Check where your councillors REALLY live!

“An ex-councillor has been jailed for two months after pleading guilty to supplying false information to an electoral registration officer.
Richard Smalley was elected to represent Allestree on Derby City Council, a safe Conservative ward.

According to a report on the BBC website, he had claimed on a form submitted to the electoral registration officer that he lived at an address in Allestree, when he actually lived in Borrowash, which is outside the city boundaries of Derby. He resigned ten days after he was elected.

Smalley subsequently pleaded guilty to a charge of ‘Supplying False Information to the Electoral Registration officer’ under s13D Representation of the People Act.”

http://localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=28133%3Aformer-councillor-jailed-for-supplying-false-information-ahead-of-election&catid=59&Itemid=27

London Mayor releases land for affordable housing

Imagine what a difference EDDC could have made if it released land at Knowle or Honiton – or even the grossly under-tenanted Skypark Business Park …
for affordable housing NOT but-to-rent landlords creaming off housing benefit payments.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/davehillblog/2016/aug/23/london-housing-tfl-land-set-for-affordable-homes-as-sadiq-khan-picks-expert-team

Seaside poverty (2): Cornwall

… the county’s six Conservative MPs are doing their “damnedest” to raise awareness of the poverty problems.

He says: “Politicians come down to Cornwall on holiday. They have their second, or maybe third home here. They have pictures of their family having a lovely time and just think ‘Oh, can there be poverty in lovely Cornwall?’”

“It is a beautiful place. But when you live and work here, the beauty is tinged because you know you’ve got this underlying poverty.”

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/aug/24/cornwall-child-poverty-blighting-lives-cuts

Persimmon – profits up 12% – see how they achieve it

Persimmon saw first half pretax profits climb to £352.3million as revenues increased by 12 per cent to £1.49billion, with its private sales reservations up 17 per cent.”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/markets/article-3754172/Housebuilder-Persimmon-sees-profits-rise-29-despite-Brexit-worries.html

AND STILL THEY CAN’T AFFORD TO BUILD AFFORDABLE HOUSING!

See an example of the scandal here:

One of the most controversial developments in Cambridge is set to make millions of pounds more in profit than forecast when the original builder avoided hitting the city council’s affordable housing target, the News can reveal.

We have uncovered the vast discrepancy at the Grand Central development at Rustat Road, between what previous developer Persimmon told the council it was likely to sell the homes for and what current builder Weston Homes is actually selling them for. … “

http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/revealed-cambridge-development-just-6-social/story-29044199-detail/story.html

New broom CEO for South Somerset District Council

In July 2015, South Somerset District Council suddenly terminated an arrangement whereby they and East Devon District Council shared a CEO Mark Williams. This severance cost SSDC upwards of £100,000. No reason was given at the time but SSDC decided temporarily to have a management team without an overall CEO. Mark Williams, whose salary and hours had been shared 50/50 with SSDC returned to EDDC full-time (though we seem to have been managing quite well with his half-time the job split).

At the time the two councils seemed keen on sharing even more posts but the CEO post was the only one that ever emerged.

Fast forward a year and South Somerset now has a new CEO – Alex Parmley:

Alex is currently a Corporate Director at Eastleigh Borough Council where he leads a major business transformation programme, as well as the building of the new Fleming Park regional leisure centre, regeneration and regional schemes to support business growth and jobs through innovation and the green economy. Prior to working at Eastleigh, Alex was a Director and General Manager at Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and also worked at Parramatta City Council, Australia, leading the implementation of their City Strategy.”

http://www.southsomerset.gov.uk/latest-news/august-2016/alex-parmley-formally-confirmed-as-south-somerset-district-council%E2%80%99s-new-chief-executive/

For background on the old and new appointments see:

Click to access 8%20Recruitment%20of%20New%20CEO%20Report.pdf

Some things about this train of events will forever remain a mystery it seems.

It’s a hard life for poor seaside kids

” … the biggest problems are often found by the sea: coastal towns are among the most deprived and one, Jaywick in Essex, tops the league. The Office for National Statistics rates Ryde third on its index of deprived mid-sized seaside towns.

Why do kids in seaside towns do so badly? That’s the question Mr Hoare was, rightly, trying to raise.

Economics is a good place to start. The industries, primarily tourism, that used to sustain jobs and relative prosperity in many seaside towns have faded and not been replaced. It’s a sad fact that poor parents have children who are more likely to grow up to be poor adults.

But poverty doesn’t automatically mean poor outcomes for kids. There are poor parts of London where children do much, much better than those in places like Blackpool and Great Yarmouth and Weston-super-Mare.

