“Delivery driver forced to axe business after Persimmon Homes ban him from parking on his own drive at new £190k home”

“The dad-of-one was given just 14 days to move the van from his property, because small print in the terms of his freehold said he couldn’t park ‘commercial vehicles’ outside his own home.

As he was planning to use the van for his delivery business, the jobsworth inspector said the vehicle was illicitly parked.

The order came just days after the 25-year-old handed in his notice to focus on his new start-up.

Reece, of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, told The Sun Online: “It’s pathetic – they’re saying you can’t have this house unless you’re an accountant or something.

“They have no respect for people who work 70 hours a week to provide for their families unless it’s the right kind of job.

“I paid £192k for the freehold, why can’t I park a van on my drive? It’s elitist.

“None of my neighbors have complained – they think it’s ridiculous that I’m being forced to sell it. A lot of them have vans themselves.

“I grew my side business enough to go full-time, and even handed in my notice at work – then Persimmon wrecked all my plans.

“Thankfully I got my old job back, but it was still a bit sour. I haven’t done any deliveries for ages, and I’ve had to go back to square one.

“I’m just trying to sell the house so I can move on with my life.”

Reece was eventually forced to sell his van – and temporarily shelve his dreams of becoming his own boss.

He insists he wasn’t told about the bonkers contract clause – and says even his solicitor failed to pick up on it.

He blasted: “There’s no way I would have bought the place had I known about it. Setting up a business has been a dream of mine for years.

“When we first moved in there were about 50 things wrong with the house. The build quality was shocking, I’ve had to spend £2k on really basic renovations just so I can sell it.

“The carpet is coming up everywhere, and the paint comes off the walls if it gets slightly damp.

“The door frames are the wrong size and the skirting boards are all wrong. It’s been a nightmare, I’m never buying a house from them again.”

It comes after Persimmon boss Jeff Fairburn sparked fury by walking out of an interview when pressed on his staggering £75m bonus.

When asked if he had any regrets about the furore, he sneered: “I’d rather not talk about that, it’s been well covered actually.”

He then stormed off, adding: “I think that’s really unfortunate actually that you’ve done that.”

Last year we revealed a couple in Newquay, Cornwall, plastered their windows with posters warning potential buyers to stay away from their Persimmon-built estate.”

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/7535824/delivery-driver-forced-close-business-after-persimmon-homes-parking-ban/

West Country Tory MP feels completely out of place in his party

“A Tory backbencher has criticised the government and said he would not have stood as an MP “if the situation was like it is now”.

Johnny Mercer told The House magazine he was no longer sure that his “set of values and ethos” were still “aligned with the Conservative Party”.

The party had “lost focus” on fighting for what it believed in and instead was focused on “technocrats and managers”.

Mr Mercer, an ex-Army officer, has said he never voted until he became an MP
The MP for Plymouth Moor View has been critical of the party before, telling the Telegraph in 2017 it was “in danger of losing credibility”.

In his interview with The House, Mr Mercer – who was first elected in 2015 – was critical of Prime Minister Theresa May’s response to a questions about investigations into Northern Ireland veterans, saying “she did not answer in a way that made me proud to be a member of the governing party”.

And, of her Chequers blueprint for post-Brexit relations with the EU, he said: “That is your classic professional politicians’ answer because it’s right down the middle. It doesn’t make anybody happy. It’s the ultimate in not making a decision.”

He said, “under this chief whip, under this prime minister, there is no role for people like me” but added: “That’s fine because nothing lasts forever.” He admitted he would like to be defence secretary – Mr Mercer has campaigned for veterans, including those with mental health problems.

Mr Mercer said that while his “set of values and ethos” had been aligned with the Conservative Party, “I’m not as comfortable that that’s the case anymore.”

And he added: “If the situation was like it is now, I can safely say there would be absolutely no chance that I would try and be a member of Parliament.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-45905581

West Midlands mayor must travel in luxury to help the homeless

“A Tory mayor has sparked outrage after spending £500 of taxpayers’ cash on a chauffeur to drive him to a meeting on homelessness.

