Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Clegg attacked by Daily mail as illiberal

The Daily Mail just don't get it do they?
As I read the editorial comment (pictured) I was torn as to whether they were genuinely missing Clegg's point or being deliberately obtuse.

In Nick Clegg's statement to the press yesterday he stated that the party would carry out it's two separate enquiries into the Rennard case but they would not be updating the press/Self appointed detectives on every bit of speculation that developed.

Yes there should be freedom of the press but there is also due process and Lord Rennard, like every other human being should remain innocent until proven guilty and this can only happen during inquests.

Have they forgotten the case of Christopher Jefferies, the landlord who was interviewed by the police following Joanna Yeats? He was tried by media and found guilty before the Police enquiry was even finished, yet he was innocent.

The same was true of Barry George, who was found guilty for nothing short of being a weirdo, Before the court case was begun.

What Clegg is trying to do is give Lord Rennard s fair trial. The party will release information that is concrete rather than every piece of supposition, speculation, rumour and gossip. Freedom to a fair trial outweighs the press' will to print every detail.

In the case of Mark Oaten, it was of no one's interest what he got up to in his own personal private life. The fact that he was cheating on his wife with a male prostitute did not impact on his role as MP and the only reason it was "in the public interest" is because he was running for libdem leadership. As Mark said in 2009:

Journalists... had my story for three years I think, but hung on to it and never did anything with it. They could have made that public interest argument at any point in the three years. I had always been a Member of Parliament, but they waited until it could sell most newspapers, at the point at which I became well-known and at my most famous.

It was the press that were wrong to print the story as it is hardly holding someone to account with the public by violating his liberty. I was his constituent at the time and honestly it made no impact on me what so ever.

In the case of Expenses and Cyril Smith, yes the Press were right to whistleblow but there are differences. Smith was dead and there was no case to answer or trial of the individual. With expenses it was a Parliament wide issue and also fairly clear cut - either you added your duck house to your expenses or you didn't. The evidence was all in black and white.

As for Huhne, wasn't that report aired by Ms Pryce and her friend Constance Briscoe who "cooked up" the story rather than a press investigation?

I think the Mail have ignored some pretty clear cut liberalism themselves just to get at Clegg. After all the liberal democrats has no more problems than any other party; homophobia in UKIP, dodgy tax evading donors for the Conservatives and Harriet's driving points, brawling MPs and some interesting expense claims for Labour.

I agree that there should not be a muzzle on the press, except where personal privacy and liberty is being invaded. In this case however the release of speculation, rumour and gossip could skew an investigation into some pretty serious charges. Facts will be reported when they are established rather than casting wild speculation.



Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Nick Clegg: Fallen hero

The majority of the people I would consider my heroes are long dead.

Oberst Werner Moelders who overcame chronic air sickness to become one of the greatest fighter pilots and tacticians of the Second World War died in an air crash in 1941. A man who loved his country and disliked the political party in charge but was loved by his men.

General Lord Charles Cornwallis the man who surrendered Yorktown and conquered much of India died at the beginning of the Nineteenth century.

Finally, Admiral Natasi Daala, the flame haired Imperial admiral who fought the sexist Imperial navy's command structure and rose to full Admiral and eventually head of state is fictional to begin with.

My only living heroes have been my Grandfather, who sadly passed some six years ago and Nick Clegg.

Nick has symbolised everything I wanted to get into politics for. His drive for change, an open honesty, fairness and what has come to be known as "The new politics."

I have always been proud to say; I agree with Nick.

I admit, there have been set backs and I have questioned my loyalty - as every good foot soldier should do from time to time. Tuition fees was the first major hurdle, I really struggled with that one. Then watching some of the Conservative cuts come through and the harm it has done to elements of society like the disabled, the poor locally who now have to pay council tax for the first time, the ex servicemen, the elderly...

All I could do was keep telling myself that the party have been doing good within the Coalition. We have too, cutting income tax, helping those with dementia, trying to tax the richer harder, electoral reform a lot of what we, as a party, said we would do has been done.

I accepted the bad as part of being in Coalition. For the victories you had to look to the top. Nick has worked hard to get what we're got and he has taken a lot of flak from all sides and I've defended his conduct repeatedly and consistently on this.

This Rennard situation though has shaken me yet again.

First Nick knew nothing, then he knew something but he was assured it was all dealt with.

It just seems like an odd contradiction and with the bad press (which came at a really pivotal time for the party with the last days of the bi-election) and the usual sneers at work about Clegg the liar and I, like many activists are caught in the middle.

What Lord Rennard has been accused of is wrong and the party are acting (some five years late) in the proper manner. I agree with Tim Farron that the party screwed up and this should have been dealt with properly back when they heard the rumours. I also agree with Nick that a running commentary in the media is wrong too and the party should not be reporting every sordid detail for examination in the press - after all Lord Rennard is innocent until proven guilty and the media does have a record of acting as judge & jury on these cases.

I'm pleased that there is now swift action, I am pleased that there will be change and the party needs to protect the victims and stop this happening again.

The question will still hang though - how much did Nick know? Was there a cover up? Will we ever find out? My wife said to me last night;

I don't know why you are surprised - he is a politician after all and politicians have to lie to save their own arses.

But it is worse than that, he's human and humans make mistakes, make bad decisions and heroes are always elevated above hero level.

The majority of my heroes are dead, as history has already declared on their records - they can no longer disappoint you and prove that they are humans and fallible and maybe that is why I am so disappointed by it all.

 I still agree with Nick but I have to remember that he is one of us and a politician and that he can fall into the same traps as all the others.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Clegg on Rennard 24-2-13

Nick Clegg's statement yesterday concerning the Rennard allegations:


The allegations made on Channel 4 concerning Lord Rennard last Thursday were extremely serious and distressing to the women involved. It is critical they are investigated thoroughly and dealt with properly and they will be.

But I would like to make one thing crystal clear. I did not know about these allegations until Channel 4 informed the party of them shortly before they were broadcast. I have today spoken to one of the women in the broadcast who I respect and admire and who confirmed that she had never raised the issue with me.
I am angry and outraged at the suggestion that I would not have acted if these allegations had been put to me. Indeed, when indirect and non-specific concerns about Chris Rennard’s conduct reached my office in 2008, we acted to deal with them.

