Category Archives: NewsWatch

Spreading BBC Licence Payments Can’t Make Over 75s Afford It

In their election manifesto, the Conservatives said they “recognise the value of free TV licences for over-75s and believe they should be funded by the BBC”.

Boris Johnson has said his Conservative Party is “looking at” scrapping the television licence fee.

Whilst the Prime Minister conceded the Tories are “not planning to get rid of all TV licence fees”, he admitted the current system “bears reflection” and questioned “how long” the current system of funding the BBC can be justified. Mr Johnson repeated his previous views, stating: “I certainly think is that the BBC should cough up and pay for the licences for the over-75s as they promised to do.”

But it seems we might be ratted on, as Age UK claims “By now you may have heard that the Government has announced two things which affect our campaign to save free TV licences for over 75s.

“They are launching a consultation on whether to ‘decriminalise’ the Licence Fee and have announced a new ‘Simple Payment Plan’ so people can pay their Fee monthly rather than in one lump sum.

“For those just getting by, the Simple Payment Plan doesn’t go far enough – spreading out your payments doesn’t make £157.50 extra a year any more affordable. And even if enforcement of the Licence Fee happens through the civil rather than the criminal courts, older people could still receive a visit from the bailiffs if they can’t pay.

“Whatever the future of the licence fee, in 116 days four million over 75s will lose their free TV licence. We can’t let that happen.

“That’s why the Government and the BBC need to urgently work together to find a solution. And why we’ll continue to fight to save the free TV licence for all over 75s and keep working so your voice is heard”.

Grunshaw’s “Only Tool In The Box” Makes Fools Of Taxpayers?

Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner

is standing up for Lancashire, while putting his hands in our pockets, and calling on the Government for fairer, long term funding of policing following the latest police funding settlement.

The delayed settlement, announced by Policing Minister Kit Malthouse on 22nd January, claimed to set out the biggest increase in funding to forces in a decade, but has once again left Lancashire with a funding deficit and passed the burden of police funding onto council tax payers.

During a meeting of the Police and Crime Panel, which is made up of councillors from across Lancashire’s local authorities, support was given for the Commissioner’s 2020/2021 budget plan for Lancashire Police, which will see an investment in 153 police officers.

PCC Clive Grunshaw said

“Alongside the Chief Constable I have carefully considered the implications of this national settlement and what it means for policing here in Lancashire. Whilst I clearly welcome the funding for 153 additional police officers for the county, this is only the first step in addressing the enduring funding problems that exist and still leaves us with 600 fewer officers than in 2010. Put simply, there remain some significant and difficult financial challenges facing Lancashire Police over the coming years. [Not to mention the financial challenge facing Lancashire pensioners every year of the 5% hit!]

“Behind the billion pound headlines, the core Government grant for Lancashire Police has only marginally increased and means there is no direct funding in this settlement for last September’s pay award of 2.5% for our officers, nor for any pay awards for staff or for any other inflationary cost increases.

“Instead, the Government expect that the cost pressures we face will be met locally through the precept. Whilst I am grateful for the public’s continued support, which in my recent consultation saw 77% of over 1,500 respondents support paying an increase, I still believe it is inherently unfair that residents are being asked to stump up more and more money for policing, at a time when people are already feeling the strain financially caused by years of austerity and the increased cost of living.

“I am adamant that more funding needs to come from government grant and not from further council tax increases. Furthermore a long term plan is required for police funding which addresses the growing pressures on the service instead of one year gifts that paper over the cracks that years of underfunding have caused.The extra core funding money announced for policing will only cover the additional police officers and associated costs. The Constabulary still faces the challenge of maintaining its current workforce of 2,987 officers with a depleting budget.

Consequently the council tax policing precept will rise by less than 20p per week (£10 per year) on a Band D from April, contributing towards the funding shortfall, with further efficiencies still to be made.

