Category: NewsWatch

Boris Before The Court Again?

The Court of Session

as we all know by now, is the supreme civil court of Scotland and constitutes part of the College of Justice.

Tonight, it appears that once again it will be petitioned to hear a case to stop the UK Parliament approving a withdrawal agreement.

Jo Maugham QC “If the Government doesn’t have a finished legal text there can’t be a Benn Act vote on Saturday: section 1(1) is pretty clear the Government must lay before Parliament a copy of the concluded agreement.

“We believe the Government’s proposed Withdrawal Agreement is contrary to section 55 of the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018. I intend to lodge an immediate petition for an injunction in the Court of Session preventing the Government from placing the Withdrawal Agreement before Parliament for approval. We expect that petition to be lodged tomorrow and to be heard on Friday.

“We will be asking for your help to fund the petition. As usual, not one single penny of the monies raised will go to me”.

He’s not too popular as responses show “My vote as good as yours if you think I am going to give you money to overturn 17.4 million voters you must be joking” and “Ponzi scheme” and “If you’re that concerned Jo then pay out of your own pocket. I’m not a leaver but you constantly asking for money is so unbecoming. It ain’t as if you can spare a few bob”…and many more.

Dermot O’Hara Writes To The Champion

That “We’re already experiencing “project reality” about the likely consequences of Brexit”. He concentrates on the car manufacturers, including Nissan, Vauxhall, and the possibility of them closing down “not project fear, but the reality of Brexit”.

He also mentions the Aughton Remainer meeting at which remainers said that a “no-deal Brexit would result in a 12% contraction of the Merseyside economy which compares with a contraction of 0.2” in the recession following the banking crisis in 2009-10. They would say that wouldn’t they? The Aughton meeting was full of project unreality, especially to spread the usual doom and gloom we hear from remainers.

Far from what the gloomsters proffer, the UK’s car industry looks like it’s shifting into top gear as Britain approaches the Brexit finishing line. The announcement by Jaguar Land Rover of a new three million-square-foot distribution centre in Leicestershire, supplying to 80 markets worldwide is clearly showing confidence in global Britain.

The new campus is expecting to create a sizable number of new jobs in the area and shows Jaguar Land Rover plan on having a stake in Britain’s sizable car industry for many more years to come. Not what remoaners want to hear? They must be quite exhausted and tired of making wrong predictions.

Elsewhere in the EU, Germany to be precise, Volkswagen is shunning the EU and opting for cheaper Turkey, causing dismay in the European Parliament. Oh dear, is that the fault of Brexit? According to the EU “In view of the increasingly deteriorating situation of the rule of law, media freedom and democracy under President Erdogan, the decision of the VW Group head is causing dismay. The location decision is also said be a breach of EU competition rules. While Turkey has committed to complying with EU rules of the Customs Union, it has never done so by law”.

Mr O’Hara ends by writing “It is high time for the public to be asked again whether they really still want Brexit as people are now far more aware of the real effects of it 40 months on from the referendum”. But employment is at its highest, and unemployment is at its lowest, for 44 years. The jobless rate sank to 3.9% in the three months to January from 4% a month ago, the lowest point since the start of 1975. Companies increased their hiring activity to add another 222,000 people to the UK workforce, taking the overall number in work to a record high of 32.7 million. Annual growth in average pay remained at 3.4%, the fastest rate in a decade. [Source The Guardian]

And economic growth in the eurozone appears to have remained weak in the first quarter of 2019 after a disappointing conclusion to last year. The latest snapshot showed that manufacturing output contracted the most since December 2012, a period when the eurozone was gripped by the sovereign debt crisis.[Source The Guardian]

Mr O’Hara might think that people want to be asked again about Brexit, but he might by now be aware of a huge poll of 26,000 people that records 54% for leave and 46% for remain, greater than the 52-48 2016 choice.

If he reads the news he will know that “In the year to June, London has attracted more cross border commercial real estate investment than any other city, has overtaken New York for fintech investment & has increased its dominance of the world’s $6.6 trillion daily foreign exchange market”.

And “The #EU aren’t trying to keep us in out of love or friendship. They want to keep us because they are terrified of the UK reaching its economic potential. Merkel openly compared us to China and the USA as a potential ‘competitor”.

Are Fat Council Cats Taking The Cream?