My Chief of Staff at the time, Danny Alexander, put these concerns to Chris Rennard and warned him that any such behaviour was wholly unacceptable. Chris Rennard categorically denied that he had behaved inappropriately and he continues to do so. He subsequently resigned as Chief Executive on health grounds.
As my office only received concerns indirectly and anonymously, as those involved understandably wanted to maintain their privacy, there was a limit to how we could take this matter forward following Chris Rennard’s resignation. It is incorrect to state that there was any other separate inquiry by my office or anybody in it.

I recognise from the Channel 4 broadcast that there are legitimate concerns that issues raised with the party were not handled as well as they should have been. In particular the suggestion that a complaint was made but was not dealt with as a formal complaint. I am therefore determined that we carry out a thorough investigation into our procedures and how we applied them at the time to ensure we have a full and clear picture of what happened and the lessons that we need to learn. This review will be independently chaired.
A separate investigation into the specific allegations about Lord Rennard will take place under our disciplinary procedure. It is essential that this is carried out with due process and for that reason I cannot provide a running commentary on it. But I am absolutely determined that both these investigations will be carried out thoroughly and comprehensively. These investigations may well reveal flawed procedures, and clearly the women concerned feel they were not properly listened to. But I totally reject the insidious suggestion that my office or I are responsible in any way for a deliberate cover up.

The full truth of what happened and what failed to happen and who said what to whom will be revealed by these investigations.

But in the meantime, I will not stand by and allow my party to be subject to a show trial of innuendo, half-truths and slurs. The important thing is that we respect the women who have come forward and do everything to get to the truth. That is what will now happen.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Nazism is based on Populism not on the left and right


    By Christopher Sams Ba (hons) PGC
There are many arguments and discussions about where Nazism sat on the political spectrum and the age old belief that Fascism and Nazism were the final expression of the Right is being challenged by historians who point to the Socialist policies and the deep involvement in the state as an expression of the left akin to Stalin’s regime in Russia. Indeed the article by Dr John Ray (here) that I was sent tries to link the two in quite a general way but his arguments can be quite flawed.

Nazism was reactionary rather than a thought out ideology and this was its’ great strength and its’ undoing. It reacted to Versailles, it reacted to the 1929 crash, it reacted to economic growth and it reacted to the calls of total war albeit two years too late. It reacted with whatever means were available to it and it reacted against Communism and the conventional political system controlled by moderate Conservatives, the very people that were perceived to have lost Germany the Great War.
Dr Ray uses this quote from Engels to illustrate that Hitler drew on ideals from the left concerning the rise of the German Empire and the all conquering Teutonic hand:
True, it is a fixed idea with the French that the Rhine is their property, but to this arrogant demand the only reply worthy of the German nation is Arndt’s: “Give back Alsace and Lorraine” For I am of the opinion, perhaps in contrast to many whose standpoint I share in other respects, that the re-conquest of the German speaking left bank of the Rhine is a matter of national honour, and that the Germanisation of a disloyal Holland and of Belgium is a political necessity for us. Shall we let the German Nationality be completely suppressed in these countries while the Slavs are rising ever more powerfully in the East?

It does indeed sound like a Nazi style ideal and is argued to show that Hitler had sympathies with the left. This is of course nonsensical as the author fails to remember that Engels was a German, and the German national pride over the territories of Alsace and Lorraine demanded their return. Germany was a late player on the international scene and as such had not been really involved in the great land grabs for Africa or the Pacific territories and only managed to grab the parts Britain hadn’t been to interested in or in the case of the Caroline islands, bought them from Spain in the aftermath of the American Spanish war. Alsace-Lorraine had been a heavily disputed area of land for generations with both German and French nations laying heavy claims onto it. It is not an alien concept for Engels, as a proud German and Hitler, a German Nationalist politician of Austrian decent, to agree that these territories should be returned to the Vaterland and that fresh territorial gains in Holland and Belgium should be sought. I am sure that you could not label Kaiser Wilhelm II nor any of the officers of the German General staff like Von Moltke a Communist either, yet territorial gains from weaker European nations and the gaining of a Germanic Empire in continental Europe was clearly one of their aims.
 The idea of the rising power of Russia was also not an alien ideal across the whole of Europe. In the wake of the Napoleonic wars many Western nations became concerned by the Russian military might, especially Great Britain who saw her as the next great competitor to her power. The advance of the Czar’s armies and the ease with which he dealt with Napoleon’s grand armies concerned British political thinkers for a whole century. The worry that the Russians could march through the German states or annexe the Balkans and finally gain a warm water port dominated military thought and planning and culminated in the Crimean war. Although an impasse was reached there was always a watchful eye on the Eastern borders of Europe lest the Russian Bear mobilise its armies. Being aware of this does not tie one to any ism in particular; it was just an on going fact within Political and military thought throughout the Nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Dr Ray’s article then moves to focus on Anti-Semitism as a root of all Nazi ideals and again quotes Marx:

Let us consider the actual, worldly Jew – not the Sabbath Jew, as Bauer does, but the everyday Jew. Let us not look for the secret of the Jew in his religion, but let us look for the secret of his religion in the real Jew. What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest. What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly god? Money. Very well then! Emancipation from huckstering and money, consequently from practical, real Jewry, would be self-emancipation of our time… we recognize in Jewry, therefore a general present-time-orientated anti social element, an element which through historical development – to which in this harmful respect the Jews have zealously contributed – has been brought to its present high level, at which it must necessarily dissolve itself. In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Jewry.
Anti-Semitism was also not a wholly Nazi ideal, true it is what it will be remembered for and the Holocaust against all Untermenschen is a blight on Mankind’s collective history as well as Germany’s but it was a pan European ideal. Countries like Latvia, Lithuania even western nations like France and Holland showed support and willingness within elements of the population to rid themselves of “The hated Jew.” The advancing German military found to the Einsatzgruppen’s joy, that towns had murdered the Jewish populations as they reached the city limits or were willing participants in the hunting down and denouncements. Throughout the nineteenth century Anti-Semitism had been very vivid. Ghettos, labels, curtailing of political and individual freedoms – all hall marks of a later displayed by Nazi planners and the Totenkopfverbunde SS. Despite the centuries of the pan-European anti-Semitism it reached fertile ears within Germany from many political backgrounds in the post World War One era because of the perceived betrayal of the Jews. Joseph Chamberlain had stated that British policy was to create Zion for the Jews in Palestine should they win the war and it was perceived that the German Jews stopped giving their support to Germany as a way to bring about British victory. Also, with the collapse of the German economy and industry it appeared that German Jews had done quite well out of the war and ultimately prospered at everyone else’s misery thus reigniting an age old hatred.
 
