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Archive for the ‘Labour's cuts’ Category

What has happened to South Tyneside Council?

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Doing things we’ve yearned over for years!

I don’t know what’s going on, South Tyneside’s Labour Party must have had an injection of pragmatism, or they are riding on the crest of a popular wave, or something like that.

Councillors are to be threatened with legal non niceties and even fines for failing to declare pecuniary interests, there has been a reinforcing of older rules about seeking favours or influencing decisions, respect is the flavour of the month, and to really upset any opposition they’ve managed to underspend the budget and put money away for a rainy day!

My head is in a spin, I don’t quite know what to make of it, let’s just hope that they keep it up and manage to keep council taxes at the current level leaving us with some money to spend as consumers trying to reinvigorate our local economy. After all a low taxed borough must surely have a chance of winning over investors and job creators.

However, the biggest shock is this – council and committee meetings taking place on an evening when it is easier for members of the public to attend – this is an outrage! How dare they do what we’ve been wanting for years!

Before you know it they’ll be opening a Facebook page so we can “like” them, or even worse they’ll install a webcam in the council chamber of South Shields Town Hall so we can watch them in action.

This flourishing of populist policy will have to stop I tell you, after all we need something to complain about.

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Written by curly

June 21, 2012 at 8:08 pm

It’s party time!

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What is beneath the gloss?

So now that the Diamond Jubilee parties are over and we bask a little longer in the glow, the next party is upon us from tomorrow in the shape of a footballing feast known as the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine. Another few weeks of supermarket prodding will have us overfilled with lager, beer, and frozen pizzas, our homes and cars will be draped with the flag of St. George, the “red tops” will exhort the England football team to glories well beyond their reach (they have only ONCE reached the semi final of this tournament), the new flatscreen TVs will be overheating, and when it all ends……….well there are the Olympics and Paralympics to look forward to in London, along with commercially sponsored torch bearers. One only hopes that South Tyneside Council is NOT tempted to mount the giant screen in the park again, I fear the demand will not be there to sit and watch in a South Shields park!

Of course our politicians will probably be a little more sanguine than myself, especially having invested so heavily in the London Olympics, and I confess most of the Olympian sports hold little interest for me even though there will be some football in Newcastle, but for others this will indeed be a veritable feast of summer sports with Wimbledon and Test Match cricket thrown into the mix. David Cameron and News International will be hoping to share the glory of English and British sportsmen and women as the medal count increases the “feel good” factor and the national index of good cheer. Parliament will be enjoying its long summer break with only the Leveson inquiry interrupting the good news, yet quietly gurgling away beneath the veneer of good cheer and “gloss” will be ……………………the economy.

Let’s not forget, that this is the main event!

After two years of a Conservative led coalition government the track record is not that impressive, the deficit continues to grow (albeit at a slower pace), the national debt is still woefully out of control, borrowing is still at record levels and getting higher, public expenditure is higher now than in the last years of Brown’s disastrous administration, so much for the cuts eh? The slight saving grace is that unemployment has not yet broken past levels which might lead to the sort of civil unrest witnessed in Greece. The Eurozone crisis refuses to go away, banks still appear to need recapitalisng (again) and none of the major European players seem willing to take the bull by the horns and dismantle the single currency. All the while the pan European policy appears to be one of further austerity, less public spending, and increasing taxation, as near every nation in the EU other than Germany slumbers along on virtually zero growth.

Growth? Did I mention growth?

Ah yes, who has the secret elixir which will put more money into the hands of consumers or savers? It is they alone who can provide the demand and stimulus that economies need, and any person in South Tyneside who tells you that they couldn’t use a few extra quid a month is madly deluded. Banks rely on savers to swell deposits, greater deposits create more capital, more capital creates greater liquidity which normally leads to easier lending and investment, yet the current economic cycle has brought us interest rates which creep closer to zero and discourage any saving at all. Similarly current personal and indirect taxation levels do nothing at all to inspire consumer confidence and help us to prioritise our spending on essentials such as mortgages and rents, fuel, and keeping our older cars on the road for even longer. It is almost a pan European deflationary cycle. Our own government is caught up in the very same frame of mind as Labour’s outgoing Chancellor Alistair Darling who was equally determined to reduce the deficit whilst raising taxes and sending out hopeful signals on government expenditure. Neither Labour nor the current coalition appears to have had a “plan B” that might have included some major initiatives to promote economic growth and rekindle consumer demand.

