Saturday, 30 May 2009

Labour Peer is first lord to be caught in expenses-gate

Tomorrow The Times reveals that a Labour peer and former chairman of the party has admitted that he ‘fiddled’ his expenses to make up for not being paid a salary.

Lord Clarke of Hampstead had even claimed for overnight stays in London when, in fact, he drove home. He is the first member of the House of Lords to concede that peers knowingly abuse their allowances to boost their income. He had claimed up to £18,000 a year for overnight subsistence when he had often stayed with friends for free in the capital or had even returned to his home in St Albans, about an hour from London. While accepting personal responsibility, Lord Clarke implied that the practice was common, saying:
"I was given the impression – more than that – I was given a very clear steer that this was a way of getting remuneration in the absence of salary.
"I was told you claim the full amount [for overnight expenses]. I’m not saying about anybody else, but the impression I got was that if I didn’t do what people did, it could bring a bad light on somebody else."

At present peers whose homes are outside the capital can claim up to £174 a night tax-free for expenses incurred while staying in London.

Lord Clarke is a former trade unionist and became chairman of the Labour party in 1992, entered the Lords in 1998 and since 2001 (the earliest published expenses available) he has claimed £100,154 for overnight subsistence.

It appears that, by his own admission, on some occasions he had stayed in London for free at the homes of family and friends and since November has been staying in the central London apartment of another peer.

Lincolnshire County Council Election Prediction

It is five days before polling day. And whilst every politician will tell you that the only poll that matters is the one on Thursday 4th June - and they are right to do so - here is my prediction of the seats which are most vunerable and could change on the night.

Boston Fishtoft
Boston Northwest
Skegness South
Lincoln Birchwood
Lincoln Bracebridge
Lincoln East
Lincoln Hartsholme
Lincoln Moorland
Branston & Navenby
Deeping St. James
Grantham Barrowby
Grantham East
Grantham South
Bardney & Cherry Willingham
Gainsborough Rural South
Market Rasen Wolds
Nettleham & Saxilby
Welton Rural

Friday, 29 May 2009

Elliot Morley's decision to step down at the next General Election

Dr. Caroline Johnson reacts to Scunthorpe MPs decision to stand-down

Former minister Elliot Morley, Member of Parliament for Scunthorpe, has announced he will stand down at the next general election over his involvement in the expenses scandal. Mr Morley made the announcement after meeting with local Labour Party officials in his Scunthorpe constituency. The former agriculture minister has already been suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party over the allegations and referred to the party's disciplinary panel.

Mr Morley claimed for mortgage interest payments totalling £16,000 - 18 months after the mortgage was paid off. He has apologised and repaid the money, blaming 'sloppy accounting'. Mr Morley said the pressure had been affecting his family and his health and insisted the decision was his own, made after consultation with his family and constituency officers.

In a statement he said:
"The last two weeks have been traumatic for me and I have to think of my family and my health, both of which have suffered.

"Nor do I want in any way to undermine the strong position the Labour Party has in this constituency in what will be a crucial election."

Mr Morley added that he had made a 'genuine mistake' and insisted that he believed he would be cleared of any wrong-doing.

The Daily Telegraph also alleged that Mr Morley rented out a London flat designated as his main residence to another Labour MP, Ian Cawsey, a close friend and former special adviser.

Mr Morley has denied any wrongdoing and said he used the money from his Labour colleague to reduce his claim to the taxpayer.

Caroline Johnson, Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Scunthorpe said that she was "happy" that he would be standing down at the next election.

Bigamy shock of candidate

A Conservative candidate in next week's East Sussex County Council elections has been found to be a former bigamist.

The Eastbourne Herald has uncovered documents showing Reg Jenkins, who is standing for the Conservatives in Devonshire, married his current wife, Huang Qi, in Shanghai, China, in February 1992 while he was still married to his first wife, Eleanor.

Although Reg and Eleanor, who were married in May 1966, started divorce proceedings in October 1991, their divorce was not made absolute until September 2000.