Marx and Hitler would have indeed seen eye to eye over the prominence of the Jewish international banks controlled by families like the Rothschild’s and as an anti-capitalist in a time where Industrialist and international capitalists were causing misery to millions of workers across Europe it would have appeared symptomatic of a wider problem. For Hitler and the Nazis it was about the International threat of Jewry and their ultimate plan of world domination and self preservation. The Nazis argued that a German Jew was firstly a Jew and their loyalty was not to the state, which they believed the Jews had betrayed during World War One and this was also crudely coupled to the idea of a Jewish conspiracy and the label of “Profiteers”.
To truly understand the ideas of Nazism you must first look at the ground into which the seed was sewn. Germany had completely collapsed at the end of the First World War, the economy lay in ruins, the people were starving in the grip of the Allied blockade and the German armed forces, who were still very much a capable force in the field and had not suffered the ignominious defeats they would in the Second World War, were forced to surrender with embarrassingly harsh terms meted out at Versailles. The German people did not feel that Germany alone was to blame for starting of war. There were reactionary politics everywhere as working class people blamed the old Conservative elites for dragging Germany into this depression and darkness. The Kaiser abdicated and former nobles lost lands and titles as it was all brought down. Into this mess a fledging workers party was formed – the National socialist workers party, and eventually it was noticed by the German Military Intelligence which was trying to avert overt Communist and Socialist groups. A young Corporal who held the Iron Cross for bravery, Adolf Hitler, was assigned to monitor them. Hitler, like many German servicemen was disillusioned by the state of modern Germany and the betrayal of the fighting forces by the politicians and industrialists. Change was needed to the political and social spectrums. Germany, unlike a pre-war Britain which had, under the Liberal Governments, brought in social reform and the basis of Welfare where as Germany had lagged behind and this had attracted a lot of will for change which was desperately needed. Socialist policies, which were no different to the British Labour party in this period, were exceptionally popular amongst Germans and indeed the working classes across Europe who had to deal with the mess and death caused by Empire building Conservatives, Industrialists and Monarchists and the Liberals who had been the opposition had failed to stop this.
Hitler did not see the Nazis as either Right or Left though and stated in Mein Kampf that:

Today our left-wing politicians in particular are constantly insisting that their craven-hearted and obsequious foreign policy necessarily result from the disarmament of Germany, where as the truth is that this is the policy of traitors […] But the politicians of the Right deserve exactly the same reproach. It was through their miserable cowardice that those ruffians of Jews who came into power in 1918 were able to rob the nation of its arms.
He went on to say that the party was not indeed exclusive to any one faction or class and instead drew from all of them;
From the camp of Bourgeois tradition it takes National resolve, and from the materialism of the Marxist dogma, living, creative socialism.
Hitler redefined socialism so that it was about the social collective, in this case Germany and the German Volk and that the Nazis were basically about making the German equal to every other German citizen and what was best for German citizens. He is quoted, on more than one occasion as saying;
Every hour, of every day you must think of Germany and the German Volk.
Volk is a difficult word to define, loosely it translates as People but it means more than that, it is like the nationality and almost German race as a collective, hence Volkswagen – the car for the people, affordably produced and sold to the people, or the Volksjager fighter jet, built by the people for the people’s benefit and flown by the people rather than by the Luftwaffe.
 Undoubtedly, there were many socialist and left wing ideas used by the Nazis whilst in power. Massive state sponsored mobilisation of workers, the Org-Todt, social programs for workers. There were also right-wing moves as well, such as the abolition of Trade unions, the overtly nationalistic fervour, the Volkisch racial supremacy and belief in uniting all of the German peoples under the one German flag as well as maintaining personal property and big business. There were no collective farms or factories run by Soviets or advised by Commissars in Germany as there were in Russia, it was not until defeat was near that the State took an active role in monitoring and directing production. Big Companies, such as Krupps, Messerschmitt and Porsche were not nationalised, rather they were allowed to carry on business as before which ultimately caused problems during the war as Messerschmitt wasted many resources developing a Four-engine bomber when the project was officially cancelled by the RLM and Feldmarschall Milch. Indeed the Nazi party itself was split between Conservatives under Goring and Himmler and Socialists like Goebbels and the  Strassers who wanted to bring down the capitalist systems and urged strikes.
The National Socialist party had evolved over time as well. In 1918 they were a group of malcontent social reactionaries who wanted change but also a return to the 1914 spirit of Imperial-Military Germany. By 1926 Hitler had to call the Bamberg conference to pull all the groups together and to come up with a final plan of what the party stood for. He argued that the party was based on the Leader and their will and not on a party program. Twenty-five points were agreed and formed the basis of the party’s policy:

1.       One Germany for all Germans.

2.       Equal rights for all German people

3.       All land and territory to be returned for lebensraum

4.       Only a member of the German Race can be a citizen (So Jew/Gypsies etc. are ruled out as citizens.

5.       If you aren’t a citizen, you are a guest in this country and live under legislation for foreigners.

6.       Citizens are the only ones who can determine law and vote.

7.       The State must be changed to allow every citizen a livelihood and if that is not possible then the guests must be asked to leave to make way for the German people.

8.       Immigration into Germany is to be stopped. All those who have arrived since 1914 are to leave immediately.

9.       All citizens have equal rights and obligations.

10.   Every citizen is to work both spiritually and physically

11.   Abolition of unearned incomes and the breaking of debt slavery.

12.   Confiscation of War profits for the state.

13.   Nationalisation of associated businesses

14.   Division of profits of all heavy industry

15.   Expansion of old age welfare.

16.   Healthy Middle class must be encouraged to grow.

17.   Land reform with private lands passing to the public and abolition of taxes on land.

18.   Struggle against those whose activity is injurious to the General interest such as profiteers.

19.   Creation of a Common German Law

20.   State to reconstruct the education program and to give fairer access to the poorer elements for gifted children to university.

