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Showing posts from October, 2009

Election Results 29th October 2009

Huntingdonshire DC, Huntingdon North
LD Patricia Ellen Shrapnel 243 (32.6; +2.7)
Con 213 (28.6; -18.6)
UKIP 167 (22.4; +14.1)
Lab 123 (16.5; +1.8)
Majority 30
Turnout 19%
LD hold
Percentage change is since May 2008

Hellesdon PC, South East
Con 287 (46.2)
LD Wendy Elizabeth Pearce 198 (31.9)
UKIP 136 (21.9)
Majority 89
Turnout 15%
Con hold

Freedom of Speech

I think that it is now worth having a look at the wider issues relating to freedom of speech. Freedom of Speech often gets mixed up with the debates about "no platform" and there are lots of subtleties including the issue about the trafigura injunction.

The Lord Chief Justice recently took the view that it was entirely reasonable to have court injunctions that in themselves are secret. This is perhaps the most extreme constraint upon freedom of speech. The whole panoply of state power is used to stop someone saying something and also to stop them saying that they have been prevented from speaking. This has to be the super gag. I think this is in fact unlawful under Article 6. Judgments need to be public. As a minimum orders should be public.

Article IX of the 1688 Bill of Rights ensures that the courts can have no effect on parliament. Parliament may itself decide not to comment on matters which are subjudice, but discretion rests with parliament to discuss even sub…

Election Results 21st October 2009

Birmingham City MBC, Sutton New Hall
Con 1633 (58.3; -8.8)
Lab 505 (18.0; +5.6)
UKIP 344 (12.3; +12.3)
LD Robert Hardware 319 (11.4; +2.7)
[Green (0.0; -3.5)]
[BNP (0.0; -8.3)]
Majority 1128
Turnout 15.93%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2008.
Party defending seat: Con. Cause: Death.

East Lindsey DC, Sibsey
Con elected unnopposed.
Con gain from East Lindsey Independent
Party defending seat: East Lindsey Independent. Cause: Death.

Forest Heath DC, Eriswell & the Rows
Con 400 (45.8; -24.4)
LD John Smith 346 (39.6; +39.6)
UKIP 128 (14.6; -15.2)
Majority 54
Turnout not known
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2007.
Party defending seat: Con. Cause: Resignation.

Hertfordshire CC, Borehamwood North
Con 982 (44.5; +5.5)
Lab 928 (42.1; +13.2)
LD Robert Gamble 170 (7.7; -4.6)
Ind 125 (5.7; -0.1)
[BNP (0.0; -14.1)]
Majority 54
Turnout 18.5%
Con hold
Percentage change is since June 2009.
Party defending Seat: Con. Cause: Death.

Hertsmere BC, Potters Bar Oakmere
Con 679 (76.6; +5.4)
Lab 207 (23.4; -5.4)
Majority 472
Tu…

Swine Flu Report

This report from NHS West Midlands shows that the number of people with flu-like illness is increasing across the region.

Key Messages
Across the West Midlands there has been an increase in patients presenting at primary care centres with influenza-like symptoms, this is not impacting on normal service delivery. The number of people with swine flu admitted to hospitals in West Midlands has increased this week.

Activity /Rates – GPs
This shows the number of patients attending primary care with influenza-like illness, taken from the latest Health Protection Agency QSurveillance data. This data indicates an increase for the week ending 18 October 2009, across England and the West Midlands, but no change within Birmingham East and North from the previous week.

The reported rate of GP consultations per 100,000 population within the West Midlands for the week was 39.6 (compared with 33.5 for the previous week).

West Midlands average 39.6 (per 100,000)
England and Wales rate 36.0 (per 100,000)
NHS …

Election Results 15th October 2009

Barnsley MBC, St. Helen's
Lab 1520 (59.8; +2.2)
BNP 590 (23.2; +6.6)
Barnsley Independent Group 171 (6.7; -11.9)
UKIP 94 (3.7; +3.7)
Con 89 (3.5; -3.6)
LD Eddie Gouthwaite 78 (3.1; +3.1)
Majority 930
Turnout 31%
Lab hold
Percentage change is since May 2007.

Basingstoke and Deane BC, Chineham
Con 898 (63.0; +19.1)
LD Liam Anthony Elvish 249 (17.5; +7.7)
Ind 163 / 18 (12.7; -28.2)
Lab 98 (6.9; +1.4)
Majority 649
Turnout not known
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2008.
Party defending seat: Con. Cause: Resignation.

Bracknell Forest BC, Hanworth
Con 640 (42.4; -14.2)
Lab 377 (25.0; -1.9)
LD Larraine de Laune 206 (13.7; +13.7)
UKIP 139 (9.2; +9.2)
Green 77 (5.1; -11.3)
BNP 70 (4.6; +4.6)
Majority 263
Turnout 23.4%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2007.
Party defending seat: Con. Cause: Death.

