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Election Results 25th Feb 2010

Bracknell Forest UA, Owlsmoor
Con 508 (54.2; -1.9)
LD Mark James Thompson 238 (25.4: +25.4)
Lab 126 (13.4; +13.4)
Green 66 (7.0; +7.0)
[UKIP (0.0; -18.2)]
[Others (0.0; -25.8)]
Majority 270
Turnout 24%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2007

Broxtowe DC, Eastwood South
LD Keith Longdon 985 (53.1; +34.0)
Lab 484 (26.1; -12.1)
Con 387 (20.9; -0.4)
[Others (0.0; -5.2)]
[BNP (0.0; -16.3)]
Majority 501
Turnout not known
LD gain from Lab
Percentage change is since May 2007

Huntingdonshire DC, Fenstanton
LD Colin Saunderson 391 (51.1; +4.2)
Con 337 (44.1; -4.1)
Lab 37 (4.8; -0.1)
Majority 54
Turnout 31%
LD gain from Con
Percentage change is since May 2007

Mansfield BC, Portland
Lab 407 (45.8; +2.2)
Mansfield Independent Forum 263 (29.6; -26.9)
Con 116 (13.0; +13.0)
LD Nicholas Spencer 66 (7.4; +7.4)
UKIP 37 (4.2: +4.2)
Majority 144
Turnout 24.15%
Lab gain from Other
Percentage change is since May 2007

Mansfield DC, Sherwood
Lab 406 (46.4; +8.3)
Mansfield Independent Forum 171 (19.5; -42.4)
Con 156 (17.8; +17.8)
UKIP 93 (10.6; +1…

The Swan and Freedom of Speech

The link is to the report of the Standards and Privileges Committee of today's date which finds Withers are indeed guilty of contempt of parliament.

Hopefully the development at The Swan will now progress.

Quoting from the conclusion:
26. The evidence in this case is very clear and in our view the conclusion is no less clear. We conclude that Withers LLP were in contempt of the House when on 4 August 2009 they threatened Mr Hemming with legal proceedings in respect of statements he had made outside the House concerning their client's behaviour, were he to repeat those statements in the House. The contempt was repeated and compounded on subsequent dates, notably on 11 August. An opportunity in October to withdraw was not taken by Withers LLP; and the contempt was denied by them even once the matter had been placed before the House. We are surprised that a firm of the standing of Withers LLP should have taken so long to understand the scope of Parliamentary privilege. It was only …

By Election Results 18th February 2010

Bridgend UA, Pendre
Lab 200 (36.6; -12.7)
LD Anita Dawn Davies 193 (35.3; -15.3)
Ind 68 (12.5; +12.5)
Con 60 (11.0; +11.0)
PC 25 (4.6; +4.6)
Majority 7
Turnout not known
Lab gain from LD
Percentage change is since May 2008

Charnwood BC, Birstall Watermead
Con 674 (47.7; +2.8)
Lab 452 (32.0; +32.0)
BNP 288 (20.4; +20.4)
[LD (0.0; -55.2)]
Majority 222
Turnout 26.94%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2007

Leeds City Council, Hyde Park and Woodhouse Ward
Lab 1054 (47.8; +9.4)
LD Michael Taylor 671 (30.5; -10.2)
Con 188 (8.5; +1.2)
Ind 150 (6.8; +6.8)
Green 140 (6.4; -3.7)
[BNP (0.0; -3.4)]
Majority 383
Turnout 14.8%
Lab gain from LD
Percentage change is since May 2008

Liverpool MBC, Fazakerley
Lab 1525 (57.5; 0.0)
LD Graham Seddon 807 (30.5; +11.1)
BNP 234 (8.8; -5.2)
Green 84 (3.2; +1.1)
[Lib (0.0; -2.2)]
[Con (0.0; -4.9)]
Majority 718
Turnout 23%
Lab hold
Percentage change is since May 2008

South Hams DC, Ivybridge Filham
LD Tony Barber 379 (44.3; +11.9)
Con 356 (41.6; -26.0)
Lab 121 (14.1; +14.1)
Majority 23
Turnout 21.76%

The Battle of the Economists

There is a growing row about whether or not sufficient is being done to reduce the budget deficit.

The problem behind all of this is an absence of sufficient data. The inputs into the Treasury Economic Model remain a state secret. Hence we cannot be certain what is likely to happen and we cannot properly scrutinise the future of the Economy.

There is no question that a sudden and abrupt halt would cause a problem. It also appears that insufficient action is being taken.

The eternal question is one as to when the multiplier effect has a net positive effect on the deficit given the required inputs.

The biggest question in the 4-5 year timescale is what we can expect in terms of GDP growth. There are arguments that the treasury is over optimistic here. I think those arguments probably have some weight.

Whichever way this is a failure of our parliamentary democracy in that there is no detailed scrutiny of the assumptions behind the forecasts simply because the government won't allow…

CBT, National Council of Women and RNIB back John Hemming on buses

The campaign for better transport have written a letter to Gordon Brown in which they say:
We were surprised to hear your dismissive response when the issue of the number 41 bus in Birmingham was raised at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday 3 February.