Under law, Mr Jenkins committed bigamy when he married Huang Qi and until the decree absolute he was married to two women, which is an offence under Section 57 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and carries a maximum prison sentence on conviction of seven years.

Mr Jenkins, 66, who runs a guest house in Cambridge Road, said yesterday he did not think he had done anything wrong. His 47-year-old wife is reportedly on holiday in China.

In a statement issued through the Eastbourne Conservative Association, Mr Jenkins admitted he may have made an 'error of judgement'.

The Eastbourne Herald has seen a copy of Reg and Eleanor's decree nisi, which was granted on October 31, 1991 after Eleanor filed for divorce on the grounds of her husband's adultery with an unknown person.

The document makes it clear it is not the final divorce decree and warns that an application for a decree absolute must be made to the court. On February 21, 1992 in Shanghai a marriage certificate was issued to Mr Jenkins, a British national, and Huang Qi, a Chinese national.

Mr Jenkins said in the statement,
"On October 31, 1991 a decree nisi was granted at Eastbourne County Court between myself and my first wife which stated that our marriage be dissolved 'unless sufficient cause be shown to the court within six weeks from the making thereof why the said decree should not be made absolute'.

"Such cause did not materialise – nor did I expect it to materialise. My first wife was not going to do anything to prevent the divorce as she had brought the claim. I was living in China and had no reason to fight the divorce.

"As a result, six weeks plus one day after October 31, 1999, my understanding was that the decree absolute was deemed to have been issued.

"I had never been divorced before or since. I am not a lawyer. I assumed – and that may have been an error of judgement – that once the six weeks had elapsed the divorce was final.

"This belief was later supported by my experience at the British embassy in Shanghai. The embassy recognised my divorce as being final and absolute, as well as recognising my subsequent marriage to my second wife.

"This recognition was illustrated by their issuing a visa granting my second wife 'indefinite leave to remain in the UK' as a result of our marriage.

"It would be incredible for a British embassy to recognise a second marriage and grant that type of visa while I was still married to my first wife.

"As far as I am concerned, at no time was I married to more than one person. I married my second wife after divorcing my first wife. This fact was recognised by the British Embassy in Shanghai. The technicality, the rubberstamping of the decree absolute which took place on September 7 2000, was a much belated technical recognition of my divorce of 1991 which preceded my marriage to my second wife in 1992 by over two months."

As the Eastbourne Herald went to press on Thursday morning a solicitor representing Mr Jenkins said he would be going to court in an attempt obtain an injunction banning the paper from publishing this story.

Asked if the Eastbourne Conservative Association was still supporting Mr Jenkins, who is hoping to win a Conservative seat on East Sussex County Council in next Thursday's elections, a spokeswoman said it was.

She added,
"He is a fantastic candidate and is working hard and supporting the residents in the ward where he lives."

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Johnson and Miliband Ready Campaign Teams

Guido Fawkes is reporting that following some enquires he now has positive confirmation that the game is a foot for the Labour Leadership Contest to begin anew.

Jack Straw claimed yesterday that Gordon Brown was secure in his job and would not be ousted may now be showing signs of strain as it appears that Gordon Brown's leadership is very much on the agenda.

Guido says that:
"If UKIP were to beat Labour, Nigel Farage is right, Brown would have to go. No amount of spin that 'all mainstream politics is disgraced' would save Gordon, that would only make sense if the Tories were beaten by UKIP as well. Just as the end of David Owen’s SDP was signaled by them losing to the Monster Raving Loony Party, UKIP beating Gordon would confirm his demise."

The scenario goes like this:

It's the morning after the polls of Thursday 4th June 2009 Labour’s local elections percentage poll drops below the previous low-point.

The Liberal Democrats or United Kingdom Independence Party beat Labour on the percentage share of the vote in the European Parliamentary Elections.

The Sunday press take a beligerant view of Brown with Labour MPs clamoring openly for him to stand down.

