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Archive for the ‘Democracy’ Category

How to encourage growth

with 6 comments

Better cuts and more Keynesian spending programmes says Iain Malcolm

Following this post I posed the following questions to a number of our South Tyneside politicians of ALL parties, including the new “South Tyneside First” group of councillors, I also asked for opinions from some of our local businessmen and nationally recognised prominent bloggers and commentators:

If you were in a position to be advising the Chancellor and the Prime Minister, what would you be telling them about efforts to achieve deficit reduction and balance the budget?

How would you advise them to promote growth in the British economy to increase Treasury revenues?

What steps would you advise taking to help our local authority in South Tyneside promote the right conditions for job creation and improve consumer demand locally?

Sadly, some haven’t even bothered to engage or contribute to the discussion, one decided he could only contribute if I gave him space to openly criticise officers of South Tyneside Council (which was not within the remit of the discussion because officers do not decide upon policies), another said he would contribute but failed to do so. The ONLY local politician who took the time to send some carefully considered comments was Labour’s leader in South Tyneside Cllr. Iain Malcolm, who told me this:

The deficit, caused by the greed of the bankers not the last Labour Government’s spending on infrastructure,  needs to be reduced. However the Tory-led Government are using the deficit as an excuse for making deeply ideological cuts in public expenditure. The Government should be clawing back the unpaid tax by multi-national corporations and taking a leaf out of local government for ways of streamlining their civil service budgets. The Prime Minister has admitted that Councils are the most efficient part of the public sector, so send in the Local Government Association to review Whitehall expenditure with a aim to making drastic savings in their budgets.

But we also need growth in the economy and that means Government spending on economic infrastructure projects, I would rather pay people to work and receive their taxes than pay them for being unemployed. The Chancellor himself is starting to realise his austerity plans are not working and the deficit will need to be reduced over a longer period of time.

The greed of the banks nearly led to a total collapse of the economic system, if Gordon Brown had not stepped in (where other world leaders failed to lead) and reassured the public that their savings, pensions and homes were safe, we would have been in a far grave state than we are today. There would have been public panic (as witnessed over Northern  Rock) on an unprecedented scale with possible social disorder.  Whatever else one feels about our former Prime Minister remember it was his bold leadership that prevented a complete melt-down.

Finally, there needs to be greater regulation of the banking system – the light touch of the former Government (supported by the Conservatives at the time) clearly didn’t work.

It’s a fairly straight down the middle “follow the party line” sort of statement, but it does not show any real vision or initiatives to help the local economy in South Tyneside return to growth. there is no commitment. for example, to retain zero growth in Council Tax rises which would help maintain the little spending power that consumers have right now, and spending power is what lights the blue touch paper of economic growth.

However I’m very grateful and thank him for his participation.

In the table below are the combined thoughts and initiatives of the independents, Conservatives, UKIP, bloggers, and business people.

South Tyneside Opposition ideas for growth

Not very encouraging is it?

Perhaps this is one part of the explanation as to why we have such a heavily Labour dominated council here.

Update 1

This is from UKIP Cllr. David Potts

It never fails to amaze me that Labour politicians have the sheer nerve to blame the financial sector for the global economic situation. Coun Malcolm states that the crisis has been “caused by the greed of the bankers”. This is a pathetic throw-away comment backed up with zero evidence, and Coun Malcolm is intelligent enough to know this. Gordon Brown sold UK Gold reserves in the $200-300/oz range. Today, it is trading at $1600/oz. The Labour Government spent money like a drunken sailor, and the mantra that they “didn’t fix the roof while the sun was shining” could not be more accurate.

It really annoys me when governments blame the financial sector for operating within the regulatory boundaries that THEY create in the first place.

