Monthly Archives: February 2020

Rosie Cooper On TV Licences

Rosie Cooper Labour, West Lancashire

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking with the BBC to ensure the continuation of the provision of free TV licences for people aged over 75. • Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 18 February 2020),

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps her Department is taking to tackle loneliness among people aged over 75 who cannot afford a TV licence from June 2020 and are not eligible for pension credit. •Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 18 February 2020),

John Whittingdale Conservative, Maldon

The future of the over 75 licence fee concession is the responsibility of the BBC from June 2020. This reform was subject to public discussion and debated extensively during the passage of the Digital Economy Act 2017 through Parliament.

The Government is disappointed with the BBC’s decision to restrict the over 75 licence fee concession to only those in receipt of pension credit. We recognise the value of free TV licences for over-75s and believe they should be funded by the BBC.

In 2018 this government published the world’s first government loneliness strategy and appointed the world’s first minister with responsibility for tackling loneliness. In January 2020 we published our first annual report, highlighting the progress made so far. [Which is apparently nil!]

The West Lancashire Pensioners Forum does not support any BBC restrictions on over 75 TV licences, nor does it accept its effect on loneliness.

No Sooner Do We Mention Wolverhampton Jollies

Than the subject of Lancashire County Council jollies is raised

The Lancashire LEP has outlined plans to increase its presence and networking opportunities at MIPIM 2020. MIPIM is “The world’s leading property market 10-13 March 2020 – Palais des Festivals, Cannes, France”.

The delegation will showcase the region’s sector strengths, commercial prospects and investment potential through more events than any other year.

Marketing Lancashire – the county’s placemarketing agency – is organising the Lancashire MIPIM 2020 proposals on behalf of the LEP. The four-day programme includes eight invite-only events, participation in a series of Northern Powerhouse panel sessions, and presence on the county’s first, standalone exhibition space in the Palais des Festivals.

LEP chair Steve Fogg said: “Lancashire is one of the largest economies in the North and a key focus for the LEP is to build upon its global reputation in the aerospace, advanced manufacturing and energy sectors and to ensure we are positioned to exploit new opportunities in these and emerging sectors. Our attractiveness to inward investors will be enhanced further through investment in our infrastructure and maximising collaboration opportunities with our NPH partners. MIPIM is a major platform that will allow us to tell a global audience about Lancashire’s investment proposition.”

Cllr Keith Iddon, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council, added “This is the first time that Lancashire has taken a business delegation out to MIPIM, and we will be working with them to ensure that we maximise the profile of the county and its investment opportunities. There is significant potential for us to build on existing relationships and to create new partnerships that will help accelerate our growing economy, which is already the second largest in the North West”.

The Lancashire 2020 MIPIM programme is sponsored by Eric Wright Construction, Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, Lovell, Shoosmiths, The Peel Group, and University of Central Lancashire.

Question…How much is the Lancashire taxpayer picking up of the jollies tab?

Council Jollies To The South Of France

Don’t panic, it’s not West Lancashire

but it might well be, as reasons to send council employees and the odd councillor on foreign jaunts, or jollies, become persuasive for councils that are short of cash.

Wolverhampton Council

spent £17,639 sending staff on ‘jollies’ to the south of France. The Taxpayers Alliance tells us that despite many councils claiming their coffers are empty they still manage to find money for these ridiculous perks.

The council says the trips to the world’s biggest property event in France bring ‘big benefits’ to Wolverhampton’s economy. They sent five officers and a councillor to Cannes. The spending relates to the tax years 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20, and was used to fund two separate trips to attend the MIPIM, the world’s biggest property exhibition, in the picturesque city on the French Riviera. One trip saw three officers and a councillor spend £9,999.16 on accommodation and expenses, and another where two officers spent £5,440.

These figures dwarf the cost of travel, which was £2,200 and £1,100 for the respective trips. Separately, the EU funded 18 individual foreign trips for council officers to a variety of locations, including Gen Y City workshops in Kristiansand, Bologna, Nantes and Poznan, a trip to Brussels for the International Urban Cooperation workshop and a further trip to Italy as part of the Erasmus scheme.