21.   Forming a National health, ending child labour, encourage national sports and PE

22.   Abolition of Mercenary troops and form a national army.

23.   Legal opposition to the lies printed in the press and that all members of the press are Citizens.

24.   Religious freedom for all citizens.

25.   A powerful central Reich parliament to bring these reforms into being.
As you can see there are as many right wing policies to do with race and nation mixed with Socialist ideals and changes to make Germany fairer and more open with favour for the working lower and middle classes but there are no real Marxist ideals here. Indeed, as I have already illustrated, nationalisation and the return of war profits did not happen. Modern Political thinkers would describe much of the Nazis welfare and social reform as “Progressive” rather than Socialist as the Nazis wanted those who had come off worst in society, namely the working and middle classes, to be compensated and those who were responsible, the Upper classes, to pay.
Wehrmacht troops parading in Czechoslavkia after absorbtion
As time went by the NSDAP became less radical, even sacrificing its radical street fighters, the SA so as to be taken more seriously by voters. Conservatives like Von Ribbentrop were attracted to this group of radicals who wanted to Modernise Germany but still keep the old ideals of the Pre-war Second Reich.
The key value of Nazism was fighting. When you read Nazi slogans and political papers they are always waging war upon something. War on poverty, war on economic depression, Guns before butter etc. The other factor was evolution and the mightiest vanquishing the weak. This moulded themselves into the Nazi approach to policy and Government. If an existing party or department did not work then create one that would. If the approach to the problem was not working then try something else. The other idea was that Competition was the key to forcing through the best results from departments; this is why there were Nazi sections of state competing with existing ones. For example the Ribbentrop Bureau headed by Joachim Von Ribbentrop versus the German Foreign office headed by Von Neurath. Then there was Military intelligence (Abwehr) headed by Admiral Canarais versus the SS-SD section under Schellenberg and then another proposed by Ribbentrop through the Foreign office! The idea that they would compete to provide better results to problems and court the Fuhrer’s favour only succeeded in wasting time and resources. Hitler was also willing to follow Stalin’s path and drag the state to where he wanted it. The Four Year plan, designed to modernise Germany and sort out the economic mess caused by reparations and the 1929 crash. Seeing the Soviet Five year plan as a blue print to modernise and Communise Russia as a blue print and as a threat, the Nazi Government took immediate steps and dictated where the state MUST be by 1940. Public works, removal of non-citizens to free up space for Germans and the massive industrialisation and mobilisation of Military production including ship building schemes in violation of the London treaty, aircraft manufacture against the Treaty of Versailles which saw a force of some three thousand aircraft built and combat ready by the summer of 1940 and the creation of armoured spear heads. There were also defensive programs like the Siegfried line built employing many workers, both skilled and unskilled by the state within the confines of the Org-Todt. At no point were the companies nationalised only directed and given a completely free hand and whatever resources they needed to achieve the goals. Like everything else Nazi, it was a mish-mash of lots of ideas to reach a goal rather than one political dogma.

This mixing of ideas is probably what gave it such a broad scope of acceptance by Germans from all walks of life. There was something for everyone and the party played to the popular whims and gave the people what they want. My Grandfather, a wide-eyed school boy on an exchange program to pre-war Germany was over awed by how clean the streets were, with no graffiti, no homeless people, no litter and everyone going to work. Of course he wouldn't have seen the undesirables being rounded up and taken to Dachau. Many Germans, before the Gestapo really grew in powers, were happy with the Government that solved their ills and was just the right mix of progressive socialism and older values of Conservativism.
Nazism is a strange example of a Political force with no real spot on the spectrum. Its’ policies, although full of xenophobic and racially Nationalistic bent on waging war also convoluted with progressive left wing policies that were meant to benefit the working classes. Hitler’s party was about solving problems, both perceived and actual, through action and whatever means were necessary. Hitler was not an intellectual, Mein Kampf is not a politically ground breaking manuscript like Mills or Marx, rather a collection of ideas and an attempt to cobble together a train of thought for what the author thought would solve Germany’s problems with his understanding and reactions to Geography, eugenics, race, religion, politics and military matters. Nazism died out for a reason and that was not because of the Soviet flag fluttering from the mast on the Reichstag. It died because as a system it was too chaotic and reactionary for its own good and although it achieved goals in modernising Germany and her economy it has been postulated that had the Nazi regime conquered all of its enemies be they martial or political it would have imploded with no purpose.

Letter from the leader: Five days for Eastleigh

Dear Chris,

Five days. That is all we have got left to make sure the people of Eastleigh send Mike Thornton to Westminster as their new MP. Five days to make a difference.

I went back to Eastleigh this week. And each time I visit, I am overwhelmed by the number of volunteers, from all over the country, who are giving up their spare time to come and support our excellent candidate Mike. Our HQ is buzzing with people and among the army of activists you can spot Vince, Shirley, Simon, Kirsty, Tim and Ed and many more.

On Tuesday Mike Thornton and I visited the Rose Bowl cricket ground where, by bringing international matches to the venue, the Lib Dem Council is helping create 500 new jobs and bring millions of pounds of investment into the local economy.

It's one of the many examples where the Lib Dems on the Council and the Lib Dems in Government are making a difference, creating a stronger economy and a fairer society.

It is a truly amazing campaign being fought by our team and I would like to thank everyone who has supported it so far. But now is not the time to let up. We know that it's going to be tight and we don't take any vote for granted.

Tax fairness has dominated this campaign. £600 back in people's pockets this April thanks to Liberal Democrats raising the tax-free personal allowance. In Eastleigh, real-terms cuts to council tax every year for the last ten years. And our ongoing battle to deliver a mansion tax to make sure the wealthiest in Britain pay their fair share in these difficult times. Fairness for all on tax, from national government and from local government: that's the message that's cutting through strongly in Eastleigh and around the country.

I will be back in Eastleigh - more than once! - and I really hope I'll see you there. If you can't make it there are lots of other things you can do to help.

Click here now to either
donate or volunteer - it's going to be close between Mike and the Conservative - your help will be crucial.

Five days to make a difference. Five days to make sure the Liberal Democrats' voice in Eastleigh, in Westminster and across the country is heard loudly and clearly.

Best wishes,

nick_light.png

Nick Clegg
Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Council disregard consultation and privitise Care homes

Geoff Juby Spoke out against closure
A year ago I stood out in the cold with Sophie as part of a march to try and save Nelson's court care home here in the Medway towns... Ultimately we failed.

(You can follow the thread of Nelson Court posts here...)

