Tuesday, January 26, 2010
If Barnet Council leader Lynne Hillan really believes that the millions lost in Icelandic banks have "no effect on council tax", as the Barnet Press quoted her as saying, then she is no more fit to oversee the council's finances than previous leader Mike Freer was.
Total losses on the the council's investments with Glitnir and Landsbanki are likely to add up to at least 11.5 million pounds, based on the figures reported by the Press, and if the council didn't need this money why does Hillan think it was collected from Barnet's council taxpayers?
It may well be that Barnet can still stave off an increase in council tax for the coming year, at a time when the Conservative administration wants to impress voters ahead of the May 6th local elections, but the day of reckoning will surely come in the near future.
Once the final losses are established on the 27 million pounds that Barnet foolishly handed over to the Icelandic banks, the council will have to start rebuilding its finances and my prediction is that there will be a sizeable increase in council tax in the next year or two to restore the contingency reserves.
And if Barnet council really didn't need the money, why has it brought in the "easyCouncil" Future Shape strategy and launched a programme of swingeing cuts? For example, that 11.5 million pounds could have paid for wardens to remain at sheltered housing sites for donkeys' years and saved the council from its costly planned appeal against the court order banning its cold-hearted plan to scale down the warden scheme.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
An amendment to the Local Transport Act of 2008 which came into force this month enables local governments to create Quality Contract Schemes. Such provisions allow authorities the power to instate London style quality control over service provision including fares, timings and routes.
Caroline Lucas, Leader of the Green Party, said: "Greens welcome amendments to the law that allow for Quality Contract Schemes. We must make sure buses are a financially viable alternative to cars. While such provisions give local authorities a fantastic opportunity to move ahead with plans to reduce fares, the current government has done little to make buses an attractive option.
"In the past decade the cost of motoring has fallen by 13% in real terms whilst bus fares have risen by 17%, and funding for buses is poor compared to many of our European neighbours. In addition 53% of people would take the bus to work if the service was better . Cutting bus fares is a sure fire way of easing congestion and pollution on city roads. The QCS's present a real chance to make this happen."
However the optimism over QCS's may be short lived. Exponents of the scheme have warned that local authorities must act quickly after reports surfaced that a Conservative government would repeal the part of the act that allows for QCS's in favour of a more competitive bus industry.
A spokesperson for the CBT (Campaign for Better Transport) said:
"Shadow Transport minister Stephen Hammond wants to scrap Quality Contracts. We advise Quality Contracts should thus be quickly approved, and that the Department should play an active role in encouraging and supporting local transport authorities who want to use these new powers. Currently bus services in the UK receive some of the lowest funding in Europe. A better funded and attractive bus system would do a good deal to lower carbon emissions and create more pleasant city environments."
Sunday, January 17, 2010
The Labour government which Mr Dismore supports has sadly failed to take the problem seriously during more than 12 years in office.
In a statement last week (12th January) Green Party leader Caroline Lucas said: "The government needs to address the funding crisis faced by many specialist support agencies like Rape Crisis centres, which offer enormous support to women when they are most vulnerable.”
"In the UK, the statistics speak for themselves; the British Crime Survey suggests that there are more than 300,000 rapes and serious sexual assaults each year. The conviction rate in rape cases is around 6.5 percent, the lowest in Europe, according to a recent survey," she said.
Lucas, who is already an MP for South East England and is forecast to win the Brighton Pavilion seat in this year's UK general election, praised the Spanish government for giving a commitment to tackling violence against women across the European Union as it begins its six-months rotating presidency of the EU.
“The Spanish government should be applauded for recognising that urgent coordinated action is required at the EU level to tackle the crisis of gendered violence. Not enough is being done to address the causes, care for the victims, adequately punish the perpetrators – and make violence against women absolutely unacceptable," Lucas said.
Can Mr Dismore promise voters in Hendon that Labour's election manifesto this year will include pledges of greater action to reduce violence against women?
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
The £75m that the Mayor is raising from the 12 percent bus fare increase would instead be raised mostly from motorists, with the reinstatement of the £25 emissions charge on gas guzzlers and retention of the western extension of the congestion charge.
Responding to the London Mayor's consultation budget proposals for 2010/11, Darren Johnson said: "I will seek a reverse of this year's fare rises on the buses by urging the Assembly to support an amendment to the mayor's budget.
The Mayor's budget proposals will mean less money raised from car drivers, whilst public transport users are paying more. I want to see the Mayor protecting the poorer Londoners by freezing bus fares and making those who pollute more, pay more.
The Mayor claims that he has to increase bus fares whilst cutting bus services in order to fill a financial black hole, but a large part the deficit is created by for vanity projects such as scrapping bendy buses and dropping charges designed to discourage polluting cars."
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
sustainable way of life to help in the worldwide fight against climate change. Why not start in 2010 with a 10 percent cut in your carbon footprint? We can still have fun while we adapt ourselves.
ANDREW NEWBY'S 10 WAYS YOU CAN LIVE MORE SUSTAINABLY IN 2010:
Food and clothing:
1/ Eat food grown in Britain when possible, to save on 'food miles' -- energy used in transporting
imports. Eg, don't give up bananas but when you eat an apple make sure it is a British one.
2/ Eat meat no more than once or twice a week. Producing a kilogramme of beef uses ten times the resources needed to produce the equivalent amount of vegetarian food.
3/ Grown your own food. Grow fruit and vegetables in your garden or on the patio, where tomatoes, peppers and chillis will ripen nicely in pots. In a flat, grow herbs in pots on the windowsill.
ECO-FUN: 4/ Fed up with your clothes? Swap items with your friends instead of buying new
garments that need a lot of energy to make and to import to Britain. Hold a clothes swap party!
5/ Walk or cycle as much as possible, eg when going to the shops. It is good exercise, it will save
you money and you will see sights and hear sounds you would have missed inside a vehicle.
6/ Use Barnet's many bus services or train routes instead of going by car. You can relax on buses
and trains by reading or sleeping. If you are tired (or drunk!), public transport is the best way home.
ECO-FUN: 7/ When planning a holiday see if you can avoid travelling by air, which has a high
carbon footprint. Try the Eurostar train to Paris – it's luxurious and can be cheap as a bargain flight.
In your home:
8/ Close your curtains at night! You can save the biggest amount of money by ensuring the loft and walls of your home are well insulated and by installing high-grade doubling glazing, but day-to-day
habits like closing your curtains and internal doors can also help cut your gas and electricity bills.
9/ To make a meal use a microwave instead of the oven, when suitable. On average, cooking a meal in a microwave uses only half the electricity of cooking the same food in an oven.
ECO-FUN: 10/ Sit under a duvet to watch television instead of turning up the heating in your
living room. Better still, invite a friend to sit under the duvet with you!
Monday, January 4, 2010
"Dismore's constituents are more likely to think he has had his nose in the trough in a big way."
Parliamentary records released in November show that Dismore claimed a total of 65,000 in second home allowance from 2001 onwards, first for his partner's flat in Notting Hill and then for his own house in Hendon.
"Dismore may not have broken any rules but he has taken advantage of them to cream off a fat sum of money for his own benefit when he quite clearly does not need a second home at all because his constituency is a short Tube ride from parliament," Newby said.