The total value of these trips was £10,154. The council has also revealed the EU covered the cost of a lavish trip for three officers and three councillors to Shimla, India. However, no details of costs were provided by the council. There was also an all-expenses paid trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for one lucky officer, paid for, the council says, by their hosts in the UAE.

Harry Fone, grassroots campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance

said “Wolverhampton ratepayers will be annoyed by these revelations. Councillors and officials have been splashing taxpayer cash on foreign junkets at the same time as rates have soared. The council must have been aiming for an acting award at the Cannes Festival, given it claimed to have massive funding shortages yet managed to pay for councillors and officers to enjoy jollies on the Mediterranean coast. The council must prioritise keeping rates at reasonable levels and funding frontline services” he added.

Cllr Louise Miles (Lab. Oxley), the council’s cabinet member for resources, said “We keep foreign trips to a minimum and wherever possible costs are paid for by the hosts as is demonstrated in the cases highlighted here. The council does send a small delegation alongside our Midlands partners to MIPIM, the world’s leading property event, in France each year which has brought big benefits to the city in terms of attracting jobs and investment.

“MIPIM provides a global platform to sell what the city of Wolverhampton has to offer as part of the Midlands UK delegation. Multi-billion-pound regeneration is changing the face of our city and creating a wealth of attractive opportunities for developers and investors. Court Collaboration on our exciting Brewers Yard city living scheme is an example of a major partner we met at MIPIM”.

It couldn’t happen with West Lancashire, could it?

Now Brexit Has Happened

Now Brexit has happened

Is a short essay about the time for the UK to look forward. “I know some of my close friends are sad and feel that Brexit was a terrible day for this country, and I understand that but I respectfully disagree.

“The sad thing is that Brexit or something like it was inevitable at some point. The choice really wasn’t for Leave or Remain. It was Leave or go on an inexorable, unstoppable journey to a European State, with the slow expiry of National Governments and, eventually, direct rule from Brussels.

“Democracy is not a perfect thing, but it works best when those in power are chosen by the people, are close to the people and can be removed by the people.

“The EU could never have fulfilled these criteria and it had shown time and time again that it had no intention of changing its method of governance. The European Parliament is not a Parliament as we know it, but exists to do little more than rubber stamp and, at best, tweak the agenda of the Commission. The Commissioners, once selected, are a law unto themselves. The EU is set up to ensure the continued retention of power by a centralised technocracy. It is a system designed for post-war Europe, where a war-weary continent looked to men (as they all were then) of intellect and learning to take the decisions away from the political class which had led them into two world wars.

“And it worked, for a time. But it is now a wasteful behemoth, run by second rate or failed ex-politicians more concerned about centralising power and becoming a state in its own right than listening to the citizens of its member countries. Indeed, Maastricht, Lisbon (aka the European Constitution), the implementation of the Euro and every decision and Directive since has taken the continent deliberately further down that path.

“I have watched this for thirty years now and I could not in all conscience vote to remain in such an organisation with a terrible history of coercion, racist-protectionism, political interference and corruption.

“I believe there will be bumpy times ahead for the UK, but there are also very bumpy times ahead for the EU and some of those will make Brexit seem like a walk in the park.

“The EU is not Europe. It has done much good for the continent in its time, but it is also causing much damage, I believe its current trajectory is deeply flawed and I fear that it is only time before it faces a real existential threat. I still believe we will be able to travel freely through Europe and our children will be able to study and work there in the future. I believe we can develop a good working relationship with our neighbours. I believe too that our neighbours in the EU will be able to do the same here. I am positive about the future, but I understand the sadness of those who are deeply saddened about leaving the EU.

“One thing we need to remember is that overwhelmingly most leavers are not deluded xenophobes, and overwhelmingly most remainers are not neo-liberal democracy deniers. Overwhelmingly, most people who took the time to vote did so because they cared enough about the future of this country to do so. I salute all of them”.

