Digital Economy Bill – Keep the internet FREE!

March 17th, 2010

I recieved this message on facebook and highly recommend all have a read..

Obhi Chatterjee 17 March at 00:15
As you’ve probably heard by now, our ‘Save the Net’ emergency motion was passed unanimously by the Lib Dem Spring Conference on Sunday morning. Here’s the Lib Dem approach to Freedom, creativity & the internet: http://bit.ly/ayecAL .

Now comes the next challenge: the Digital Economy Bill, which was passed by the House of Lords on Monday. At the moment, with the dissolution of Parliament imminent due to the elections, the Bill is expected to pass through the House of Commons with hardly any debate in the next two weeks: http://bit.ly/aCQx0V.

For a democratic debate about the Bill before it becomes law, MPs would have to protest at the limited time to examine and debate the Bill. This would probably postpone such a debate until after the elections.

If you want to e-mail your MP to persuade them to do this, there is a simple form at http://www.writetothem.com/. You just need to enter your postcode to identify your MP and then fill out the form, including what you want to ask your MP (politely but persuasively).

For inspiration for your message to your MP, see http://bit.ly/b8nZB7 .

Once you have written to your MP, tweet that you’ve done so including the Twitter code #debill and http://bit.ly/b8nZB7.

Calling for LOCAL school places for LOCAL children

March 6th, 2010

Well, admissions time has been and gone once again for schools in the London Borough of Sutton and while there is good news for some its bad news for others.

170 children who live in the Borough either didnt obtain a place on their list of preferred choices or were not even offered a place at a school in the borough where they live.  This infuriates me.  Especially when we further read that 980 children from other boroughs both nearby and from further afield have been offered places at our schools.  We have plenty of school places for every child in the London Borough of Sutton and we have some terrific schools – its just that these places are being offered to children bussed or trained in from places as far away as Brighton I was told today.

I guess in a way its a compliment to the LibDem Council that our schools are so attractive to people who live outside our area – so much investment and good work has already been done to improve our schools.  But Why oh WHY are our local children being refused places in our local schools?

It recently came to my knowledge that we have over 19 different admissions authorities for schools in our borough – yes NINETEEN!  There is the LEA (Local Education Authority) that have control over the admissions in some of our schools.  All the others are either ‘Foundation Schools’ or Religion based schools (Church Schools as they are known).  These schools are permitted to select only the kids that they want to attend and have no interest in whether the child is local or not and the local council authorities have no powers to force them to support our local families in this matter.

The Liberal Democrats are fully behind a FAIR EDUCATION system and A FAIR START FOR ALL CHILDREN.

David Cameron and the Conservative party are backing plans to create even more foundation schools and church schools which will only exacerbate the problem of multiple admissions authorities and totally counter to the campaigns for Local School Places for Local Children.

Nick Clegg as part of our four point plan states the following:

A fair start for all children

The next priority is to give every child the fair start they deserve through a huge transformation of our education system that will build the foundations of fair society. That means cutting class sizes so children get the individual attention they need to thrive. The Liberal Democrats will be putting an extra £2.5 billion into schools to pay for more teachers, better discipline and catch-up classes so children get the individual attention they all need. This means an average of £2,500 extra per pupil for the schools teaching the million most deprived children in the country, funded by taking above-average earners out of the tax credit system and cutting wasteful programmes at the Department for Education. The Liberal Democrats will also phase out tuition fees over the course of six years, so that, after school, everyone who gets the grades has the opportunity to go to university without fear of debt, no matter what their background.

Morethan Lofts to the Rescue

February 23rd, 2010

I just wanted to write a note of thanks to the guys at More Than Lofts Limited- they really helped us out of a scrape today.

We had a printer being delivered today that was too large to fit through our office doorway and we had a scheduled double glazing company to come and remove and then replace a window to get the printer into the office.  They cancelled and let us down yesterday afternoon at 3pm leaving us with a printer scheduled to be delivered this morning at 10:00 am and no way to get the machine into the office without a hammer!!

I made a couple of phone calls and eventually had a great conversation with More Than Lofts who said they’d come out and take a look at the window and let me know if they would be able to accomodate us at such short notice (everyone else had told us that they needed about a weeks notice).

I had to disappear to a meeting yesterday evening but Stacy from MoreThan went to our office at 7:30pm and confirmed that he’d be able to help us out on the telephone at 9:30pm yesterday evening. (even though it was his wifes birthday dinner Stacy – please pass on thanks to her for understanding)

Stacy arrived this morning exactly on time with his team and did a great job in removing the window and even helped the guys lift the printer in through the window before putting the window back in again afterwards.

Its really great to know we have such a helpful company locally in Worcester Park that are not only professional and efficient but are able and willing to go the extra mile when needed.  I am delighted we were able to have Stacy and More Than Lofts as our local supplier – I cant recommend them highly enough and will definately be using them for future works. 

I wish them luck with their 2nd shop frontage in Worcester Park on Central Road and hope that their 4 year old business continues to grow.

More Than Lofts Lmited can be contacted at http://www.morethanlofts.com or telephone on 0208 545 8383

MP’s Expenses, the Green Book and the Legg report

February 4th, 2010

Well, the legg report is finally here at a cost to the taxpayer of just over a million pounds!