Another factor is isolation: many of these places are quite hard to get to. Brighton may have a (sometimes) quick rail link to London, but many seaside towns have poor public transport links, a significant barrier for people who don’t or can’t drive.

Isolation is one reason many seaside towns are relatively ethnically homogenous: they’re generally whiter than other comparably-sized towns elsewhere in England.

Isolation has many consequences, some easier to define than others. There’s the economic difficulty for people who live in isolated towns not being able to commute to higher-paid jobs elsewhere. There’s the challenge of drawing highly-skilled people from elsewhere to work by the sea, particularly in schools: the excellent Teach First, which places high-flying graduate teachers in struggling schools, is increasingly focusing on coastal towns.

The lack of good, well-paid jobs also means that seaside kids will eventually face a stark choice: stay at home and stay poor, or move away.

That’s often a harder choice than it looks, because physical isolation can lead to mental isolation. If neither you nor any of the people you know regularly leave your town to see other places, it’s that bit harder to imagine yourself moving away to work or study. The lack of aspirational role models for poor coastal kids is an important part of the under-explored story of working-class culture and its role in social immobility.

Few politicians are willing to say so explicitly, but part of the reason poor white kids stay stuck in poor seaside towns is a lack of ambition. Not personal ambition so much as social ambition. Unlike middle-class kids and the children of many first, second and third-generation immigrant groups, poor white coastal kids don’t grow up surrounded by people like them who hope and even expect to get a degree and a professional job.

Parents have a role too. Teachers like Paul Phillips, head of Weston College in Weston-super-Mare report that in towns like his, some parents just don’t want their kids to move away and so discourage them from higher education. Such feelings are partly driven by that physical isolation: who can blame someone for not relishing the prospect of their children going to live somewhere that takes a long, long time to get to?

It’s become commonplace among politicians to talk about social mobility and some, including Theresa May, are alive to the fact that the group that’s in greatest need of support here is what used to be called the white working-class. Their children are less likely than any other, including non-white kids of equal poverty, to get good exam results and go on to university.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/23/seaside-towns-arent-inbred-ghettos-but-their-isolation-traps-wor/

The big boys want a big slice of the big renewable energy pie – in the US

“You might think the renewables market is dominated by lentil-munching hippies, assembling Heath Robinson contraptions in sheds. That was certainly true a few years ago – and it’s true that many of the people in the industry were activists in their earlier lives. I met one executive from a waste management firm who, in his youth, had literally been dragged out of his bed by the police for some political protest he was involved in.

But nowadays, of course, the industry has become highly professionalised. Some of the biggest and most prestigious firms in the world are heavily involved in renewable energy. One such firm is IBM – often known as “Big Blue”. With a long trading history, and a deep relationship with the largest government and corporate customers, IBM is the epitome of the corporate establishment. If it’s grasping renewables with both hands, you can tell there’s a serious transition going on. …”

Big Blue goes green

A ‘Sharia’ bond on Richmond House was expected to prevent alcohol being consumed on the premises, but it is now understood a bar could be installed if MPs move in during building works.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3747254/EXC-Drinks-MPs-Politicians-reprieve-six-year-booze-ban-parliament-renovated-officials-say-install-bar-temporary-home.html

Phew … well that’s a relief. Now our MPs can continue their heavily-subsidised-on-our-money boozing in and out of office hours.

We will all rest more comfortably in our beds now that’s sorted won’t we.

New Business Rates system will cause severe problems

The Business rates reforms “will remove ability to appeal” against bills

“The new three-stage business rates appeal system will all but remove the ability to appeal against rating bills, property firm Colliers International has claimed.

It said the ‘check, challenge, appeal’ system launched for consultation last month would prevent valuation tribunals from amending the rateable value of a business unless it is “outside the bounds of reasonable professional judgement”.

John Webber, Colliers’ head of rating, said this meant there was in effect a 20% margin of error allowed in estimates that could not be challenged, which “is going to pile tens of millions of pounds on to business rates bill.
“At a time when many firms, particularly in London and the south east, can expect their bills to skyrocket, this adds insult to injury.”

He said the new regulations would also have a significant impact on material change in circumstance appeals, which usually concerned reductions of less than 10% and so would effectively disappear in the new system by being within “bounds of professional judgment”.

Mr Webber said: “This clear infringement of a ratepayer’s right to appeal their rateable value must not be allowed to form part of the government’s business rates’ appeals’ whitewash. These proposed regulations are very draconian.”

He urged businesses to respond to the consultation by protesting against the proposal.”

http://localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=28118%3Abusiness-rates-reforms-qwill-remove-ability-to-appealq-against-bills&catid=58&Itemid=26