran a small business, which must have been pretty straightforward to set up when Dad is a millionaire.
There was a contrast in styles, there is no argument that Ed is an impressive public speaker, he delivered his conference speech in his now trademark style; on an X-factor type stage with no notes and no auto-cue. Dave read his speech from a lectern, the delivery was super confident, often staring straight down the TV camera lens and pointing his finger. One pro Labour commentator tweeted that "Ed Miliband has changed the accepted norm for conference speeches Cameron was dull, slow paced and dated"
Ed attacked current Tory policy and the lack of growth. Dave attacked Labour, persisting with the "mess Labour left" and pleading with the country to let him "finish the job" There was not a trace of humility or even an acknowledgement that Tory policies are not currently working 'for hardworking people'
The media focus was on Labours energy price freeze. The Tory plan to stop social security payments to anyone under the age of 25 will grab the headlines. There are are questions to be answered about both policies. Will the energy companies, who made profits of £3.7Bn this year, really hold the a Labour Government to ransom by threatening power cuts? Would a Tory government really stop housing benefit payments to a 23 year old single parent?
The difference in the priorities of the two main parties is now clear:
Tories remain the party supported by and supporting big business. Cameron insisted that profit is not a dirty word. Ed made a distinction between small and large businesses: Labour will increase corporation tax but reduce business rates for small and medium sized companies. This redistribution is quite logical as if you add all the people employed in small businesses they vastly outnumber those employed by huge corporations.
Ed is on the side of the consumer when it comes to energy prices. Dave remains on the side of the energy companies, relaxing their green energy targets.
Ed is humble about the past mistakes of Labour Government, Dave remains arrogant and bullish pointing out that everything is up, up, up! but failing to mention that the cost of living is also up, up up and wages for everyone other than bankers are down, down, down.
The has been some interest in these conference speeches from people other than politics geeks. Political commentators are saying that at least you can tell the difference between the two parties again. The greens are against fracking, even in the 'desolate North' which is a sensible and popular standpoint. Despite the 'rise' of UKIP, Europe was not high on the Tory agenda. The Libdem conference was spent hedging bets: The leadership are hoping for another coalition, the grassroots are hoping for a miracle.
The next general election will be hard fought, we have seen the Daily Mail stoop so low to attack a party leaders late Father. Tory spin consultant Lynton Crosby will ensure that the fight will be fought in the gutter of politics.
New Labour is dead. Compassionate Conservatism is being killed off. I am hopeful for change. I don't want the Tories to finish their job of making the rich so rich that the poor might, by chance, be pulled out of poverty by osmosis. It is Labour who should be given the chance to build an economy that works for all.
Friday, 30 August 2013
A lot has been said about Iraq and leaning from past mistakes, Tony Blair has been criticised again for the way the Country was taken to was without a commons vote. A stark contrast can be made between two aspects of Tony Blairs legacy one is the minimum wage and the other is that a Prime Minister may never send our armed forces to intervene in another country with out a Parliamentary debate. The first was was achieved through triumph, the second through disaster.
Ed Miliband has shown real leadership quality in these past few days. He has proved it possible to shift the debate and set government policy while sitting on the opposition benches. On this occasion he acted quickly and decisively. He was statesmanlike, in contrast to Cameron and Osborne who were sniggering and joking while a debating if bombs should be dropped on another country. Gove completely lost the plot after the vote, screeching 'traitors' at the rebels.
In the end MPs have listened to the public, many will have had hundreds of letters and e-mails from constituents who are understandably not keen for our armed forces to be drawn into another conflict, at a time when the Government are sacking soldiers.
Ed Miliband, the Labour Party and any Lib Dems and Tories who rebelled, deserve credit for their strength of character. Sometimes what happens in Westminster really does matter.
We have seen images of unimaginable suffering from Syria; the brutal reality is that civilians and children have been deliberately gassed. Now the UK government must work for a political solution in Syria and quickly sort humanitarian aid to prevent further suffering.
Thought and prayers remain with the Syrian people.