Medway Council have officially sold them off now. Councillor Geoff Juby has released the following press release:

Medway council came under attack last night at the council meeting over its sell off of Nelson Court and Robert Bean Lodge residential homes for dementia sufferers. Cllr Geoff Juby pointed out that all the promises to the staff and the residents and families had been broken and that the consultation process was a costly sham.  Priority was supposed to have been given to a non profit making organisation, and though this criteria was fulfilled by two of the three main bidders the sale was made to a private commercial company based in Dorset.  Cllr Juby said this morning that with meetings held in secret behind closed doors, the whole process had been a complete disgrace and was a stain on Medway Council.  He also adds that the savings the council are hoping to make will eventually become additional costs as the private sector will not cope with the more challenging clients and now there is no fall back position for social services to call on except the more expensive nursing homes.

This is a bad outcome for some of Society's most vulnerable.

As I looked through my old posts I also found the following statement from 3rd March last year:

To not only refuse to allow members of the public to speak or ask questions, but to also refuse to allow another democratically elected councillor to address the committee, is dictatorship of the worst kind.  We are quick to criticise other regimes elsewhere for refusing to listen to the public, but the ruling Tory group have totally ignored the overwhelming public consultation on the matter of our care homes, have gagged their staff and are now gagging other councillors and those members of the public who have come to the meeting.

This whole process seems to be a complete sham. It also seems, as was postulated at the very beginning by various politicos and campaigners - Cllr Jarrett et al. had a plan and they weren't going to deviate from it. Whether this is a fair reflection is open to conjecture.

Local Libdem Councillors (Diana Smith, Geoff Juby and Shelia Kearney) did what they could, as did other opposition Councillors and activists from the Labour Party, Greens and even the Socialist parties. All for nought. The Council didn't want to listen to the people and democracy has been basically shown the middle finger.

Now the decision has been made I just hope that those who are in need of care are taken care of and that the concerns of Cllr Juby, and others are proven unwarranted.

I'd like share a sentiment though; I dread becoming old and infirm in this country and definitely in the Medway towns as our Council just don't seem to care about it's citizens, only the revenue.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Medway obesity trap

mmmm Chicken *drool*
One of the on going issues within the Medway towns is the growing levels of obesity.

Now I have divided lines of thought on this.

Firstly, everyone has the freedom of choice and action. If you wish to gorge yourself on chicken wings until either you wipe out their feathered scourge or your heart explodes then please, be my guest!
If you want to only eat organic fruit and veg that has voluntarily fallen from the tree rather than been picked, please do knock yourself out...

However, the choice is somewhat of a myth and people are railroaded into buying crap.

It is true, I once served in an evil MacEmpire fronted by a creepy clown at a time when the Poundsaver menu first cane into being. You would quake to know how much a cheeseburger actually costs to make and the mark up but it is still a dirt cheap quick and easy snack. The smell of cooking burgers fills our high streets and station concourses catching is at our hungriest - if it isn't them it is those pasty shops!

They smell appetising - you know what doesn't smell appetising? Apples or sandwiches in the sterile supermarket aisles. We are victims of very clever marketing.

Then there are the frozen meals. It works out ultimately cheaper and less time consuming if you buy ready meals with enough E numbers in them to make the ingredients look like Enigma code strands and with "Meat" of unknown origin.

How many people make their own lasagne? Their own pizza? Buy from a butcher?

Time and shopping economically mean that people don't go to butchers and buy joints or chops, they'd rather supermarket things. Indeed the Medway Messenger reported last week that local butcher sales were up because of the horse meat scandal.

The playing field needs to be levelled and the education of families needs knocking up a notch.

Then there is exercise. Who has time? After 13 hour days I just want to trudge home and collapse before the TV or Xbox with the family. My days off are mostly engaged in house work, keeping track of hurricane Sophie and attempting to indulge in my hobbies. I can't afford a gym membership nor really have time. I do walk everywhere though as I cannot justify the expense of public transport which I count as exercise but that is about it.

Companies have got greedy and people lazy. Put in some effort and make a proper meal with fresh veg rather than chips.

Broken by Seether featuring Miss Amy Lee



About a decade ago I was in love with Amy Lee's voice. I still am to a degree, I could easily listen to her until the end of days and when I saw this on MTV I had to go and buy the Seether Album just so I could listen to this again and again.

Her voice, complemented by the orchestral violins contrast with the Seether front man's voice and the guitars but form an amazing duet that culminates into sets you down like a roller coaster ride.

As always... here are the lyrics:


I wanted you to know that I love the way you laugh
I wanna hold you high and steal your pain away
And I keep your photograph, I know it serves me well
  I wanna hold you high and steal your pain
Because I'm broken when I'm lonesome
And I don't feel right when you're gone away
You've gone away, you don't feel me here anymore

The worst is over now and we can breathe again
 I wanna hold you high, you steal my pain away
There's so much left to learn and no one left to fight
I wanna hold you high and steal your pain
Because I'm broken when I'm open
And I don't feel like I am strong enough
Because I'm broken when I'm lonesome
 And I don't feel right when you're gone away

Because I'm broken when I'm open
And I don't feel like I am strong enough
'Cause I'm broken when I'm lonesome
And I don't feel right when you're gone away
You've gone away, you don't feel me here anymore

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Tim Farron: Help us win Eastleigh

A request from Tim Farron for Easteligh:

Hi Chris,
Tomorrow, I’ll be joining our campaign team in Eastleigh for the third time. Anyone who has been on the ground will tell you one thing: this is going to be close.

The polls back it up: the latest official poll in Eastleigh had the gap between ourselves and the Tories at just 1%.

We’re going to need to do everything we can in this final week if we’re going to beat the Tories, and we need you to help.

If you can support our campaign with a small donation today, it will go directly to our campaign for Eastleigh.

We know the Tories have all the money they need, and elections can be won or lost by the smallest of margins.

If you don’t want the Tories to win, support our campaign today.
Thank you,

Tim Farron MP
Liberal Democrat Party President

PS With only a few days to go, it’s important that you don’t delay. Our campaign needs your support now.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Medway Council "Failing to protect Children"

Sorry for the slow write up on this, hectic weekend of elderly care and hospital trip with little Ollie-bob, I only got around to reading Friday's report this morning!

Any way....

So, the Medway Town's safeguarding Child care has been rated as wholly unacceptable by Ofsted (read the report here). Councillor Wickes has apologised, as has the new(ish) Children's Director Barbara Peacock, for failing to... well here's what Cllr Wickes said:

I apologise for our failure to deliver the service our children and young people deserve.

