Posted by: westlancashirerecord | June 12, 2019

If I Were A Pensioner

If I were a pensioner, asks journalist Toby Young

“I’d be a bit miffed by the BBC’s decision to end the policy of giving free TV licences to the over-75s. At present, the cost is met by the government, but it was due to be picked up by the BBC from 1 June 2020. At least, that’s what I thought, and I had good reason.

“According to a report on the BBC News website dated 6 July 2015, the Beeb would ‘cover the cost of providing free television licences for over-75s’ and ‘in return…the licence fee will rise with inflation’. The story referred to this as a ‘deal’ that the BBC had made with the government in the run-up to the renewal of the BBC charter in 2017”.

And in the Guardian 6 July 2015 “The BBC will shoulder the cost of providing free television licences for people aged over 75 in a surprise deal that will cost it £750m by 2020, almost a fifth of the corporation’s current annual income. In return for the BBC’s agreement to finance part of the welfare spending cuts, the government promised to allow the £145.50 licence fee to increase in line with inflation and close a loophole caused by the increased use of on-demand television”.

Describing the settlement, agreed over a week’s secret negotiations that came before the budget due on Wednesday,

George Osborne

said that “as a publicly funded body, it is right that [the BBC], like other parts of the public sector, should make savings”.

The new settlement was unexpectedly announced in the House of Commons by the then Culture Secretary

John Whittingdale,

who occasionally had other interests, in response to an urgent questions put down by Labour a day after Osborne had accused the BBC of being “imperial in its ambitions”.

Under the terms of the agreement the government promised to: Link the annual £145.50 annual licence fee to inflation if the “purposes and scope of the BBC” remain the same; Introduce legislation within the next year to modernise the licence fee and close a loophole covering catch-up TV. End the BBC’s commitment to fund superfast broadband around the country by 2020 which would have cost it £80m in 2018.

Tony Hall, the overpaid director general of the BBC, said the new funding formula had been hammered out as a result of intense negotiations over the past week and meant the BBC’s income would remain flat and perhaps even rise over the next five years. “We have secured the right deal for the BBC in difficult economic circumstances for the country” he said.

BBC staff were warned by senior management to be careful about how they talked about the funding settlement on social media. In an email, they were reminded of guidelines which tell staff: “Don’t sound off about things in an openly partisan way. Don’t be seduced by the informality of social media into bringing the BBC into disrepute”. During the 2010 negotiations over the licence fee, the BBC trustees threatened to resign en masse if the BBC was forced to take on the government’s social policy commitments.

On Monday, BBC Trust chair Rona Fairhead criticised the way the deal had been negotiated and warned that it would “inevitably” have an impact on BBC services, but said “We accept this decision is a legitimate one for the government to take, although we cannot endorse the process by which it has been reached. The executive are clear that the necessary savings will not be achieved through productive efficiency alone and will inevitably have some impact on the nature of the BBC’s services”.

Theresa May promised voters in 2017 that she would maintain funding for pensioner benefits, including free bus passes, prescriptions and TV licenses, until the end of the current Parliament in 2022. But the BBC has confirmed the £154.50-a-year benefit would be scrapped for almost three million over-75s, with only those receiving Pension Credits allowed to continue claiming it.

The broadcaster had held a consultation on how to deal with the £745m annual cost for the scheme after plans drawn up the former Chancellor George Osborne left the broadcasting corporation with the responsibility for funding the programme. But BBC chairman David Clementi said the cut, which will come into force from June 2020, was the “fairest judgement” which would continue to help the poorest pensioners.

He said “This has not been an easy decision. Whilst we know that pensioner incomes have improved since 2000, we also know that for some the TV licence is a lot of money. I believe we have reached the fairest judgement after weighing up all the different arguments. It would not be right simply to abolish all free licences. Equally it would not be right to maintain it in perpetuity given the very profound impact that would have on many BBC services”.

But Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson

responded with fury, saying the decision had left Theresa May’s manifesto pledge “in tatters”. He said “It is an outrage that this Government is overseeing the scrapping of free TV licenses for three million older people, leaving a Tory manifesto promise in tatters. In the same week that Boris Johnson has championed tax cuts for the rich, the Conservative Government has delivered yet another ruthless welfare cut to some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

He added “I challenge all the Tory leadership candidates to honour the commitment they made in 2017. You cannot means test for social isolation. You cannot means test for loneliness. Millions of elderly and isolated people will lose because of this announcement – Labour will fight it with everything we’ve got. The UK government must U-turn on their broken manifesto promise and fully fund the TV license for our older people. The Tory government need to explain why they are breaking their promises on the TV license, and move now to ensure that our elderly population do not suffer from this ill-thought out proposal.”