So, sadly, whilst we are in the summer party of love mood we have to remind the politicians that “it’s the economy stupid”, and with that in mind I’ve asked some of our prominent politicians in South Tyneside, along with some business people and other bloggers for their ideas on what we need to do to get our local and national economy on the move. Of course your own ideas are very welcome too.

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Have I missed out on a tax reduction?

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Labour’s Iain Malcolm in odd statement

Cllr. Iain Malcolm, Labour’s Leader of South Tyneside District council is quoted today as saying:

“We have been able to reduce council tax year on year since I become leader.”

Has a year been missed out of my life? Have I been in a state of cryogenic suspended animation on another planet? Did they deliberately miss me out?

I have lived in South Shields all of my life, and as far as I can recall during the history of paying council tax on South Tyneside my bill has only ever gone up (or last year stayed the same thanks to the Coalition government), can someone please tell me which year during Iain Malcolm’s leadership that it was reduced?

Every time that South Tyneside Council had a “consultation exercise” on its website about council taxes I was offered a choice of four different levels of increases, never once was I offered the choice of a freeze or a reduction.

Has the “dear Leader” been terribly misquoted or has he become temporarily deluded into thinking he has become a tax cutting Tory after successfully squeezing the council’s budget?

 

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Written by curly

January 26, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Relaunch No.6 “Doing the right thing”

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Keeping Ed Miliband may be the “right thing” for Cameron

Video courtesy of Guido Fawkes.

I don’t know how you feel, but I find it rather difficult to “connect” with this bloke, he may want to do the “right thing” but he never sounds right, nor looks right, and as Leader of the Opposition he just appears to be the “right thing” for providing target practice for David Cameron at the Dispatch Box.

However, talking of doing the right thing, at least Ed Miliband appears willing to join the Prime Minister in forcing the hand of Alex Salmond, the SNP’s First Minister in Scotland. This is an interesting position considering how many seats Labour might lose in Westminster should Scotland be broken away from the Union and attain independence, but fighting a move in a referendum on the matter is surely the right thing to do. Salmond the populist leader of his party has been invited by South Tyneside Council Leader Iain Malcolm to speak in the north-east at a meeting of the North East Economic Forum organised by Malcom’s Sovereign Strategy lobbying company. This is a good move as it will help to define relationships between Scotland and this region irrespective of the outcome of any referendum, whenever it may be held, our economic prosperity may suffer heavily should Scotland be in an independent position in regard to taxes, subsidies, and “sweeteners” to businesses and it is right that Salmond should come down here to clarify what he really wants for Scotland and to take back our views on how our joint prospects may pan out if Scotland is no longer part of the United Kingdom. Iain Malcolm said:

“I’m not in favour of Scotland becoming independent from the rest of the UK, we are stronger together, but that is a matter for the Scottish people.

“Whatever happens it is vital the North East has a stronger relationship with our partners across the border.

“That is why yes we do have to look at what might happen, say after 2014.”

The prospect of a nation on our doorstep offering better incentives to business, or smaller tax rates may well be something to fear, or will it? Perhaps such a scenario may lead to wholesale revision of business taxes in England introducing a necessary level of competition. Other worries may surface about areas such as VAT or sales taxes which could result in cross border shopping expeditions to Edinburgh or Dumfries furthering the decline of our north east shopping centres, a major worry for places such as South and North Shields, Wallsend, or Gateshead.

Like Malcolm, I do not want to see the eventual break up of the United Kingdom , and I do not believe it would lead to increased prosperity for the people of Scotland, I do not believe that they could cope economically without the levels of subsidies provided via Westminster. Like Cameron and Ed Miliband I think the “right thing” politically is to force Salmond’s hand and hold a definitive referendum at a time not of his choosing, with the legal framework clearly outlined so as there can be no doubt about the differences between a yes and a no vote.

Also, whilst we are on the subject of the “right thing” it is comforting to see that stumbling Ed Miliband at last recognises that cuts in public spending are necessary and right, and that deficit reduction needs to be ongoing, just a shame that he has spent the opening period of his leadership campaigning against such measures along with Ed Balls. The “right thing” to do now, surely, is to apologise for the mistakes made during the years that both of them spent in Gordon Brown’s government as the spending spree with other people’s money piled debt upon debt adding to the problems that we all face now.