His recommended repayments requested from MP’s who have overclaimed – guess what – its also just over one million pounds.

I’ll be tweeting some specifics so keep an eye out for them as I find the ones that really ‘get my goat’, but in the meantime here is an extract from the Green Book – the ‘rules’ that all the MP’s have been saying that they are within:

1.  Members of Parliament are provided with financial support in the form of allowances to enable them to work effectively in Parliament and in their constituencies.

2. 

Parliamentary allowances are designed to ensure that Members are reimbursed for costs properly incurred in the performance of their duties.
 
3.  All MP’s signed the Parliamentary code of conduct which includes a number of general principles of personal conduct. These are based on concepts of selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

4.  The principles of expense claims in the Green Book are:
 
Claims should be above reproach and must reflect actual usage of the resources being claimed.

Claims must only be made for expenditure that it was necessary for a Member to incur to ensure that he or she could properly perform his or her parliamentary duties.

Allowances are reimbursed only for the purpose of a Member carrying out his or her parliamentary duties. Claims cannot relate to party political activity of any sort, nor must any claim provide a benefit to a party political organisation.

It is not permissible for a Member to claim under any parliamentary allowance for anything that the Member is claiming from any other source.

Members must ensure that claims do not give rise to, or give the appearance of giving rise to, an improper personal financial benefit to themselves or anyone else.

Members are committed to openness about what expenditure has been incurred and for what purposes.

Individual Members take personal responsibility for all expenses incurred, for making claims and for keeping records, even if the administration of claims is delegated by them to others.

The requirement of ensuring value for money is central in claiming for accommodation, goods or services – Members should avoid purchases which could be seen as extravagant or luxurious.

Claims must be supported by documentary evidence, except where the House has agreed that such evidence is not necessary.

 

 

Stop Primary School Cramming in Sutton Borough

January 20th, 2010

10.21.14am GMT Fri 15th Jan 2010 Sutton LibDems Press Release

The borough’s two Liberal Democrat MPs, Paul Burstow and Tom Brake, led a delegation today (14th Jan) to lobby Schools Minister, Vernon Coaker, to release some of the £30 million he has left to help Council’s cope with a rising birth rate. The MPs pressed the Minister to help the borough cope with the increased demand for primary school places that will start to hit the borough from September 2011.

Sutton Council is already working closely with primary schools investing £8.4 million to provide extra permanent classrooms to cater for the extra 300 children expected in 2011. The MPs warned the Minister that the Council and schools were working to a very tight budget and there was still a risk that there would not be enough places available to meet the choice and demand of parents.

Commenting on the meeting Tom Brake said “The Minister gave us a fair hearing. He must now convert his understanding of our case into hard cash”

Paul Burstow MP added, “We have a very strong case for extra financial help. Sutton is in danger of falling between two stalls when it comes to funding primary school places.

“There is good collaboration between the Council and schools to agree a workable plan but it will be very tight. I think the Minister understood the basic fairness of our case. Now we have to wait and see what he decides.

The Minister told the MPs and Council officials that he hoped to make decisions in the next few weeks.

The delegation also included Ian Birnbaum the Councils Strategic Director of Children’s Services.

Vince Cable is demanding a levy of 10% on all banks profits

January 18th, 2010

What a brilliant proposal – its a tax on their excessive profits and a great way of repaying the taxpayer!

A little over a year ago, the British taxpayer bailed our the UK banks – to the tune of £30,000 for every person in the country.  But banks have just gone back to business as usual.  Many banks have already announced bumper bonuses.

The UK banks now owe their very existence to the taxpayer.  All have benefited from the explicit guarantee that none of them will be allowed to fail.  The Governor of the Bank of England has estimated that the UK banks have received the equivalent of more than £1 trillion in taxpayer support.  Now Vince Cable is demanding a levy of 10% on all banks profits and a stop to excessive bonuses paid by banks supported by public money.

Only Vince Cable and the Liberal Democrats saw the financial crisis coming.  Even now it is only Vince Cable and the Liberal Democrats who are proposing effective measures to challenge the power and abuses in banking.  Remember it was the Conservatives who started deregulation of banking and Labour that allowed it to continue.  Fundamentally they both still believe that the market is always right.  Vince Cable and the Liberal Democrats do not!

From the West Dorset Voice

Banks Bailout a timeline

January 16th, 2010

14 September 2007 – Northern Rock begins receiving financial support from the Bank of England in the form of a £27 billion loan to stop it from collapse.

17 February 2008 – Northern Rock taken into public ownership and £27 billion loan is transferred from the Bank of England to the Government.

September 2008 – HBOS and Lloyds TSB announce they are to merge

13 October 2008 – The Government pumps £37 billion into Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds TSB in return for shares in the banks. RBS gets £20 billion while the now Lloyds Banking Group gets £17 billion (split between the then Lloyds TSB and HBOS). With 26 million households in Britain, the bailout of these banks is equivalent to £1,500 for every home in the country.