WLBC Senior Staff Salaries

The WLBC Constitution tells us that “At Issue Date 1 April 2019 the salary ratio details shown in this statement are based on the actual earnings in effect at 31st January 2019” and that “Total remuneration has been calculated including salary, car expense allowance, over time, extra duties allowance, shift allowance, living wage supplement, standby duty, telephone allowance, election fees, and employer’s pension contributions”.

It also tells us “Returning Officer fees are based upon a fee calculated periodically by the Cabinet Office, with the fee being based on a sum of money multiplied per every 10,000 of electorate. The Council [Council tax payeres] pays the fees for the local election while the fees for other elections, such as Parliamentary and County Council, are paid for externally.

There are 10 WLBC management posts that carry the “Election fees” addendum to salary.
https://www.westlancs.gov.uk/media/545195/salary-and-function-data.pdf

For the Chief Executive

Remuneration-The post is paid at WLa on the attached Appendix. This is a spot salary and carries no additional annual increments. Wla 71 £104,866. But the “Senior Officer Remuneration Details of the top 3 Tiers of Management Period 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019 in accordance with section 48 and 49 of the Transparency Code 2015 (enhanced information based on Statement of Accounts 2018/19) (* Annual salary = actual earnings in line with Statement of Accounts calculations. Based on Officers who have a basic contracted Salary of £50,000 and over)” refers to *Annual Salary (including Election Fees). The Chief Executive salary including Election Fees is *£108,657. A  +difference of £3,791.

Directors – Remuneration. There are three posts of Director reporting to the Chief Executive: Director of Leisure and Environment – WLb Director of Housing and Inclusion – WLb Director of Development and Regeneration – WLb. There are two further posts of Head of Service. Borough Solicitor (Monitoring Officer) Borough Treasurer (Section 151 Officer). The Grade for these posts is at WLd. All these posts are described as “Annual Salary (including Election Fees)”.

Grades “WLd £60,870”. “WLc 79 £72,803, WLc 61 £74,259” “WLb 88 £80,085 WLb 62 £81,687” “Wla £102,810”.

What do they all do that requires “Election Fees”?

Election Coming?

Hullo, it’s me again

wally-writes

“I haven’t been as active as usual, but here at Tory Towers we are all excited by the prospect of a General Election. We don’t do very well in West Lancashire but we have to try! So don’t be surprised if we knock at your door soon…no abuse please!”.

The local Tory candidate writes “Yesterday I had my first campaigning session as the Conservative Parliamentary candidate for West Lancashire! My thanks to all the @WestLancsCF members who came to campaign!” Looks like Wally has something personal against Corbyn?

wltorymob

The Police Eyes In The Sky

Lancashire Police have a dedicated Drone Team under Police Tactical Operations.

Lancashire Police reported yesterday”Good evening from the Drone Team. These are our two latest Pilots in training and we are completing night time tasking later tonight”.

The drones are believed to be supplied by Aeryon, who build high-performance, small unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) and software for military, public safety, and commercial customers around the world. The Lancashire Police model is the Skyranger.

Perhaps the Aughton Parish Council should become a customer and position one over crime infested Winifred Lane and other local crime hotspots!

Serco=Service Corporation=Outsourcing=Friends In High Places?

You all remember Serco Leisure Operating Ltd

contracted to West Lancashire Borough Council to provide leisure services, and what happened to the Beacon Park Golf Course as Serco breached planning consent for the amount of landfill dumped on the driving range and another large part of the course?

The Serious Fraud Office has belatedly fined Serco £22.9million over its electronic tagging scandal. It follows the £70million settlement over allegations it charged for monitoring phantom crimes. But remarkably the fine reflects a discount of 50% as a result of Serco’s self-reporting, as well as its significant and substantial cooperation with the investigation!

Under the “deferred prosecution agreement”, the firm’s UK subsidiary Serco Geografix Ltd (SGL) has taken responsibility for three offences of fraud and two of false accounting related to its contract with the Ministry of Justice between 2010 and 2013. Yes, it’s taken six years for Serco to be dragged kicking and screaming to pay up for its criminal action, robbing taxpayers!

Serco itself writes “The SFO has recognised the significant steps Serco has taken to reform itself, including the thorough implementation under independent supervision of a comprehensive Corporate Renewal Programme approved by the UK Government. This programme included over 80 actions and initiatives, and included rewriting our system of management control, as well as strengthening our bidding, contract management, internal audit and management assurance processes.