West Midlands mayor Andy Street splashed the “obscene” sum on the “exclusive” service to take him and an aide to Heathrow Airport and back home again.

In his manifesto when he ran to become mayor, Mr Street insisted: “I want to keep the costs of the mayor’s office as low as possible.”

The lavish spending by the former John Lewis boss can be exposed by The Mirror after his travel costs were revealed under freedom of information laws.

Birmingham Labour MP Steve McCabe branded the chauffeur-driven journey “obscene”, adding: “The money would have been better spent on night shelters and soup kitchens here in the West Midlands.”

The number of people forced to sleep rough in the West Midlands has shot up since 2010.

In November 2017, Mr Street visited Helsinki, Finland, in November 2017 to see an approach to tackling homelessness called Housing First.

Invoices obtained under freedom of information laws show the one-day trip cost £2,216.88.

The cost included a bill for £530.40 to transport an aide from Birmingham and Mr Street from Westminster to Terminal 3 at Heathrow Airport.

The chauffeur then drove the pair back from London to Birmingham at the end of the day.

The website of the chauffeur company, Chauffeured By Car, says it operates a “discreet, professional service” offering “first class luxury travel”.

It adds: “You can simply relax, leave all the worry about directions and traffic to us, and enjoy the journey. To Chauffeured By Car your journey is our passion and we are committed to providing you with a world-class service.”

Detailing the one-day Helsinki trip, documents from West Midlands Combined Authority say: “Housing and land use is a key priority for the West Midlands Combined Authority.

“As part of this one of the key areas the mayor is focusing on is homelessness and rough sleeping. This visit represented a fact finding and lessons learnt exercise on homelessness issues.”

Housing First is credited with making Finland the only European country to see a fall in long-term homelessness in recent years.

It has been successful at ending homelessness for at least eight out of 10 people in the scheme.

This is compared to hostel-based accommodation which has resulted in between 40% and 60% of users with complex needs leaving, or ejected, before their homelessness is resolved.

Mr Street claims the Helsinki trip helped him secure £9.6million in funding in May this year for the West Midlands to try to end the scandal of rough sleeping in the region.”

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/tory-mayor-splashes-500-taxpayers-13421748

Pigs and troughs …. MP outside interests and payments: some snouts much deeper in the trough than others)

They get £75 – £150 for filling out Parliamentary surveys about what they think!!! Each one taking 30-60 minutes!!!

“Posh watches, football tickets and VIP trips – what your MPs get for free
Expensive gifts, football tickets, all-paid trips abroad, second salaries and fat dividends – all the perks and benefits enjoyed by your local MP.

Second jobs, cash for surveys and income from company shares, donors and second homes – these are just some of the ways your local MP makes extra money.

Plymouth, Devon and Cornwall’s political elite – in line with the rest of parliament – routinely lay out in full their financial affairs for all to see to maintain openness and transparency.

Some through their powerful connections, seniority and expertise gain more than others – whether that be a gift from a wealthy client, cash donations from the private sector, wages from another high-flying job or all-paid for trips abroad to promote UK affairs.

Those deep inside the inner Whitehall circle are REALLY pulling in the mega bucks.

Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson was recently thrown back in the spotlight after it was revealed he’s being paid £22,916.66 a month until July 2019 by the Daily Telegraph – an annual pay packet of £274,999 – to write articles.

Plymouth Live lifts the lid on the latest round of financial declarations, dated October 1, unveiled by Parliament.

Johnny Mercer – Plymouth Moor View [Conservative]

The Tory backbencher declared in parliament’s latest financial log he’s landed a second job earning £85,000 a year – in return for 20 hours work a month.

Ex soldier Johnny has taken up the role of non-executive director for military veterans support company Crucial Academy Ltd.

That’s on top of his paycheck as a member of parliament – £77,379 – taking his total annual earnings to £162,379.