If Sarah Brown can’t or won’t save him from humiliating himself that weekend, he will on the Monday 8th June 8 2009 have to face the Parliamentary Labour Party without spin doctor McBride and unable any longer to put the press frighteners on critics as much as in the past.

Then a recent former cabinet member making will make a 'Geoffrey Howe' speech. Probably not Messrs. Clarke or Byers, it will have to be someone who has not previously ventured abouve the parapet, someone who has served in Brown’s cabinet, someone like Peter Hain or Ruth Kelly. 'For the good of the party and the good of the nation' he will be implored to go. If the mood of the room goes against him, he will fall shortly after, much as the Speaker went.

Guido’s source cautions that we have been here before and Brown has a knack of hanging on by his fingernails. Guido however does report that Campaign Teams are however being assembled in readiness with the weekend of 12th/13th June 2009 pencilled in for them to break cover.

Miliband's Special Advisor Sarah Schaefer has sounded out a team ready to go within weeks and Alan Johnson’s unsuccessful deputy leadership campaign team is also clearing the decks.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Conservatives ahead of Labour in attracting donations

The Conservatives are outstripping Labour in fundraising by more than a quarter ahead of the next General Election.

David Cameron's party received over £4 million in donations in the first quarter of this year, compared to the £2.8 million raised by Labour.

Despite Labour's inferior flow of funds, their donations are slightly up on the previous three months, while the Opposition's total was about one million pounds down, according to Electoral Commission records.

Donations to all parties in the period were up at £9.1 million in lieu of the recession, but the figures precede the tumult over MPs' expenses which many fear will dissuade benefactors from giving more.

The value of loans still to be paid off by all parties exceeds £20 million.

The Commission also reported that the British National Party had returned five donations from non-permissible sources and that Labour was one of several parties facing investigation for failing to report donations on time.
Perhaps it is no surprise that private mail operator TNT has been hired by Labour to deliver its Euro election leaflets especially when the company's slogan is 'Sure We Can'. It may come as a huge shock all those Labour backbenchers and activists who have spent the last few months campaigning to keep the Royal Mail free of private influence.

Labour Party sources have confirmed to Paul Waugh of the Evening Standard that Dutch-owned TNT, which is still loathed by some hardline Labour types for its role in busting the Wapping strike, is being hired to deliver Labours material ahead of the European PArliamentary Elections on Thursday 4th June next week.

A Labour Party spokesman said:
"The Labour Party outsource to a direct mail print supplier, who use TNT services and Royal Mail distribution.

"TNT workers are protected by Unite the Union, and offer competitive rates for distribution services."
That will no-doubt reassure those 149 Labour MPs worried about TNT taking a slice of the Royal Mail.

Conservative Party Chairman Eric Pickles is reported as laughing all the way to the polls about this one. Apparently in the key battleground of Lancashire County Council, the TNT have been doing the business for Labour too. If only Pickles had known that it's not just Lancashire, its the entire country that has the private firm delivering Labour missives.
BNP leader Nick Griffin today bowed out of attending a Buckingham Palace garden party saying he had "no wish to embarrass the queen".

Mr Griffin had been invited to the event by his colleague Richard Barnbrook who, as a London Assembly member, was nominated for two tickets by the Greater London Authority.

It is reported however that the Greater London Authorities's deputy chief executive wrote to Mr Barnbrook telling him to change his choice of guest or his own nomination would be reviewed.

Mr Griffin has now announced that he will not be attending.

An election pledge we're not getting anywhere else!

Cllr. Alistair Williams (Con. Lincoln Castle), Conservative Lincolnshire County Council candidate for Lincoln North Division has decided to keep politics fun and interesting.

In a statement sent out via facebook to his supporters, in the small hours of May 27th, he has promised to have his legs waxed if elected on June 4th as a County Councillor.

Cllr. Williams says:
"Lets put politics aside for one moment and let me have a moment of madness!

If I get elected on the 4th June for Lincoln North then I hereby promise to have my LEGS WAXED! to help raise money for the new Women's Refuge in Lincoln!