There are many problems with cases being signed off and then being re-referred. According to Jenni Horn & Rebecca Hughes's article in the Medway Messenger (Council is failing to protect children dated 15-2-13) in 2011/2 32% of closed cases had to be re referred and so far this year 46% of cases have been re-referred which is almost twice the national figure of 24%!

One of the big problems is that the initial assessments of cases are not being done thoroughly and they have not been necessarily identifying the risks or problems faced by childrens. I don't want to jump onto a scare mongering band waggon but this is a similar situation that saw the death of Baby P a few years ago and the sacking of Sharon Shoesmith. We can be glad that nothing like this has happened in the Medway towns and hopefully this Ofsted report is the wake up call that was needed to rectify this.

Although it is easy to blame Councillor Wicks for this failing as the portfolio holder there are greater issues at foot as well and we should not be focused fully on this - though I will return to this momentarily.

I am heartened that the Council seem to be taking this exceptionally seriously with the Chief Executive that they are determined to improve and we've had in place an improvement programme for some time. Amongst the bad news budget, which I'll write about at a later time, Councillor Jarrett has found money to pump into this exceptionally lagging department with new systems coming in to release Social workers from paper work and back into field work as well as a new £1.4m electronic recording system. There is also a board of different departments and agencies getting together to advise and improve and assist - all good news.

However this does rather reek of being caught with your trousers down!

Ms Peacock has only been in post for some five months and with a record of improving Children services at Sandwell is definitely the right person to have on board. To some degree we should be looking at the previous head of department Rose Collinson, who was also in post during the Medway Test debacle and left post last summer. There also needs to be questions asked about the appointment of Duncan Clark who was assistant director of Child services on a 6 months contract. He was forced out of a job by Kingston Council because under his stewardship the safeguarding department's inadequate rating. Medway Council hired someone to such a vital post with a record of failure? 

So, what to do about Councillor Wicks? Well, it is a tough one. Opposition parties are calling for his head and although I do not believe all of the blame lies with him, this isn't the first time for a major failing to fall at his door. As I mentioned earlier there is the Medway test debacle which rocked the Medway towns a couple of years ago. He is portrayed as a bit of a well meaning bungler and whether that is the case or not the public have lost confidence in him as portfolio holder. If this was National Government he would have gone or been promoted sideways. It would go a long way in gaining trust with the public if he did stand down or was replaced so as to completely draw a line under the whole affair - new heads, new board and new direction bent on immediate improvement.

He won't go though... after the Medway test problem the Tory cabinet closed ranks and he held onto his position and this will no doubt happen again.

I do believe questions behind the scenes in Gunwarf need to be asked and much soul searching is needed as to how the service got in such a bad way as well as what can be done to rectify it.The Council have failed to protect one of the most vulnerable sections of our society and now real action needs to be taken to;
a) Make sure it doesn't happen again
b) Improve the situation drastically.

As I say, let us just be thankful that no one appears to have fallen to foul of this godawful mess and it was caught in time. Better this way than with a death on it's hands, better still if the Children's services wasn't in a shambles in the first place though!

Monday, 18 February 2013

Nick Clegg on Africa and Eastleigh

Latest from Nick Clegg on Eastleigh and Africa

Dear Chris,

Nick_and_Lynne_in_Mozambique.JPGLike so many of you, I've been to Eastleigh this week. I was there to visit a local college with our excellent candidate Mike Thornton on Monday, and after a brief stop off to see the kids, I headed straight there again this afternoon after landing at Heathrow from Ethiopia!

I've spent the latter part of the week in Mozambique and Ethiopia leading a government delegation as part of this year's UK Presidency of the G8, where we are making 'the three T's' - tax, transparency and trade - the focus of discussion.

This was my first visit to Sub-Saharan Africa as Deputy Prime Minister, but I was lucky enough to have Lynne Featherstone with me to guide me through it all. Lynne's already gained such knowledge of 'her patch' in her short time at the Department for International Development, she has already met her second Ethiopian Prime Minister!
Nick and Lynne at a Mozambique school

In meetings with leaders from both countries I particularly highlighted the need for global action on tax avoidance and evasion. Developing countries have suffered from this for years but the developed world is now waking up too. Big companies can move quicker and easier than national tax laws and they end up playing us off against each other. Only by working together - developed and developing nations - can we make sure that tax is properly collected and spent on the public services we all need, whatever country we live in.


I also took a business delegation with me because the opportunity for British businesses in Africa are enormous. Seven out of the ten fastest growing economies in the world are on the continent and it's part of the job as a Government Minister to make sure they are getting the best access to these booming emerging markets.

And no visit to Africa would be complete without looking at some of the aid projects that could only happen with the generosity of British taxpayers. I wish all of you could have come with Lynne and me to the schools we went to in Mozambique and Ethiopia to see the Girls Education Challenge Fund, which I launched in 2011, helping girls realise their dreams of becoming doctors, lawyers, engineers and accountants. I know that at times when we're asking people to make great sacrifices at home, this can all seem very remote and, to some people who object to money we spend overseas, unfair. But I firmly believe that well-targeted aid is not only the right thing to do, but also in our own self interest as it enhances prosperity and diminishes the forces of violence and extremism.
But all that feels a long way from Eastleigh!

This by-election is critically important to our Party. I am hugely grateful to every one of you that has given up time over the last two weeks to deliver leaflets, canvass, make phone calls, help at the campaign HQ, or in any other way.

Victoria Marsom, our excellent Campaign Manager in Eastleigh, tells me that we're getting more helpers than in any by-election for a decade! So thank you.

But one thing is clear, this will be a very close election between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives. So please do keep on coming to Eastleigh - every leaflet, every call, every penny, really could make the difference.
You can also help us win by donating now. Every pound will go directly to the campaign.
I hope to see many of you there next week!
Best wishes,

Dementia care capped - amazing news

Excellent news came out of Libdem HQ and Westminster last week;

Yesterday the Coalition Government announced an historic reform to the way we pay for long-term care. This package of measures will end unlimited care costs and provide more help for those who are less well-off.

There are two key reforms:

· A cap of £75,000 on the amount that anyone will have to pay for care
· A massive increase in the means test threshold from £23,250 to £123,000. This means that more people with modest wealth will get help from the state with the costs of care. Anyone with assets below this level will get help paying for care.

The current system is a lottery. If you develop cancer, the NHS will pay for your treatment. But if you develop dementia, and need help with washing, dressing and going to the bathroom, you have to pay for your care. One in ten people are hit with catastrophic costs of more than £100,000.