John Hemming MP rightly pointed out that bus cuts are symptomatic of a national problem and that the London system of bus franchising should be an option elsewhere.
We were outraged to hear MPs laugh in response. It suggests they are out of touch with the problems people face in their everyday lives.

Two-thirds of public transport journeys are made by bus. 4.8 billion journeys were made by bus and light rail in England in 2008/9, many more than the 1 billion journeys made by rail. On average, 25% of households in the UK don't have access to a car and buses are particularly important during this recession to access employment, education and training. A reliable, high quality bus network gives people the option of leaving their cars…

Swan Inquiry - Secretary of State confirms CPO

The Secretary of State has now agreed the inspector's report without going into details it basically means that the Inquiry has found for the development to proceed.

I am pleased that we are now in a position where further progress can be made on the Swan Development.

This will be particularly good news for the residents of Bakeman House who have had to live in a building site for months.

Election Results 11th February 2010

Ashfield DC, Hucknall Central
Lab 675 (38.4; +17.9)
Con 437 (24.9; -5.1)
LD Kenneth Cotham 357 (20.3; +6.8)
UKIP 158 (9.0; +9.0)
BNP 131 (7.5; +7.5)
[Others (0.0; -36.0)]
Majority 238
Turnout 32.29%
Lab gain from Con
Percentage change is since May 2007

Aylesbury Vale DC, Aylesbury Central
LD Graham Webster 354 (50.6; -1.9)
Con 213 (30.5; -5.9)
Lab 67 (9.6; +9.6)
UKIP 65 (9.3; -1.9)
Majority 141
Turnout 26.9%
LD hold
Percentage change is since May 2007

Aylesbury Vale DC, Luffield Abbey
Con 343 (49.7; -30.7)
UKIP 151 (21.9; +21.9)
LD Ian Patrick Metherell 133 (19.3; +19.3)
Ind 63 (9.1; +9.1)
[Lab (0.0; -19.6)]
Majority 192
Turnout 33.4%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2007

Chichester DC, Plaistow
Con 504 (57.7; -20.4)
LD Ray Cooper 301 (34.4; +12.5)
BNP 69 (7.9; +7.9)
Majority 203
Turnout 23.3%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2007

Durham CC, Easington
Lab 702 (55.8; -8.3)
Ind 311 (24.7; +24.7)
LD Carole Maria Harrison 126 (10.0; -25.9)
Con 120 (9.5; +9.5)
Majority 391
Turnout 20.90%
Lab Hold
Percentage change is s…

No 40 bus to start on 22nd February

Thanks to the hard work of the Yardley and Hall Green Liberal Democrat teams there is to be a new bus service, No 40, to replace the 41 service which has been withdrawn by National Express. We will provide more details of exactly what the route is at a later stage.

A lot of effort has been put into this by your local Liberal Democrat councillors and MP. It has involved attempts by Labour MPs to silence the MP by shouting him down to stop him talking about local bus services and many many meetings involving councillors, the MP, Centro and National Express Group. We know how important these services are and have continued fighting for local people.

The underlying problem with the removal of the No 41 bus is that since the 1985 Transport Act most decisions as to where buses run are made by private companies (National Express) rather than democratically.

In December 2009 Councillor Gaved raised concerns with Centro about what was happening with the bus services locally and was told that …

Labour and the No 41

The Yardley Labour Party are complaining that National Express Group have simply axed the 41 regardless of criticism.

That is because of the bus management or regulation system. It is no good Labour complaining about the system, but also criticising me for asking the Prime Minister about bus regulation.

They have had 13 years during which the system in Birmingham could have been changed to run the same way as that in London.

What happens in London is that the service is defined by the Local Authority - in this case the GLA or Transport for London. Then bus companies tender to offer that service.

It is known as Sector Tendering.

It is that system we need in Birmingham (and throughout England).

That is what I asked the Prime Minister about. Yardley Labour are quite happy that the PM ignored that question. Indeed they think the Prime Minister should not have been asked the question.

The Prime Minister has often been asked questions by Labour MPs about bus services. Why it is wrong for a L…

Heartlands Hospital A&E figures

One of the difficulties in looking at the stats for Heartlands hospital is that they include figures for Solihull, Heartlands and Good Hope.

I have obtained copies of the most recent statistics about A&E and put them in the window of my office.

What they demonstrate is that the primary concern relates to Good Hope. I had a number of conversations about this last week and the hospital is putting in some serious effort into resolving this.

Personally I have only experienced A&E at Heartlands and have not been to A&E at Solihull or Good Hope although I have visited patients at Solihull on a number of occasions.

It is important to have a good A&E service, but there are always challenges as to demand particularly with the complications now in the health service.

Freedom of Speech, Privilege and Expenses

There is a lot of confusion in the media about the attempt by those being prosecuted for Fraud to claim that the expeneses regime falls within Article IX of the Bill of Rights.

It is important that MPs are allowed to speak freely in the Houses of Parliament about issues. What you do not want is people being tied up in legal proceedings and unable to speak the truth about the problems faced by their constituents.