Charities also hit out at the plans, claiming the cut would leave hundreds of thousands of pensioners facing isolation and loneliness. Age UK charity director, Caroline Abrahams, said “Make no mistake, if this scheme goes ahead we are going to see sick and disabled people in their eighties and nineties who are completely dependent on their cherished TV for companionship and news, forced to give it up. Means-testing may sound fair but in reality it means at least 650,000 of our poorest pensioners facing a big new annual bill they simply can’t afford, because though eligible for Pension Credit they don’t actually get it”.

George McNamara, director of policy at Independent Age, said “This is a massive kick in the teeth for millions of older people up and down the country. It is a great shame that the BBC has ignored the overwhelming case for keeping free TV licenses for all over-75s”.

Only days ago they were patting old people on the head and calling them heroes.

WWII PoW, 99, blasts BBC 

Victor Gregg

told GMB the BBC was ‘robbing the piggy banks’ of veterans. Not just a “veteran” but a true hero, 

unlike some sports players who are tagged “hero” for scoring a goal, or winning a tennis match!

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | June 12, 2019

Council Unveils Plans To Improve Two Key Gateways To The Borough

West Lancashire Borough Council

has unveiled plans to improve the appearance of two key gateways in the Borough.

As part of the public realm works the Borough Council undertakes on behalf of Lancashire County Council, a number of gateway roundabouts are maintained in addition to maintaining the grass and controlling weed growth. This year the Borough Council plans to improve two key locations.

The roundabout next to Ormskirk Fire Station

seen above with OWL councillors, will be planted up in June with seasonal bedding plants around the existing shrubbery to provide a vibrant, colourful welcome to the town throughout the summer months.

Later in the year, following generous contributions from local residents, Hope Island

in Skelmersdale will be planted with daffodil bulbs to help revive the roundabout in tribute to local cancer sufferers.

Cllr Kev Wilkie, West Lancashire Borough Council portfolio holder for Street Scene, said “The Borough Council is ambitious for West Lancashire to have a good quality environment. We are really pleased to be working with Lancashire County Council and local residents to bring about these improvements in key locations across the Borough that really matter to local residents”.

It does no harm to ask if, and when, gutter weeds growing on many of our roads will be treated?

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | June 11, 2019

Brexit And The Death Of The British Sense Of Fair Play

As An Immigrant Remain Voter,


Konstantin Kisin writes “I am starting to worry about my fellow members of the metropolitan elite. Some of those whose cause I share dutifully attend protest marches, attack people whose political views they don’t share and talk cheerfully about the rise of fascism.

“The madness of this supposedly liberal cause is in plain sight, yet it continues to thrive, boosted supposedly by Remain’s performance in the EU elections. We were told by some that Remain won the election in which a six-week old Brexit Party captured first place, a third of the popular vote and 40 per cent of seats. It rather reminded me of how we do elections in Russia: first you vote and then someone comes along and explains who actually won.

“Bouncing from her party’s resounding victory of coming second, Lib Dem leadership contender Jo Swinson went on Question Time to bang the drum for Remain. ‘Nigel Farage should not be in British politics at all,’ she proclaimed, revealing something fundamental about the Brexit debate: it’s not just about the EU – it’s a battle for the future of our democracy.

“I voted Remain because I was worried about the economic disruption that leaving would bring. I worried about embroiling ourselves in a decade of instability which our adversaries would use to sow chaos and discord in the West. I worried about the potential breakup of an organisation that has brought us seventy years of peace on a continent historically ravaged by war.

“I still worry about those things and I’d rather we left with a deal that prevents disruption and keeps the UK intact. I have a far, far bigger worry now, however. Put simply, there seems to be only one side which cares about the future of our democracy and, ironically, it’s the side that keeps being labelled ‘fascist’. In 2019, hurling milkshakes at your opponents makes you ‘tolerant’, while voting the wrong way makes you a Nazi.

“A curious example this week was Sadiq Khan posturing against the evils of Donald Trump. In 2016, the mayor told Londoners that the threat of terrorism is ‘part and parcel of living in a big city’. Apparently visits by the leader of the free world are not. The same commentators who delight in Sadiq Khan’s praise for Trump’s political opponents complain when the US president endorses Boris Johnson for Tory leader. An endorsement, by the way, which needn’t be taken too seriously, given that it’s based on the fact that Boris is the only contender Trump has ever heard of. At least he has that in common with the majority of the British public.