Thursday, 15 August 2013
Nick Clegg came to Consett recently the event was top secret with workers at the industrial estate that he was visiting we told that the visit was top secret, and threatened with disciplinary action if it was leaked before the date. Good photo opportunity for Clegg in a one of the small scale highly specialised engineering firms who are managing to export enough to keep afloat while the domestic market continues to flatline. Clegg didn't come for a look round the flea market in Middle Street that day.
Worse was the chancellor putting on a fake accent when delivering a stage managed speech/photo opportunity in a Morrisons warehouse. When he did put himself in front of the public at the Paralympics 20 000 showed their opinion when his name was announced.
You are far more likely to meet David Cameron at an exclusive black tie dinner for Tax-avoiding-millionaire Tory donors than on your local high street.
The fact that politicians have to make secret visits to warehouses or factories and put on fake accents in order to appear less out of touch shows how far removed from real life they are.
Ed Miliband was making an effort to meet with ordinary voters to listen to their concerns, he ended up with egg on his face, but a dry cleaning bill is a small price to pay for a leader who has his faults, but at least is trying connect with the general public.
Monday, 22 July 2013
What this proves is that if you have enough money and an expensive lawyer, you can ignore localism and have a judge in London overturn a decision that was made in Leadgate workingmen's club in County Durham.
I dont know how UK Coal have the money to pay for this protracted legal fight. They have recently gone into administration and are now owned by their own pension fund which is an unusual business practice. 350 workers will be made redundant and those who remain are expected to take a 10% cut to their pension. There is yet another name change, to UK Coal Production.
UK Coal are having to steal from retired miners in order to keep the company afloat; they are in a very unstable position. This puts a massive question mark over any restoration strategy they propose. They only propose restoration in order to get planning permission. Even successful restorations result in huge damage to habitat and a massive reduction in biodiversity2. They are now even more likely to cut and run as soon as the coal is out, leaving permanent scars on the landscape, and the community in a never-ending battle to get things sorted.
During the public enquiry I argued that the restored land would have lower biodiversity. I submitted copies of my argument to both the planning inspectors and to UK Coal and I was then cross examined by UK Coals barrister. They have all the information which led to the original conclusion which is unfair. When I speak at the new public enquiry they will have their counter arguments ready. The whole process is stacked in favour of the developer and against local people.
The finances of UK Coal and damage to the environment are issues which can not be separated: If planning permission depends on ecological restoration then it can not be granted. I didn't trust UK Coal on restoration. I trust UK Coal Production, with its dubious financial arrangements, even less.
3. Object by writing to: email@example.com
4. Sign the petition: http://www.pontvalley.net/nott/petition.php
5. Pont Valley in Pictures: http://liamrcarr.blogspot.com/2011/10/pont-valley-in-pictures.html
Saturday, 8 June 2013
- Not every UCU Left activist is a member of the SWP
- The people who oppose UCU Left are not neo-liberals or Tories
- We are all in one Union. If members of these ‘factions’ got together for a pint they would probably agree on a lot.
Wednesday, 29 May 2013
The government have passed some really vindictive legislation in the past year, attacks on the poor, the disabled and the vulnerable. One piece of legislation that has not been widely reported was the reduction of the consultation time for over 100 redundancies from 90 to 45 days. This means that branches could be informed that all teaching staff are at risk of redundancy after students have taken their exams. This makes negotiations very difficult. Management act with impunity when strike action is no longer a deterrent.
Many college heads have chosen to ignore the 0.7% offer that was agreed between UCU and the AoC. The AoC 0.7% is derisory, giving nothing at all shows contempt for the whole concept of collective bargaining. Managers in colleges which generate financial surpluses are using the austerity only agenda as an excuse reduce wages in order to generate further surplus.
The challenges facing FE staff are great. Unfortunately HE Comrades will recognise much of what is going on in FE. We must not be divided, we are best placed to face these challenges if we stand together.
