John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Friday, April 30, 2010
  Labour's poison pill legacy for Birmingham
3billionlabourcostcropped
The employment tribunal hearing this week is not the end of a legal dispute about the pay structures that Birmingham City Council had operated over a number of years. However, it does bring to the fore the problems left to the current administration by Labour.

The Council faces potentially a really large additional bill for compensation because indefensible bonus schemes applied to much of the male workforce, but not the generally female jobs.

The problem, however, arose because of the schemes established by Labour when they were in control of the authority as has been recognised by the Birmingham Post in Iron Angle
Labour spin doctors in London were quick off the mark, seeking to present the city council’s Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition as a bunch of incompetent, merciless, misogynists discriminating against downtrodden women.

Sir Albert Bore, leader of the council’s opposition group, fumed that the whole issue of equal pay had been mishandled. Birmingham would now pay the price.

Yes, well, mishandled indeed, but not necessarily by the current Tory-Lib Dem administration.

The outrageous and indefensible “bonus” payments were in fact put in place largely during the 21 years of Labour council rule from the mid 1980s to 2004 as the party bowed to trade union demands. Union demands which, incidentally, were expressly designed to reward male employees over low-paid women.

The first part of Judge Goodier’s ruling sheds light on the chaos encircling Sir Albert as his period as leader of the council shuddered to a sticky end in the run-up to the 2004 city elections.

Desperately attempting to hatch a deal on Single Status pay negotiations, Albert was faced by the unions’ position that “it was the fault of Birmingham City Council” that employees were receiving bonus payments and that it would be unfair to remove them.


The judgment itself recognises that it was only when the administration changed that there was any impetus for the indefensible schemes to be changed.

The judgment is not the final step. Many of the cases relate to employees working in schools. In those schools the grade for the staff member is identified by the governing body. That should mean that under the "single source" principle their income should only be compared to people working in the same school.

However, that is a matter that the courts need to be look at. Even if the administration manages to win a legal case on this voters in looking at the local elections should be quite clear that they cannot risk ever putting the inoompetent Labour Party back in control of the city council.
 
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
  Swan Development Restarts
Tesco are saying the following:
TESCO GIVEN GREEN LIGHT FOR YARDLEY SWAN CENTRE

Tesco is preparing to restart activity at Yardley after being given the green light from the Secretary of State on a CPO inquiry that has held up the scheme.

Following the decision Tesco is now in a position to complete the necessary land assembly of the site and to prepare for construction work on the scheme, which includes an 80,000sq ft Tesco Extra store, creating around 500 full and part time jobs.

The next stage in the process will be include tendering for a main contractor to be appointed for the construction phase.

Tony Fletcher, corporate affairs manager for Tesco, said: “Now that the period of appeal is over, we can concentrate on completing the remaining land acquisition required for the scheme and move forward with bringing the new store and retail offering to fruition.

“We are aware that the hold-up has caused much frustration to local residents so we are delighted to be able to restart the programme in order to begin construction as soon as possible.”

The multi million pound development will bring a total of 150,000 sq ft of retail space to Yardley, including a precinct of new shops.

The new scheme will also see improvements to the road layout around the Swan Centre, as well as providing car parking space for local residents - and 700 spaces for shoppers. Extra security will also be provided with a car park management team and the installation of CCTV cameras.

Project officials hope that construction of the new store can begin later this summer.


John Hemming said, "I am pleased that we will now restart the
development. The people of Yardley have been waiting almost a decade for
this project. We supported Tesco against Sainsbury because they didn't
encroach on Oakland Park and offered a substantial multi million pound dowry for
the local park as well as regenerating The Swan Shopping Centre."

"The people of Bakeman House particularly have had to spend too much time
living in a partial development and I am sure they particulary will join
Dave Willis, Daphne Gaved, Dave Osborne, Jim Whorwood and myself in
welcoming the next steps of this project."

"Yardley does need more jobs and this will provide many jobs both during
the development and when the centre opens in 2011."
 
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
  Roger Godsiff's Paedophile Leaflet is false
I have spent some time getting all the details together about the policy in respect of votes for prisoners and have written the following letter to the paper. I would appreciate it now if the Labour Party stopped claiming that the Godsiff paedophile leaflet is true. Furthermore it has also been delivered in Yardley Constituency.
==================================================================================
Roger Godsiff's dreadful leaflet is also factually wrong. Firstly, Liberal Democrat candidates stand on the policies in the manifesto - which makes no reference to this issue. Secondly our policy was changed after the 2005 election. He is referring in his leaflet to a policy paper from 2002.

