Friday, 29 February 2008

Giles McNeill backs plans for tax breaks for green savings in West Lindsey

Local people across West Lindsey could take advantage of tax breaks if they put their money in environmentally responsible companies and green technology, under plans being drawn up by Conservatives.

Nettleham Parish Councillor, Giles McNeill, West Lindsey District Council Candidate, today welcomed the proposals for new ‘Green Individual Savings Accounts’. These will allow the public to save money without paying tax on the interest, up to a certain limit.

Under the new Conservative plans, there would be a generous tax-free savings allowance for the new Green ISA, over and above the current £7,000 for stocks and shares ISAs. There would be clear criteria for firms to obtain a green ‘kitemark’, enabling them to qualify for investment under the Green ISA. This would create a major incentive for local and national businesses to curb their emissions and adopt greener technologies and practices.

This proposal follows Conservative plans to reward people for installing green energy, such as solar panels or mini-wind turbines. Energy companies would pay local firms and householders for the green electricity that they produce. Low-carbon energy is not only eco-friendly, but helps save people money – at a time of hikes in gas and electricity bills.

Giles McNeill said:
“Instead of Labour’s approach of punishing families with ever higher taxes, we should be using incentives to encourage people to go green and invest in eco-friendly technology. Encouraging people to invest in green companies has a double benefit – helping the environment, and rewarding people for saving money responsibly.”

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Thousands attend lobby of Parliament for a referendum

"Nearly 3,000 people from across the country came to Westminster on Wednesday to lobby their MPs for a referendum on the revived Constitutional Treaty. I just wish I could have been there." Say Giles McNeill, West Lindsey District Council Candidate for Nettleham Ward.

Sign up to the I Want a Referendum campaign

The lobby featured on the BBC Ten O'clock News, the Daily Politics show, BBC News 24, Channel 4 News, Sky News, BBC Online, BBC Radio 4's World at One and PM programmes, Radio Five Live, and in two pieces in the Telegraph today.

At a meeting in Central Hall, hundreds of people crowded in to hear speeches from leading pro-referendum campaigners, including: Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague; Ian Davidson MP; Dan Hannan MEP; Max Andersson, Green Member of the Swedish Parliament; Simon Wolfson, CEO of Next plc; Roger Cole from the Irish no campaign; Leading Trade Unionist Alex Gordon; Journalist and author Christopher Booker; Nick Herbert MP; Ruth Lea of Global Vision; Thomas Rupp from the European Referendum Campaign; Lord Leach of Fairford; and Derek Scott, IWR Chairman and former advisor to Tony Blair.

Meanwhile, Tony Benn greeted and spoke to people queuing to lobby their MPs, telling them: "This is how you get democracy."

Many, many thanks to the thousands of you who came along and gave up your time to take part. Special thanks to those who gave comments and interviews to the press, those who organised transport, and those who helped us make sure the day ran smoothly.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

‘Chainsaw massacre’ as urban trees face the chop admits Government

Health and safety and compensation culture threat to leafy roads and suburbs

Local street trees face a growing threat of being cut down due to fears over possible compensation claims and breaches of health and safety rules. The Government has published a long-delayed report on urban trees, following a previous report in the 1990s. The new survey reveals that:
· trees are being cut down at a faster rate than they are being planted, so the number of trees in towns is declining;
· fears of insurance claims from subsistence or health and safety are leading to the chopping down of trees; and
· because of funding pressures, many councils are having to cut back on tree maintenance – in turn, increasing the scope for compensation claims, and forcing town halls into the ‘quick fix’ of chopping down trees.
Giles McNeill, Nettleham Parish Council said:
“West Lindsey District Council’s tree officers do a good job in difficult circumstances. Yet the Government’s own report shows how Whitehall is failing to stop the spread both of the ‘compensation culture’ and the heavy-handed application of health and safety rules.

“Trees are vital to the greening of West Lindsey’s town and village environments and improving quality of life. But alarm-bells are ringing. Our roads and cherished leafy suburbs increasingly face the threat of a chainsaw massacre under Labour.”

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Growing concern over spread of under-age binge drinking across Lincolnshire

New figures show children at harm, with drink fuelling yob behaviour

Giles McNeill, Nettleham Parish Councillor, today expressed his concern about official figures which have revealed not only a growing number of under-age drinkers are being admitted to hospital, but also that the laws against under-age drinking are not being properly enforced.

This disturbing news coincides with the report from Crime Concern which has found that “drinking to get drunk is starting younger with serious consequences to health and crime”. Almost four in ten young people now start drinking at the age of 13, and half of their parents turning a blind eye.
· Figures – unearthed by the Conservatives in Parliament – reveal that under-age children who break the law by buying alcohol illegally are not being held to account. Fewer than a hundred individuals a year are punished for trying to buy alcohol illegally.

