John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Friday, January 30, 2009
  Results: Thursday 29th January 2009.
Hackney LBC, Stoke Newington Central
Lab 1162 (47.8; +2.5)
Green 783 (32.2; +3.3)
LD Karelia Scott-Daniels 297 (12.2; -4.6)
Con 169 (7.0; -2.0)
Direct Democracy 20 (0.8; +0.8)
Majority 379
Turnout 38.0
Lab hold
Percentage change is since May 2006

Manchester City MBC, Didsbury West
LD Lianne Williams 1439 (55.6; +8.4)
Lab 638 (24.7; +1.8)
Con 336 (13.0; -3.6)
Green 173 (6.7; -3.7)
[UKIP (0.0; -3.0)]
Majority 801
Turnout 26.1%
LD hold
Percentage change is since May 2008

Newcastle City, Fenham
LD Mitzi Emery 1049 (33.9; -11.8)
Lab 1025 (33.1; -3.3)
BNP 836 (27.0; +18.0)
Con 186 (6.0; -2.9)
Majority 24
Turnout 39.6%
LD gain from Lab
Percentage change is since May 2007

Redbridge LBC, Valentines
LD Shoaib Patel 963 (36.9; +20.1)
Con 781 (29.9; +10.4)
Lab 756 (28.9; -0.3)
Respect 112 (4.3; +4.3)
[British Public Party (0.0; -3.5)]
[Green (0.0; -9.8)]
[Ind (0.0; -21.2)]
Majority 182
Turnout 29.7%
LD gain from Lab
Percentage change is since May 2006

Bury St Edmunds TC
LD Allan Jones 246 (45.2)
Con 203 (37.3)
Ind 95 (17.5)
Majority 43
Turnout 17.0%
LD gain from Ind

Haxey PC, Axholme South
LD Don Lange 569 (56.2)
Ind 444 (43.8)
Majority 125
Turnout 27.9%
LD gain from Ind

Marlow TC, North and West
(Details from Maurice Oram)
LD Ivor Coleman 503 (51.2)
Con 480 (48.8)
Majority 23
Turnout 14.5%
LD gain from Con
 
  Zimbabwe faces currency reality
Blog readers will have seen the pictures of Zimbabwean Currency Inflation. They have now given into reality (where people trade in other currencies, but it is illegal) and allowed people to trade in other currencies.
 
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
  Regulatory Reform and Small Licence Changes
One thing that demonstrates how the Regulatory Reform Committee can improve proposals is the proposal from the government to have minor changes to licence conditions that don't go through the whole process.

The difficulty is that this could mean that local residents don't know of minor changes that are proposed to licenses. We have, therefore, suggested that two notices are placed outside the premises (for two weeks) to make sure that this doesn't happen without people knowing about it.
 
Friday, January 23, 2009
  The persecution of the honest
The link is to a story where The Times and a juror are being taken to court for criticising the courts.
 
  Results: Thursday 22nd January 2009.
Bexley LBC, East Wickham
Con 798 (26.8; -5.2)
BNP 790 (26.5; +12.4)
Lab 700 (23.5; +1.5)
LD Elizabeth Grace Goodlad 564 (18.9; +2.9)
English Democrats 128 (4.3; -4.9)
[UKIP (0.0; -6.8)]
Majority 8
Turnout 36.9%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2006.

Mid Sussex DC, Bentswood
LD Irene Balls 514 (36.9; +1.4)
Lab 456 (32.7; -2.6)
Con 332 (23.8; -5.4)
BNP 92 (6.6; +6.6)
Majority 58
Turnout 34.3%
LD hold
Percentage change is since May 2007.

Northampton BC, New Duston
Con 1072 (53.0; +9.7)
Lab 322 (15.9; -1.3)
Ind 320 (15.8; -3.8)
LD Marion Allen-Minney 307 (15.2; +7.0)
[Christian Peoples Alliance (0.0; -1.2)]
[SOS! Voters Against Over Development of Northampton (0.0; -10.6)]
Majority 750
Turnout 32.2%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2007.

