Affordable housing: Housing Minister promises to, er, look into things!!!

Owl says: Since when did “addressing issues” and “looking into measures” ever count for ANYTHING? More meaningless claptrap.

“In his first major speech as housing, communities and local government secretary today, Brokenshire said communities felt let down when developers reneged on pledges to build essential local infrastructure or affordable housing.

“We’re addressing these issues head on through our consultation into reforming developer contributions,” he said in his speech to think-tank Policy Exchange.

“These will ensure that developers are left in no doubt about what’s expected of them. Local authorities will hold them to account.” …

Brokenshire added that, in future, government would require much more transparency from developers on the pace and timing of delivery. “We’re currently looking at measures to make this reporting a compulsory requirement.”

https://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2018/07/brokenshire-issues-warning-developers-avoiding-planning-obligations

“Democracy Week” …. why it is undemocratic

Apparently, it’s “Democracy Week” …. Owl finds it hard to believe.

Here are 4 reasons from the Electoral Reform Society why it is anything but:

1. The first-past-the-post system of voting.

2. Inequality in the minimum voting age in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

3. “A House of Cronies” aka the gerrymandered House of Lords.

4. The political gender gap.

For more information, see:

https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/four-ways-westminsters-politics-needs-fixing-this-democracy-week/

Hinkley privatised nuclear waste clean up contract cancelled and nationalised

“The UK government has been forced to take a multibillion-pound nuclear cleanup contract back into public ownership, after a botched tender to the private sector landed the taxpayer with a £122m bill.

The government will take over the decommissioning of Britain’s 12 Magnox sites, including the former nuclear power stations at Dungeness in Kent and Hinkley Point in Somerset.

The move is a response to the fallout from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) awarding a 14-year deal to the international consortium Cavendish Fluor Partnership in 2014.

Last year the government settled with two US companies that lost out on the £6.2bn contract and brought a legal challenge over the tender process.

Ministers terminated the contract early, leading to speculation over whether it would be put out to tender again to the private sector or brought back into public hands.

David Peattie, the NDA’s chief executive, told staff he understood they had faced uncertainty in recent months, as he confirmed that the private company Magnox Ltd would become a subsidiary of the NDA on 1 September. He said the change would result in “more efficient decommissioning”.

A source close to the process said: “The reason that this has been done is to remove some of the commercial complications and the large fees paid to contractors. This will ensure more money is spent directly on cleaning up these sites.”

Unions said they wanted talks with the new management regime for assurances over pay and terms.

Peter McIntosh, the Unite union’s acting national officer for energy, said: “This decision is long overdue. The 2014 contract should not have been awarded to any organisation.”

He added: “We need to ensure the taxpayer gets value for money through the transfer of the business and it is not paid for at the expense of the workforce.”

Whitehall’s spending watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), has strongly criticised the NDA and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy over the handling and oversight of the nuclear cleanup contract, one of the government’s biggest ever.

A review of the failings that led to the bungled process, written by the former National Grid boss Steve Holliday, is due to be published later this year.

Bringing the Magnox work back into the public sector means that about 85% of Britain’s nuclear cleanup work is in public hands, after the NDA’s takeover of the Sellafield storage and reprocessing site in 2016.

The PAC last week announced an inquiry into the NDA’s work at Sellafield, which is forecast to be £913m over budget and faces potential delays.

Magnox Ltd looks after 10 former Magnox power stations and two nuclear research sites.”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jul/02/uk-nuclear-cleanup-contract-back-in-public-hands-after-122m-bill

If Devon and Cornwall police merge with Dorset, who would make the best Police and Crime Commissioner?

Martyn Underhill is the police and crime commissioner for the Dorset Police force area.

Martyn is a retired Detective Chief Inspector who served with both the Metropolitan and Sussex Police forces. He is representing and working closely with the people of Dorset to further improve policing and community safety.”

https://www.police.uk/dorset/pcc/

The same site contains no personal information about Devon and Cornwall PCC Alison Hernandez, a career Tory local politician, but the Devon site says:

“Prior to my election I predominantly worked in public service except for a four year stint running my own management consultancy, working internationally helping companies with business improvement, particularly in the housing and transport industry.

Prior to my election I predominantly worked in public service except for a four year stint running my own management consultancy, working internationally helping companies with business improvement, particularly in the housing and transport industry.”

It then goes on to talk about how wonderful she was as a Torbay councillor and lists her hobbies as Netflix and sleeping.

http://www.devonandcornwall-pcc.gov.uk/about-us/the-police-and-crime-commissioner/about-the-pcc/

“Bus Services In ‘Crisis’ As More Than 3,000 Routes Altered, Reduced Or Withdrawn”

“More than 3,000 bus routes have been altered, reduced or withdrawn during the last eight years as council funding has almost halved, a report has found.

Campaign for Better Transport on Monday detailed how council funding had been cut by £182m – 45% – since 2010, as it urged the Government to “wake up to the crisis hitting local buses before it’s too late”.

The latest cuts, £20.5m last year, have meant 199 routes were altered or completely withdrawn, the campaign’s Buses In Crisis report said, leaving many parts of the country without public transport.

Since 2010, 3,347 routes have been altered, reduced or withdrawn, Campaign for Better Transport said.

Steve Chambers, the group’s public transport campaigner, said: “Our latest report confirms that the slow death of the supported bus continues, with local authority bus budgets suffering yet another cut this year. The resulting cuts to services mean many people no longer have access to public transport, with rural areas hit especially hard.”

Chambers said the loss of a bus service has “huge implications”.

He said the cuts would have an adverse effect on the local economy, with people prevented from getting to shops and businesses, affecting people’s mental and physical health too.

Chambers said the Government “must wake up to the crisis hitting local buses before it’s too late”. …”

http://flip.it/RxOktN

“Bus services in ‘crisis’ as councils cut funding, campaigners warn”

Owl says: put up parking charges and encourage people to use buses … then get rid of the buses!!! This way lies madness.

“Campaigners have called for the government to act to help dwindling bus services, as a report showed council funding had almost halved since 2010.

Budgets to subsidise routes were reduced by another £20m last year and 188 services were cut, according to the Campaign for Better Transport.

Its Buses in Crisis report found that squeezed local authorities across England and Wales had taken £182m away from supported bus services over the decade, affecting more than 3,000 bus routes.

Council funding has preserved funding for services, particularly in rural areas, that private firms have deemed unviable, and where no alternative public transport exists, accounting for more than one in five journeys. But most either cut funding – or spent nothing – last year.

Spokesman Steve Chambers said the research showed “the slow death of the supported bus”, with huge implications for people accessing jobs and education, as well as local economies, health, congestion and air pollution. He added: “The government must wake up to the crisis hitting local buses before it’s too late. We want to see a proper national strategy for buses backed up by funding, like those that already exist for all other modes of transport.”

The Local Government Association said it recognised the importance of buses but that councils had been put in an impossible position by the funding squeeze and the £200m annual obligation to fund bus passes for pensioners.

LGA transport spokesman Martin Tett said: “Councils know how important buses are for their residents and local economies and are desperate to protect them. It’s nearly impossible for councils to keep subsidising free travel while having to find billions of pounds worth of savings and protect other vital services.” …

… According to research published today by another campaign group, Greener Journeys, every £1 invested in local bus infrastructure brings more than £8 in wider economic benefits, as well as combating car pollution and congestion. DfT figures due to be published this week are likely to show worsening congestion in the UK’s largest cities, where traffic speeds have fallen and traffic is 14% greater than five years ago.”

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jul/02/bus-services-in-crisis-as-councils-cut-funding-campaigners-warn