However, we must move away from national and global issues and focus upon what matters to us as councillors; South Tyneside. The highly respected think tank, IPPR North has warned that the South Tyneside jobless rate is set to skyrocket, particularly among our young people. It is deeply concerning that Coun Malcolm and his £170’000PA Chief Exec, Martin Swales publically comment that it is nothing to do with them and it is ‘all the evil Tory Government’s fault’. That is nonsense. II speak to local business people regularly. I know one energy broker who offered to save the council hundreds of thousands of pounds by switching their suppliers. His exact words were “I tried, but it was pointless, it’s a closed shop”. There is an active movement among the business community in South Tyneside to push ahead an agenda of progress and growth through directly influencing Council policy via peaceful protest and diplomatic pressure.

Now would councillor Malcolm like to tell us how many local firms are involved in the building of our new swimming pool complex? Would he also like to explain why suppliers of materials to South Tyneside Homes were based hundreds of miles away down South?

Look after the people of your Borough first.

Coun Malcolm and Mr Swales take people for fools and playing on this nonsense assertion that they are socialists. If they are socialists, I’m a Dutchman.

Update 2

This from George Smith, President of South Shields Conservative Association.

I asked our Campaign Director (Dorothy) for a brief, but they “don’t do Blogs”.
Sorry about this, according to the Levenson inquiry they do Twitter, a bit too much for me.

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South Tyneside First

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A new name to get used to.

Initial indications suggest that we ought to start getting used to the name “South Tyneside First” as tentative negotiations between three local opposition councillors proceed steadily towards becoming the “official” opposition to Labour.

Heaven knows how folks like Mr. Ahmed Khan will get along with folks like Jeff Milburn and David Potts. I cannot begin to imagine how they will begin to iron out the “creases” of recent piles of dirty washing! (Unless, of course,  someone is deliberately trying to have a joke at our expense and going to the extent of attempting to mask their identity).

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Written by curly

May 9, 2012 at 11:53 pm

Former Mayor seeks end to “negative” politics.

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John Anglin looking for positive solutions in South Tyneside.

South Tyneside’s former Mayor Cllr. John Anglin won a handsome victory in South Shields last night when he ousted the Deputy Leader of the Independent Alliance Ahmed Khan in the Beacon and Bents ward of South Shields. Returning Labour  Cllr. Anglin gave this reaction to the Corner Shop:

As far as Beacon and Bents is concerned I am delighted that the residents have allowed me to represent them once more and promise that I will concentrate on positives and positive actions that are so necessary in these gloomy times. Enough of the continually negative attitudes. Lets see what can be done to improve our Ward and our town for the wonderful people who live in it.

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Written by curly

May 4, 2012 at 11:50 am

Live election blog – South Tyneside

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Results as they come in

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Just keeping an eye on the local government elections here in South Tyneside as results are declared in South Shields and Jarrow.

  • First off a wrong prediction in the early declarations,  Labour’s Melanie Cartwright has taken Monkton from the Independent Alliance with a majority of 391 (didn’t see that one coming).
  • Labour holds Whitburn and Marsden as predicted, Tracey Dixon romped home with more than a thousand votes to spare.
  • Labour holds Bede ward in Jarrow, as predicted, welcome to Margaret Peacock.
  • Ann Walsh holds Biddick and All Saints with an 877 majority.
  • Alan Smith (Labour) defeats the Independent Alliance councillor Geraldine White in Fellgate and Hedworth (another prediction comes right).
  • Jim Perry holds Primrose for Labour with a majority of over 1000.
  • John McCabe holds Hebburn South for Labour
  • Gladys Hobson makes a return to South Tyneside Council as Labour wins in West Park (not looking good for the Progressives).
  • Just after midnight and Labour has already picked up an extra three seats on South Tyneside Council.
  • At 45.5% Cleadon Village and East Boldon has the highest turnout in the borough again.
  • HUGE win for Labour in Beacon and Bents, Ahmed Khan the Independent Alliance defendant has been beaten by former Mayor John Anglin with a good workable majority of 203!
  • Joanne Bell holds Boldon Colliery for Labour
  • Pat Hay wins Harton for Labour, driving another nail into the Progressive’s coffin.
  • Mark Walsh wins another seat for Labour, knocking out Gordin Finch (Independent Alliance) in Horsley Hill, if Westoe falls to Labour this could signal the end of the Alliance.
  • Westoe has gone Labour again! They must be jubilant as Sheila Stephenson records a 300 odd majority as the Independent Alliance is reduced to a solitary member. (is that right, just Jane Branley left?)
  • Former Conservatice Alex Donaldson (also a former Mayor) holds Cleadon Park for Labour.
  • Labour hold both seats in Simonside and Rekendyke
  • Just waiting for results in Whiteleas and Cleadon Village now, perhaps they are closer than expected?
  • Doreen Purvis eventually wins a seat on the Council as Labour takes Whiteleas from Independent Terry Haram
  • Jeff Milburn survives as the only Conservative councillor in South Tyneside holding his seat in Cleadon Village and East Boldon with a majority of only 249.
  • Mary Butler has taken Hebburn North for Labour to complete the evening’s bruising for the opposition parties.