Did I want to participate in a common state? No thanks, and now I don’t have to!

Council Funded Bus Service Losses Of 1100% In Two Years!

Readers may have seen reference to the council-run bus company that went into liquidation after seeing losses rise by more than 1100% in two years?

It happened a few weeks ago. Halton Transport, which ran more than a third of services across the Cheshire borough, lost almost £620,000 in 2019, up from £50,500 in 2017. The Halton Borough Council said it tried to give the firm a “stronger, more sustainable footing” but had failed.

Halton Councillors made a decision on the bus company’s future in a behind-closed-doors meeting but the outcome of that meeting had remained confidential since then, leading to confusion for both passengers and drivers. Now they know!

“As the major shareholder, the council has been supporting the company in an attempt to place it on a stronger, more sustainable footing [but] unfortunately that has not been possible,”

The move, which has put 150 jobs at risk, came after the company had to be bailed out with a £750,000 loan from the council in 2019. All was not lost though as Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram said all Merseytravel-funded school routes would continue to run.

Mr Rotheram said he had “taken immediate action” to ensure the school services would continue to run from Monday morning, using Arriva North West and Stagecoach buses. He added that while the Transport Act had “legally prevented” the combined authority from buying Halton Transport, his aim was to “minimise the impact for local people as much as possible”.

All of which might persuade West Lancastrians to consider if being part of Lancashire is the wisest choice. A few years ago Lancashire was in bed with Merseyrail/Merseytravel just to spend over £1million of our taxes renovating Ormskirk Station for those who pay for rail transport, leaving elderly and disabled West Lancastrians still without free off-peak rail travel. 

What IS shocking is the “secret confidential behind closed doors” attitude of elected members. Where next?

 

Why Should The Rich BBC Impoverish Over 75s?

From June, only over-75s who are claiming pension credit will be eligible for a free TV licence. Can you believe that the former BBC chairman Lord Grade urged the government not to “impoverish and weaken” the corporation, which he described as the “corner stone” of the creative industries in the UK. So it’s alright that some, many, elderly people will be even more impoverised than the massively overpaid “talent” employed by the BBC?

Grade said the BBC had “huge success in promoting the brand of Great Britain around the world”, adding that any plan to decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee “feels like another attempt to impoverish the BBC and weaken it” and should be “abandoned immediately”.

Baroness Morgan said her plans should not be seen as “any kind of attack on the BBC”. The broadcaster is an “incredibly important organisation in the UK and around the world”, she said, but added it was the government’s “duty” to look into the issue of funding.

In a statement, the BBC said “A detailed government-commissioned review (in 2015) found the current system to be the fairest and most effective”. It did not recommend change, in part because the current system is effective in ensuring payment with very few people ever going to prison. If there are changes, they must be fair to law abiding licence fee payers and delivered in a way that doesn’t fundamentally undermine the BBC’s ability to deliver the services they love”. Love? The BBC? Do you sit there watching Silent Witness and saying “Oh I do love the BBC!”. 

Facts,TV licence fee £157.50, Cost of annual household licence from April 2020. Free for those aged 75+, but only for those claiming pension credit (from June). 121,000 people convicted for evasion in 2018. £176 average fine levied on those people. There were around 26 million TV licences being used in the UK last year, generating £3.69bn in income for the BBC. Read that again £3.69billion, and the BBC can’t balance the books!

From Simon Hoare Tory MP

on twitter “In all the talk re BBC I really don’t think it gets it: pay disparity; excessive pay for “stars”; getting rid of over 75s licence and trying to compete with commercial platforms when it’s not commercial. For starters it needs to revoke the over 75s licence decision”.

I’ll vote for that! Signed, impoverished and weak over 80 of West Lancashire! 

LCC Staff Clearing Wind Damaged Trees

LCC Highways staff went to work

throughout the night on Saturday and late into Sunday until the storm abated, clearing fallen trees and attending flooding issues on the roads.

The county council’s emergency planning team was also in action as part for the wider coordination effort involving the emergency services, Environment Agency, district councils and community volunteers.