Knaresborough TC, Knaresborough East
Con 325 (33.7)
Ind 297 (30.8)
LD Sue Vasey 295 (30.6)
Lab 46 (4.8)
Majority 28
Turnout 24%
Con gain from LD

St Annes on the Sea TC, Fairhaven
LD Bob Fielding 239 (45.4)
Ind 107 (20.3)
Common Sense Independent 101 (19.2)
No Description 79 (15.0)
Majority 132
Turnout 22.7%
LD gain from Con

Wootton Bassett TC, Wootton Bassett South
Con 819/803 (52.0)
LD Carole Tan 614/Sheila Jacob 608 (39.0)
UKIP 94/90 (6.0)
Green 47/37 (3.0)
Majorities 205/189
Turnout 29.5%
Con hold x 2
 
  Music Copyright and Performers
I have linked to Dominic McGonigal's web log about copyright terms.

When it comes, for example, to a video with music there are normally three copyrights.

There is an original copyright in the music (the dots) which exists whoever plays the music.

Then there is a copyright in the musical recording which exists for the performers.

Then there is a visual copyright in the video itself.

These different copyrights have different terms. That in music lasts beyond the death of the writer of the music. The performance one, however, only lasts for 50 years after the performance.

Dominic works for the Performers Protection organisation (PPL) who handle the music performance copyright and video performance copyright in the UK. They and people such as Cliff Richard are campaigning for a copyright extension.
 
Thursday, January 22, 2009
  Hague Convention and the Irish Constitution
The link is to an irish case where a child was not returned to foster care in Northern Ireland because of the "possibility" of adoption.

This is because it challenges Article 41 particularly of the Irish Constitution to have forced adoption in the way things are done in England.
 
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
  MPs Expenses - an effective online campaign
Over the past week the government have gone from the position of having a whipped vote for secrecy in expenses, to a free vote on secrecy on expenses to withdrawing the motion for secrecy.

There still is a little uncertainty about the issue, but it now appears that there won't be a vote.
 
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
  Habitual Residence, The Hague Conventions and Public Family Law
With the number of people going abroad to escape the family courts it strikes me it is useful to talk about which courts have jurisdiction.

There are two important phrases which apply to determine which court has the power to make a decision. One is "ordinarily resident" and the other is "habitually resident".

When someone is "habitually resident" in England then the local authority in which that person is "ordinarily resident" is responsible for care proceedings. That means that if someone goes to Cornwall on holiday from Birmingham, Birmingham retains responsibility.

If someone is abroad on holiday then they are habitually resident in England, but if they go abroad with the objective of staying there then they become habitually resident abroad. There is a complex question as to when they become habitually resident abroad. The first point is that the English courts consider that if care proceedings have been issued and served then skipping the country does not prevent a court order.

If a court care order is in place then it is normally unlawful to leave the country.

When someone is outside the UK and facing proceedings under the Hague Convention to get children returned then the decisions are taken both by courts in England and also by the foreign courts.

This provides a small amount of information about Hague Convention issues. There is, of course, a lot more.
 
  ARW in Ireland
Another story.
 
Monday, January 19, 2009
  Fire Station joy for Yardley
I am pleased to be able to say that the proposals to close Hay Mills and Sheldon Fire Stations have been dropped. Local residents, all the local councillors, the Trades Unions any myself all opposed these proposals. It is nice to see the Fire Authority listening to our concerns.

In the long term the Audit Commission wish to reduce the fire service nationally. We need to remain vigilant against these proposals.
 
Friday, January 16, 2009
  Results: Thursday 15th January 2009.
Forest of Dean DC, Newent Central
Con 306 (49.2; +6.5)
No Description 166 (26.7; -13.5)
Lab 96 (15.4; -1.7)
No Description 54 (8.7; +8.7)
Majority 140
Turnout 22%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2007

Haringey LBC, Seven Sisters
Lab 1032 (37.1; -9.3)
Con 968 (34.8; +7.0)
LD David Schmitz 581 (20.9; +8.1)
Green 166 (6.0; -7.1)
Ind 36 (1.3; +1.3)
Majority 64
Turnout 31.1%
Lab hold
Percentage change is since May 2006

Bishop's Stortford TC, Silver Leys
Con 653 (70.3)
LD Mat Harris 194 (20.9)
Lab 82 (8.8)
Majority 459
Turnout 22.7%
Con hold
 
Thursday, January 15, 2009
  Credit Crunch and Cars
When I asked in the House of Commons about the availability of purchase financing credit I didn't get a response, but there appears to be a positive one in the newspapers today.

This has, however, been an identified issue for over a month.