At a time when public finances are so tight, finding the right solution was a huge challenge. But the plan we have set out is fairer, simpler and more sustainable than the current system.

The Liberal Democrats in Government fought hard for this historic achievement. The Labour Government failed to do anything to reform an unfair system during their 13 years in office. Alongside other steps, such as extra protection for people who develop care needs as a child or during their working life, these reforms will help provide dignity and security for all of us in later life.


Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that around Christmas my Grandfather had a serious episode. He was taken home by the Police on Boxing day after being in an exceptionally confused state in Asda. The following day I went to visit and found the gas fire pouring out methane and filling the house as he'd simply forgotten to light it. he had even forgotten how to drink a cup of tea!

Although he seems to have recovered he is still suffering from getting severely muddled. To preserve his dignity I won't go any further, needless to say we, as a family are going to need to look at care options and there I'm not going to lie - cost is a consideration.

We are better off than most as Grandad, a trained engineer made a bucket load of cash in the 1950s restructuring Ghana for independence and retired as a consultant for the waterboard. However many are not so fortunate and in this case my Mum may give up work to be his full time carer, a position that many can't do. Then of course there is the possibility that we might have to resort to a residential care home if my Mum, who is 60 this year, can't cope. With Medway council selling on the specialist Nelson's court we could be facing an astronomical bill well beyond our meagre incomes.

News that the Government are capping fees is a relief for my family and countless others, the priority has to be the elderly relative rather than stressing about money. In the past how many families have suffered in silence or sub standard care due to shortage of funds?

This is really welcome news.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Medway council to legislate against Public spitting

The other night I saw the aftermath of a Twitter debate on this subject and thought I'd weigh in.

Firstly I'd like to say, I agree that spitting in public is a filthy habit and polite society should not indulge or condone it. This was certainly something my education and family drummed out of me at a young age.

Now for the science part...

There is a slight risk of disease being passed this way.

Indeed disease like Flu, colds, streptococcus which can cause any number of diseases like Strep throat, cytomegalovirus, mononucleosis, and tuberculosis.

The odds are really stacked against the microbes though as once the saliva has left the body it begins to drop in temperature, encounters other assorted chemicals which can break them apart etc. and eventually the saliva evaporates leaving the microbes to the elements.
In the unlikely scenario that what is left of an infected culture being ingested it then needs to combat the mouth's natural defences.

There is a chance of contracting a nasty illness but it is infinitely small - like me being crowned king of Austria - it could happen but is extremely unlikely.

The fact is that mononucleosis and cytomegalovirus are diseases passed by kissing. The contact and passing of a larger body temperature culture is sufficient to overwhelm the mouth's defences.

The other diseases I have mentioned are actually primarily airborne as they mainly reside in the throat and lungs, which are a similar habitat. You are far more likely to catch TB from being on the train or tube and getting sprayed by the pathogen by the guy in the next seat rather than from licking the pavement. These illnesses , like the passing of the Norrovirus,are doing well due to overcrowding.

Back to the political side.

I have a problem with how such a measure would be implemented. The state has problems stopping people using their mobiles whilst driving, an act proven to cause fatalities and people letting their dogs fowl the pavement.

How many of us skidded in mess and walked it up the pavement, into houses etc? Fetal matter is a better incubator and habitat for microbes as it is larger (thus can carry more), will stay warmer for longer and does not disperse quickly.

The police are under pressure to combat larger crimes and although I'm surmising that spitting would become a public disorder offence it isn't necessarily worth the paperwork or ensuing costs to prosecute. How many coppers have looked the other way on misdemeanours and fractured bylaws because it wasn't worth their time?

It could be policed in places like Chatham High street but in residential areas? We don't see that many parking wardens let alone police officers out where I live, hence the bad parking on Livingston road.

It is also difficult to catch someone doing it. A dog defecating or a human urinating on the street takes a fair time where spitting is instantaneous so it is difficult to get two witnesses.

Ultimately I'd teach kids public hygiene and make sure they know not to put hands near their mouths, unless washed, after playing in the street and before eating. After all their are filthier things, such as animal and human urine on the pavement that are harder to detect,

I do agree that spitting in public is a filthy habit but I do not believe the level of risk from disease is high enough to warrant legislation. I would rather that the resources were to be ploughed into combatting and prosecuting dog owners who still persistently allow their pets to defecate in our streets.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Dear Dave... A break up letter from Nick

Dear Dave,

This may seem cold hearted to do this on Valentine's day and to do it by letter but it must be done.

We need to talk...

Our marriage has been in trouble for sometime and neither of us have been willing to talk about it. Things needed addressing some two years ago but we fooled ourselves by looking at other things and papered over the cracks.

I remember those heady days in the Rose garden, that summer sun full of promise - we were going to change the world together, make things fairer, greener and more democratic. Things have swiftly gone wrong.

I feel like I'm constantly giving and you taking. I've given income tax back, capped elderly care, pupil premium, scrapped those nasty ID cards but you have changed welfare taking back what I've done, ATOS, welfare reform, cuts cuts cuts... I just feel we no longer share the same interests.

Then of course there's your ex, George. I know you guys were close before the election but... You constantly take his side and I feel you don't listen to me - I gave up Vince for you, why won't you reciprocate?

I know there are many of your friends who snigger at me behind my back and there are some who actively despise me. There are times you can be down right rude about me in front of Ed and his lot to make yourself look big at my expense! It's not on, we're supposed to be partners.

Which brings me to your betrayal over the lords reform - I thought you'd at least abstain, I broke my pledge on tuition, it is the least you could of done.

Any way, I just don't think this can carry on any more. We're clearly different people with different aims in our political lives. We've tried to make it work and I will look back fondly on our time together. I will always remember the good things that we have achieved together rather than dwell on the past. We will always have the rose garden.

I wish you well

LOL

Nick

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Horse meat is David Cameron's mad cow disease.

Queueing for a burger
I saw this heading in one of the tabloids yesterday and couldn't believe the absurdity of it. Indeed therer were many questions at PMQs today on the subject which makes me wonder - aren't there more important things to worry about?

The BSE scare in the 90s was the result of poor standards, and (if I remember the Tomorrow's world report properly) caused by the Sheep disease scrapie which was potentially past to cows.

I freely admit my science on that is almost two decades old though!