South Tyneside Council now comprises 48 Labour members (a huge increase of nine seats) and a paltry six seats for the opposition, the real opposition must now come from within the Labour Party. Looks like my predictions yesterday were not far off the mark.

Biggest sweat must have been on the brow of Alex Donaldson who saw his majority reduced to only 21 as June Elsom came very close to unseating him, in total the Labour Party has won 18 of the 19 seats contested, a pretty formidable victory by any standards!

Conservative Jeff Milburn was unable to attend the count after being badly bitten by a dog during election day, he spent the evening being treated at the hospital.
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Written by curly

May 3, 2012 at 11:51 pm

South Tyneside goes to the polls today

with 10 comments

Local Elections predictions

Along with hundreds of othesr in England and Wales many of our councillors in South Tyneside are facing the voters at the ballot box today. The results expected around midnight will be based largely on Labour’s stewardship of our local economy and its efforts to stay within government spending guidelines in order to keep council taxes frozen, they will also be coloured a little by national political trends which don’t auger well for the two constituent parties of the coalition government.

With only one Conservative councillor, and no Liberal Democratic councillors, after the decision of Joe Abbott to stand as an independent, we shouldn’t expect any miraculous results from the coalition partners around here, but I am predicting that Jeff Milburn will hold his seat in Cleadon Village and East Boldon for the Conservatives, unfortunately for Joe Abbott I’m going to stick my neck out and predict that he may well lose in Hebburn North. The rest of my predictions will not come as any major surprise, I see a victorious night for the Labour Party as the votes are counted in South Shields and Jarrow, the opposition is in for a tough old time! I’m predicting a battering, a hammering, with the Independent Alliance and Progressives almost wiped off the map.

  • Beacon and Bents – All eyes will be on this result which could be very close to call, but I’m predicting a Labour win for former Mayor John Anglin .
  • Bede – Labour hold
  • Biddick and All Saints – Labour hold
  • Boldon Colliery – Labour hold
  • Cleadon and East Boldon – Conservative hold
  • Cleadon Park – Labour hold
  • Fellgate and Hedworth – Labour win from Independent Alliance
  • Harton – Labour win from Progessive
  • Hebburn North – Labour win from Lib/Dem
  • Hebburn South – Labour hold.
  • Horsley Hill – another one very close to call, Labour win from Independent Alliance
  • Monkton – Independent Alliance hold
  • Primrose – Labour hold
  • Simonside and Rekendyke – Labour to hold two seats following the death of Joan Meeks
  • West Park – Labour win from Progressive
  • Westoe – Labour win from Independent Alliance (no Branley effect this year)
  • Whitburn and Marsden – Labour hold
  • Whiteleas – Independent hold, but it could be very tight.

Well, they are my predictions, which would see the Independent Alliance, the Progressives, Lib-Dems, UKIP, and Conservatives fighting to fill the area of an average park bench, if you disagree then please say why.

Remember, you have no right at all to complain about things if you do not take part and use your vote, a map of polling stations is available here, and the full list of candidates is available here.

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Back at last!

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Curly's desktops

So, just what have I been up to?

Well, TWO new computers, both in the same case!