The Women's Refuge is currently short of £35,000 and is in desperate need of funding. so if you want to support me on June the 4th or you want to support Women's Aid or if you want want to see a politician (a male politician!) having his legs waxed for a good cause then please come on Vote Williams.

Just to end this is not a gimmick! I beleive in this cause, and if not elected i will still look for ways of fund raiseing but i wanted to raise awareness to my friends and supporters of this cause and ways in which we can help and also I wanted to give myself a chance to show that there is still some politicians that will do whatever it takes to help others and do the job that we promise to do!"

Saturday, 23 May 2009

New Government figures expose crisis in NHS dentistry across Lincolnshire

Action needed to increase access to NHS dentists says Giles McNeill

New official figures published by the Government have revealed that a shocking number of people across Lincolnshire do not have access to an NHS dentist. In response, Giles McNeill today is calling for a series of reforms to ensure more patients can go to an NHS dentist, rather than force people to go private or miss out on treatment completely.

The latest NHS figures show that 49% of the population across Lincolnshire Primary Care Trust's area have not been seen by an NHS dentist in the last two years. [If relevant] Worse, 3,637 people have lost access to their NHS dentist in Lincolnshire since 2006.

Conservatives have announced a series of reforms to NHS dentistry which will improve NHS care. A comprehensive plan proposes:
• Creating new incentives for dentists to spend more time on preventative dental care, improving oral health and reducing long-term costs.
• Restoring access to an NHS dentist for the one million patients who have lost it under Labour’s failed system, by removing costly bureaucracy and cutting out waste.
• Using money currently spent on carrying out unnecessary treatments to reintroduce dental screening for children in schools.
• Ensuring that taxpayer-trained dentists work for the NHS for at least five years.

Giles said:
"The Labour Government is leaving a terrible dental legacy which will be difficult to fix. A million people have lost their NHS dentist in just three years, and 49% of the population across Lincolnshire are without an NHS dentist.

"Dentists are fed up with the flawed system that Labour have introduced. As a result, local residents to have to travel miles to see an NHS dentist, or else pay to go private to receive the treatment they need.

"Conservatives will help restore access to an NHS dentist, and spend more on preventative treatment to help avoid tooth decay. We need to tackle the worrying number of people needing to have their teeth pulled out."

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Michael expected to resign

Rumours are growing in and around Westminster that the Speaker will be announcing his retirement later today.

Scottish Television is now reporting this tip too. And Sky News has 'sources'.

Paul Waugh (Evening Standard) reports:
I'm told Michael Martin will announce any minute that he will step down. Currently checking details.

I understand he will make an announcement at 2.30pm
Gordon Brown will be holding his monthly press conference at 5:00pm today. Ther is a whiff of a national emergency about all this me thinks.

County Council Election Prediction

On Monday 11th May 2009 the Returning Officers published the list of persons nominated to stand as Candidates for Election to Lincolnshire County Council on Thursday June 4th.

After much number-crunching Giles McNeill is pleased to announce a first prediction, based upon YouGov's poll for 'The Times' conducted on 8th/9th May 2009 using a moderated uniform swing.

Conservatives 64 (Up 19)
Labour 13 (Down 13)
Liberal Democrats 4 (Down 5)
Lincolnshire Independents 1 (Up 1)
Boston Bypass Party 1 (Up 1)
Independents 0 (Down 3)

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Time to shine the light on town hall, government and MPs’ spending

Calls to increase openness and accountability in spending of taxpayers’ cash

Giles McNeill today gave his backing to new plans to increase openness across local government, Whitehall and Parliament – to help rebuild the public’s trust and confidence in politics, and to ensure proper accountability for the way their money is spent.

