Saturday, 24 November 2007

Action plan to raise school standards and offer opportunity for all

Giles McNeill offers support on plans to give children the best education.

Giles McNeill, Nettleham Parish Councillor, welcomed new proposals this week to raise standards in schools, create more good school places and increase equality of opportunity. The action plan, entitled ‘Raising the bar, closing the gap’, has been published by Conservative leader, David Cameron.

The paper outlines plans to raise the standards of the worst-performing schools so they can catch up with the best, improve school discipline, get every child who is capable of doing so reading by the age of six, allow new schools to open and create an additional 220,000 good school places. Other proposals include:

· Charities, voluntary groups and groups of parents would be assisted in setting up new schools in the state sector.

· Increasing teachers’ ability to stop the distruptive use of mobile phones in classrooms.

· Promoting best practice and excellence, including school uniform policies, more extra-curricular activities, a system of prefects, and awards for pupils for academic and sporting achievement.

· Strengthening the powers of head teachers to expel pupils who ruin others’ education.

Giles McNeill said:
“I welcome these proposals which will help raise standards in our schools, tackle unruly behaviour, and deliver more teaching by ability to stretch the strongest and help the weakest.

“It is right that we make it easier for charities, groups of parents and other providers to start new schools where there is a need for more good local schools. They should be helped to do that, not blocked by the Government or town halls. These plans will complement the excellent work Lincolnshire County Council is already doing to help raise standards for all our children.”

Friday, 23 November 2007

Families face ‘double whammy’ of bin taxes and council tax – Giles McNeill

Local environment will suffer from this new stealth tax say Conservatives

Families in Grange-de-Lings, Nettleham and Riseholme face the prospect of new bin taxes on top of council tax, Giles McNeill, Nettleham Parish Councillor, warned today. After confusion in Whitehall, Labour Ministers have finally confirmed that new taxes for bin collections will go ahead.

It is currently against the law for town halls to charge for standard collections of household rubbish. In July, a cross-party Parliamentary Committee savaged the bin tax plans, warning of more fly-tipping, neighbourhood bin wars, non-payment by the public; it said that the plans would raise the overall burden of taxation.

News of higher taxes comes as new official figures published by the Government have exposed that fly-tipping across England is soaring. In West Lindsey, 1,259 incidents of Fly-Tipping were recorded in 2006-07 up 56% from 805 in 2004-05. In total, cleaning up after fly-tipping across West Lindsey has cost local taxpayers £166,439 over the last three years. The Keep Britain Tidy campaign is warning that new bin taxes will make the problem even worse.

Giles McNeill said:
“Bin taxes would harm the local environment and public health by leading to a surge in fly-tipping and backyard burning. The set-up and running costs of such a complex tax, installing microchips in every bin, will mean the overall burden of taxation will rise. Families now face the double whammy of record council tax bills and new bin taxes.

“Yet the soaring costs of waste are yet another example of how Whitehall and EU burdens are being imposed on West Lindsey District Council. The answer is not to create new local taxes. Labour Ministers must stop imposing unfunded obligations and red tape on local communities and cease hiking up local taxes by stealth.”

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Give residents in West Lindsey a veto to stop council tax rises says Giles McNeill

Council tax hikes should be put to a vote say Conservatives

Local residents across West Lindsey will be given new powers to stop high council tax increases, under proposals announced by Conservatives.

In a new initiative on council tax launched by David Cameron, and welcomed this week by Giles McNeill, Nettleham Parish Councillor, any local authority - including fire and police authorities - that wanted to introduce a high council tax increase would have to receive the support of local people in a referendum. Council tax bills have soared across the country under Labour. In West Lindsey, overall bills have risen by 95% since 1997, from £682 to £1,329 on a Band D home.

Under the proposed plans, the local authority would have to explain to taxpayers why they wanted to raise taxes by so much and they would have to show what they would do – a shadow budget – in the event of their plans being rejected. Tax referendum ballots would be sent out with the annual council tax bill. If people voted against the high rise, the rebate would be credited to them at the end of the year, to avoid the cost of posting out new bills.

In addition to the plans for direct democracy, Conservatives have pledged to:

· Relieve councils of the unfunded burdens, regulations, inspection and red tape that have forced up council tax, through decentralisation and deregulation.

· Give councils more freedom and discretion to fund their own local priorities not Whitehall’s, ending the ring-fencing of local authority budgets.

· Give power back to local people, such as through the abolition of the unelected and unwanted regional assemblies, allowing more local discretion on planning and licensing, and introducing directly elected police commissioners.

· Scrap Labour’s ongoing plans for a council tax revaluation in England, and abolish council tax inspectors’ rights of entry into people’s homes.

Giles McNeill said:
“Council tax has become so unpopular under Labour because of the year on year rises that have been cooked up by Gordon Brown. We need to end Labour’s fiddled funding and burdens which ave forced up councils’ costs. Local councils deserve more freedoms.

“But these new powers need to be backed up with a stronger voice for local people, so they have the final say on whether or not local taxes are going to rise. We need to replace state control with social responsibility and democratic accountability.”