It has taken a while, but the hardware on the old Windows XP machine was deteriorating and could only have bits and pieces replaced so often, the operating system was outdated and not capable of keeping pace with the latest developments. So now I have a dual boot machine, i.e. when I switch it on it gives me a choice, do I wish to fire up Windows 7 Ultimate, or Linux Ubuntu 12? I’ve used the Windows machine to set up my home wireless networking solutions streaming content out and sharing files and folders between this desktop, a laptop, a Blackberry, a PS3, and a Nintedo, everyone is happy on that score! I also use it to edit my photographs, because Photoshop is simply the best. However, what has kept me away from here for so long is my determination to learn how to do things in Linux, how to code, work in the command line and “Terminal”, it is challenging and fun, and seriously I cannot get enough of it.

I wanted to rise to the challenge of running my home computing on a machine using only software that is commonly shared and legitimately free, and as you can see from the picture of my two different desktops above, I have even managed to get the thing to look and behave just like a megabucks Mac!

I am determined to learn how to use the Gimp image editing software, it may never be as good as Photoshop, but I’m pretty sure I can make it produce good pictures, the example above shows that I have a long way to go.

So I’m ready to be back in the saddle to ride this vehicle wherever we want to go, political interests have had to take a back seat for a few weeks, the hunger for knowledge has been winning the battle.

I’ll start tomorrow with a little piece on the local elections here in South Tyneside to get the ball rolling again – remember to go and use your vote, you really have no right at all to complain if you fail to mark a cross.

Written by curly

May 2, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Reducing the number of South Tyneside councillors

with 5 comments

Populist move from one current and one former councillor

Well it certainly might be an idea that gains the backing of a large section of the community eager to see the perceived wasting of money halted, but as things stand these proposals from the former Progressive councillor Greenwell Jewitt, and the borough’s Old Peoples Parliament Forum 50, along with backing from current Independent councillor George Elsom seem doomed to failure not least because they are poorly thought through and poorly presented.

The idea sounds great, bringing the number of councillors down from 54 to 36 and reducing allowances by 50% would certainly find favour with a lot of people, many could probably find popular alternative ways to spend the c £300000 that might be saved (in other words the cash would not be saved at all)  but there is no substance, clarity, or technical detail in the proposals, nor does the proposal take account of what actions South Tyneside Council can legitimately take on its own behalf. Our council cannot decide alone to reduce the number of its elected representatives, nor can it decide alone what level of allowances to compensate elected members with.

These decisions can only be taken alongside the guidance, advice, and support of external organisations set up by statute governing the constitution of local councils in England Wales.

One needs to ask Cllr, Elsom and Mr. Jewitt exactly how they would propose making the reduction in councillor numbers. Would they favour continuing with fewer but larger three member seats and elections held at the same time and frequency as the rest of England and Wales, or would they favour two member wards, which require our council to be completely out of step with the rest of England and Wales? Twelve larger wards across the borough would suit me to be sure, but it would be almost impossible to get all party agreement on the shape, size, and the boundaries of these new wards, it might also lead to a reduction in Labour’s dominance at local level. However this is all academic, in order to facilitate a change in the size of South Tyneside Council, the council would need to pass a resolution requesting that the Local Government Boundaries Commission for England carry out a special and specific electoral review just for this borough, and it is a very rare thing indeed for single borough reviews to take place successfully.

Electoral reviews look at whether the boundaries of wards or divisions within a local authority need to be altered. We might conduct these reviews either to ensure fairer representation at local government elections after any significant changes in the distribution of electors, or at the request of a local authority for other reasons.

Things we look at:

  • the number of councillors on the council
  • the number of wards or divisions
  • whether the wards or divisions should be represented by a single councillor, or jointly by two or three councillors
  • the boundaries and names of those wards or divisions

Our responsibilities relate solely to local government in England.

So, as you can see from the above, this will be a major hurdle to overcome, and certainly would not happen overnight!

I think Forum 50’s idea of collecting petition signatures may be the right way to go to promote the council into thinking of considering their proposal, but a realist would recognise that there can be no political will withing the Labour Party to cut their own throats.

Nice try though guys!

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Written by curly

March 11, 2012 at 10:28 am

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