• Under a national Conservative blueprint for local government, councils – including Lincolnshire County Council and West Lindsey District Council – will be required to publish online details of all expenditure over a set limit, detailing all payments for goods and services. This has already been done by Boris Johnson in London’s City Hall (publishing information on items over £1,000) and by Conservative-run Windsor & Maidenhead (publishing figures over £500). This would bring one of the biggest shake-ups to town hall accountability since Margaret Thatcher championed a Private Member’s Bill in 1960 which forced councils to open their meetings to the press and public.

• This greater transparency and accountability would help reduce wasteful expenditure, saving taxpayers’ money. Both local residents and local newspapers could scrutinise this new information, creating a new citizen-led financial discipline on local government.

• At the same time, there should be greater openness in central government. Under new Conservative plans for a ‘People’s Right to Know’, every single item of central government spending over £25,000 and all public sector salaries over £150,000 would be published online. Furthermore, as part of a package of measures to clean up MPs’ expenses, all claims made to the Parliamentary Fees Office would be published immediately online as they are made.

Giles said:
“Almost fifty years ago, Conservatives made councils hold their meetings in public. This transformed local government for the better. In the twenty-first century, we should go further and use the power of the internet to shine the light on public spending and help improve value for money. Greater openness, in both local and central government, is vital to help restore the public’s trust and confidence in our political system.

“At a time when the public finances are so tight, every penny counts and openness will impose a citizen-led financial discipline to West Lindsey District and Lincolnshire County Councils, Whitehall departments and Parliament. The public should have a right to know how exactly their money is being spent.”

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Carswell to table 'no confidence motion' in Speaker next week

A Conservative Parliamentarian, Douglas Carswell MP has said that the petition for a vote of no confidence motion against Speaker Michael Martin was collecting more signatures than expected and that the motion would be formally tabled next Monday or Tuesday.

The BBC report he said that he had collected names from across all three political parties for the petition and he expected more names to be added once MPs had a chance to return to their constituencies and gauge the level of public discontent.

He said that the House of Commons was in a sorry mess, because the good, old boy system is broken.
"Under Speaker Martin the Commons is not doing its job.

"What we need now is a new Speaker with a mandate for radical change to make Parliament work for the people."

He said that the Speaker was not personally dishonourable but that he was "bad at his job and failed to champion back benchers and hasn't held the legislature to account."

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

David Cameron: Action on Expenses

Speaking at a Press Conference this afternoon, Mr Cameron said:
“I want to speak directly about the issue that’s doing so much to undermine our whole political process: MPs’ expenses.

I want to start by saying sorry. Sorry that it’s come to this. And sorry for the actions of some Conservative MPs. People are right to be angry that some MPs have taken public money to pay for things few could afford. You’ve been let you down. Politicians have done things that are unethical and wrong. I don’t care if they were within the rules – they were wrong.

So what are we going to do to sort it out?

An independent inquiry into MPs’ expenses is underway, but it won’t be reporting until later this year. I don’t want my party to wait that long. So I want to set out this afternoon the action I’m taking right now.

And by that I don’t mean things I’d like the Government to do. I don’t mean things I’d like the House of Commons Committee to look at. I mean things that my Party, the Conservative Party; Conservative MPs, the things that they will do – right now.

To start with, I want to establish the new principles that we will abide by. I’ve said that the thing we need more than anything else in this country, the idea that will be at the heart of everything a Conservative Government will do, is responsibility.

When so many of the problems that face our country - like debt, like family breakdown, like crime are questions of individual behaviour and personal responsibility, then it’s vital that our representatives in Parliament set an example.

I’ve also said that a Conservative Government needs to be careful, not casual, with public money. That principle of thrift should apply to Conservative MPs as well.

So from now on, I want them to claim what is reasonable to do their job, not the maximum they can get away with. I have explained these principles clearly to my party today. First with the Shadow Cabinet, then with the Parliamentary Party. From these principles of social responsibility and thrift follow the actions that we’re taking.

I’ve had a series of meetings with various members of my shadow cabinet to go through those expense claims that have caused concern, and to agree what we are going do about it.

So Michael Gove will pay back the £7,000 claimed for furniture.

