I was intending to make this a non-political festive newsletter, but events have crowded in.
- Government targets Broxtowe for spending cuts
The Government has, bizarrely, singled out Broxtowe as the area in the country to receive the largest spending cuts, with 6.4% slashed in a single year on top of all the previous cuts. Meanwhile, some of the richest councils in Britain are actually getting more Government money. Here’s the story:
There is absolutely no point in local politicians criticising one cut or another in local services if they don’t also object to the relentless squeezing of our local authorities by the Government.
- Privatisation kills Nottingham’s dermatology service
The relentless drive to privatise the NHS has just killed off Nottingham’s acute adult dermatology service, including emergency care. Here’s the story, which speaks for itself and also shows the soaring NHS Trust deficits:
I don’t often make a straightforward party political point, but I’ll make one here. The Conservative-Liberal Democrat government is relentlessly driving the NHS over the brink. The deficits are soaring, the waiting times are climbing and the money provided to the service is increasingly being diverted to private profits. If you want to reverse the process, you really need to vote Labour in May – it’s frankly as simple as that.
Will that instantly cure the funding problems? No – they are too serious for that. But it’s the one area where Labour is committed both to spending more and to stopping the increasing diversion of money to profits. In the medium term, the NHS also needs the switch in emphasis to care services to reduce the pressure on hospitals.
- Is Broxtowe being represented on these issues?
It’s hard to find a blog by Broxtowe’s MP that doesn’t have a go at local councils, usually stressing that they’re run by non-Conservative parties. But where MPs actually have the chance to influence what happens locally, in mitigating the damage that the Government’s policies do to Broxtowe, the MP is entirely silent.
Let me make an explicit commitment. If I’m the MP again, I will criticise any government or council – Labour or Conservative or coalition – which damages our local interests. If that damages my career, so be it. I think we need a Labour alternative. But I also think we need an independent-minded constituency MP, rather than one who is unable or unwilling to criticise anything that the Government does.
A super-partisan MP is ineffective. Political allies don’t bother to help, since they know the MP will rally round anyway. Political opponents are annoyed by constant attacks, and unwilling to make special efforts to help.
If you feel that one party is always right and its competitors are always wrong, then you may prefer an ultra-loyalist. But if so, you shouldn’t vote for me: I will start from the position that politicians of any party should be willing to help with our issues, and where they fail to respond I’ll criticise them openly. If Broxtowe’s MP doesn’t stand up for us, nobody else will bother.
- Another year of bedroom tax – and my alternative proposal
There was a prospect of an end to the bedroom tax as the LibDems announced that they were now opposed to it. Consequently, Labour put forward a proposal in Parliament this week to remove it. The LibDems, as well as Broxtowe’s MP, then voted to keep it. According to Government statistics, 334 people were affected in Broxtowe last year.
What’s the problem about this? The policy reduces housing benefit for anyone whose circumstances change so that they no longer need one room. For example, if someone dies:
The argument for this is that the family no longer need so much space, so they ought to move to smaller premises. The problem is that in many areas there simply isn’t anywhere smaller available, since most housing development is private and private developers make more money from larger properties. So the affected families – who by definition are poor, since otherwise they don’t qualify for Housing Benefit – are simply stuck: they can’t afford the rent without the benefit, but there’s nowhere to move to. Consequently, they are likely to have to go into debt, which produces a spiral into greater problems.
What’s the alternative? In my view, councils should be able to offer a positive incentive to people to move to smaller property when it’s available. This saves public money in the longer term (since the smaller place will have less rent and thus less benefit is needed), and a reasonable deal would be that the family get the same housing benefit for one year, which will help cover the cost of moving and give some incentive to do it. Using a carrot rather than a stick is more sensible as well as fairer, since it means that the family has the opportunity to benefit from a move as soon as it becomes possible, rather than being punished for the market’s failure to provide an alternative.
- …and some good news as well!
The Boots redevelopment has been approved, giving a huge boost to local jobs and housing.
|Boots given go-ahead for huge development after Not… NOTTINGHAM has taken a step closer to securing a major new development that could bring in thousands of jobs. The Nottingham Enterprise Zone will turn su…|
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The main reservation here is to make sure it doesn’t create Rylands traffic problems. The plan is to make the access road to the site unattractive for rat-runners – it will be slow, winding, and replete with speed bumps!
Meanwhile, the Beeston Square development is gathering speed, and so is the Beeston Square redevelopment, with Costa opening, Pure Gym next and Wilkos expected soon after. As the tramworks finally clear the roads the bus services are resuming and businesses along the route are starting to feel more optimistic, with the Star aiming to attract more people for overnight stays. It’s been a horrible period for Beeston, but things will start to look very different in 2015.
That leaves the question of how best to exploit the site of the old multi-storey carpark, bus station and NET development. This is the “Phase 2″ development, and you may remember the New Deal for Beeston meeting which I organised last year to look forward to it. That showed a strong wish for a centre with interesting cultural and environmental features (a cinema, a roof garden…) and the Council has now adopted a motion incorporating those ideas in general terms. The Civic Society has now announced a meeting to build on this: “Update on Beeston New Deal”: see
I’m delighted to have helped encourage this positive agenda, and hope to attend.
- The phantom Libdem candidate
If you live in Kimberley or Giltbrook, you may have received what seemed to be a new community magazine, called the “Ashfield and Eastwood Christmas Times”. If you opened it up, you’ll have found a host of articles explaining the wonders of the Liberal Democrats and terrible things about their rivals. Reading on, you’ll have learned that your LibDem candidate is Jason Zadrozny.
Who? He’s a councillor in Ashfield with no connection to Broxtowe, and apparently no knowledge of where the constituency boundary is. The LibDems still haven’t found a candidate in Broxtowe at all, though I expect they’ll pick someone in the New Year. Meanwhile, they’re paying Royal Mail to deliver Ashfield propaganda to Broxtowe.
A more serious point is that it’s the second dirty trick in a month – first the forged pro-Tory Facebook blog, and now the mock community newsletter, albeit sent to the wrong community. I don’t promise to say only popular things. But if you get something from me, it’ll be clear it’s from me.
Anyway! Regardless of your political preferences, I hope that you and yours enjoy a very happy Christmas and New Year. I expect to take a break myself for a week, though I’ll still be online if you want me.
All good wishes,