So, Labour is starting to see the benefits of doing the “right thing” (and here’s another), now Miliband just needs to pull the rest of his party along with him. Unfortunately, and this will remain for  some time, the presentation is abysmal, lacklustre, weak, and dull as dishwater,  with major players in his own ranks bemoaning his performance – long may he remain as Labour’s leader!

 

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2012 predictions

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Welcome back my friends.

First a bit of music to cheer you all up, and may I extend a big welcome to you all as we begin a New Year in South Tyneside’s first and oldest political blog, I wish you all a Happy New Year and hope that it brings some sort of cheer to you. I cannot promise that output from this desk will be any more frequent this year than it was last, a new lifestyle here leaves me a bit less time to write and my passion for photography at South Shields Daily Pictures also competes for my online time. However, with a long drum roll let’s get started with things for 2012.

National and international predictions

Financial and political pressure within the EU continue to build as a realistic solution to the Eurozone crisis fails to materialise, as referendums in Greece and Ireland  initially reject further austerity measures relating to the latest bail out plans. Calls to remove these countries from the Eurozone are thwarted as both nations are forced to hold a second vote which confirms their compliance with the Commission’s wishes. Massive unrest on the streets of Athens leads, for the first time, to a pan European peacekeeping force being deployed in Greece to keep its citizens under control.

David Cameron decides that Britain will not contribute any personnel to the new force, and further reduces Britain’s contribution to the IMF, stating that our financial problems require us to keep more of our finances at home. Nick Clegg threatens to pull the Lib-Dems out of the coalition in protest at the Conservatives outright hostility to the new EU plans designed to bring stability to the markets, however because of Labour’s weak position under Ed Miliband a combination of Tory and rebellious Labour MPs win the day in a Confidence debate in the House of Commons, thus tying the Lib-Dems into the coalition. Rebel Labour MPs claim this was the best way to ensure the total demise of Lib- Dem MPs at the next general election whilst buying more time for Labour to reorganise.

In America President Obama wins a second term, although very narrowly, after providing logistical and intelligence support to Israel when they successfully bombed a number of Iranian nuclear facilities the week before President Ahmedinijad was expected to announce the testing of his country’s first nuclear weapon.

In Russia Vladimir Putin is elected to lead the nation again, but there are strong doubts about the integrity of the elections, massive unrest in Russian cities is dealt with firmly and harshly, and following warmer than normal friendly talks with neighbouring states regarding trade agreements and energy supplies, observers begin fearing for the independence of the Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia) as nationalist parties there see a massive rise in popularity after the EU’s enforced austerity measures spark riots.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announces a new treaty with Iran, promising to help them rebuild the facilities destroyed by the Israelis. Increased  defence spending in the secretive far eastern state has resulted in a larger American military presence in Australia’s Northern Territory and the permanent patrol of a full battle ready US fleet in international waters close to the Korean peninsular.

China continues to be the world’s leading economy but still shows little appetite for increasing it’s spending on imports, preferring instead to produce good quality copies of foreign article for home consumption, Obama’s pleas for relaxations in China’s trade policies fall on deaf ears.

Local predictions.

The case in San Mateo County Court in California involving three South Tyneside councillors and an officer rumbles on seemingly interminably with no prospect of either a firm result and conclusion, or a commencement of proceedings in a British court. The costs of the matter are used as a political weapon during the local government elections in May.

Fifteen South Shields boys and girls attend the X Factor auditions in Newcastle but not a single one makes any progress, meanwhile late in the year Little Mix release an album to mixed reviews which does well in the charts but does not reach No. 1, fans had a liking for the new material but complained that five covers in the album were probably too many. As the year closes Little Mix prepare for their second UK headlining tour. Meanwhile Joe McElderry had released an album firmly in the dance genre after expressing disappointment over the sales of his Christmas Classics collection of cover songs, he also decided to accept the offer of a part in a West End musical and will be appearing in panto at the end of the year at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal.

South Tyneside’s jobless figures continue to rise although not at the massive rate that some had feared, local employment prospects are boosted by the announcement from Nissan of their decision to build a further two new models at their massive plant in Washington.