Oliver Letwin will pay back the £2,000 for the pipe under his tennis court.

Andrew Lansley will pay back the £2,600 for home improvements.

Alan Duncan will pay back nearly £5,000 for gardening expenses.

Francis Maude will no longer claim any money for his second home in London.

And neither will Chris Grayling.

Theresa Villiers - the only London MP in the shadow cabinet – will follow suit later this year.

I’ve also dealt with some of the smaller, but nevertheless significant, claims that have caused concern, whether that is Ken Clarke’s council tax bill in Nottinghamshire or David Willetts’s electrical bill.
George Osborne will pay back the cost of a particularly expensive car journey.
And I will pay back the only maintenance bill I have claimed in eight years as a Member of Parliament.

For the whole Conservative Parliamentary party of all Conservative MPs I have established a new Scrutiny Panel to review every excessive expense claim by any Conservative MP and to decide whether the money should be paid back.

So let me make this absolutely clear. I’ve said that we want to put responsibility at the heart of our society; we want to put thrift at the heart of our government. So we’ve got to live by those values.

So Conservative MPs who have made excessive expense claims will have to go in front of that Scrutiny Panel and pay back the money agreed or they will no longer be Conservative MPs. It is as simple as that.

I have also insisted on the following actions with immediate effect.

First, I’m making first my Shadow Cabinet, and then all MPs, publish online – for everyone to see - every expense claim they make as they make it.

Second, I’m banning so-called ‘flipping’ – the process where some MPs change what they describe as their first and their second home to make the most of what they can claim on expenses.

Third, any Conservative MP selling a home for which the mortgage interest payments are currently paid by the taxpayer must confirm that if they sell it they will pay Capital Gains Tax on it.

And fourth, I’m banning my MPs from making claims for any furniture, household goods or food. Only rent, mortgage interest, overnight bills, utility bills and council tax can be claimed.

Now these actions alone of course they will not fix our broken politics. It’s just a start. I know it’s going to take time and effort to repair a system that has been allowed to deteriorate over many years. We are going to have to build that system brick by brick and the public confidence in it.

But when it comes down to it I think all of us want the same thing – we want to be proud of our Parliament and the people in it.

We’ve got big, big problems in this country. We need big change.

If we win the next election, we’ll be asking the whole country to come together to show social responsibility, personal responsibility and thrift. So the least we can do is to ask Parliament to live by those values as well.”

Cameron Takes Charge

David Cameron has just delivered a speech that had authority, leadership and understanding of the public mood regarding expenses. Aside from a large batch of money to be repaid, with the threat of expulsion from the party in place if they refuse, Cameron said that responsibility will be at the heart of what the Conservatives do.

The opening word - “Sorry” set the tone for the press conference in which he announced the following measures would take immediate effect in the Conservative Party:

• MPs will have to publish their future claims online.
• Switching of the designated second home will be banned, subject to the Chief Whip’s approval.
• MPs will have to pay capital gains tax on the sale of a second home paid for by the taxpayers.
• MPs will not be allowed to claim for furniture or food under the second home allowance. They will only be allowed to use it to cover the basics, such as rent or mortgage interest payments.
• Parliament has to live by the values of thrift.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Whitehall must give West Lindsey a fairer deal and help freeze council tax

Calls to cut back on Government spin and waste to stop council tax rises

Giles McNeill today called for wasteful government spending on advertising and public sector consultants to be cut – in order to free up funds to help freeze council tax bills in Lincolnshire. Local taxpayers in Scotland have benefited from a council tax freeze yet again this year.

• Soaring council tax under Labour: Council tax in England has rocketed by 105% - or an extra £726 a year - since Labour came to power. In West Lindsey, council tax bills have risen by 111% or £798 since 1997. But Scotland is enjoying another council tax freeze this year; council tax bills are now £265 a year less in Scotland than in England on a Band D home.