Sunday, 19 May 2013
There is however, a real skills shortage. Here are a few examples where there is a need for workers.1
Science and Engineering:
Engineers are needed in the Nuclear, offshore and renewable energy industry. There is a need for geologists, geophysicists and environmental scientists. Specialist high integrity pipe welders and high voltage overhead line repairers are desperately needed to work on pylons and in the energy sector.
2D and 3D animators for film, TV and the computer games industry are in short supply, as are skilled chefs, ballet dancers and classical musicians (even in a recession, the rich still need to eat expensive food, listen to the philharmonic and enjoy the ballet)
Medicine and Health:
There is a shortage of haematologists, psychiatrists specialising in care of the elderly, clinical neurophysiologists, radiographers and neonatal nurses.
The real tragedy is that there is a skills shortage in regions of high unemployment. Skills need to be put on the agenda in schools and colleges but all we see are retrograde steps. Gove wants to see students doing more traditional subjects; vocational courses are seen as less valuable. This is not the case in other countries. In Germany for example vocational and academic courses are seen as equally valid. It is possible to provide students with a variety of opportunities without creating a two tier system.
A Tory approach to a skills shortage is to do nothing. They wait in hope that ‘market forces’ will sort everything out. Tackling youth unemployment is far too important to be left to market forces. We need to change perceptions of vocational education and run courses in parallel to GCSEs and A-Levels. Level 4 apprenticeships which are taken after A-Levels, should be applied for through the UCAS system rather being something obscure and separate.
The reality is this: We are living in a country where the children of today will have fewer opportunities than their parents. It is our duty to equip the workers of tomorrow with the skills they need to get on. In refusing to address this issue the government is failing the next generation, they are a government of opportunity for the few and the scrapheap for many.
Thursday, 18 April 2013
One person who really does put people before politics is Malcolm Clarke the Labour Candidate for the Grove, Moorside and Berry Edge.
He was one for the leading members of Lanchester Parish Council for which there are 15 seats, it turned out that 16 people put their names forward for the ballot. This would have resulted in a ballot paper with 16 names on it and 15 votes. People would have to decide which candidate not to put an X next to.
Malcolm waited until the 11th hour before choosing to withdraw. Lanchester Parish have therefore avoided the costs associated with an election, an estimated £6000 that can now be spent on community projects.
For some, "People before politics" is just a tag line on a leaflet. For others, actions speak louder than words.
The figures are heading in the right direction, little consolation to those who have been victims of a crime but progress is being made.
The number of reported incidents of anti-social behaviour also fell from 2653 to 1842 which is a massive 30% drop. I would urge anyone who witnesses anti-social behaviour to contact the police by calling 101: Local police take all reports seriously and will act to address the concerns of residents.
Metal theft remains a problem especially in more remote areas. If we see an unfamiliar vehicle loading metal then we should contact the police straight away. Similarly if we witness underage drinking or see young people carrying alcohol in public it is best to contact the police at the time. Criminal damage is often carried out after excessive alcohol consumption, early action could also prevent a hospital visit.
When there are high profile cases, like the recent crash for cash arrests, the work of the police is front page news. However the crime rate in the Consett area remains low when compared to other parts of the country. We can help keep it that way by remaining vigilant and reporting anything out of the ordinary to the police.
101 is the non-emergency number. If a crime is in progress however 999 is still the number to call.
Sunday, 14 April 2013
1. List of candidates: http://liamrcarr.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/durham-county-council-candidates-for.html
Sunday, 7 April 2013
- Speeding Traffic
- Hedge cutting
- Potholes in footpaths and roads
- Play areas for kids (for and occasionally against)
- Dog poo
- Anti social behaviour
- Disability benefit appeals; people are under real stress due to the way ATOS have handled the process.
- Unemployment, lack of job opportunities.
- Bedroom tax; even people who are unaffected think it is unfair.
Friday, 22 March 2013
- Time: 8.20 to 9.20
- Direction of Travel: East, Consett to Newcastle
- Total Number of Vehicles: 148
- Number exceeding 30mph: 58