Similarly the issue of a UK version of Chapter 11 needs further consideration. There was a letter in The Times today about thia (as well as my letter about second opinions).
 
Sunday, January 11, 2009
  Debate moves up a couple of notches
I have been pleased with two stories about
experts in The Times and the S31 (2) threshold in The Telegraph.

These go to the nub of why so many odd decisions are made by the Family Courts. They are written without reference to some of the really odd cases. The issue about parents not being allowed a second opinion is being looked at by the European Court at the moment. That of the vagueness of "risk of significant harm" and the almost random way in which it is being interpreted is key within the Telegraph editorial.

I am pleased that the Sunday Telegraph recognise that this is in part why England is so bad at protecting children.
There is no doubt that those two bad practices are connected. The resources of social work departments are, as directors of those departments frequently point out, strictly limited. Time spent investigating parents who do not threaten or endanger the children in their care is time not spent investigating, visiting or intervening in the cases where there is a threat. If genuinely at-risk children are to be protected, resources have to be targeted at cases where parents pose a clear and present danger.
 
Friday, January 09, 2009
  Results: Thursday 8th January 2009.
Enfield LBC, Bush Hill Park
Con 1320 (63.4; +25.4)
Lab 413 (19.8; +6.7)
LD Paul Smith 129 (6.2; -3.0)
UKIP 123 (5.9; +0.9)
Green 97 (4.7; -5.5)
[Save Chase Farm (0.0; -24.4)]
Majority 907
Turnout 20.5%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2006.

Hull City UA, Drypool
LD Linda Chambers 1306 (52.3; -11.6)
Lab 891 (35.7; +7.9)
National Front 184 (7.4; +7.4)
Con 117 (4.7; -3.7)
Majority 415
Turnout 26.7%
LD hold (Andy Sloan was elected LD in 2006 but subsequently defected to Conservatives and later resigned.)
Percentage change is since May 2008.

Further result from 18th December 2008.

East Northamptonshire DC, Thrapston Lakes
Con 475 (63.0; +3.5)
Lab 168 (22.3; +22.3)
UKIP 111 (14.7; -25.8)
Majority 307
Turnout 22.4%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2007.
 
Sunday, January 04, 2009
  Gaza, Geneva Convention 1949 and War Crimes - reference to International Criminal Court
It appears that the lessons learnt at the end of the 1800s with the Hague Conventions and the 1949 Geneva Conventions have been forgotten in Gaza. Much that the rockets should not have been fired on Israel, Israel's actions in Gaza in that they are resulting in the unnecessary deaths of non-combatants are in clear contravention of the 1949 Geneva Convention. Those firing rockets were also in contravention.

To that extent, therefore, I will be working with Councillor Ayoub Khan (a barrister) to produce a reference to the International Criminal Court to have this particular conflict investigated.

We will need to have one of the 108 signatories to the ICC make the formal reference. We will start by asking the UK to make this reference, but if the UK refuses we will look for another.
 
Thursday, January 01, 2009
  John Hemming's new year message
Its that time of year again. Normally I don't comment much about local issues on my weblog as we issue leaflets to residents in Yardley. However, I will do this on this occasion (as I did last year).

Casework and the office
The last case reference of 2008 was 9836 the last of 2007 was 7763 (and 2006) 5597. This continues to run at about 2,000 cases. Casework is very important as not only can we resolve issues for people, but also I learn what is going wrong in the real world - as opposed to the Westminster bubble.

What I have noticed is a number of strange decisions in DWP. For example the man who was only given temporary financial support for the loss of a leg. Someone on DWP was under pressure to hit a particular target and therefore made the absurd decision that his leg would grow back. This sort of case gets sorted, but I do worry about those people who don't get any support in dealing with such issues.

I have also noticed that the "advice desert" issue seems to be stronger. BIA seems even slower in decisionmaking.

Sadly Vicky and Neil moved on. However, they were replaced by Annabel and Stephen and the team seems to be working well with Emily now managing the office. Neil continues to help with running Appg OPO, however. With Neil moving on, however, our plan to produce a report about global conflict has had to go on the back burner.

Yardley
Having been wrapped up for months Bakeman House has now been revealed to the world. Hopefully now the rest of the Swan redevelopment will proceed although I am worried about the impact of the Credit Crunch.

We will also be seeing work on Wheeldon House. New plans are being produced for the Meadway blocks and Kents Moat and will be going out to consultation.

