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Showing posts from November, 2009

Election Results 26th November 2009

Cornwall UA, St Austell Bay LD John Oxenham 690 (48.2; +14.7) Con 675 (47.2; -12.3) Lab 66 (4.6; -2.4) Majority 15 Turnout 41.04% LD gain from Con Percentage change is since June 2009. Flintshire UA, Northop Other (Ind) 343 / 227 (46.2; -23.1) Con 280 (22.7; +22.7) Lab 197 (16.0; -14.7) LD Rob Mackey 187 (15.2; +15.2) Majority 63 Turnout 48.99% Other hold Percentage change is since May 2008. Fylde BC, Clifton Con 386 (35.3; -10.9) Other (Fylde Ratepayers Association) 372 (34.1; -6.5) LD Mike Turner 241 (22.1; +22.1) Lab 80 (7.3; -5.9) Green 13 (1.2; +1.2) Majority 14 Turnout 29.51% Con hold Percentage change is since May 2007 Hertsmere BC, Bushey Heath Con 748 (74.8; -3.9) LD Anita Ownsworth 157 (15.7; +6.8) Lab 95 (9.5; +1.3) [Green (0.0; -4.2)] Majority 591 Turnout 20.29% Con hold Percentage change is since May 2008 High Peak DC, Blackbrook LD Edith Longden 689 (56.9; +16.5) Con 470 (38.8; -20.8) Lab 52 (4.3; +4.3) Majority 219 Turnout 35.61% LD gain from Con Percentage change is sin

Summary of Disrupted Adoption Calculations

The link is to an abstract. OBJECTIVE: To discover the outcomes for children placed late for adoption (between 5 and 11 years old) from public care and to establish which factors predict poorer outcome. METHOD: Data were collected prospectively (1993-2003) from a representative sample of domestic U.K. adoptive placements (N = 108) at the start of placement, at 1 year, and 6 years later. Most of the children entered care because of abuse and neglect. Outcome was assessed by the disruption rate, by a twofold classification of the character of continuing placements, and by an assessment of psychological well-being. RESULTS: At the adolescent follow-up, 23% of placements had disrupted, 49% were continuing positively, and 28% were continuing but with substantial ongoing difficulties. Four factors contributed independently to a higher risk of disruption: older age at placement (odds ratio = 1.07), having been singled out from siblings and rejected (5.87), time in care (1.04), and a high leve

Professor Sir Michael Rutter and Romania

This programme is an interesting interview with Professor Sir Michael Rutter about the effects of Romanian Orphanages on children. What I find particularly interesting is that his conclusion was that the children who left the orphanage before 6 months generally did not suffer from long lasting disorders. "in all of our followups we have found no deficits in children whose institutional deprivation ended before the age of 6 months. That is not to say that at an individual level that there is no child that is affected, but it is to say that the differences were so small that we couldn't measure them." "The rate of deficits jumped to a rate of 40% in the second half of the first year." What is important about this is that it implies that the RAD seen in the large numbers of children taken into care in England in their first 3 months is not caused by their parenting, but by something else.

Forced Adoption and Failures

The link is to an article in today's Guardian about adoptions that fail. I found an interesting element at the bottom. The British Association of Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) estimates that one in five adoptions break down, although children who are "handed back" are usually older. The younger the child, the lower the chance of the placement breaking down. A study by the Maudsley Hospital in London found a breakdown rate of 8% after one year and 29% six years later. On average, adoptions that broke down did so 34 months after placement. I have been for some time been trying to get some research results on how many forced adoptions fail (aka are disrupted). When doing statistics the government don't count the failed adoptions as outcomes for children as they appear in the Section 20 care figures instead. Hence their assumptions are flawed. It would be interesting to compare the figures on adoption failure in other countries to England.

The Treasury Economic Model

For some time I have been concerned that it is not possible to scrutinise the details of the treasury forecasting. That is because the government have historically refused to provide the data that they put into the Economic Model. They are happy to provide a copy of the program, but without the data it is not possible to check the figures. We are in a really challenging situation as a country where action needs to be taken to bring the budgetary deficit under control, but at the same time not to kick the economy over the edge. This is an occasion when proper scrutiny really needs access to the inputs. I put in written question on the issue again recently and the government again refused to answer the question, but I hope to raise this issue within the appeals process.