In the local elections in May Labour takes an absolute stranglehold on local politics as virtually all opposition in South Tyneside is wiped off the map. Cllr Geraldine White loses her seat to Labour in Fellgate and Hedworth, Lawrence Nolan fails to hold Harton for the Progressives after the retirement of Jimmy Capstick, the Liberal Democrats disappear as Joe Abbot loses to Labour in Hebburn North, Labour regain Horsely Hill in a close contest as Independent Alliance councillor Gordon Finch loses his seat, in Monkton John Hodgson somehow manages to fend off Labour’s challenge with only a handful of votes to spare, Labour make it three in a row in West Park as Enid Hetherington ends the Progressive Association’s long tenure there, Labour pick up Westoe at the expense of Allen Branley, and further legal challenges ensue after Ahmed Khan narrowly loses the decision against Labour’s John Anglin in the Beacon and Bents ward of South Shields.

Labour’s only other failure on a remarkable night was in Cleadon Village and East Boldon, where Conservative Councillor Jeff Milburn retained his seat with a much  reduced majority.

Following further shop closures in King Street, South Shields, South Tyneside Council announced an updated plan for a shoppers car parking scheme which gave two hours of free town centre parking, charges would only be applied after two hours and could be refunded if shoppers were spending more than £5 with local “partner” businesses. In a further sign of Labour’s pragmatic approach to working with the coalition government council Leader Iain Malcolm announced his intention of shaving an additional £45m from South Tyneside’s spending as he intended to announce a first ever reduction in council taxes to help local people rebuild their economy by putting money back into their own pockets to spend.

On the sporting scene, South Shields Mariners are in disarray after the sale of Filtrona Park , a late season slide in form saw them narrowly avoid relegation and their future is now in serious doubt as new houses are about to be built on their former ground. Until they find a new home their existence in the Northern League cannot be guaranteed.

In the Premier League Mike Ashley showed no inclination to spend on Newcastle United during the January window, as once again he discussed the possibility of selling the club at the end of the season. The Magpies strong start to the campaign was cancelled out when striker Demba Ba suffered a serious injury, this coupled with the sales of Tiote and Krul meant that Pardew’s men had a late season loss of form which saw them end the campaign in 15th. place.

Rivals  Sunderland were boosted by the surprise arrival of a top name striker and a full back which pleased the red and white half of South Shields. Meanwhile Ryan Noble’s emergence as a Premier League threat helped Martin O’Neill cement his status as a “legend” as the team went on a strong run towards the end of the season finishing above the Magpies in 9th. place. Owner Ellis Short announced that further funds would be made available to the Irishman for the summer transfer window, once again Sunderland are considering the possibility of extending the capacity at The Stadium of Light.

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South Tyneside’s five month election campaign!

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John Anglin and Johnny Morris

Long lost cousins?

No – honestly, it isn’t until May next year.

Surely this must go down as the longest election campaign in South Tyneside’s history, however the Labour Party is already out of the blocks and up and running!

Former Mayor John Anglin has announced in a letter to residents of the Beacon and Bents ward in South Shields that he’ll be contesting the seat that he so recently vacated in order to make a lengthy overseas trip, and being a bit mischievous I noticed a distinct similarity between Mr. Anglin and former BBC children’s’ TV presenter Johnny Morris. The man from “Animal Magic” might easily have been a long lost cousin of John Anglin, don’t you think? More than likely Morris ignored the best advice ever given to showmen, “never work with children or monkeys animals”, and Anglin must surely be contemplating this advice too as he attempts to retake the seat for Labour. It is not yet known whether or not South Shields’ most controversial and outspoken councillor, Ahmed Khan, has decided that he wishes to defend the seat in May 2012.

Also out and about in the Fellgate and Hedworth ward was another new Labour candidate Alan Smith – no not this one –  with council leader Iain Malcolm and Cllr. Bill Brady. They were there to say things to the effect that Labour does NOT forget about those wards that elect opposition councillors! Sounds quite funny really when the perception is quite the opposite, as I’m sure Cllr. Steve Harrison and his fellow independents will attest.