It is nice to see the derelict properties on the Coventry Road island being redeveloped. It is sad to lose the Wagon and Horses, but with the usual arson attacks on the old building and the land being bought by Aldi it did not allow many options. At least this building is better than the original proposal.

Graffiti remains an issue and I am continuing to work on this with the public authorities and the graffiti task force. We also hope to win the campaign in respect of the local fire service this year. It is odd, but the Audit Commission appear to want to reduce the fire service nationally. This does not sound a sensible idea.

Birmingham
Obviously the key issue at the moment is ensuring that JLR gets the appropriate support. The wider economic factors are not issues that Birmingham can avoid.

Working Neighbourhoods Fund is not doing that good a job of replacing NRF. Whether it will achieve its objective of minimising unemployment will be difficult to determine in the economic storm that we face.

I think the MPs in the city are working reasonably well together when necessary. We have now managed to get the goahead on New Street Station. There also are the issues about the Childrens Hospital where I feel that the staff were unfairly treated by a report with no real status from another hospital. There are some issues that need resolving, but it was unfair to say that the hospital provides a 3rd world service (as some reports did).

West Midlands
The regional select committees are now to be created in the new year. It will be interesting to see what happens here. I think the government are making a mistake in imposing their majority on all of the select committees. There is quite a demand time wise. In the absence of this structure it is difficult to have a proper regional agenda and debate although I remain Shadow Minister for the West Midlands.

Parliament
I am now on Procedure, Modernisation and Regulatory Reform select committees. I also sat on the Employment Bill Committee - which looks at changes to Employment Tribunals amongst other things. I still don't think the government have got the balance right here, but that is life. I continue chairing the New Media and Peak Oil Appgs and being a vice chair of Carers and Performers Alliance. I signed 807 EDMs in 2007-8 and tabled 39 EDMs or amendments.

Campaign Issues
Justice for Families
Longstanding readers of this weblog will know that I raised concerns about Baby P's death in 2007. My argument has been that the system makes wrongful decisions. During the year I have met up with Social Workers and we have produced a detailed critique of why the system gets it wrong so often. It is also becoming clearer statistically that the UK's record is quite bad.

During 2008 Adoption Targets were scrapped (hooray) and the government have indicated that they will introduce more transparency into the family courts (hooray, but I wait to see the detailed proposals). It might be that the government will allow second opinions in the family division. The judges won't like this, but it is the absence of this that creates much of the corrupt processes.

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission are showing some interest in supporting my thesis on mental capacity. In a sense 2008 has been quite helpful as we now have two state bodies (Ofsted and EHRC), both raising some criticisms of the system. Previously all the arms of the state tried to say we had a perfect system and nothing was really wrong. I don't think the full recognition of the mess has occurred as yet, that may take quite a few years as the children become adults and find their voices.

Peak Oil
The Peak oil Website has details of this. As expected demand has dropped (slightly) and the price crashed. This is one of the two factors driving the economic problems. The government have not woken up to the realities, but there are some companies (eg Virgin, Scottish and Southern Energy and Stagecoach) who have. The Industry Task Force on Peak Oil and Energy Security will be presenting at APPGOPO in February.

Bingo
The campaign against the dual taxation of Bingo will continue. As is often the case a judicial process shows a greater sign of change than trying to get the government to engage in rational debate. In the mean time (according to the Bingo Association) 61 clubs have closed.

Government Accountability
I am making some gradual progress in getting proposals together though the Procedure Select Committee to get the government to answer factual questions. It has been recognised that this is a problems for lots of MPs not just me. The odd arrest of Damian Green for finding out the truth about some embarrassing government problems will continue to reverberate.

Other Issues
Progress has been made on other issues such as Post Offices - where POCA has been retained. This big problem is the economy. It is clear that the UK's historic strategy was not as good as that generally in Europe although much the same as the USA (but not Canada). Hence the government should not try to avoid all responsibility for the mess. I have been working with local firms to try to assist them where necessary to maintain employment in Yardley. The details of this, however, need to remain confidential for the moment.

International
The situation in Gaza seems to be linked to the electoral cycle in Israel and the USA. I attended a protest about this on Monday and was part of a joint statement on Tuesday. I am also attending other meetings about this issue.
 

Click Here for access to higher resolution versions of the photos The license for use allows use of the photos by media as long as they are attributed.

better brent chart

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