There were cases of humans catching and dying from BSE or CJD. British agriculture, which was always proud of British beef, took a serious knock and other countries like Argentina quickly took up the cheap but clean beef exports.

For the government, as well as the general public it was a serious concern. Who knew what an infected cow looked like? How many of us had eaten a bad beef dinner? Anyone could have a potentially deadly brain disease - there was a mild undertone of concern bordering on panic in some people.

Fast forward twenty years...

Horse meat has somehow slipped into minced beef/lamb.

Now, I know this is bad and somewhere down the line someone has either messed up or intentionally lied to supermarkets but let's keep some perspective.

Horse is edible.

I'd never knowingly eat one, short of a starvation/war scenario but the simple fact is that it is not harmful.

Minced meat, burger meat and sausages are made up from the off cuts and waste meat like offal and cartilage anyway but we all still eat them. If we start analysing what our food is would we still eat it?

The simple fact of the matter is that at some point we've all eaten horse instead of cow. It is unfortunate but there it is. No one is going to die from it, there is no medical consequences so let's calm the panic and faux outrage. Let's look at the suppliers and await the investigation and legislate so this doesn't happen again.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Letter from the Leader: Tell them about tax fairness‏

Dear Chris,

Do you remember the Eastleigh by-election of 1994? I expect some of you were there nearly twenty years ago, to see our own David Chidgey returned to Parliament as the area's first ever Liberal Democrat MP. But some of you may have started supporting the party more recently than that. You may never have been to Hampshire or even been to a by-election.

So let me give you the unvarnished truth from my experiences: the Winchester by-election in 1997 where Mark Oaten turned a majority of 2 into a majority of thousands. The Brent by-election in 2004 where Sarah Teather defied all the odds to win one of Labour's safest seats. And the Bromley by-election in 2006 where we came within a whisker of unseating the Conservatives in one of their heartlands.

By-elections are exhilarating, exhausting and exciting in equal measure. When you turn that hard work into victory, nothing beats the feeling. But if you don't win, you can spend weeks wondering if you could have worked just a little bit harder. The only way to protect yourself from that regret is to work as hard as you possibly can to reach the voters and get out our message.

Tomorrow is a
national Action Day for campaigning on tax justice: lower taxes on working people. Higher taxes on mansions.

So I want you to join me and thousands of other Liberal Democrats in getting out on doorsteps, delivering leaflets or simply getting on the phone to voters in your area. It doesn't matter if you're a by-election veteran or if you've never campaigned before. Whether you last delivered a leaflet yesterday or twenty years ago: now is the time to get active.

Why? Because two big things are coming up.

The first: the by-election in Eastleigh on the 28th of this month – less than three weeks away. I was shocked and saddened when I heard Chris Huhne was pleading guilty and stepping down.

Our priority now is to get behind Eastleigh's brilliant campaign team, led by council leader Keith House, and get another Liberal Democrat returned to Parliament.


The second: in April ordinary workers will see the biggest ever rise in the personal allowance, making them £600 a year better off. We're within touching distance of our target of ensuring everyone can earn £10,000 before they start to pay any tax.

Tomorrow is your chance to get the message out to the voters about the changes we've made and to get the campaign going for the last step up to £10,000.
And our message right now is all about tax.

The message we need to get out – on every doorstep this weekend and to every voter in Eastleigh over the next 20 days – is simple. If you want fairer taxes where people at the top pay their fair share and ordinary working families pay less, there's only one party for you: the Liberal Democrats.
Think of it this way: Liberal Democrats put payslips before palaces.

...

Whatever you do make your message about tax fairness: Taxes on mansions. Tax cuts for millions.
Best wishes,

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Medway Council and unfair taxes

On the day the Liberal Democrats across the country are campaigning for fairer taxes we are faced with silly and unfair taxes here in Medway as this press release shows;

It was disappointing to learn from the Council, in response to my question last Thursday, that they are intent on pursuing a council tax policy which will result in an enormous waste of taxpayers money.  Charging council tax to the poorest in our community, and then pursuing those who cannot pay with the resultant magistrates court costs and officers time, may result in those who have low paid jobs, and stay put, being sent to prison, and those without jobs simply ‘disappearing’.


The Tories don’t seem to have learnt the lesson from the days of the iniquitous

 ‘Poll Tax’ when large numbers of ordinary citizens were sent to prison for short periods, thus gaining a criminal record, and councils still had the costs of trying to collect arrears which could paid off at the princely rate of 50p a week!


The councils own reports freely admit that the cost of collection will probably be more than the monies collected, so the council tax for the rest of us will have to increase to make up the deficit.  Mickey Mouse economics or what?  There are other options, such as raising tax on second homes and empty properties – this could not only increase revenue but bring back into use many of  the empty, neglected properties which blight our towns and deprive families of much needed homes.  Why can’t the council pursue this ‘win-win’ option rather than using time and resources to make the situation worse?

This was a matter raised at Full council the other week by Vivienne Parker of Rochester South and Horsted Liberal Democrats who posed a question on the night.

With the Cut from central government coming down to the local authorities many councils will have to look at raising the local taxes. According to a report in the Medway Messenger there could be as many as 14,000 households across the towns will have to cough up 25% of the new bill even though they were exempt due to low earnings in the past - 700 homes will have an extra £400 a year just to fill the void of the £4million hole.

I understand that the Council needs money but to strike the poor like this seems somewhat uncaring and ill thought out. Surely there must be another way?

Cllr Stamp (Ind) said For someone on a fixed low income it will just plunge them further into debt and they will have to make difficult decisions whether to buy food or put the heating on.

Made even more poignant when you realise the average reported (To the CAB) debt in the Medway towns is around £40k!!!!

It wouldn't seem so bad if the council weren't seen to be wasting money on vanity projects and overspends with poor planning - money just poured down the drain with the knowledge that there would come cuts one day from central government. It all seems very Victorian.

What did Conservative Councillor Jarrett portfolio holder for Finance have to say?

He began by blaming Labour's economic mess, which frankly is an over used argument considering the fact that this council has been wasteful and could have seen this cut on the horizon for years - I know I have and I'm just some bloke on the street!

Also the courts have the right to write off debts people can't pay for... Great! So we have to take people to court to find they can't pay and then let them off.
Let me get this straight... we spend money to get money out of people we already know don't have it and then write off the original debt... but still spending money on taking them to court... Brilliance!

To the concerns of rising poverty he said;
I do share some of the concerns but we are where we are. - Thanks Al.