However there is a point to all of this, and that is that Labour is setting out an early marker that sitting Independent councillors are going to be targeted, and that they see opportunities of retaking seats which have “strayed” from Labour’s grasp in recent years. Make no bones about this, the current Labour leadership in South Tyneside sees a rosy future and believes that it can achieve overwhelming dominance in the council chamber as the Conservative and Lib-Dem brands appear “toxic” to the electorate. This new “Blue” Labour regime probably also sees some dividend coming from the tight budgetary controls imposed upon it by the coalition government, it is quite prepared to undertake the task of reducing council spending in exchange for the freeze in council taxes, they certainly don’t want to rock the boat by introducing proposals that call for increases in taxes when we are finding the economic climate “challenging”. The local Labour Party will be challenging the opposition parties to produce a well informed and costed alternative budget in the first quarter of next year, something  which they have not been adept at doing with any great success in the past few years. It also offers Labour the opportunity of opening a “trap door” for the opposition if they attempt to produce a budget calling for a reduction in council taxes if it is accompanied by even larger spending cuts than those implemented by the ruling Labour group.

Now is the time for those Conservatives, Lib_Dems, Progressive, and non aligned independents in South Tyneside to come together with a united vision of how the borough can progress through 2012 without further affecting economic decline and without burdening the local electorate with additional taxation and service charges, in an effort to appear both sympathetic to the aims of the coalition in reducing the budget deficit and the debt mountain, and appealing to those who wish to see an effective and empathetic alternative to Labour  whilst putting a firm squeeze on the Independent Alliance who have signally failed to prosper as an opposition with a real policy agenda or new ideas.

The long road to May 2012 starts here – today!

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Not the right way

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not the right waySo many things that I said “No” to during the past week.

It didn’t help that “Dave’s” coalition government and the Opposition sort of joined forces to whip their MPs to vote against giving us a new referendum on our relationship with the EU, after all it is a totally different beast to the one which we last had a say about in 1973. The idea that people could register their ePetitions on the No. 10 website and if they had enough support (over 100000 signatures) they would result in a debate in the House of Commons is essentially a good one, especially as there are, from time to time, issues where it seems our MPs might be slightly out of tune with the public. However, a second petition relating to the price of petrol will apparently NOT be debated because of a lack of time in the Parliamentary calendar! Come on Dave, your government is devaluing the importance of these petitions if you cannot find time to debate them.

I profoundly disagreed too with the whole “solution” to the Eurozone crisis, this managed default of the Greek debts is a signal of much worse to come, we have spent the last two years throwing more debt at the Greeks and the Irish with other economies also being drip fed bail out funding, and let’s not forget how much was borrowed by Gordon Brown to increase the liquidity of British Banks either, I fail to see how you can solve anyone’s debts by piling more debt upon them! But we are led by the (European) nose to help create a 1.2 trillion Euro fund to assist member states who cannot manage to spend   around the same amount that they earn in revenue. Surely a result of the Brown/Obama plan to solve the banking crisis, invest spend your way out of trouble! Italy, Spain and Portugal will be next to feel the pressure of the mountain of Eurobond debts, as once again we see economies that are introducing austerity measures rather late in the day to balance their books. If we ran our household budgets in this way we would soon be looking towards a voluntary bankruptcy! Which brings us to the UK, where we too have come to realise, late in the day, that our national debts and budget deficit needed to be urgently addressed, and despite the efforts of the coalition government to bring public spending under control, those debts continue to rise and public spending continues to be a massive burden, George Osborne tells us that we are not contributing much to the European Stabilising mechanism but with deft sleight of hand we are increasing our contributions to the IMF instead, any wonder that we fail to meet spending targets? The hand of Brussels lies heavily upon the decisions made by our politicians and the whole mess has the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel musing over the future peace of Europe, possibly a rather far fetched view in my opinion, but it shapes the ridiculous writing in some of our newspapers this weekend.

Solution, allow the Eurozone to collapse and let member states reintroduce their own floating currencies, allowing a managed default based upon the exchange rate of the remaining Euro at the time of conversion to the new currency. Tell these member states that the European Central Bank will not be bailing them out in future, perhaps then we might see some fresh starts and some  growth slowly emanating from the ashes, this whole sorry affair of the last week has been more about saving the single currency and the European dream of political unity more than it has been about saving the economies of individual member states, and by playing their own small part our coalition government has nailed its flag to the mast as a lukewarm supporter of European integration. I firmly believe that ALL British politicians were wrong, wrong, wrong, not to allow their MPs a free vote during the EU debate, and that sometime in the far future the EU will collapse as a result of its utopian political and economic dreams.

