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John Hemming's New Year's Message

Its that time of year and I think there is some merit in doing a message for the new year. Normally I don't comment about constituency issues on this weblog. That is because the audience is a wider one than those people living in Yardley. People living in Yardley should get leaflets and reports. However, this time I will look at local issues as well.

One aspect of local activity that is always busy is dealing with local people's problems. I started a new casework system in 2004. The last case created in 2006 was 5597 and in 2007 7763. This gives rise to just over 2,000 new cases in each year. Some are simple and are resolved quickly. Others take a long time and are difficult to resolve.

Some issues affect more than one person. Issues like the redevelopment of The Swan have dragged on for almost 10 years now. We are, however, seeing the start of the practical work. Some of the buildings are being demolished and work should be starting on Bakeman House soon. This development is a major development including moving the road.

Other issues like the Boy Racers drag on. The use of the Coventry Road for street racing is not a good idea. I have been working with ACPO on proposals to extend Section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002 to make it easier to keep the roads safe for other road users.

Similarly Graffiti (particularly tagging) has been a big problem. We have now treated a lot of cable boxes and other surfaces with anti-graffiti paint which means tags can be removed with a cloth. We do have a graffiti removal kit in the Coventry Road office that can be borrowed as well.

It is good to see work happening at the old Glynwed Site. We are, however, suffering from planning gamesmanship over the Wagon and Horses. We should not be forced into accepting an unsafe retail proposal because otherwise the premises remain in a bad state.

The second runway proposals at BHX have now essentially been abandoned. It is important to see the blight removed from people living around the airport, however.

We have had a mixture of news for the city. We have had good news in that we are getting more of the funding that we were supposed to have. We also have the announcemnet of a scheme to replace NRF. We don't know what strings are attached to this as yet.

New Street Station's redevelopment always seems to be just about to be announced. It does look like rear guard actions are being fought in some government department. (probably transport).

The City Council's biggest problem is having to do a pay and grading review. All local authorities have to do this. However, because Birmingham is the biggest local authority it faces more problems. There were, however, some really silly deals (such as 52K to paint white lines) that had to come to an end.

West Midlands
The government have held back on creating the regional select committees. This makes it difficult to have a true regional agenda. The regional spatial strategy is still a mess and the government's figures for housing growth don't add up. Perhaps we will see some movement on this in the new year. I don't think the government have done sufficient to help people deal with flooding, however.

I have been on various Bill Committees and remain on the Procedure and Regulatory Reform Select Committees. I chair the New Media and Peak Oil All Party Parliamentary Groups and am vice Chair of Carers and Performance Alliance. I signed 1,400 Early Day Motions in 2006-7 and tabled 32.

Campaign Issues
Justice for Families
One of the areas that I have done a lot of work in is in trying to improve the way in which the judicial system treats families. This includes grandparents and other members of the extended family. In a year in which Sally Clark died the Angela Cannings Foundation has been launched to support victims of such miscarriages of justice.

There are many problems in this area of the law. The fact that children can be taken into care and adopted merely because their parents did not cooperate with the local authority or missed some school days is basically wrong. There are literally thousands of miscarriages of justice and there is a failure of accountability in the system. I am hoping to see some changes in the new year. The government officially, however, do not recognise that there is a problem. There is a massive problem in the Family Division and a smaller one in the Criminal Division.

Peak Oil
We are running a good number of peak oil events in the new year. With the failure of Milford Haven to come on line the UK is more vulnerable this year to gas problems than it was last year. However, although the system is still showing the error of taking gas from storage in preference to import, the weather has so far not been too cold. If it is like today's Daily Express (-17C) then we will face problems as a country. My objective is to get the government to recognise reality.

The campaign against the dual taxation of Bingo will continue.

Government Accountability
I am continuing to try to find mechanisms to reuqire government ministers to answer questions. The procedure select committee is looking at this issue.

I am aiming to produce a report looking at global conflict and how to reduce it. The neo-cons in the USA don't seem to have learnt anything and adding the oil shock to the global cooking pot creates more uncertainty.


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Statement re false allegations from Esther Baker

Statement by John Hemming
I am pleased that the Police have now made it clear that there has been a concerted effort to promote false criminal allegations against me and that the allegations had no substance whatsoever.
I would like to thank Emily Cox, my children, Ayaz Iqbal (my Solicitor), my local lib dem team and many others who supported me through this dreadful experience. There are many worse things that happen to people, but this was a really bad experience.
It is bad enough to have false allegations made about yourself to the police, but to have a concerted campaign involving your political opponents and many others in public creates an environment in which it is reasonable to be concerned about ill founded vigilante attacks on your family and yourself. Luckily there was a more substantial lobby to the contrary as well, which included many people who were themselves real survivors of abuse, which has helped.
I am normally someone who helps other people fight injustice. …

Millionaires and politics

The Labour Party spent most of the last election criticising me for being a successful businessman (aka millionaire). That is business in the private sector employing over 250 people. It is worth looking at the situation for the Labour Candidate now:

For the year 2016-7 Annual Income from Parliament74,962Specifically for her book51,250Other media income etc5,322.82Total declared income131,534.82

Traditionally anyone with an annual income of over £100,000 has been considered to be a millionaire. I did not use my position in parliament to increase my income.

I have been asked for sources for this. This BBC piece looks at how one should define rich. It was written in 2011 so the figures will be slightly out of date. There are perhaps 2 relevant pieces:
"In 1880 a rich person would have had £100,000 in assets or an income of £10,000 a year, he says. About a hundred people a year died leaving £100,000 and by 1910 this was 250 - "a microscopic fraction of the number of death…

Homelessness vs Selling Books

Candidates in elections tend to find themselves very busy with lots of things to do.  It is, therefore, necessary to prioritise things to ensure that the important things are dealt with.

To me the issue of homelessness and rough sleeping is an important issue.  Therefore, when Birmingham's Faith Leaders group contacted me to ask me what I would propose and whether I would work with them to make things better I was pleased to respond with my views and indicate that I would work with them after the election.

The Faith Leaders Group (Bishops and other religious leaders in Birmingham) have now sent out their report.

Sadly, according to their report,  I was the only candidate for Yardley to respond.  The group in their report said:

"Particularly disappointing was the lack of response from some of those candidates seeking re-election as MP for their respective constituencies."
It is worth looking at the priorities of my opponent.
Interestingly today she has decided to be at th…