Mr Mercer, who employs his wife Felicity Cornelius-Mercer as his Principal Secretary, has also publicly declared he was paid £300 by the BBC in March this year for a three-hour appearance at the BBC Free Thinking Festival.

He also had accommodation and travel funded by the Bahrain Embassy from April 5 to 9 this year so he could attend the opening of the UK/Bahrain Naval Base, meet with Government Ministers, as well as members of the Federal National Council and senior business figures in order to build on the ‘bilateral relationship’.

Luke Pollard – Plymouth Sutton and Devonport [Labour]

Mr Pollard – elected in the 2017 snap General Election – has declared he owns a house in Plymouth worth more than £100,000.

Gary Streeter – South West Devon [Conservative]

Mr Streeter, who employs his wife Janet Streeter as a part-time Junior Parliamentary Researcher, has made extra cash filling out online Government surveys.

The senior Tory politician also declared a £3,500 watch bought for him as a Christmas present from Plymouth millionaires Michael and Diane Hockin.

Mr Streeter’s cash for surveys

9 October 2017, received £150 for completing July and September 2017 parliamentary panel surveys. Hours: approx. 90 mins (45 mins each).

20 November 2017, received £75 for completing October 2017 parliamentary panel survey. Hours: 45 mins.

5 January 2018, received £100 for completing November 2017 parliamentary panel survey. Hours: approx. 45 mins.

5 February 2018, received £100 for completing January 2018 parliamentary panel survey. Hours: approx. 45 mins.

14 March 2018, received £75 for completing February 2018 parliamentary panel survey. Hours: approx. 45 mins.

19 April 2018, received £75 for completing March 2018 parliamentary panel survey. Hours: approx. 45 mins.

25 May 2018, received £75 for completing April 2018 parliamentary panel survey. Hours: approx. 45 mins.

29 June 2018, received £75 for completing May 2018 parliamentary panel survey. Hours: approx. 45 mins.

13 August 2018, received £75 for completing June 2018 parliamentary panel survey. Hours: approx. 45 mins.

Sarah Wollaston – Totnes [Conservative]

Ms Wollaston, Tory chair of the Liaison Committee and the Health Select Committee in the House of Commons, had no financial declarations to declare.

Anne Marie Morris – Newton Abbot – [Conservative]

The former lawyer owns two flats in London and a house in Surrey which generate income.

The Tory MP has a non-paid for position for marketing consultancy firm Manteion Ltd.

She is also a ‘non-practising’ member of the Law Society of England and Wales, the Chartered Institute of Marketing and the European Mentoring and Coaching Council.

Ms Marie Morris is also an unpaid director of the Small Business Bureau.

From March 2017, she became a non-paid director of the Genesis Initiative; a body that seeks to represent small business interests of European businesses.

Ben Bradshaw – Exeter [Labour] note: it does not say here that Mr Bradshaw donates all recent MP pay rises to charity

The Labour MP has made extra cash each month filling out ‘opinion’ surveys.

Mr Bradshaw is also a member of the Humboldt Advisory Board, at Humboldt University, in Berlin.

He wrote in his financial declaration: “Where possible, I attend annual Advisory Board meetings in Berlin, the costs of which are met by the university.”

Mr Bradshaw’s cash for surveys

Payment from ComRes, Coveham House, Downside Bridge Road, Cobham KT11 3EP, for opinion surveys:

12 June 2017, payment of £75. Hours: 30 mins.

22 August 2017, payment of £50. Hours: 30 mins.

22 September 2017, payment of £75. Hours: 30 mins.

29 September 2017, payment of £150. Hours: 1 hr.

17 November 2017, payment of £75. Hours: 30 mins.

14 March 2018, payment of £75. Hours: 30 mins

16 April 2018, payment of £75. Hours: 30 mins.

22 May 2018, payment of £75. Hours: 30 mins.

25 June 2018, payment of £75. Hours: 30 mins.

23 July 2018, payment of £75. Hours: 30 mins.

27 August 2018, payment of £75. Hours: 30 mins.

13 September 2018, payment of £100. Hours: 30 mins.

Geoffrey Cox QC – Torridge and West Devon

Geoffrey Cox has been MP for Torridge and West Devon since 2005 and is said to be the highest earning MP in the House of Commons, thanks to his other role as a barrister.