In 2006 Ming Campbell said that the most serious offenders (those referred to in Roger Godsiff's leaflet) should not be allowed to vote. In April 2009 David Howarth made our policy clear that the judges should decide who loses the vote. This could mean that serious tax evaders who are not imprisoned, but pay a large fine could also lose the vote. This would be an additional penalty that could be imposed by a Crown Court Judge.

Guidlines from the sentencing council would be provided. Those guidelines would mean that the severity of the offence would drive the decision as to whether or not to remove the vote. This makes it entirely clear that the Liberal Democrats would not give the vote to the people identified in his leaflet.

His leaflet (as with other leaflets his campaign has distributed) is simply untrue.

Source stories:
2006
2009

M Campbell: "In a speech, he also said people in jail for serious crimes should continue to be denied the right to vote - a reversal of the party's past policy. "

The party's justice spokesman, David Howarth, said: "While there are strong arguments that some prisoners should be denied the right to vote, this should be explicitly part of the sentence given by the judge."
 
  An extra £112 Million per year for schools in Birmingham
The pupil premium scheme allocates an additional £2.5 Billion to schools across England. For Birmingham this would mean £112,527,324.
 
Monday, April 19, 2010
  Legal aid as a tool of state oppression
Imagine a criminal court in which you are told that unless you plead guilty your lawyers will be taken off you and you will have to cope with all the procedures without any help.

What we have in the family courts (see link) is a situation where legal aid can be (and is from time to time) removed merely because people are uppity enough to want to disagree with the local council.

In this case (see link) the parents had legal aid refused and acted as litigants in person and won their case.

To me this is another really scandalous situation which the government are clearly responsible for.

The government's response is to change the law to ban the identification of the family concerned.

Dreadful.
 
  Retention Swing vs Universal Swing (Lib Dem Surge)
It does appear that the traditional UNS methodology for seat projections cannot cope with a Lib Dem surge.

I have done some calculations on a retention swing. That is a calcalation on the basis that in each seat the national transfer of votes is replicated. However, if Labour have lost a third of their votes nationally they lose a third of their votes that were cast previously in each seat rather than the same percentage of the total vote in each seat.

This is a more complex calculation, but it produces more reliable results.

It needs more work, but a first cut of the data is available here
 
  Winter Fuel Payments
One part of Labour's misleading campaign relates to Winter Fuel Payments.

Both the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats are proposing to phase out Winter Fuel Payments for those aged between 60 and 65. (60-64) (I think the tories are also committed to this.)

The Liberal Democrats want to keep the payments for those people who are getting pension credit and to cut the tax for those who pay tax (or are in work) by £700 a year. Remember that 70% of men aged 60-64 are in work and hence would be better off.

By acelerating the phasing out the Lib Dems can put additional money to disabled people as a form of winter fuel payment.

Hence no-one should be worse off, but those aged 60-64 will be generally better off as a result of the tax cut, but not as much as the tax cut. (by £450 per year)
 
Friday, April 16, 2010
  Election Results 15th April 2010
Cambridgeshire CC, Wisbech North
Con 548 (34.8; -6.9)
LD Dave Patrick 506 (32.1; +20.0)
Lab 287 (18.2; +2.7)
UKIP 233 (14.8; -15.9)
Majority 42
Turnout 21.1%
Con hold
Percentage change is since June 2009.

Fenland DC, Wisbech Kirkgate
LD Dave Patrick 287 (51.3; +51.3)
Con 145 (25.9; -74.1)
Lab 74 (13.2; +13.2)
UKIP 54 (9.6; +9.6)
Majority 142
Turnout 31.1%
LD gain from Con
Percentage change is since May 2007.

Great Cornard PC, South
LD Colin Gerald Wright 201 (40.9)
Con 181 (36.8)
Lab 110 (22.4)
Majority 20
Turnout 15.2%
LD gain from Con

Sudbury TC, East
Ind 355 (53.0)
LD Oliver Sidney Forder 315 (47.0)
Majority 40
Turnout 20.1%
Ind gain from Con.

Wisbech TC, Kirkgate
LD Dave Patrick 283 (50.2)
Con 137 (24.3)
Lab 79 (14.0)
UKIP 55 (9.8)
Ind 9 (1.6)
Majority 146
Turnout 31.2%
LD gain from Con
 
  Say One thing do another Labservatives (Leaders Debate)
What Nick Clegg managed to highlight in the leader's debate is that both Labour and Conservative are promising to do things that they either opposed or did not support in the last parliament.