Next disagreement is with Iain Malcolm, the Leader of South Tyneside Council who wrote in the Guardian during the week that councils were taking the flak for the government’s spending cuts. Was this a paid for article Iain? Anyway, pretty good at playing politics, perhaps the first stage in an election strategy for next May blaming the evil wicked Tories and Lib Dems for wreaking misery on us all but good old Labour in South Tyneside has managed to produce a budget which will not increase your council tax for e second year in succession! Can you see it coming? It may have been better and more honest of him to admit that Labour frittered away £ billions when in office, and saddled us with larger debts than we accrued through fighting the Second World War, perhaps he should have done a Liam Byrne and admitted that the cupboard was bear at the end of Gordon Brown’s tenure. He said:

The government’s cuts are brutal and ideological. Our task isn’t just to protect residents from the worst effects – it is to make them fully appreciate whose hand is on the axe.

Brutal? Idealogical? What then would Alistair Darling’s cuts have been described as if Labour had won the last election? There is no doubt that you could hardly have passed a cigarette paper between Labour and the Tories public spending pronouncements at the time, £2 bn difference within a national debt amounting to £1.2 tn is minuscule. That is where I find my disagreement with the Leader of the Council, a fair lack of honesty and a total lack of clarity over who put us all in the financial mess that we are in, he was quite happy to accept the cash that Gordon Brown’s government kept producing, quite happy to keep increasing council taxes year after year when even Brown’s largesse was deemed as insufficient. He knows, I know, and we know, that the party had to come to an end.

Because it doesn’t have to be like this. Local government has been a force for good in Britain. We will work to defend our communities by examining new and innovative models of service delivery – through trusts and co-operatives, asset transfers to the voluntary sector, strategic partnerships with the private sector or more joint working between councils.

Ah, now here are the clever little secret caveats, we WILL do it the way the coalition wants, because we DO want to make sure that there will be no increase in council taxes again! Look, yes, I know and understand that it is tough going, with very difficult spending decisions to make, but I also know that we knew this latest tranche of cuts was coming, it was NOT a complete shock,we knew twelve months ago that the “front loading” was only the first phase, this is probably the press release was made by Martin Swales rather than a Labour politician. Please take time to look again at the Gazette article, because therein lies another disagreement, some fool writing in the comments section reckons we somehow managed in the past without a Chief Executive, beats me how this sort of stuff gets into some minds. No council could be administered without a manager at the top, it matters not what he/she is titled, Chief Officer, Chief Executive, Director, or Town Clerk, we have always had a one!

Finally car parking in South Shields, perhaps one of my hobby horses, I wrote at the time of the introduction of the first “pay and display” areas in Beach Road, South Shields that it would not necessarily kill off the town centre, but also warned that it was the thin end of the wedge and that Town Hall bosses would soon extend the pay and display schemes to other areas, and I was right. I published a picture showing Beach Road populated with parked cars using the new meters, more recent evidence suggests they are not quite so popular now, for instance I can never remember seeing Beach Road so empty opposite the Town Hall, yet places such as Derby Street, Claypath Lane, and back Westoe Road are totally choked! There are even decent amounts of spaces in the town centre car parks since the charging scheme was amended, 1p per minute for just one hour is simply not giving the average shopper sufficient time, the 1p per minute charge should extend to the first two hours as a good compromise. If we can go somewhere toward attracting these motorists back to the areas where they want and need to park, then we won’t be creating as many problems for local residents who see their streets choked by other motorists, then we won’t have the thorny and expensive problems of resident permit areas!

“Big society” parking operators? OK I can go along with that, but more and more “pay and display schemes” at the wrong prices and in the wrong places is now something that seems to be creating additional problems in areas where we don’t need them.

OK, end of rant, I now have a pumpkin to carve, if I can manage to get Iain Malcolm’s face on it I’ll post a picture, I seem to remember that George Elsom looked pretty ghoulish a few years ago 🙂
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Talking of Shane Warne

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South Shields Labour Party throw a few leg spinners too.