Mr Cox has declared hundreds of thousands of pounds in fees paid to him by solicitor firms in return for hundreds of hours worth of work over the last year.

He owns a cottage and farmland in West Devon and owns shares in an international law firm and a property company.

Geoffrey Cox’s vast legal fees

Payments from Messrs. Janes, solicitors. Address: 17 Waterloo Place, London SW17 4AR: 8 December 2017, received £24,750 for legal services provided between 1 September 2016 and 1 October 2017. Hours: 40 hrs approx.

31 December 2017, received £3,000 for legal services provided between 4 and 7 November 2017. Hours: 5 hrs approx.

31 January 2018, received £5,000 for legal services provided between 1 December 2017 and 31 January 2018. Hours: 8 hrs approx.

16 May 2018, received £4,500 plus VAT for legal services provided between 1 September 2017 and 31 May 2018. Hours: 9 hrs approx.

13 June 2018, received £5,750 plus VAT for legal services provided between 14 March and 22 May 2018. Hours: 10 hrs approx.

Payments from Messrs. Travers, Thorp, Alberga, Attorneys. Address: Harbour Place, 2nd Floor, PO Box 472, 103 South Church Street, Grand Cayman KY1 1106: 5 February 2018, received £40,000 for legal services provided between 1 September 2017 and 18 February 2018. Hours: 60 hrs approx.

Payments from Bachubhai Munim & Co Advocates & Solicitors, 312, Tulsiani Chambers, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021: 27 November 2017, received £85,387.50 for legal services provided between 14 February 2017 and 12 November 2017. Hours: 170 hrs approx.

31 July 2018, received £12,500 (no VAT) for work undertaken between 1 November 2017 and 30 June 2018. Hours: 25 hrs.

15 November 2017, received £3,333.33 from Registrar of Criminal Appeals, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2LL, for legal services provided between 1 January 2016 and 15 December 2016. Hours: 10 hrs approx.

Payments from Oracle Solicitors, 182-184 Edgware Road, London W2 2DS: 15 December 2017, received £119,733.33 for legal services provided between 1 July 2016 and 30 November 2017. Hours: 350 hrs approx.

15 May 2018, received £119,733.33 for legal services provided between 1 May 2016 and 30 April 2018 and continuing. Hours: 300 hrs approx.

31 August 2018, received £88,602.67 plus VAT for legal services provided between 1 March and 9 July 2018. Hours: 300 hrs.

Payments from LK Baltica Solicitors, 4th Floor, Kings Buildings, 16 Smith Square, London SW1P 3HQ: 14 March 2018, received £2,500 for legal services provided between 1 and 31 March 2018. Hours: 5 hrs approx.

13 April 2018, received £3,000 for legal services provided between 1 March and 30 April 2018. Hours: 5 hrs approx.

15 May 2018, received £6,737.50 for legal services provided between 1 February and 30 April 2018. Hours: 10 hrs approx.

16 July 2018, received £2,475 plus VAT for work undertaken between 1 April and 30 June 2018. Hours: 5 hrs.

Payments from Messrs Rainer Hughes, Oak House, 46 Crossway, Shenfield, CM15 8QY: 16 July 2018, received £1,000 plus VAT for work undertaken between 21 September and 12 December 2011. Hours: 2 hrs.

Mel Stride – Central Devon

Tory Paymaster General Mel Stride holds a stake of more than 15 per cent in Venture Marketing Group Ltd – described by parliamentary files as a ‘publisher, organiser of exhibitions and conferences.’

Peter Heaton-Jones – North Devon [Conservative]

Tory Mr Heaton-Jones’ only declaration is that he owns a house in Wiltshire worth more than £100,000.