Mr Grunshaw continued “In real terms there has been a 28% cut in government grant from Lancashire Police since 2010. In Lancashire we have already saved over £86m from our budget over the past ten years and this settlement leaves us in the difficult position where have to find further savings in a budget where there are increasingly fewer places to make them, with Lancashire having one of the leanest support services in the country.
“Disappointingly the Government has also announced a 70% cut to our capital grant at a time when we are trying to operationally invest in new IT, vehicles and buildings to make the organisation as efficient as possible and fit for future challenges and the growth in demand.”

The PCC continues to push for progress to reform the unfair police funding formula which currently sees forces like Surrey gaining 70 additional police officers having only lost eight since 2010. By comparison, even after this year’s uplift Lancashire will still have 600 fewer.

He concluded “My message is simple, we want our bobbies back. We need proper assurances about how policing will be funded in the long term and a fair funding settlement that reflects the unique circumstances Lancashire faces as a police service to keep people safe.

“Investment must also be made back into public services including mental health, adult and children’s social care and youth services.” The police and crime panel will confirm their precept decision in writing by 8th February 2020.

We are fooled by these small surveys, this year only 77% of over 1,500 respondents, and surely there must be a minimum representative number of council tax payers to make the request valid?

The proportion of council tax paid towards the police in Lancashire (by council tax property band) from April is as follows: Band A – £141.02, Band B – £164.51, Band C – £188.02, Band D – £211.52, Band E – £258.53, Band F – £305.53, Band G – £352.54, Band H – £423.05

Lineker Says The TV Licence Should go, Over 75s Say Lineker Should Go!

Gary Lineker, who doesn’t do a real job

admitted “Footballers and broadcasters “Can’t really justify our salary compared with people who do a real job”. But you know, that’s the market rate” he told BBC Radio 5 Live!

Lineker, one of the BBC’s highest paid presenters, has called for the TV licence fee to be voluntary. In an interview with The Guardian, the former footballer and Match of the Day presenter said the annual charge was the BBC’s “fundamental problem”.

“You’re forced to pay it if you want a TV, and therefore it’s a tax” he is quoted as saying. “The public pay our salaries, so everyone is a target”. His comments come amid mounting debate on the future of the licence fee. Last week culture secretary Baroness Morgan told the BBC the subject was “coming up more and more on the doorstep”.

Lineker said he had “always said for a long time” the £154.50 annual charge should be voluntary while admitting he did not know “The logistics of how it would work. You would lose some people, but at the same time you’d up the price a bit” said the presenter, whose BBC salary was between £1,750,000 and £1,754,999 in 2018-19. “[The licence fee] is the price of a cup of coffee a week at the moment” he continued. “If you put it up you could help older people or those that can’t afford it”.

Former BBC chief political correspondent John Sergeant has added his voice to the debate saying the licence fee was “increasingly out of date”. “The average age of the audience is increasing, the number of viewers is falling. Young people are more likely to be hooked on their tablets and smartphones” Sergeant told the Radio Times.

“It is time to think of different ways of paying for BBC programmes, whether it be some form of payment by subscription, as well as programme sponsorship, if not a move towards advertising in general.” Last year the BBC said it was scrapping free TV licences for all over-75s and would limit the provision to low-income households where one person receives the pension credit benefit.

The online publication of The Guardian’s interview saw Lineker receive praise from ITV presenter Piers Morgan, usually Lineker’s sparring partner, for making “a sensible point”.

Fast forward. It’s September 2020. The new director-general is in No 10 for her or his first meeting with Boris Johnson since getting the job. “Look, prime minister,” the BBC’s new DG says. “I know this seems radical. I believe there is a case not only for keeping the compulsory licence fee – but raising it”. A door slams open. Dominic Cummings bursts in.

“What?!” says Mr Cummings. “But how can you argue that, when even your highest-paid star – your most famous face – agrees with us it should be voluntary?!”

Gary Lineker may or may not be right. The fact is, his intervention has weakened the negotiating position of the next DG, even if just marginally. Big social and political changes never happen suddenly. They follow the drip, drip, drip of smaller events that made the final change inevitable.