• Conservatives pledge to freeze council tax: A Conservative Government would follow the Scottish example and work in partnership with local councils, giving them extra support so that they can freeze council tax bills. Over two years, new analysis shows that this would save a typical family in west Lindsey £220 in tax. The cost to central government of reducing council tax would be met by spending less on government advertising and on public sector consultants.

• Wages of spin: Despite the strain on public finances, government advertising shot up by 20% in 2008 alone. The Government is now the second biggest advertiser in the UK, just behind Procter & Gamble. Public relations, marketing and advertising now costs the taxpayer a colossal £400 million a year. Gordon Brown spent £54 million more of taxpayers’ money on advertising in his first year than Tony Blair in his last year. The Government is also planning to spend £4 billion on consultants over the next 3 years.

• Wasteful advertising: Conservatives have put together a dossier highlighting examples of wasteful advertising, including: spinning a new ‘policing pledge’ at a time when many police forces are cutting police officers; running a ‘minimum wage Battlebus’ that only tours Labour areas; designing animated cartoons to sell discredited ‘eco-towns’; export campaign adverts that run in Britain rather than abroad; and neighbourhood policing adverts explicitly intended to prop up Labour’s local elections campaign.

Giles said:
“Under Labour, council tax has soared across the country, pushing up the cost of living and hiking bills in West Lindsey by 111%. Families and pensioners facing the economic squeeze just cannot afford yet more tax rises from Gordon Brown. If Scotland can freeze council tax for its residents, so can we south of the border. It’s time to give West Lindsey residents a fairer deal.

“We can fund a freeze for hard-pressed council taxpayers by cutting Whitehall spending on government advertising and unnecessary public sector consultants. These changes will also help undo Labour’s damaging culture of spin and restore the integrity of civil servants in Whitehall.”

Thursday, 7 May 2009

European Parliamentary Election Party Political Broadcasts

Labour's Party Political Broadcast (5th May 2009)

Conservatives' Party Political Broadcast (6th May 2009)

United Kingdom Independence Party's Party Political Broadcast (7th May 2009)

Liberal Democrat's Party Political Broadcast (8th May 2009)

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Delight as 'All-Out' Elections Proposal Fails

A bid, spearheaded by Cllr. Adam Duguid (Market Rasen), to change the election cycle of West Lindsey District Council has been failed at a cost of around £10,000.

The ruling Conservative Group of West Lindsey District Council had hoped that its plan to hold elections once every four years would be accepted with the support of the Liberal Democrat opposition. But at a council vote, most opposition members opted against the proposals, deciding to continue with the current system of election by thirds.

The District of West Lindsey is divided into twenty-five wards with a total number of District Councillors representing these wards being thrity-seven with each Councillor elected for a term of four years.

The Election of Councillors is by thirds, therefore, elections take place each year, apart from the years 2009, 2013, 2017 etc. when elections for the Lincolnshire County Council take place.

Under the current arrangement, a third of councillors are up for election each year and in the fourth year no elections are held.

Council leader Bernard Theobald said he was disappointed the plans did not go through.
"If you keep going back to the electorate and asking them to vote then they can get election fatigue," he said.

"A total of 75 per cent of people who responded during the consultation said they were for the change. We are here to respond to the wishes of the people and this is a lot of money if you're just going to ignore that."
The council said the move to the new system would allow the authority to improve long-term planning, reduce confusion in the community and reduce costs.

The £10,000 consultation, which attracted 1,800 responses from the public was held at the end of last year. Cllr. Theobald said the move would have saved the authority around £60,000 over the next three years.

The vote required at least two-thirds of councillors at the meeting to vote in favour of the change to the cycle. But only 19 of the 34 members present decided it was a good idea.

Under the current election by thirds system the Conservatives on West Lindsey District Council had achieved their highest number of Conservative Councillors. As of January 2009 the Council consisted of 21 Conservatives, 15 Liberal Democrats and 1 Independent. Based on an analysis by Giles McNeill using an all out election system the Council would likely consist of 17 Conservatives, 19 Liberal Democrats and 1 Independent. The Prediction was based on a number of factors, including: Past election results (since 2006), current majority of incumbents, an analysis of the last time the authority held an all out election (1999). The past elections were weighted to give as accurate result as could be generated from the data.