This from a few of the election leaflets being distributed on behalf of Labour in South Shields:

The Tory-led Coalition government have –

  • Imposed £35m worth of cuts on South Tyneside Council with more to come
  • Odd then that the total budget requirement for this year is only £11.7m less than last year and that the net budget requirement is £0.7m higher. Also odd that they don’t disclose that Alistair Darling planned to make cuts just about of the same order as the present government if Labour had won the general election, indeed Darling declared that cuts would have to be harder and deeper than in the Thatcher years.
  • Increased VAT to 20% meaning we all have to pay higher prices for everyday things.
  • Why don’t they mention that Labour’s last Chancellor wanted to introduce two similar rises?(As disclosed by Lord Mandelson)

Your Labour Council will –

  • Improve our town centre – from Ocean Road to King Street and the Market Place.
  • Please don’t laugh, I know you have heard this MANY times before and are still waiting to see it happen! Perhaps they meant replacing a few more paving blocks.
  • Continue to bring down Council Tax by looking at better ways of delivering services – no increase in Council Tax for 2011!
  • This one spun so much it missed the wicket keeper! Seriously can you believe that statement? For a start lets break it down into two pieces, firstly the claim that Labour will continue to bring down Council Tax, the word continue suggests an ongoing process, something which has happened before, is happening now and will happen in the future. Can anyone remember when Labour last did anything except INCREASE Council Tax in South Tyneside? No……neither can I.
  • Secondly the use of the exclamation mark after – no increase in Council Tax for 2011 – suggests that Labour was in some way responsible for this first ever freeze, when we all know they could never be responsible for anything except tax rises. This is the most outrageous use of “spin” I’ve seen for years in this borough. The Council Tax freeze has been imposed on our council by the Conservative led coalition government, and  if our council manages our money well we may find that it is frozen again next year as the grant system rewards prudence.

Finally there is a statement that Labour is (amongst other things)

  • Committed to driving down Council Tax.
  • Well, it beggars belief really, can you recall all of those consultation exercises and public polls that offered you a choice of four levels of council tax rises, but never once offered a freeze or a cut? Can you really believe they are committed to driving down Council Tax in South Tyneside – I cannot!

Don’t be taken in by this spin and please remember on May 5th. that in South Tyneside Council Taxes under Labour have done nothing else except rise inexorably year after year after year. It was a Conservative led government that brought you this year’s tax freeze!

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Miliband has let down the centre ground

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Three cheers for Luke Bozier for introducing some sensible debate to the Labour Party

I’m not normally in the habit of sending readers along to Labour Lost List, but Luke Bozier’s contribution today is lucid, cogent, sensible, and above all necessary. It has sparked a healthy debate amongst the left in a way that neither of the Miliband brothers have managed recently, and I think it represents the sensible opinion of millions of silent voters across the UK.

I spent much of the weekend contemplating whether or not the Labour Party of today is the party I joined four years ago. The answer in most part is no. I felt ashamed listening to Ed Miliband’s speech at the big TUC march on Saturday, when he effectively glorified the ‘stop all cuts’ movement and compared it to such monumental moments of the 20th century as the suffragettes movement which gave women the vote, the civil rights movement in America and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.

As Labour leader, Ed has a legitimate platform from which to address any issue he pleases, but elevating a movement like the TUC march to the level of the civil rights movement I find tone deaf and insulting to that and the other causes he mentioned.

We must ask ourselves, as a party, what kind of Britain we want to create, and whether or not we too are capable of being the party of the vested interest. From my perspective, and that of many others, Labour currently stands for one thing: halting the cuts to the public sector. We have in effect become the party of the public sector. As important as the public sector is, it only represents a portion of society, and is not a panacea for all of society’s ills as many in the Labour Party mistakenly believe. Cutting public spending will have an effect on some peoples’ lives but we have to take hold of our senses – nothing this government can do will take us anywhere near the levels of suffering and deprivation Britain witnessed in the 1980s.

Continue reading this article here.

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Written by curly

March 29, 2011 at 6:54 pm

If Labour had won under Gordon Brown……..

with 23 comments

…….their “cuts” would begin to bite in two days time.

It is so easy to forget that during the campaign for the last general election you could hardly pass a cigarette paper between the economic and fiscal policies of the two main parties, the Conservatives were promising around £16bn worth of savings to reduce the structural deficit built by Gordon Brown’s regime, and Labour were proposing £14bn worth of cuts in their next planned budget which would have been effective from April 1st. next year. That £2bn difference is minuscule when viewed against the £1 trillion (and growing) debt that they left us.

Yet now that Gordon Brown has been consigned to the history books and Alistair Darling forgotten about, can the Labour Party in Opposition be responsible enough to stand by their manifesto pledges and talk freely about the areas which would have suffered had they swung their axe?