I have provided considerable information to the Standards and Privileges committee in part based upon work done by an Irish Barrister Kieron Wood. This submission is privileged and as such I cannot publish it at the moment. It will, however, be published later.

Whether something falls within the ambit of Article IX of the Bill of Rights is determined both by the courts and also by parliament. This is the principle of comity.

It is quite clear that this does not include the salary and expenses of a Member of Parliament. If it did, then there would be no tax. Furthermore legi…

Election Results 4th February 2010

Blackburn with Darwen UA, Queens Park
Lab 638 (54.2; +3.0)
LD Imtiaz Patel 366 (31.1; -17.8)
Con 174 (14.8; +14.8)
Majority 272
Turnout 28%
Lab gain from LD
Percentage change is since May 2008.

Newcastle under Lyme BC, Newchapel
Con 208 (33.5; -10.6)
UKIP 148 (23.8; +10.4)
Lab 138 (22.2; -1.1)
LD Adrian Rhodes 127 (20.5; +1.4)
Majority 60
Turnout not known.
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2008.

North East Derbyshire DC, Holmewood and Heath
Lab 373 (64.1; -35.9)
Con 209 (35.9; +35.9)
Majority 164
Turnout 21.45%
Lab gain from LD
Percentage change is since May 2007 (Lab elected unopposed)
(The seat was subsequently won by a Liberal Democrat in a By-Election in 2008)

Tandridge DC, Whyteleafe
LD David Lee 444 (57.0; +3.2)
Con 236 (30.3; -11.3)
UKIP 99 (12.7; +12.7)
[Lab (0.0; -4.6)]
Majority 208
Turnout 28.9%
LD hold
Percentage change is since May 2008.

Dronfield TC, South
LD Richard Bembridge 309 (45.0)
Con 296 (43.1)
Lab 170 (24.7)
Ind 65 (9.5)
Majority 13
Turnout 19.91%
LD gain from Con.

Shifnal TC, Manor
Con 289 (35.0)

Video of 41 bus question

John O Shea has said there was something wrong with the phrasing of the question. What exactly is wrong with this:

“At the weekend, National Express group cancelled without consultation the number 41 bus in Birmingham, causing major problems for people in Birmingham.”

“This is symptomatic of a national problem. When will the rest of the country be allowed to use the same system for bus management as exists in London?”

The good news is that we are close now to having a proposal for a replacement service. However, this should not have happened in the first instance.

With the real John O Shea please stand up (41 bus)

John O Shea is trying to face both ways on the issue of the No 41 bus.

I raised a serious issue about how the 1985 Transport Act is continuing to undermine bus services outside London. I did this at Prime Ministers question time. The Prime Minister is in charge of a government that is responsible for the statutory environment for buses.

On The Stirrer John O Shea says:
"As a matter of fact, I would support re-regulation of the bus system and local control rather like that in London. It makes sense to try and integrate the operation."

On his blog he says:
"And before John Hemming burbles something about the Labour Party not caring, he's wrong. we've been campaigning on this as well."

On the other hand he quotes Conservative Councillor Gareth Crompton:
"You made an absolute tit of yourself at PMQs, provoking howls of derision from all sides.."

John O Shea has to decide whether it is right to raise the issue of how the problems with the regulation of bus…

Shocking behaviour by the Labour Party about the No 41 Bus in Birmingham

At Prime Ministers question time today I raised the issue of cancellation of bus services. I referred to the No 41 bus which was cancelled at the weekend.

Bus services are being cancelled all over the country because we don't have the same system for bus management outside London that exists in London.

I asked the Prime Minister why we could not have the same system (Sector Tendering) outside London that exists in London.

The Labour Party ridiculed the question.

Bus services are very important to people who don't have cars. These are generally people who are less wealthy. I thought the Labour Party were supposed to care about these people, but clearly they don't.

I think the Labour Party as a whole should apologise for their lack of respect for bus travellers.

The rules of war and gaza

The link is to a significant story about how the rules of war were rewritten for the Gaza conflict. It did seem obvious at the time that the rules of war which aim to protect civilians were not having a sufficient effect. The reason for this appears to be that the rules of engagement were deliberately changed.

Notwithstanding the fact that combatants in gaza would not be wearing a uniform this does not give carte blanche to the Israeli government to kill civilians.

The No 41 Bus issue

The link is to my speech last night referring to the No 41 bus.

I would like to carry out what I call the “No. 41 bus test” on whether the new watchdog and the order are of any use. At times, it is good to look at specific problems and at whether they are likely to be improved. The No. 41 bus served part of Birmingham and Solihull until the weekend, and its withdrawal has caused major problems, particularly in Stockfield road, Dolphin lane and Shirley road. We have to ask whether giving the powers to Passenger Focus will enable something to be done for those local residents—probably not, I would say.

Together with local councillors, I have lobbied to keep the No. 41 bus service, but we have just been ignored—well, “ignored” is not exactly the right word; we have had meetings with the transport authority and with National Express. Passenger Focus has the right to ask for information, but not to prevent the service from being withdrawn. As a watchdog it has a bark, but in practice it does…