“The double standards of an increasingly radical fringe are becoming too many to list and too mundane to ridicule. There is something deeply rotten at the heart of the metropolitan elite, a kind of ingrained superiority, a deep-seated belief that no matter what people say, the liberal show must go on.

“The one thing I have always loved about this country – and one of the many reasons I’ve made my home here – is the British sense of fair play. The idea that win, lose or draw, both sides can walk off the pitch with their dignity preserved and their mutual respect enhanced.

“Which is why it pains me to see so many in the Remain camp argue that Brexit is purely the result of cheating and foreign interference. ‘It was the Russians – they’re responsible for Brexit!’ As a Russian, let me tell you – if we were responsible for Brexit, Brexit would be done. We’d be out, and we’d have taken a chunk of France with us.

“The vote in 2016 was the product of decades of brewing discontent. One of the biggest drivers of the decision to leave was the complete unwillingness of the political class to acknowledge people’s concerns about the pace and scale of immigration. Instead, half of the country was smeared as thick, bigoted racists in order to shut them up.

“As a comedian, I have travelled the length and breadth of this country. I have lived as far north as Edinburgh and as far south as Hastings. I can say unequivocally: there are very few places in the world I’d rather be an immigrant.

“When I came here in 1995, just three per cent of the British public thought immigration was a major issue. Why? Because it wasn’t a major issue. But by the peak of the Blair immigration boom, during which time more people came to this country than had come from 1066 to 1950, almost 50 per cent of the British public thought immigration was a major issue. Why? Because it was.

“Ignoring people doesn’t work. Democracy is not about elections and referendums. Democracy is when the people who lose those elections and referendums accept the outcome. If we try to sabotage the 2016 result we will end up with a harder Brexit than anyone, including many Leavers, originally wanted. Worse still, if we succeed in sabotaging Brexit, the impact of destroying people’s faith in democracy will reverberate for generations”.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | June 10, 2019

The Shame Of Theresa May’s BBC Over 75s’ Licence Sellout

Theresa May

has urged the BBC to rethink its plan to scrap free TV licences for most over-75s, as it announced that three million pensioners would no longer be eligible for the concession. Yet she has known this was coming for four years!

The Prime Minister was “very disappointed” by the decision, a spokesperson said, after the BBC revealed eligibility for free licences will be means-tested from June next year, leaving them only available to those who qualify for pension credit.

Around 1.5 million of the 4.45 million households currently receiving free licences will be eligible.

The corporation said maintaining the universal scheme would cost £745 million a year and necessitate the closure of BBC Two, BBC Four, the BBC News channel, Radio 5 Live and BBC Scotland, plus local radio stations and other services. The new scheme will cost £250 million per year.

The announcement triggered a major clash with the government, which passed responsibility for the scheme on to the BBC as part of a deal negotiated four years ago. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said “We are very disappointed with this decision. We have been clear that we expected the BBC to continue this concession.

“People across the country value television as a way to stay connected and we want the BBC to look again at ways to support older people. Taxpayers want to see the BBC using its substantial licence fee income in an appropriate way to ensure it delivers for UK audiences, which includes showing restraint on salaries for senior staff”.

We’ve been ratted on, it’s May hitting pensioners while the profligate BBC pays outrageous salaries for so called “stars”. The BBC should now be sold off to a broadcaster that can run it like ITV. 

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | June 9, 2019

Are Some Votes Worthless?

From Nick Boles MP

@NickBoles who writes “Most of the people supporting a No Deal Brexit are comfortable home owners who have paid off their mortgages and secure pensions. They cannot be allowed to inflict their ideological fantasy on working people with bills to pay”. 

It may not have penetrated Boles’ brain yet, that he was elected as an MP by the same comfortable home owners without mortgages and receiving secure pensions, and also by some working people with bills to pay. 

Could the village that’s lost its idiot MP kindly take him back home, he needs care and attention. His “ideological fantasy” was contained in a Tory manifesto that promised to honour the 2016 EU Referendum. He was once a “skills minister” and fought a “war on the green belt”. He failed both jobs!