Sir Hugo Swire – East Devon [Conservative]

Sir Hugo has had several ministerial roles, most recently as Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Since 2016, the senior politician has earned thousands every month in prominent positions outside Parliament and holds shares yielding tens of thousands of pounds in a honey firm.

He employs his wife Alexandra (Sasha) Swire, as Senior Researcher/Parliamentary Assistant.

Sir Hugo’s outside appointments and earnings – in his own words

From 9 November 2016 until 1 June 2018, Adviser to KIS France, a manufacturer of photo booths and mini labs. Address: 7 Rue Jean Pierre Timbaud, 38130 Echirolles, France. I was paid £3,000 every month for this role.

Hours: 8 hrs per month. I consulted ACoBA about this appointment.

From 15 November 2016, Deputy Chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council. Address: Marlborough House, Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5HX. From 1 April 2018 I expect to be paid £2,083 every month until further notice. Hours: 10 hrs per month. I consulted ACoBA about this appointment.

16 November 2017, received £25,000 for acting as adviser to Apiro Real Estate Fund 1 Limited Partnership, 1 Connaught House, Mount Row, London SW1K 3RA. Hours: 10 hrs. I consulted ACoBA about this appointment.

From 18 June 2017 until 4 June 2018, non-executive director of ATG Airports, Newton Road, Lowton St Mary’s, Warrington WA3 2AP. From 5 February 2018, I was paid £2,500 every month for this role. Hours: approx. 4.5 hrs per month. Any additional payments are listed below. I consulted ACoBA about this appointment.

24 November 2017, received £10,086.72. Hours: 15 hrs.

From 19 March 2018 until further notice, Non-Executive Chairman of the British Honey Company, Unit 3 Vista Place, Coy Pond Business Park, Ingworth Road, Poole, Dorset, BH12 1JY. I will receive shares with a value of £50,000, in lieu of two years’ payment. Hours: expected to be about 5 hrs a month. I consulted ACoBA about this appointment.

Neil Parish – Tiverton and Honiton [Conservative]

Mr Parish declared he’d had all his expenses covered by the Conservative Friends of Israel to go on a ‘fact finding political delegation’ to Israel from April 8 to April 13 this year.

He wrote: “Estimate of the probable value (or amount of any donation): (1) Air travel, accommodation and hospitality for myself with a value of £2,500, plus airport transfer and hospitality for my spouse with a value of £600, total £3,100 (2) For my spouse and myself, bus travel and airport VIP service with a total value of £1,300.”

Mr Parish owns a family farm in Somerset and employs his wife Susan Parish, as Junior Secretary.

Sheryll Murray – South East Cornwall [Conservative]

Mrs Murray revealed she’d secured a Tory party donation from Looe Conservative Ladies Luncheon Club amounting to £2,776.91 in 2017.

Torpoint and District Unionist Club also pledged £3,000 that year.

Mrs Murray also declared she went on an all-paid expenses trip to Armenia from 21 September to 24 September last year to attend a ‘Progressivism and Conservatism conference’.

“Airfare and accommodation for me and member of staff with a value of £2,800,” she wrote.

All costs were covered by the Prosperous Armenia Party.

Scott Mann – North Cornwall [Conservative]

Scott Mann attended the Progressivism and Conservatism conference in Armenia in September last year, expenses to the tune of £2,800 covered by Prosperous Armenia Party.

George Eustice – Camborne and Redruth [Conservative]

Mr Eustice declared that he owns a one-bed flat in London.

Sarah Newton – Truro & Falmouth [Conservative]

Sarah Newton had no financial affairs to declare.

Steve Double – St Austell and Newquay [Conservative]

In January, Winchester-based tyre firm Micheldever Tyre Service gave Mr Double two tickets to a football match and threw in hospitality and hotel accommodation in a package worth £600.

The MP is also getting paid £18,990 to act as a policy advisor for Good Faith Partnership LLP in a nine-month contract finishing in December this year.

