“PM ‘PIMPED OUT’ Tories sell £300k Prime Minister’s dinner with Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt BEFORE new party leader has been chosen”

Surprised The Sun is running this – it’s more of a Daily Mirror story!

“THE Conservative Party has already sold access to the next Prime Minister for £300,000 – before the leader has even been chosen.

Party officials raised the staggering six-figure sum by selling dinner with the new leader at an exclusive fundraiser on Wednesday.

The auction at the Tory summer party – revealed by the Daily Mail last night – has raised questions about cash for access to the new PM.

Dinner for ten Tory supporters with either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt was offered at the private members’ club bash in West London.

A party source told the paper: “The next prime minister is being pimped out before they’ve even got the job.”

Among the other lots sold off at the posh Hurlingham Club included a signed photo of Boris and David Cameron and tickets to the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix.

Deep-pocketed Tories were also offered a walk with Tory leadership wildcard Rory Stewart – who electrified the contest with his trips around the country.

A wine tour with Education Secretary Damian Hind was also offered for sale – while a donor paid £40,000 for a private champagne party at the London Cabaret Club.

Boris and Mr Hunt were both in attendance at the fundraising do – along with outgoing PM Theresa May and other senior cabinet figures.


It’s not known who successfully bid for the £300k Tory leader’s dinner.

The sale comes after outrage over the wife of one of Vladimir Putin’s former ministers paying for a night out with Mrs May and six female cabinet ministers in May.

Lubov Chernukhin was entertained by the Prime Minister at the five-star Goring Hotel for £135,000.

The banker has donated more than £1million to the Tories in the last seven years alone.

Theresa May defended the donation as Mrs Chernukhin is now a British citizen.”


“Some English schools ‘can’t afford to teach five days a week’ “

“More than 200 schools in England are cutting short the school week, or are actively consulting on it, because they cannot afford to educate their pupils for a full five days, according to campaigners.

The figure was revealed on the eve of a demonstration in Westminster by parents and pupils protesting about a crisis in education funding, which means a growing number of children are being sent home at lunchtime every Friday so schools can save money.

Organised by Labour MP Jess Phillips, whose son’s Birmingham primary is among those affected, the march on Friday afternoon will be attended by protesters from Birmingham, Brighton, Hove, Hitchin, Wiltshire, Stockport, Hastings and Leicester.

To drive home the point, the Birmingham Yardley MP will deposit her 10-year-old son Danny and his best friend Morris on the front step of 10 Downing Street, where they will do their schoolwork, as a reminder of the government’s responsibility to care for and educate the nation’s children on a Friday afternoon.

“The whole thing is quite exciting for him,” said Phillips. “He wants to stick up for his school. It’s a brilliant school.”

According to Phillips, 26 schools in Birmingham including her son’s, Kings Heath primary, are either already on a four and a half-day week or are about to introduce it. Not only are pupils losing out on vital hours in school, parents are left scrambling to rearrange work or find childcare and school staff are losing jobs or pay.

“This is not just a Birmingham issue, which is what the government wants to paint it as,” she said. “It’s a problem in Stockport, Oxford, Cambridgeshire, Berkshire – there was one in Theresa May’s [Maidenhead] constituency – Bournemouth, London, Leicester, Sandwell.

“[The education system] is crumbling and nobody cares. The Department for Education just repeatedly wants to blame headteachers, as if the headteacher at my son’s school does not know how to manage money.”

Phillips said it was the responsibility of the government to make sure that every child is in school five days a week. “There are certain fundamentals in public sector services. Our children get free education five days a week. If you break your leg you can have a cast put on it. There are these fundamental principles that we expect from the state. Currently the state cannot deliver it.”

The campaign group Save our Schools (SOS) says children on four and a half-day weeks will lose 20 days of education over the course of a school year. They also point out the “hypocrisy” of government policies which leave schools with little choice but to close early, when parents face heavy fines for taking their child out of school for unauthorised absences.

“Every day, children are taught in crumbling buildings; subjects such as art and music are disappearing from the curriculum; pupils with special education needs are losing vital support and dedicated teaching staff are losing their jobs,” said SOS campaigner Kate Taylor.

“Now schools are being forced to reduce the length of the school week. Parents, teachers and pupils are living with the effects of a government that is not interested in investing in their education.