He highlighted the recall of MPs - where Labour opposed recall and the tories abstained. However, there are others.

The Digital Economy Bill was supported by Labour and Conservatives. The contentious clauses could have been dropped, but weren't.

The reform of parliament which is more important than is recognised was blocked by the Labour whips, but the Conservatives failed to back us in opposing the programme motion on this issue on the last Wednesday of parliament.

Labour and Conservatives are saying "back us to support things we have opposed".

Liberal Democrats are saying "back us to support things we have supported".
 
Thursday, April 15, 2010
  The Icelandic Volcano
The link is to Birmingham's Resiliance Team's website which deals with various issues including the Icelandic Volcano.

The subsection is here with a nice picture (if a bit small) of the volcano itself.

Birmingham's civil contingency processes have been working quite well in recent years.
 
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
  Nomination goes in
I am the sort of person who believes in getting nominations in on the first possible date rather than the latest possible date.

Nominations opened at 10am today. I arranged for an appointment at 11am and my nomination was accepted at about 11.15am.

The party's campaign seems to be going quite well. Labour are criticising our proposals to increase the tax threshold to 10K.

Their argument is that it does not benefit everyone on a low income. However, I think it is important to make sure that people are better off if they work than if they don't work.

The current system makes life quite difficult for people on lower earned incomes who struggle to make ends meet. For them £700 a year is a lot of money.

It is also in society's interest for fewer people to be on the dole and to encourage people to be thrifty.
 
Friday, April 09, 2010
  By election results 8th April 2010
Tendring DC, Golf Green
Lab 409 (28.2; -0.8)
Con 404 (27.9; +8.6)
Others: Tendring First 313 / Ind 120 (29.9; -21.8)
BNP 139 (9.6; +9.6)
LD John Candler 63 (4.4; +4.4)
Majority 5
Turnout 36.6%
Lab gain from Tendring First.
Percentage change is since May 2007.

Devizes TC, North
Devizes Guardian 226 (35.6)
Con 219 (34.5)
Lab 105 (16.5)
LD Bridget Selwyn 85 (13.4)
Majority 7
Turnout 26.3%
Devizes Guardian gain from Con.
 
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
  DE Bill washup video
This video is indeed something that could be trapped by the DE Bill. The BBC and/or parliament own the copyright for this video which has then been sampled and changed.
 
  Labour and Conservatives (Labservatives) combine to stop reform and truncate debate on Digital Economy Bill
Two interesting votes occurred moments ago. The debate was about the "programme motion" for the washup.

All of the figures will be on publicwhip tomorrow. I was one of the tellers for both of the votes (in both cases for No).

Firstly, the government voted to stop Bob Smith and I from speaking on the programme motion. I was going to make the two key points about the lack of time for looking at the Digital Economy Bill and the failure to reform parliament.

Then the government and the Conservatives voted for the programme motion. What the programme motion does not do is allow time for the Wright Committee standing order changes which give parliament control over its own business.

This is perhaps the most important change that was proposed as part of the parliamentary reform project. However, both the Labour and Conservative Parties voted against having time to debate it.

We are going into a general election in which all parties claim to support parliamentary reform. The reality is, however, that Labour and the Conservatives oppose reform when they have the chance to really change things.

They opposed reform on recall for MPs, lobby reform, party funding reform and now yet again on the reform of the control of parliament.

They are also driving a bill into washup that is very badly written and likely to have all sorts of unacceptable consequences.
 
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
  The Digital Economy Bill
I have just intervened on the Digital Economy Bill to point out that Freedom of Information Requests are copyrighted by local authorities amongst other public authorities.

This means that the enforcement methods in the Bill could be used against websites that report the information from FOI.

It is important that those people who work in the creative industries can earn money for their work. However, rushing through such a badly thought out bill is not at all sensible.
 
  Four steps to a fairer Britain
Now the General Election campaign has started it is worth looking at the basis of the Lib Dem Campaign.

Some of the issues we are proposing we have already put forward in parliament (like the right of recall), but other parties voted them down.

The key four steps to a fairer britain are:

Fair taxes.
A new, fair start for all children at school.
A rebalanced, green economy.
And clean, open politics.

There is no sense me merely repeating on this weblog what is available on our main party website hat www.libdems.org.uk, but at least I should highlight the key four things.
 

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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