EDDC councillor freebies

Can be found here:

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/councillor-conduct/gifts-and-hospitality/

Councillors Diviani and Twiss appear to have only ever met only one developer (Baker Estates) but have done so twice in September 2017 and December 2017 to discuss “future projects in East Devon”, Councillor Skinner has been a beneficiary of rugby tickets paid for by the Carter family (Greendale) several times, Councillor Moulding has met developers St Modwyn and Heritage Developments and Clinton Devon Estates treated several councillors to a concert at Exeter Cathedral.

Free Sandy Park rugby match tickets seem to be quite popular with Councillors Diviani, Godbeer, Skinner, Wright and Moulding.

“Labour says land value tax would boost local government budgets”

“Labour is considering a tax on land values as a way of boosting local government budgets, shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said.

In a sign of the party’s confidence about growing public interest in a fresh approach to managing the economy, McDonnell said cuts to council spending were so severe that it might now be possible “to have a rational debate”.

At the last election the Tories called the proposal, which was included in Labour’s manifesto as part of a review of council funding, a “garden tax” that could force home owners to sell up. The Greens and the Liberal Democrats are also interested in the idea.

A land tax, where a percentage of the value of the land is levied annually is popular with some economists, who say it is a logical approach to taxing individual wealth. But many politicians across the political spectrum are alarmed at the thought of introducing a new tax. A new tax on wealth that creates losers as well as winners would inevitably be a hard sell.

But McDonnell told the audience at the event organised by the Resolution Foundation, where he set out Labour’s plans to boost household incomes, that the crisis in the funding of local services may have opened a window of opportunity.

“I think we are at a stage where the decline in terms of funding to local government and the consequential effect on local services – many of them are in crisis – means, I think, that people are now willing to consider more radical solutions than they have in the past.”

Councils are hamstrung by government rules and cannot raise council tax significantly without a local referendum, which would be costly to run and would have an uncertain result. But the tax – introduced nearly 30 years ago to replace the unpopular poll tax – has not been uprated since then. It leaves many councils struggling, with too small a tax base to meet all their obligations.

Other councils are on the brink of catastrophe. Northamptonshire county council announced earlier this month that it could only afford to meet its statutory obligations. On Thursday the accountants KPMG, who audit the council’s budget, said it did not balance and was therefore illegal.

The local government association has said that by 2020 many councils would struggle to provide some public services, partly because of botched central government reforms. By 2020, central government funding will have been cut by more than 50% since 2010.

Council tax is regressive because it is levied on a notional value that has no relation to household income or to the market value of the property. However, unless it is regularly updated, a land value tax would share some of those weaknesses. But it would be directly related to the wealth of the homeowner and it would capture the rapid growth in house values that have been a financial boost to those who own property.

One council, Westminster, one of the richest in the country, is now proposing that wealthy residents pay a voluntary additional contribution, ringfenced to help offer improved services to rough sleepers and young people.

There is increasing support in policymaking circles for a land-value tax. Tony Blair’s thinktank, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, backed the idea in a policy paper published at the end of last year. ”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/feb/22/labour-says-land-value-tax-would-boost-local-government-budgets

“Demand for new homes sees house builder Barratt rake in profits and pledge another £175m payout to shareholders”

And all done on the back of building fewer houses:
https://eastdevonwatch.org/2017/02/22/profits-rise-at-barratt-despite-the-uks-biggest-housebuilder-building-fewer-homes/

and a bribery scandal:
https://eastdevonwatch.org/2017/01/26/four-arrests-for-bribery-at-developer-barratts/

“House builder Barratt Developments is cashing in on the demand for homes across the UK with bumper half-year profits in the last six months of 2017.

The new home builder reported a record half-year profit of £342.7 million in the second half of last year, a 6.8 per cent increase on the year before.

While it said a slowdown in high-end central London homes could hit margins, Barratts planned to offset it by buying more land and ‘operational efficiencies’. …

The group revealed plans to pay out a special dividend to shareholders worth £175 million in both November 2018 and November 2019, something it said reflected its ‘confidence’ in performance. …”

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-5417233/Barratt-Developments-rakes-340m-profit.html

“The greatest evil …”

“I like bats much better than bureaucrats. I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of ‘Admin.’ The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint.

It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result.

But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.

Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the offices of a thoroughly nasty business con­cern.”

–C.S. Lewis, “Preface to the 1961 Edition,” in The Screwtape Letters: Annotated Edition (New York: HarperCollins, 1942/1996), xxxvii.

Privatised Carillion’s hospital construction was halted for serious health and safety reasons

“A specialist project manager brought in to oversee the construction of Carillion’s delayed and overbudget £350 million PFI hospital in Liverpool has confirmed that work was halted for safety and legal reasons nine months before the problems became known publicly.

The Royal Liverpool Hospital is one of four key construction projects that felled Carillion. The hospital was part of the £845 billion writedown in its accounts last July, which set in train the events that led to Carillion’s compulsory liquidation last month owing more than £1 billion.

The financial blowouts at the Royal Liverpool, the Midland Metropolitian Hospital, on a £700 million road project in Aberdeen and on work in Qatar for the 2022 football World Cup are at the centre of investigations by the House of Commons, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Financial Reporting Council over whether Carillion’s board deliberately concealed its financial crisis.

In a submission to the Commons’ joint select committee inquiry, Charles McLeod, a director of the company charged with delivering the Royal Liverpool, said that cracks in crucial supporting beams were found in November 2016 and “exclusion zones” preventing work being done were in place until March 2017.

These issues and escalating costs were not disclosed by the company until the July 2017 profit warning, despite trading updates and annual accounts before then. Mr McLeod is principal of McLeod Partnerships, a specialist “interim management” business that deals in projects in danger of “distress or default”. He was brought into Royal Liverpool in 2015.

At a previous hearing of the committee, Richard Howson, Carillion’s former chief executive, blamed the failures at Royal Liverpool on subcontractors. Mr McLeod, however, said that TPS Consult, a wholly owned Carillion company, had “overall responsibility” for the beams.

The committee’s hearings continue today. The witnesses include Michelle Hinchliffe, head of audit at KPMG, Carillion’s auditor, and Peter Meehan, the partner in charge of the audit; and Lesley Titcomb, of the Pensions Regulator.”

The Times (pay wall)