“If we were to remove our children for one Friday afternoon, let alone every Friday afternoon, we would be committing a criminal offence. It’s quite simple: we want our children to be in school receiving the education they deserve.”

Asked for comment on the protest, the DfE said flexibility over the length of the school week is not new and that schools have long had the choice to structure the school week as they choose. The department also pointed out that Birmingham’s funding was above average and should cover a full week of schooling for each child.

A spokesperson said: “The funding for an average primary class of 28 in Birmingham is £125,000 – above the national average of £115,000 for an equivalent-sized class. These amounts are to cover a full five-day week in term time.”


“Council accounts audit to be delayed by ‘issues’ at external auditors Grant Thornton”

Grant Thornton are EDDC’s external auditors. They were EDDC’s auditors who found nothing untoward for EDDC after the disgraced ex-Tory councillor Graham Brown affair:


“Grant Thornton’s issues have meant that Teignbridge District Council’s accounts will not be audited on time.

The council’s statement of accounts and financial records for the 2018/19 financial year were due to be audited by the external auditors Grant Thornton during June and July.

However, Cllr Alan Connett, portfolio holder for corporate resources, told Monday’s executive committee that the no date for when the audit would take place was yet known.

He said: “We anticipated that the audit would be taking place in July but we have been told by them that they are unable to do so because of pressures at their end. We are organising when the audit will be done but Grant Thornton will be providing a letter of exoneration to us to make it clear it is down to their internal issues and so no-one thinks that the council is to blame.”

Cllr Stephen Purser questioned whether the council would be penalised in any way or would be censured by the government if the accounts were not audited by the July 31 deadline.

In response, Cllr Connett said: “I was concerned about this but I am assured there is no penalty for us. Grant Thornton will provide a ‘letter of comfort’ that sets out their issues and what caused the issues and that the council are not at fault. We are where we are. They are the appointed auditors for us, but we will express our concern about this and hope the letter comes to us soon.”

Grant Thornton have recently faced heavy criticism of their audit practises bakery chain Patisserie Valerie last year admitted to a significant accounting fraud that its external auditors failed to spot, with Grant Thornton remaining under investigation by the UK accounting watchdog over its work for Patisserie Valerie.

The firm also received its largest fine of £3m from the accounting watchdog last August, and was ordered in January to pay a landmark £21m negligence claim in relation to its audit of Assetco, a business that once leased London its fire engines. Its audit of FTSE 250 government contractor Interserve is under scrutiny by the accounting regulator.

The firm at the start of June appointed a new head of audit – Fiona Baldwin – the second time in 12 months an appointment to that role had been made.

An independent review into its accounting operations to improve standards has since been announced by the firm. …”


“Persimmon claims ‘around half’ its first-time buyers used Help to Buy as sales slip at the house builder amid quality and service revamp”

£77,000 profit per house, adding £30,000-plus to the cost of a new home, poor quality builds, CEO laughing all the way to the bank with his multi-million bonuses – what could possibly go wrong? Answer: nothing goes wrongfor Persimmon, because this government doesn’t just turn a blind eye, it actively encourages this behaviour by putting developers in the planning driving seat (in chauffeur-driven cars)!

“Over half of properties sold by housebuilder Persimmon in the first six months of this year went to first-time buyers, the group’s trading update reveals.

The group sold 3,082 homes to first-time buyers, representing 52 per cent of all private sales for the period.

Speaking to This is Money, a spokesman for Persimmon said ‘around 50 per cent’ of these first-time buyers used Help to Buy schemes to complete their purchase.

While the proportion of purchases being made via Help to Buy adds weight to criticisms that housebuilders are being propped up by the Government schemes, they appear to have done little to help to Persimmon’s overall performance in the first half of the year….

… Persimmon scored the worst figures of all the major house builders in a recent Home Builders Federation new homes survey.

The firm launched a review of its house quality and customer care functions in April. …”


Let’s hear it for (some) stressed local authority workers

Adrian Chiles in Guardian:

“I was sitting on a tram in Birmingham when a guy tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I was me. “I just had to ask,” he said, “or I’d never have forgiven myself. I would always have wondered.” I felt most unworthy of this level of interest, and told him so.

As we walked down Corporation Street together I asked him what he did for a living. It turned out he was on his way home from work at a local authority, where it was his job to decide whether or not people had the means to pay for their residential care.