Right now, the idea that the BBC should become a subscription service is mainstream Conservative thinking. A prominent Remainer at the BBC has just reinforced it. Many of the BBC’s most loyal audiences are about to lose a benefit – in free TV licences for the over-75s – that they want.

Decriminalisation of the licence fee looks likely, which could cost the BBC a couple of hundred million pounds. A huge re-organisation of BBC News will cost many jobs, demoralising some staff, and leading to sharp cuts in some programme budgets.

Every day, streaming giants pour more dollars into high-value productions that lure eyeballs away from the BBC. Every day, the bond between the BBC and young audiences weakens to the point that it is becoming close to non-existent for many.

Then Gary Lineker says the licence fee should go. Anybody fancy being DG? Lineker said “You’re paid money that is way beyond really what you deserve, but nobody’s going to go. Actually, no, I’ll for work for a pittance. They’re not going to do that. I always feel uncomfortable talking about it, but at the same time, I’m not complaining”.

Any sane person would opine that both the licence fee AND Lineker should go, Now!

Litter Pick In Aughton

OWLs in support of Aughton being litter-picked

“Dear Aughton Residents,

“John Waugh, an Aughton parish councillor has arranged a community litter pick of Aughton this Thursday 6th February. Our West Lancashire are supporting the litter pick.

“The meeting point is the scout hut next to Christ Church on Long Lane at 10am. Litter pickers and waste sacks provided. Volunteers will work in pairs and its hoped to cover Northway, Winifred Lane, Moss Delph Lane. Long Lane, Swanpool Lane and Prescot Road areas.

“If you can help with this, please call 01695 351361 or by email and we will let John know”.

Our West Lancashire
Putting residents first and foremost

Perhaps this could be extended into Town Green Lane for the railway bridge, with its weeds and rotten wooden fencing. The bridge road surface has potholes that may or may not have been reported by the local County Cllr, it’s just at the bottom of his road, he’s an observant chap, so we are told?

Abolish The TV Licence Fee?

The Taxpayers Alliance BBC Latest News

“What is it? The TV licence fee is a tax on receiving live broadcast television. Broadcast receiving licences were introduced by the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1904, and were made permanent by the 1924 act. When the BBC introduced television services in 1936, it was covered under the existing licence.

“Broadcasts were suspended during the second world war and, when they were reintroduced in 1946, separate TV licences were also introduced. Colour licences were introduced in 1968 and black and white licences remain in place, although the number had fallen to under 10,000 by 2015. Radio licence fees were abolished in 1971.

“TV licence fee receipts are hypothecated to the BBC. What’s the problem with it? The licence fee means that television viewers who do not care for or who object to BBC output are compelled to fund the BBC to gain permission to watch non-BBC material. In addition to questions about whether this is a proper role for the tax system, it also diverts funding away from television output that viewers would have chosen in favour of BBC output.

What should be done?

“The TV licence fee should be abolished and replaced with a BBC charge. Viewers would use equipment to descramble BBC TV signals and access to the BBC iPlayer and online content. Payment of the charge would not be required to view broadcasts from other organisations”.

It needs a root and branch public audit to prove to the British public that its income and expenditure is fair and reasonable. How fair is it that one ex-footballer should receive almost £2million annually for taking about football matches for about an hour a week only during the football season, which make him part-time! How fair is it that working for the BBC as newsreaders pays fortunes by comparison with those who pay the licence fee? How much does it cost to send teams of broadcasters to stand outside 10 Downing Street when they could read the news in front of one big studio photograph of it. Who would know the difference?

The Private Infuriation Of Boris Johnson Made Public

Boris Johnson has become “privately infuriated” with what he sees as the EU’s attempts to frustrate a comprehensive free trade deal, the Sunday Telegraph has revealed.

“The Prime Minister believes Brussels has unilaterally been “changing the terms” of the deal he agreed last year, when both sides set out to work towards an ambitious and deep trade agreement. As a result the UK is no longer wedded to a Canada-style agreement, in what would be a major hardening in the Government’s Brexit strategy.

“Downing Street negotiators are now willing to pursue a much “looser” trade deal while simultaneously signing agreements with countries that make up 13 per cent of the world’s GDP.