Swine Flu fortnightly report

This report from NHS West Midlands shows that there is a mixed picture across the region in terms of GP consultation rates but increasing numbers of hospital admissions and patients in critical care. Key Messages Across the West Midlands there has been a mixed picture in patients presenting at primary care centres with influenza-like symptoms, some PCT areas show an increase, other areas show a decrease, in rates. Overall, the West Midlands rate has increased but this is not impacting on normal service delivery. The Department of Health has announced that the vaccination programme will be extended to children over six months and under five years. 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 15 November 2009, across England and the West Midlands, but a decrease within the Birmingham East and North area. The

Election Results 19th November 2009

Cheshire East UA, Cholmondeley Con 1764 (77.6; +6.6) LD Bryan Halson 508 (22.4; +4.9) [Lab (0,0; -11.5)] Majority 1256 Turnout 19.61% Con hold Percentage change is since May 2008 Doncaster MBC, Rossington Lab 637 (26.9; +1.1) Others 1553 (65.6; +5.3) (English Democrats 551, 3 Independents 506 / 420 / 76 ) BNP 101 (4.3; +4.3) LD Robert Mitchell 78 (3.3; +3.3) [Con (0.0; -13.9)] Majority 86 Turnout 24.6% Lab gain from Ind. Percentage change is since May 2008. Falkirk UA, Bo'ness and Blackness SNP 1604 (57.5; +10.3) Lab 823 (29.5; -2.4) Con 283 (!0.1; -2.6) LD Gavin Chomczuk 79 (2.8; +2.8) [Others (0.0; -8.1)] Turnout 23.5% SNP hold Percentage change is since May 2007 Forest of Dean DC, Coleford East Ind 267 (29.8; +1.2) LD Heather Lusty 230 (25.7; +25.7) Con 210 (23.5; -17.7) Lab 188 (21.0; -9.2) Majority 37 Turnout 21% Ind gain from Con Percentage change is since May 2007 Wellington TC, Rockwell Green Con 213 (40.3) Lab 212 (40.1) LD Mark Lithgow 104 (19.7) Majority 1 Turnout 28.8%

Children Schools and Families Bill

The link is to the bill on parliament's website. The text of the bill follows from here I wonder if the "guarantees" in this are "cast iron guarantees" or not. I need to go through the family proceedings stuff in detail, but it appears that Jack Straw's Civil Servants have betrayed him again and are setting up a system so that a journalist has to be present to say what went on and that otherwise reporting the proceedings even anonymously is still contempt.

Bob Russell MP - aka The Shock and Awe of parliamentary proceedings

Every year on Queens Speech day (today) the new set of Early Day Motions is tabled. This means a new set of numbers starting with number 1. Anyone who wishes to get a low number needs to queue up until the Table Office opens at 10am today. No-one, however, tries to beat Bob Russell MP (aka Mr Colchester). Bob Turns up the night before and sleeps in his sleeping bag in the queue for the table office. This is the "Shock and Awe" of parliamentary proceedings. Noone tries to beat him because he is unbeatable. The photo below is Bob this morning having slept the night in his sleeping bag (which is the green thing under the table).

Election Results 12th November 2009

East Devon DC, Trinity Con elected unopposed. Con gain from Ind. Party defending seat: Ind. Cause. Resignation. Shepway BC, New Romney Coast Con 452 (51.4; +2.2) LD Brian Wright 333 (37.9; -12.9) UKIP 94 (10.7; +10.7) Majority 119 Turnout 30.65% Con gain from LD Percentage change is since May 2007. Party defending seat: LD. Cause: Resignation. South Hams DC, Totnes Bridgetown LD Mike Hannaford 522 (52.4; +27.4) Green 265 (26.6; +26.6) Con 162 (16.2; +5.5) Lab 48 (4.8; -4.1) [UKIP (0.0; -12.4)] [Others (0.0; -43.0)] Majority 257 Turnout 33.85% LD hold Percentage change is since May 2007

Labour repeals part of Magna Carta

The link is to the debate about the Court Fees. The old 1215 Magna Carta was changed on numerous occasions, but there are still some sections of the 1297 Magna Carta that are in force in the UK. This can be seen here on the statute law database. One of the sections that remains in force is Section 29. NO Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor[condemn him,] but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the Land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right The government are proposing to charge fees for court access to include the cost of remitted fees for those people who cannot afford the fees. Whichever way you look at it this involves selling justice. I don't think this can be done via an SI.