As I understand it, if you’ve got nothing, then the council pays. If you’ve got savings, then you pay. Which is obviously fair enough on one hand, but not so fair on the other if you, unlike your neighbour, have saved diligently all your life.

Why should they get the benefit? Where’s the incentive to save at a time when everyone is being told to save more? I shared these incredibly wise thoughts with my new friend. And do you know, his expression suggested that all the above might have been suggested to him before.

“I know,” he said. “Privately, I know. I get all that. But what can I do? It’s my job.”

“It must be so stressful,” I replied.

“It is very stressful,” he agreed.

I rub shoulders and share studios all the time with politicians whose job it is to make difficult decisions as to who gets what. Must be tough, but not half as tough as being one of the many public sector workers who have to make the big calls on the ground, while breathing the same air as those they sit in judgment on.

We shook hands and I asked him what he was up to that evening. “Just telly, I suppose,” he said with a shrug. “It’s a school night.”


Linden Homes [Galliford Try]: “some roof tiles secured with duct tape”

“A homeowner plagued with issues in his new-build house said his family was left unsafe when the developer withheld a report condemning the roof.

Joe Tompkinson also said Linden Homes “reneged” on a promise to pay expenses if they moved out during repair work.

He said more than 400 different faults had been identified since his family moved into the house in Abbey Farm in Swindon in December 2017.

Linden has pledged to “attend to any issues” at the property.

Mr Tompkinson claimed he and his family had suffered a catalogue of “extremely poor and negligent” workmanship and botched repairs – including unbolted banisters, sinking bathroom floors, micro-cracks, subsidence and missing brickwork.

Shortly after they moved in, the couple were alerted to problems with the roof when a tile fell off, causing £3,000 of damage to Mrs Tompkinson’s car, and tiles were found to be secured with duct tape.

Mr Tompkinson said in December an independent survey condemned the “unsafe” roof because the majority of tiles were incorrectly secured and soffits built too low.

The father of three said he only discovered this information through a subject access request.

He claimed the “dishonest and obstructive” firm would not release the report or provide a copy to the National House Building Council (NHBC). …

It [Linden Homes] admitted there was “an unusually high number of reported issues” on the development, which has seen more than 40 other homeowners detail problems.


“More than 100 [East Devon] families faced homelessness in just three months”

“Following the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act in 2017, councils in England must provide support to eligible homeless households, as well as those at risk of becoming homeless within 56 days.

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government data shows there were 109 households which needed support after applying for help from East Devon District Council between October and December, including 30 families with children.

Of these, 85 were at risk of homelessness, meaning the council had to work with them to prevent them losing their home.

The remaining 24 were already homeless and the council was tasked with helping them to secure accommodation for a period of at least six months.

The households owed support by EDDC included:

– 79 contained a person with at least one high need – 25 people had an illness or physical disability, 39 had a mental health condition, two a learning disability and two were elderly.

– 23 were headed by a single mother and three by a single father.

– 12 were at risk of homelessness because of so-called no-fault evictions, after their landlord issued them with a soon-to-be banned Section 21 notice.

– 12 lost their last home because of domestic abuse.

– One was sleeping rough at the time they applied for help from the council.

– 31 were headed by a person aged 35 to 44 – the most common age group.

Housing charity Shelter has warned that councils are struggling to cope with the volume of people needing support amid a national ‘housing emergency’.

One in five homeless or at risk households in East Devon lost their last secure home because their assured shorthold tenancy – the most common type of private rental contract – ended.

There were also six households made homeless because their social tenancy came to an end while one came from supported housing, which could include refugees or housing for elderly or disabled people.

Of the social tenants, five lost their homes because they were behind on their rent.

An East Devon District Council spokesman said: “East Devon have seen a rise in homelessness, including numbers of rough sleepers and households requiring temporary accommodation, in line with the national picture.

“This increase has been intensified by the lack of availability of suitable accommodation options available to people due to factors including reductions in funding of supported accommodation projects, austerity measures and rises in the rent levels in the private sector leading to affordability issues. These factors all contribute towards added pressure on social housing which is already in short supply whilst facing high levels of demand.

“In order to meet this rise in demand, and to address the additional responsibilities brought in through the Homelessness Reduction Act, changes have been made to the service with the responsibility of assisting people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness. …”