A government source said “There are only two likely outcomes in negotiation – a free trade deal like Canada or a looser arrangement like Australia – and we are happy to pursue both”.

“An Australian-style deal would allow both sides to cherry pick which areas of the economy they can agree on, and leave the rest to World Trade Organisation rules.

“In a speech to business leaders, ambassadors and think tank representatives in London, he will say the UK must be treated as an “equal” and make clear there will be “no alignment, no jurisdiction of the European courts, and no concessions” with Brussels.

“The speech will come just as EU leaders set out their draft strategy ahead of a tense 11 months of negotiations before the post-Brexit implementation period agreed between London and Brussels comes to an end on Dec 31.

“In a week when the UK formally begins talks at the WTO in its own right, the Sunday Telegraph has learned Mr Johnson has a two year plan to sign global deals to give the UK access to markets worth trillions of pounds by the end of next year. A trade deal is ear-marked to be agreed with Japan by Christmas followed by more agreements with Australia and New Zealand in the middle of next year.

“The ultimate aim is for the UK to accede to membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) – a group of 11 nations including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Singapore, the third largest free-trade area after North America and the EU.

Crawford Falconer, the UK’s lead trade negotiator,

has already amassed a team of 700 lawyers and experts at the Department for International Trade, with £110billion-worth of trade deals ready to be rolled over when the UK exits the implementation period on Dec 31 this year.

“In his speech Mr Johnson will also make clear that “the EU can no longer prevent us from speaking or intervening in ways that are in line with our national interest” now that the UK has joined the World Trade Organisation in its own right.

“He will also raise up Glasgow and Liverpool

as examples of cities set to benefit from increased trans-Atlantic trade, spreading trading opportunities around the country”.

Australia Is Cheering On Britain’s Exciting New Freedom From The EU

From Tony Abbott, former Prime Minister of Australia 

“Australia is cheering on Britain’s exciting new freedom from the EU. Britain’s departure from the EU is a historical watershed. As a big moment in geopolitics, it ranks with the fall of the Soviet Union.

“For decades, it had been assumed that the nation state would decrease in importance and that supra-national bodies, such as the EU and the UN, would become ever more relevant; just as, a generation back, pro-communist writers assured us that they’d seen the future and it worked.

“The revolt of the British electorate against Brussels’s encroachment shows, yet again, that there’s nothing inevitable in the course of history. Britain hasn’t turned its back on history; yet again you’ve changed it!

“This is a monumental personal triumph for Nigel Farage who has single-mindedly been crusading against the arrogance and interference of the EU for almost three decades. It’s also a tribute to Boris Johnson who sniffed the wind and correctly concluded that a majority of the British people would back themselves in any disagreement with foreigners.

“Most of all though, it shows that Britons have not lost that sense of themselves as a country that’s shaped the modern era more than any other – through the mother of parliaments, the world’s common language, the industrial revolution, and the world’s most-played sport; not to mention saving Europe from tyranny not once but twice over the past century.

“Of course, there’s still a great deal yet to be decided, despite Britain’s formal departure from the EU. It’s far from clear that the EU will offer Britain even the same trade deal it’s concluded with Canada, despite nearly 50 years of British membership and the current absence of tariffs, quotas and regulatory differences between Britain and the countries that are still members. But by confirming the 2016 referendum result, Johnson’s thumping election win means that Britain is no longer scared to face the future, regardless of whether it gets a trade deal with the EU.

“In my view, Britain’s default position should be that trade between it and the countries of the EU should be entirely free of tariffs and quotas; that there should be mutual recognition of credentials and standards; and that there should be free movement of people, up to a cap on numbers, for well-paid work, not welfare.

“Indeed, with carve-outs for defence and a few other strategic industries, this would be a good starting point for all Britain’s trade negotiations with countries enjoying a comparable standard of living. Regardless, Britain will now be able to shape its own future in trade and all else, no longer constrained by Brussels but only by its own judgment of what’s prudently in the national interest”.