Remembrance Service Birmingham 2009

This year I went to Stechford. We have recently restored the war memorial at the roundabout at the end of Albert Road. I normally have gone to the service in the City Centre, but instead went with the Stechford and Yardley North Councillors to Stechford in part to see the event with the restored memorial. I did take some photographs, but Rob Jones was there. He takes photographs of many of the local events and you can see his photographs of Stechford (which were far better than mine) here

Jersey - the Crown Dependencies and conflicts of interest

I have linked to a story on the Channel Islands TV station which in part says: A Jersey accountant jailed in 2007 for six years for money laundering has had his conviction quashed. His defence council took his case to the Jersey Court Of Appeal but it was rejected. They then took it to the Privy Council - the highest court islanders can appeal to - where it was finally quashed. The judge, Commissioner Sir Geoffrey Nice was branded 'sarcastic, mocking and patronising.' He interrupted Mr Michel 273 times as he was giving evidence. It's now expected to cost the Jersey tax payer millions of pounds. Mr Michel's defence lawyer says in retrospect, he should have objected more at the time. Click for the video. What I find interesting is the unquestioning reliance of the TV station on judicial decisions. There have always been biased judges. What is most important to hear is the solicitors explaining how he didn't want to challenge the judge in case he upset the judge. This

Swine Flu fortnightly report

This report from NHS West Midlands shows that the number of people with flu-like illness has slightly increased across the region. Key Messages Across the West Midlands there has been a mixed picture in patients presenting at primary care centres with influenza-like symptoms - some PCT areas show an increase, other areas show a decrease, in rates. Overall, the West Midlands rate has slightly increased but this is not impacting on normal service delivery. The number of people with swine flu admitted to hospitals in the West Midlands has increased, as has the proportion of patients in critical care. There have been six further swine flu related deaths since our last report. 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 1 November 2009, across England, West Midlands and within Birmingham East and North. The rep

The government's control of the house of commons

One thing that is not well known is that the government controls the rules of the house of commons. This is a matter that hopefully the Wright committee will rectify. I have proposed a new clause to the Constitutional Renewal bill as follows (also see link) Procedure Committee amendments to standing orders NC46 To move the following Clause:— ‘Standing Orders of the House of Commons shall make provision for the Procedure Committee to have the power to table amendments to Standing Orders for the whole House to accept or reject following a short debate within one week of the tabling of such amendments. Although this cannot actually change standing orders it has the potential of getting a vote on the issue.

Graffiti, Groningen and Anti-Social Behaviour

There was a debate in the house last night which can be read in hansard here . It demonstrates that the government are not really listening on the issue of graffiti and low level crime. The punishment of "clear it up" is the ideal punishment for graffiti, but the government want to fine people. Quite a few cannot pay the fines so it becomes meaningless. Anyway here are some extracts: John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD): I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way on the subject of early intervention and the need to support families at that stage. I had the opportunity to visit a Sure Start centre in my constituency and, separately, to go to see Home-Start, which does similar sorts of early intervention support work. Home-Start said that about half of its problems arise from bad housing, whereas Sure Start said that some 75 per cent. of family problems arise from bad housing. From a holistic perspective, does the hon. Gentleman that agree that if we are going to deal wit

Independent Advisors and Swine Flu Vaccination

I didn't get the chance to ask a question of Alan Johnson on the sacking of Professor Nutt yesterday. In essence, however, he was sacked for being independent. It is clear now that government advisors, even unpaid ones, are not to be independent, but need to take the government whip. This, of course, raises into question all the independent advice that the government relies upon and quotes. If advisors are to be sacked for talking out of turn and saying things that the government does not like then they have no independence. I have been unhappy with the proposals to vaccinate children for Swine Flu. It is now clear that there are no independent advisors to government as they get sacked for being critical of the government. Hence this also applies to the question as to whether or not to vaccinate for Swine Flu.