Cannock Chase DC, Heath Hayes East and Wimblebury
LD Chris Collis 314 (30.0; +8.2)
Con 300 (28.6; -10.9)
Lab 267 (25.5; -0.1)
BNP 116 (11.1; +11.1)
UKIP 51 (4.9; +4.9)
[Others (0.0; -13.1)]
Majority 14
Turnout 21%
LD gain …

John Wilkes, Trafigura and Injunctions

The saga with the Trafigura injunction and the guardian is an interesting one.

There has been a tendency to have secret court orders recently.

Part 1 of Article 6 of the ECHR states:
In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. Judgment shall be pronounced publicly but the press and public may be excluded from all or part of the trial in the interest of morals, public order or national security in a democratic society, where the interests of juveniles or the protection of the private life of the parties so require, or to the extent strictly necessary in the opinion of the court in special circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice.

This, I think, makes it quite clear when it says "Judgment shall be pronounced publicly ...

In the UK and particularly for Family Court cases …

Sir Thomas Legg's letter

I am pleased to have been told that "no action is required from you" in respect of my ACA claims from my election until March 2009. I ceased claiming in the next financial year (I think I made one claim), hence I can be pretty certain that my ACA is OK for 2009-10. My wife, Christine, is therefore, due thanks for her efforts on filling in these forms.

It remains to be seen how many mistakes have been identified in expenses. In the past I have made all sorts of mistakes in paperwork and then corrected them. I do think it is unfair to pillory anyone for making mistakes.

However, it has been part of this government's tendency to increase "strict liability" offences and what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander - as Patricia Scotland is now clearly aware.

My own view is that we need to move more towards a "mens rea" approach to the law where people are guilty only if they meant to do wrong.

Guido is in St Kitts

The issue of the jurisdiction of courts to keep things secret in an internet age is under challenge today.

The guardian is prevented from talking about a question in parliament. That is nothing new although I think it is wrong. However, Guido is currently in St Kitts. Hence as long as his servers are not in the UK he can post what he wants about this.

I have an interesting chidlrens case involving two non-UK jurisdictions. My belief is that hence unless an injunction is obtained in the UK that the media in the UK can report it.

When you look at the benefits of transparency I think serious questions are raised about the disbenefit of secrecy. I am coming to a conclusion that we need a considerable review of the powers of the courts to keep things secret and to injunct people.

As an absolute minimum an injunction on reporting should be time limited in order to determine the truth of something so that a newspaper does not trash someone's reputation because of the pressures of dead…

Gordon Brown on Taking Risk 2004

The link is to the treasury release on his speech.

So same way that we made the Bank of England independent of government we made our competition authorities independent of government and created one of the most open competition regimes in the world. And although not quite as public a symbol as the Bank of England independence - but unique in terms of labour’s history none the less - we have cut capital gains tax substantially. Even with other priorities to finance – not least the NHS - we have cut capital gains tax from 40 pence down to 10 pence for long term business assets and in budget after budget I want us to do even more to encourage the risk takers, those with ambition, to turn their ideas into reality and make the most of their talents.

The question, of course, is how much risk and more importantly with whose money. It still is, however, a good quote to identify.

Retirement Ages

Within the context of the discussion about Retirement Ages I had some people come to me today concerned about being forced to retire at 65. I wonder if there is a need for a more urgent look at the rules that allow companies to force people to retire at 65 without giving any reason. This does hit willing and competent workers quite hard and I am not sure how the company benefits.

Election Results 8th October 2009

Eden DC, Penrith West
LD Elissa Robinson 387 (51.7; +51.7)
Con 157 (21.0; -17.6)
BNP 102 (13.6; +13.6)
Ind 58 (7.8; -37.5)
Lab 26 (3.5; -12.7)
Green 18 (2.4; +2.4)
Majority 230
Turnout 31%
LD gain from Ind
Percentage change is since May 2007

Epping Forest DC, Grange Hill
Con 453 (52.4; -31.1)
LD Gavin Chambers 411 (47.6; +31.1)
Majority 42
Turnout 17.17%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2008.

Fenland DC, March West
Con 830 (53.9; -5.2)
Lab 460 (29.9; +29.9)
LD Ann Elliott 250 (16.2; -24.7)
Majority 370
Turnout not known
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2007

Ryedale DC, Pickering East
Liberal 392 (42.8; +42.8)
LD Charles Downes 274 (29.9; -70.1)
Ind 213 (23.3; +23.3)
Ind 37 (4.0; +4.0)
Majority 118
Turnout 34.25%
Liberal gain from LD
Percentage change is since May 2007 when LD was elected unopposed.

City of Westminster LBC, West End
Con 526 (60.8; +10.3)
Lab 169 (19.5; +0.6)
LD Christopher Gonzalez 108 (12.5; -1.2)
Green 62 (7.2; -6.4)
[UKIP (0.0; -3.3)]
Majority 357
Turnout 46%
Con hold
Percentage change is since …

Swine Flu Report

This report from NHS West Midlands shows that the number of people with flu-like illness is increasing across the region.