He also joined Tories on a ‘fact-finding political delegation’ to Israel in April this year – with all his expenses being covered by Conservative Friends of Israel and Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mr Double’s affairs – in his words

Land and property portfolio: (i) value over £100,000 and/or (ii) giving rental income of over £10,000 a year

From 10 May 2018, a flat in St Austell, co-owned with my wife and inhabited by a family member

Shareholdings: over 15% of issued share capital

Bay Direct Media; a direct marketing company

Bay Mailing Services Ltd; a mailing house

Phoenix Corporate Gifts Ltd; a company selling branded merchandise

Family members employed and paid from parliamentary expenses

I employ my wife, Anne Double, as Principal Secretary.

Derek Thomas – St Ives [Conservative]

In 2017, the ex-property developer secured a £3,000 Tory party donation from Tresco island owner Robert Dorrien Smith.

Mr Thomas also secured £16,221 in sponsorship from Aventis Pharma Ltd for healthcare consultancy firm Incisive Health, to drive forward its Diabetes Think Tank initiative.

Since October last year, the MP has also jointly owned land, a house and a shop in West Cornwall with his wife.

Mr Thomas declared that since December 2015, he holds an interest ‘below registrable value’ in Mustard Seed Property Ltd, a community benefit society which provides housing in Cornwall for vulnerable people.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/mps-plymouth-salaries-benefits-parliament-2092453

“‘I’m afraid a child will die’: life at the sharp end of council cuts”

…. A recent analysis by the charity Action for Children concluded that spending on early intervention services for children in England has dropped by 26% over the last four years. The number of children’s centres lost since 2010 is estimated to be as high as 1,000. As the prime minister promises “the end of austerity”, many of these changes look irreversible, not least because increasing numbers of councils are facing dire financial problems.

Precisely tracking what is happening across the country is all but impossible, but freedom of information requests lodged by Labour’s shadow minister for early years, the Yorkshire MP Tracy Brabin, give a strong sense of what is going on. In Reading, the last eight years have seen the number of people employed in SureStart work drop from 95 to 53. In Wirral, the number has dropped from 219 to 63; in Southampton, from 1,189 to 583.

The vast majority of Somerset’s GetSet workers are women. Many of them do not just provide direct family support, but also organise the open playgroups that often provide a first point of contact for troubled families. “My worst fear is that a child’s going to die,” says one worker. “

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/oct/12/im-afraid-a-child-will-die-life-at-the-sharp-end-of-council-cuts

“Call for a £60,000 pay rise for high court judges sparks anger”

“Senior judges could be awarded an annual pay rise of almost £60,000, a proposal which has sparked anger among other public sector workers.

A government-commissioned review has reportedly recommended that high court judges should receive a 32% salary hike due to claims of low morale within the judiciary.

The rise would see their pay jump from £181,500 a year to £240,000 – an increase of more than £1,100 a week – if the findings of the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) are accepted.

A combination of long hours and tax changes to pension schemes for high earners was said to have led to a recruitment crisis in the judiciary.

The Ministry of Justice confirmed Theresa May and the justice secretary, David Gauke, had received the SSRB’s report at the end of September. But officials said no decisions had been taken as to whether to accept its recommendations.

A ministry spokesman said: “The government values the work of our world-renowned judiciary, which is why we commissioned this review and are considering its recommendations. We will respond in due course. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/law/2018/oct/12/call-for-a-60000-pay-rise-for-high-court-judges-sparks-anger

“Food deserts”

“More than a million people in the UK live in “food deserts” – neighbourhoods where poverty, poor public transport and a dearth of big supermarkets severely limit access to affordable fresh fruit and vegetables, a study has claimed.

Nearly one in 10 of the country’s most economically deprived areas are food deserts, it says – typically large out-of-town housing estates and deprived inner-city wards served by a handful of small, relatively expensive corner shops.

Public health experts are concerned that these neighbourhoods – which are often also “food swamps” with high densities of fast-food outlets – are helping to fuel a rise in diet-related conditions such as obesity and diabetes, as well as driving food insecurity. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/oct/12/more-than-a-million-uk-residents-live-in-food-deserts-says-study