You can watch the full Council debate online here.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Vote for change on 4th June

David Cameron has today launched the Conservative Party's local election campaign and urged people to "vote for change" on 4th June.

He accused Labour of:
"running our country into the ground... [by] borrowing eye-watering amounts of money, presiding over social decline, [and] letting our politics descend into the quagmire."
He highlighted the 'national importance' of these elections and urged voters to
"give this weak, useless and spineless Government a message it won’t forget" on June 4th:

"With every Conservative vote, that message will be simple: 'Enough is enough. You’re the past.'"
Mr. Cameron stressed that Conservative councils offer value for money and provide 'more for less':
"They are delivering more of the safe, clean and green streets that are so vital to everyone’s quality of life for the less tax that is so important for everyone struggling in Labour’s Debt Crisis."
He promised to instruct Conservative councillors, new and re-elected, to
“go through the books, page by page, line by line, to see what savings you can make and do everything you can to get council tax down and help people in Labour’s Debt Crisis.”
And he stressed that Conservative councils are greener, helping to improve the local environment and protect green spaces, cleaner, with lower levels of the graffiti, fly-posting and fly-tipping, and safer, with lower levels of crime, anti-social behaviour and vandalism.
"Of the councils with the top twenty highest ‘overall satisfaction’ ratings by residents, sixteen are Conservative and none are Labour or Liberal Democrat controlled. This shouldn’t surprise anyone."
A key theme of the Local Elections campaign will be how councils are working to combat the recession, in Lincolnshire's case supporting local businesses, helping protect local jobs. Working with others, Conservative councils have introduced a range of innovative schemes to keep local firms in business and local people in work.

When Siemens, a major local employer, was looking to relocate its gas turbine production from Lincoln, Lincolnshire County Council acted swiftly to protect local jobs and avoid a huge blow to the local economy. Working in partnership with two district councils, the county council persuaded the company that a site, which they had identified for potential development into a business park, could be a suitable location. A state-of-the-art factory and offices are now under construction. In the last few years, projects led by the council’s economic regeneration section, have helped to create 2,000 jobs.

Whitehall makes it more expensive to move – as house sales plummet

New figures expose collapse in housing market across (area) thanks to Government

Giles McNeill today published new figures showing the extent of the collapse in the housing market across West Lindsey. This comes as new Government red tape will push up the cost of moving home – in the middle of a recession.

• Parliamentary Questions have revealed that across the country the number of housing sales in 2008 halved compared to 2006 levels. The latest national figures so far for 2009 show even sharper falls have happened this year. In West Lindsey, there were 1,296 housing sales in 2008, compared to 2,343 in 2006 – a fall of 45%.

• Yet new Whitehall rules will make it even harder for home buyers and sellers. The Government’s Land Registry is hiking fees in July to register a new home or to buy an official property search. Ironically, the Land Registry are blaming the recession for forcing them to put up prices as housing transactions have fallen so much, cutting their income.

• The increases in the costs of official searches will in turn increase the cost of the already expensive Home Information Packs (HIPs). This comes as new HIP rules came into effect in April which will further hinder sellers from putting their homes onto the market.

• Conservatives are calling on the Government Ministers to use their emergency powers to suspend HIPs immediately, and then abolish them completely. They are also calling for the stamp duty threshold for first-time buyers to be raised to £250,000, taking 9 out of 10 first-time buyers out of stamp duty altogether, giving an important boost to West Lindsey housing market.

Giles said:
“The new figures expose how Gordon Brown’s recession has sent West Lindsey's housing market into freefall. It is incredibly short-sighted for Labour Ministers to increase red tape on the housing market in the middle of a recession and make it even worse.

“We need action to revive the market, by reducing moving costs for home owners and giving extra help to help first-time buyers get onto the housing ladder.”