It appears not, in recent days both Ed Balls, the Shadow Chancellor and Harriet Harman, the Deputy Leader have both evaded questions about Labour’s cuts whilst the party’s leader embarks upon a campaign of supporting street demonstrations and direct action, Balls in his interview with The Daily Mail on Monday made the slightly ridiculous argument that the economy had started to show signs of strong growth at the end of Labour’s stint (0.2% if I recall correctly) and that coalition policies had stunted that growth re-stoked inflation and set unemployment on an upward path. The ridiculous part of the argument is that  the fiscal measures announced in Gorge Osborne’s first budget will not come into effect until April 1st. this year, and Balls knows it full well, it is the same date that Labour’s budget would have been effective from if they had won the election. In his interview Balls gave no clues at all on where Labour would have wielded the axe as they set about “halving the deficit in four years”. Yet he and his leader were prepared to share a platform in London decrying the government for doing what Labour would necessarily have had to do.

Harriet Harman repeated the same lame argument on the BBC’s Daily Politics Show yesterday, and once more utterly failed to convince in her answers to the questions about where Labour’s cuts would hurt.

Interviewer: You talk about the cuts being wrong but you do not talk about the alternative. You also do not mention that you would also be making cuts.”

HARRIET HARMAN: “We do. We say that we would halve the deficit over four years. Now what happened is  the economy was hit by a global financial crisis. We had to allow the deficit to rise to protect the economy.”

Interviewer: “I know it’s tempting to get into the history lesson.”

HARRIET HARMAN: “I’m just trying to explain what we would actually do instead. There is an alternative and that’s what we’re setting forward.”

Interviewer: “So when it comes to cuts where would you cut and what would you cut?”

HARRIET HARMAN: “Well we think that Government is making matters worse because they’re slowing down economic growth.”

Interviewer: “You’re not answering the question and that is the problem.”

HARRIET HARMAN: “Well I am. Because basically the cuts are making. What the Government is doing is making the situation worse. They are making unemployment rise. We are seeing growth falter and that makes it harder to cut the deficit. So my point is they are making the deficit worse.”

Interviewer: “Don’t you see the problem though with this approach because you at the last election said that you would have to make cuts. Now it is impossible…”

HARRIET HARMAN: “Halving the deficit over four years.”

Interviewer: “To get you to say where you would cut. I’ve had Ed Miliband, Ed Balls sitting in the same seat. He wouldn’t say it.”

HARRIET HARMAN: “No well we’ve said over four years. We would.”

Interviewer: “Where? Where?”

HARRIET HARMAN: “We’ve said that we would consolidate backroom functions. That we would hold back on, erm, investment in capital that we’ve been doing so much over the last thirteen years of. So we’ve said it would.”

Interviewer: “Some of the people on that march. Some of those people listening to Ed Miliband would have lost their jobs under a Labour Government. Yes or no?”

HARRIET HARMAN: “Well I think that basically we would see, er yes fewer people employed  in the public sector. We wouldn’t see the increase in public sector employment that we’d presided over. But I think to assert.”

Interviewer: “But that’s interesting so absolutely categorically some of those people who were there cheering for Ed Miliband would have lost their jobs because you would have cut their jobs had you been in Government?”

HARRIET HARMAN: “I think people were actually saying that the cuts are too far and too fast and the idea that the private sector.”

Interviewer: “The answer to that question is yes isn’t it. They answer is yes. Some of the people there would have lost their jobs because you’d have had to have made cuts in Government.”

These are very weak arguments to be barking at people looking to support the Labour Party in opposition especially when viewed against the published spending plans that Balls, Miliband, and Harman had put their metaphoric signatures to when in government only twelve months ago.

Official Treasury figures from the Budget show that Labour would cut just £2 billion less than the Government in 2011-12:

‘Under the plans that this Government inherited, £14 billion of spending cuts were planned in 2011-12, compared with 2010-11. This Government’s spending cuts amount to £16 billion over the same period’ (HM Treasury, Budget 2011, p. 10)

And so we are left with the rather distasteful images of a Labour leadership lacking in honour and candour as they continue to hide the truth about their own planned cuts, whilst standing shoulder to shoulder with thousands who were deceived into believing that things would have been so much different, the anarchists and the perpetrators of violence may well NOT be part of the trades union movement but we can almost guarantee that at every rally and protest planned over the next couple of years they’ll be there. Conveniently, Labour’s spending cuts will not!

Video courtesy of Guido Fawkes.

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