· What is more, a growing number of children are now being hospitalised after being admitted to A&E due to alcohol misuse, with 518 incidents across the East Midlands Stategic Health Authority last year. Across the country a whole, there has been an increase of 40 per cent since 2000.
Giles McNeill said:
“Under-age drinking harms young people and fuels youth crime and anti-social behaviour. Labour Ministers talk endlessly about cracking down on alcohol-related violence, but these new figures expose the Government’s complacency.

“There are already laws and sanctions in place. The Government’s failure to enforce the law sends totally the wrong message about under-age drinking and is adding to public concern about yob behaviour and crime. We also need greater social responsibility, and an end to some parents turning a blind eye to their children’s drinking. Increasing social responsibility is at the heart of David Cameron’s plans to make Britain safer and stonger.”

Sunday, 10 February 2008

More Lottery funding for West Lindsey – and less Whitehall interference

Giles McNeill backs plans to increase funding for local good causes

West Lindsey could benefit from an extra quarter of a million pounds in Lottery funding every year, under new proposals launched by Conservatives. Giles McNeill, Nettleham Parish Councillor, today gave his backing to plans to reform the National Lottery, restoring its independence and increasing money for the good causes of sport, the arts, heritage and the local community. The Labour Government has diverted Lottery money away from these causes, including pouring £544 million of Lottery funds into the Millennium Dome.

Under the plans launched by David Cameron:
· A National Lottery Independence Bill would free the Lottery from ministerial inference, return it to good causes and make it accountable to Parliament rather than the Government.
· End the waste of Lottery funds going to dubious projects which undermine public confidence. All Lottery distributors would be required to take into account the reputation of the Lottery as a whole when deciding grants.
· National Lottery distributors’ administration costs would be capped, and the savings ploughed back into good causes.
· The way that Lottery tickets are taxed would be changed, moving away from a per-ticket tax to a gross profits tax on the Lottery operators. This would allow the operator more freedom to increase sales and therefore returns to good causes.
This package of measures could see an extra £182 million per year for grassroots sports, arts projects and the voluntary sector – equivalent to £280,000 per Parliamentary constituency, every year. This is enough money to pay for four grass pitches, two flood-lit outside tennis courts, or save an arts organisation which has experienced funding cuts by the Arts Council.

Giles McNeill said:
"Under Gordon Brown, Lottery money has been snatched from good causes by bureaucrats. The arts, sport, heritage and charities have all suffered. We need to give money back to local grassroots initiatives, and stop politicians in Whitehall interfering. I welcome these reforms, which could mean an extra quarter of a million pounds every year in West Lindsey to improve quality of life.”

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Concern raised over tax collectors snooping on local homes in West Lindsey

Secret deal between tax inspectors & estate agents must be cancelled – Giles McNeill
Giles McNeill, Nettleham Parish Councillor, today expressed his concern at news of a secret deal between the taxman and estate agents. It has been revealed that detailed information on 9 out of 10 house sales and rentals in West Lindsey are being collected and logged in a ‘Big Brother’ database to prepare for council revaluation tax hikes.
· Estate agents and tax men plunder your data: Unsuspecting homeowners across West Lindsey are putting their property on the market for sale or rental, without realising that the tax collectors will use it to plan for new council tax hikes. HM Revenue & Customs, which has lost millions of personal tax and benefit records, is systematically raiding estate agency records to build up a property database for its council tax inspectors. Rightmove holds 16 million property records, with millions of individual entries being updated every month.
· Big Brother database invades privacy: People selling their home are not informed that information given to their estate agent, which is then passed to internet portal Rightmove Plc, is in turn passed on to the Government’s tax inspectors. Local estate agents in West Lindsey have been kept in the dark about Rightmove’s actions.
· Details on people’s homes: The personal property data being passed to the taxmen include internal and external photographs of the home, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, conservatories, parking spaces, and particulars such as area, layout, style, features and other ‘value significant’ features. The Government claims that the Data Protection Act does not apply to information about people’s houses. HMRC’s council tax inspectors will instruct local councils to increase the council tax on these homes.
Giles McNeill said:
“We already knew that Gordon Brown’s tax inspectors have recklessly lost the tax records of millions of law-abiding citizens. Now the same people are disregarding data protection rules to build up a chilling database of every home in the country.

“Residents across West Lindsey will be alarmed that detailed information on 9 out of 10 house sales and rentals is being passed secretly from estate agents to tax collectors, without public consent.

“Gordon Brown must cancel this deal immediately. Only Conservatives will stop this data plundering of people’s private homes, end Brown’s stealth tax revaluation and abolish state inspectors’ rights of entry into our homes.”