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | June 7, 2019

Proposed Housing Development At Long Lane Aughton Pub

A resident of Long Lane Aughton writes of the plans by Marston Breweries

to build 10 houses at the rear of the Dog and Gun Public House. WLBC Planning application 2019/0516/FUL refers and can be viewed using the below link which gives you access to 36 documents including the application form, plans/layouts/pictures of the types of houses.

https://pa.westlancs.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=PRWXVQRHGSU00

Having viewed the documents he makes the following comments: that in essence the building of 10 ‘windfall’ site homes is a positive factor as it reduces the total number of dwellings required to be built on other sites, yet to be designated. That the planning application shows that the 10 houses are listed as market value homes. My understanding rightly or wrongly is that plots/developments of 10 houses or more must contain an ‘affordable housing’ element, which this one does not.

That the style/type of 8 of the 10 houses are town houses consisting of 2 + 1/2 (two and a half) stories. This height/style of dwelling would be the first in this area and is not in keeping with surrounding properties. It does not bode well if this ‘high density’ design is approved as it may, hopefully not and only in many years from now, be a blue print style for the ‘high density’ homes planned by Redrow on the Parrs Lane site backing onto Long Lane properties. That there are 20 car parking spaces shown on the proposed development, 20 more cars using the access alongside the pub directly onto Long Lane, adding to only what can be described as sometimes dangerous and chaotic conditions around the Long Lane/Parrs Lane junction.

That if the 10 houses are built, there will presumably be children living in some of the homes. Is it right/acceptable /safe for them to access their homes across a licensed premises car park? That the existing access from the pub car park onto Scarth Hill Lane is not included in this application albeit I believe it is land still owned by the brewery.

That the car parking capacity for pub customers would be reduced to 15 spaces, enough? That the planning application does not include the bowling green and there will still be some limited capacity for bowlers to park on the grassed area adjacent to the green.

Our resident contacted WLBC Planning Department yesterday 6 June and spoke to Stephen Benge, a Senior Planning Officer with whom he has spoken on numerous occasions over the years.

“I outlined my concerns relating to my points 2 – 5 listed above. Mr Benge agreed that they were valid concerns and would ‘ flag up’ point 2 to the relevant planning officer. He told me that any comments/representations/objections relating to this application (2019/0516/FUL) must be submitted to WLBC no later than 21 June”.

“So there we are. Some information for you to consider! It is my intention to submit my concerns as an individual concerned resident of Long Lane. You may wish to submit your own personal representations”.

Our resident also notes that this application has been “called in” by Cllr Dowling, Labour Ward Councillor for Ormskirk Knowsley Ward, so he has matters to raise at the relevant Planning Committee meeting, which are “To consider the size and scale of development and impact on highways and safety”.

Also, Mr Benge told him that he anticipated the ‘revised’ preferred options paper would be published later this year, nearer to Christmas.

Local residents of “Wacky Races Long Lane”

might find it useful to read the Transport Statement contained in the submission!

 

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | June 7, 2019

Interesting Case?

The High Court

has thrown out an attempt to prosecute MP Boris Johnson over claims he lied during the 2016 referendum campaign by saying the UK gave the EU £350m a week.

The Tory leadership candidate challenged a summons for him to attend court on three claims of misconduct in public office. His lawyers said he denied acting improperly or dishonestly.

Campaigner Marcus Ball launched the private prosecution. This happened after he crowdfunded more than £300,000 for the case. Mr Johnson, a former Foreign Secretary, was handed a summons to attend Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 29 May.

But at a High Court hearing in London, Lady Justice Rafferty and Mr Justice Supperstone overturned this decision. Addressing Mr Johnson’s barrister, Adrian Darbishire QC, Lady Justice Rafferty

said “We are persuaded, Mr Darbishire, so you succeed, and the relief that we grant is the quashing of the summonses”.

The Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP’s legal team argued that the offence of misconduct in public office was about the secret abuse of power and there was nothing secret about Mr Johnson’s claim, which they said had been challenged during the campaign.

Simple enough, now what happens to the £300,000 donated, foolishly perhaps, to prosecute Mr Johnson? Costs follow the case, does Mr Johnson receive his defence costs?

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | June 6, 2019

The Quadrupling Of Crime In Aughton

Is crime increasing in your area?

In April 2019 we reported the quadrupling of crime in Aughton. We suggest that single figure criminal activity is a thing of the past. From 7 reported crimes in December 2018 it is double figures month on month, now including those reported in April, seen below as minuted at the APC.