Rupert Soames, Serco group chief executive, said the company was “mortified, embarrassed and angry” that it had been caught understated the level of profitability of its Electronic Monitoring contract in its reports to the Ministry of Justice six to nine years ago.

“Serco apologised unreservedly at the time, and we do so again. Nobody who sat on the Board of Serco Group, or who was part of the Executive Management Team at the time these offences were committed, works for the Group today”. So that’s alright then?

In 2013 Serco referred itself to the SFO, and along with outsourcing company G4S faced allegations it had been charging the MoJ for monitoring offenders in the community that were already in jail, had left the country or were, um, dead.

Under the agreement, which is subject to court approval, Serco will not face formal criminal charges. SGL will pay a fine of £19.2m together with £3.7m related to the SFO’s investigation cost.

No damages will be payable to the MoJ because the SFO has agreed that Serco has already fully compensated the department in respect of the offences as part of a £70m settlement paid by the firm to the department in December 2013. Friends in high places? You bet! And especially in West Lancashire Borough Council, where its planning breach at the Beacon Park Golf Course has led to another year of misery for senior golfers but no penalty for Serco.

Politicians’ Lips Are Moving!

And we all know what that means

as Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said the prospects of a deal looked “more positive than they did last week”.

He continued “What’s happening is the Government made some proposals to the European Union and these are being considered and negotiations seem to be taking a serious turn and that’s encouraging. I think it’s always difficult to put specific odds on things, but it certainly looks a lot more positive this week than it did last week. We’ll have to wait and see what the precise details are, naturally in the middle of a negotiation these matters are extremely sensitive as everyone is compromising to some degree and therefore to give negotiations the best chance of succeeding, it’s best to be discreet about them”.

Pushed on whether the PM’s latest Brexit proposals could be similar to the May plan which he previously called “completely cretinous”, he said “We’ll have to find out in a day or two whether I’ll have to eat my words or not – time will tell. There’s a line from Churchill saying that he often had to eat his words and he found it to be a very nourishing diet, and that is something that happens in politics. But it is ultimately a question of trust about the direction of where we are going. I trust Boris Johnson to ensure the relationship the United Kingdom has with the European Union is one where we are not a vassal state”.

And he emphasised that he does not believe the Prime Minister would do anything to undermine the integrity of the UK “The Prime Minister is Minister of the Union and is deeply and personally committed to ensuring the union is robust and prosperous. And I don’t believe the Prime Minister would do anything that undermined the integrity of the UK.

We’ve got to see how the DUP respond to things when we know them as fact, not just speculation. The Prime Minister has made it clear that the United Kingdom will remain a single customs territory and that Northern Ireland will remain within a UK customs union. He’s been explicit about that”.

Rees-Mogg has claimed the Government could use European law to secure a no-deal Brexit if there is no agreement with Brussels. Signalling a potential way around the Benn Act, he said that “it takes two to tango and any extension has to be agreed by the council”. As Lord Owen

has said “On 19th October, on instructions from the European Union (Withdrawal) (No 2) Act 2019, more commonly referred to as the ‘Benn’ Act passed into law on the 9th September, the Prime Minister will be forced to write to the EU asking for an extension under the terms of Article 50. But issuing that letter cannot preclude the executive taking other legal actions to protect UK national interests. A rather neglected part of the full Supreme Court judgment on prorogation in paragraph 55 says remember “always that the actual task of governing is for the executive and not for parliament or the courts”. Extension is a device to delay again a decision. It probably does stop a so-called ‘no deal’ under Article 50 but it need not stop the UK leaving on 31st October”.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister issued the following statement “The Prime Minister updated Cabinet on the current progress being made in ongoing Brexit negotiations, reiterating that a pathway to a deal could be seen but that there is still a significant amount of work to get there and we must remain prepared to leave on October 31st. The Prime Minister said there was a way forward for a deal that could secure all our interests, respect the Good Friday Agreement, get rid of the backstop and get Brexit done by October 31st so we can push on with domestic agenda, investing in our NHS, tackling violent crime, and dealing with the cost of living”.

Perhaps Frau Merkel in Paris to meet Macron knows a thing or two? “With the departure of Great Britain, a potential competitor will of course emerge for us. That is to say, in addition to China and the United States of America, there will be Great Britain as well”…Great Britain? She did not say we are the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland…perhaps she meant “until further notice!”.