Key Messages
Across the West Midlands there has been an increase in patients presenting at primary care centres with influenza-like symptoms, this is not impacting on normal service delivery. The number of people with swine flu admitted to hospitals in West Midlands has increased this week, as have the number admitted to critical care, although as a proportion of hospital admissions this is still low and not impinging normal activity.

Activity /Rates – GPs
This shows the number of patients attending primary care with influenza-like illness, taken from the latest Health Protection Agency QSurveillance data. This data indicates an increase for the week ending 4th October 2009, across England, West Midlands, but a decrease within Birmingham East and North.

The reported rate of GP consultations per 100,000 population within the West Midlands for the week was 29.5 (compared …

UK Energy Research Council's Peak Oil Report

The UK ERC have done a report on oil production.

Their press release says:
A new report, launched today by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC), argues that conventional oil production is likely to peak before 2030, with a significant risk of a peak before 2020. The report concludes that the UK Government is not alone in being unprepared for such an event - despite oil supplying a third of the world’s energy.

The report finds that we are entering an era of slow and expensive oil as resources get harder to find, extract and produce. Major new discoveries, such as those announced recently in the Gulf of Mexico, will only delay the peak by a matter of days or weeks.


The government should wake up to this issue as it is not one that can be spun away. I may ask them to present in the House of Commons to APPG OPO

Birmingham Childrens Social Services Report

I have been quite busy working to highlight the systematic problems that cause the situation where Birmingham has the problems as identified in Monday's report. I will do a detailed post at some stage about this.

However, it is my view that Birmingham is far from being the worst Childrens Services Authority for Child Protection. It is, however, the most honest.

Birmingham Childrens Social Services Report

Today the special scrutiny into childrens services in Birmingham was released. In essence it recognised that my assertions that the system was not working were true.

What needs to happen is a systemic review of how the child protection system fails to work. This has not really happened with all of the reports so far.

There are simple proposals that would help. For example allowing councils to employ people with experience but without the formal qualification would help. Parents in their 40s and 50s are well suited to looking at the issues from the perspective of someone who knows how difficult raising children can be. It is really unfair to chuck young graduates in at the deep end.

We need to move away from a tick box culture towards one which values good judgment. This means getting rid of the performance indicators and making sure that computer systems are established with the objective of helping people do their jobs rather than collate information for the performance indicators…

Why did the government break the care system?

It is becoming more obvious now that the public family law system in England particularly is broken. Within the system there are some good people doing a good job, but a lot of the system is almost going off at random. There is an overload of references for DV and the filtering system which should identify where action is needed fails.

What particularly broke the system was in fact a mathematical error. The government when calculating the denominator for the adoption target used the number of children in care rather than those going into care. The government's strategy was not to have a majority of children adopted from care, but the outcome was in fact this.

This became obvious to me earlier this year when I read Ofsted's Annual Performance Assessment which said that adoption was only ever suitable for a minority of children. However, a proper analysis of the statistics looking at the flows shows that the number of chilren under 10 adopted from care is of the order of 60% …

Election Results 1st October 2009

Bolton MBC, Crompton
Lab 1528 (47.4; -2.6)
Con 935 (29.0; +1.0)
Ind 377 (11.7; +11.7)
LD Anne Warren 284 (8.8; -13.2)
Green 99 (3.1; +3.1)
Majority 593
Turnout 31%
Lab hold
Percentage change is since May 2008.

Broadland DC, Wroxham
LD Ben McGilvray 960 (62.5; +57.9)
Con 346 (22.5; -9.5)
UKIP 134 (8.7; +8.7)
Green 50 (3.3; -2.8)
Lab 46 (3.0; 0.0)
[Others (0.0; -54.3)]
Majority 614
Turnout 38%
LD gain from Ind
Percentage change is since May 2007.

Derby City UA, Allestree
Con 1988 (52.3; -10.2)
LD Deena Smith 1037 (27.3; +15.1)
Lab 532 (14.0; -0.3)
BNP 242 (6.4; -4.5)
Majority 951
Turnout 35%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2008.

East Ayrshire UA, Doon Valley
Lab 1221 (50.5; +1.5)
SNP 891 (36.9; +10.9)
Con 176 (7.3; -1.1)
Ind 84 (3.5; -13.1)
Ind 44 (1.8; -14.8)
Turnout 26.78%
Lab gain from Ind
Percentage change is since May 2007

Kettering BC, Northfield
Lab 265 (37.9; -17.7)
Con 258 (36.9; -7.6)
LD Cindy McGrath 80 (11.4; +11.4)
BNP 58 (8.3; +8.3)
English Democrats 39 (5.6; +5.6)
Majority 7
Turnout 35.12%
Lab hold
Percentage…