“11092 CHAIRMAN/VICE-CHAIRMAN/PARISH CLERK’S APRIL MEETING WITH THE LOCAL POLICE – a brief report was given on the meeting held 5 April 2019. There had been 23 reported crimes since the last meeting including: 4 domestic type incidents; 9 burglary residential (Beech Road (3), Standhouse Lane, Prescot Road (2), Norris House Drive, Sefton Gardens, Springfield Road); 3 cases of Theft (Steak House); 2 malicious communication; 2 theft incidents (Nursing Home, Convenience Store); 2 theft of a motor vehicle (Long Lane, Shepherds Lane); 1 assault (Scarth Hill Lane). Additional information in respect of the number of incidents dealt with other than reported crimes – there had been 80 incidents in Aughton. An increase in antisocial behaviour incidents had been reported”.

And, to remind readers, we are paying Lancashire Police Authority 2019/20 +13.52%. What for?

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | June 6, 2019

Burscough Neighbourhood Plan

Residents of Burscough know of the four year process of preparing a Neighbourhood Plan for the village by its Parish Council.

It will be confirmed by a village referendum in July. It contains a vision, objectives, and policies covering 2019 to 2027. It means that the CIL will increase from 15% to 25% per dwelling for the benefit of the parish rather than WLBC.

By contrast, Aughton Parish Council remains moribund, a lesson in waning interest. As we wrote in our Old Cock and Bull report on 1 April 2019, the Tory led APC in 2014 also controlled the borough, and prayed for its eternal life. But also in 2014, residents of Aughton were agitating for a Neighbourhood Plan. They received short shrift despite some months of pressure.


But now we move on to read the “Aughton Parish Council minutes of February 2019” meeting. “The Chairman (Cllr Graham Jones) posed the question ‘Should Aughton Parish Council lead on a Neighbourhood Plan?’ – this item would be included on the Agenda of the Annual Parish Assembly 2019 (a meeting for the electors of the Parish)”.

We repeat the history of the APC wasted years below. 

APC minutes 13 JANUARY 2014 10199 NEIGHBOURHOOD PLANNING – after discussion, it was AGREED to set up a Working Group to include the Chairman, Vice-Chairman and 2 other councillors to consider the item further and report back to the full council at a future meeting.

APC minutes 10 FEBRUARY 2014 Mr Colin Atkinson, Chairman of ARG 2012, asked if the Working Group (WG) had met yet in respect of Neighbourhood Planning. The Chairman Cllr Graham Jones said the WG meeting had not been held due to members’ other commitments but a meeting was planned over the coming months when more information was available.

APC minutes 10 MARCH 2014 Mr Atkinson of Long Lane asked if there had been any progress in the setting up of a PC working group in respect of Neighbourhood Planning. The Chairman Cllr Graham Jones said the matter was progressing slowly with the gathering of information from WLBC, CPRE, etc. It was clear that Neighbourhood Planning could not conflict with the adopted Local Plan Policies, could not be used to prevent development that is included in the Local Plan and could promote more development than is set out in the Local Plan. The compilation of a Neighbourhood Plan would involve a great deal of time and effort. The item would be returned to the Agenda once a recommendation from the Working Group had been received.

APC minutes14 APRIL 2014 Mr Colin Atkinson of ARG 2012 raised the issue of the Parish Council Working Group to consider Neighbourhood Planning and the proposed review of the Aughton Parish Plan; the publication of an ‘In Touch’ leaflet which was being distributed around the Parish; and gave his views on the West Lancashire Local Plan Annual Monitoring Report 2013. The Chairman (Vice Chairman Dudley Walne) advised that the PC Working Group held its first meeting in April. As previously notified, recommendations on all matters discussed by the Working Group would be returned to the Agenda once finalised. On the ‘In Touch’ leaflet, Aughton Parish Council had nothing to do with the content or production of this leaflet and this concluded the matter.

APC minutes 9 JUNE 2014 10288 NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN, AUGHTON’S PARISH PLAN 2010, COMMUNICATION – the Chairman Dudley Walne (Vice-Chairman) gave the Working Group’s recommendations on all three matters: a) Neighbourhood Plan (NP) – consideration had been given to the aims, process and costs – the main aim of a NP was to expand and develop the Parish; a NP should not conflict with the strategic policies in the adopted Local Plan or be used to prevent development that was included in the Local Plan. Recommendation – as there was a robust adopted West Lancashire Local Plan in place, the Working Group could see no benefits in preparing a NP.

What can’t speak can’t lie, and what goes around comes around? In Aughton, unlike Burscough, nothing extra will come around, because “the Working Group could see no benefits in preparing a NP”.

Posted by: westlancashirerecord | June 6, 2019

Veterans On D-Day

The pride of our nation in veterans

 

and in two great servants 

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