19 January 2009 – The Government announces it will underwrite the risky loans of any banks who apply for help in an Asset Protection Scheme

26 February 2009 – RBS applies to Asset Protection Scheme for £325 billions of assets to be insured by Government, in return it pays a fee of £25.5 billion in shares.

7 March 2009 – Lloyds Banking Group applies to Asset Protection Scheme for £260 billion of assets to be insured by Government. It pays the Government a fee of £15.6 billion in shares.

11 June 2009 – Lloyds Banking Group buys back some of the shares owned by the Government, reducing the Government’s stake in the bank to £14.7 billion.

3 November 2009 – Lloyds announces it will not need the Asset Protection Scheme. The bank raises capital of £21 billion by selling more shares. The Government says it will buy £5.7 billion stake in bank.

RBS said it would reduce the amount insured under the Asset Protection Scheme to £282 billion. The Government pumps £25.5 billion in cash into RBS and said it would provide a further £8 billion if needed.

Banks bailout – time to give back our money!

January 16th, 2010

I am sure most of us remember last year when banks needed some financial assistance from the taxpayer via the Labour governement who expects the long term cost to the taxpayer of the bank bailouts to be between £20 billion and £50 billion.

But it could be as high as £1 trillion if all the guarantees and insurances were used in full.

And thats just in the UK. President Obama annouced his intentions to try to get some of the US funds back from banks trading in the US by creating a 0.15% bank tax – this is expected to clawback $90billion back from the banks over ten years and back into taxpayers pockets stateside. Full story available here courtesy of The Independant

Back in the UK, Alistair Darling say No! Not in Britain will we use this method. He is very good at saying no, but not so great in explaining exactly how he plans to get back the billions of pounds that the banks borrowed…. Full Story courtesy of The Telegraph

How and When will the government hold the banks to account for not meeting the committments they made when they borrowed over £20 billion from British taxpayers?

They can afford to pay out billions in bonuses for their ’successes’, so why not pay your debts as well Mr Lloyds, Mr Royal Bank of Scotland and others?

Charlie Brooker at his best

January 13th, 2010

Courtesy of the Guardian – you got to love Charlie Brooker!! some of his best writing…

There’s no hope left for Labour – apart, perhaps, from hopelessness itself Brown might as well go for broke with his election pledges – free croissants it is

Charlie Brooker The Guardian, Monday 11 January 2010 Article

So then. Following a half-hearted coup attempt, which turned out to be the equivalent of Hoon and Hewitt trying to assassinate their target by firing a rubber band at his head as he walked past the tuckshop – bookmakers say there is currently 25% less chance of Labour winning the general election than there is of Kevin Keegan inexplicably giving birth to a horse on St Swithin’s Day. The Conservatives don’t have to do much except wait patiently, gliding toward 6 May like a baleen whale with its mouth flapping open, lazily preparing to inhale an acre of krill. Unless David Cameron holds a live televised press conference at which he pulls his fleshy mask off to reveal he’s been Darren Day all along, they’ve got it in the bag.

Even a preposterous advertising campaign can’t dent the Tories. All over London, billboards depict Cameron looking you in the eye with an expression of genteel concern, accompanied by the slogan “We can’t go on like this”. To the observer, the overall effect is that of a man trying to wriggle out of an unfulfilling sexual relationship without hurting your feelings. Or maybe a boss who’s called you into his office for a passive-aggressive talking-to. Would you vote for that? Not normally, no. But when the opposition is a flock of startled, shrieking hens, your range of options shrinks drastically.

But perhaps there’s still a glimmer of hope for Labour. I recently watched several episodes of a high-quality US comedy-drama serial called Breaking Bad. The storyline revolves around an underachieving, debt-ridden 50-year-old chemistry teacher who discovers he’s got terminal cancer. But wait, it gets funnier. Realising he has absolutely nothing to lose, he decides to become a crystal meth dealer in an insane last-ditch attempt to provide financial support for his family when he’s gone. Cue plenty of pitch-black hi-jinks.

It’s a good show. It’s also a road map for Labour. The party’s condition is similarly terminal, so it might as well go for broke by announcing a series of demented and ill-advised election pledges in an openly desperate bid to retain power. Who knows? It might just work. And if it’s having a hard time choosing some make-or-break policies, I’ll be only too happy to provide a list. Starting now.

Pledge 1: promise to govern while wearing spandex leotards like they do on Hole in the Wall if elected.

On the face of it, this sounds terrible. No one wants to see David Miliband rising to his feet in a silver bodysuit so tight you can make out every facet of his groin in topographic detail. They don’t even want to read that description of it. But while it might be hard on our eyes, it would be uncomfortable and humiliating for the MPs. And think about it: they have to wear it every day for at least four years. They’re not allowed to take them off either, so by the end of the term the House of Commons would reek. I’d vote for that. Come on, it would be funny.

Suggested campaign poster: Ed Balls in horribly tight leotard. Slogan: “SEE BALLS PUSH FOR GLORY.”

Plesdge 2: Tudor-style execution of Simon Cowell.

This would be desperately unfair on Cowell, who would be arrested, held in the Tower of London, and beheaded on live television should Labour get back in. No matter how low your opinion of Britain’s Got Talent, the man has clearly done nothing to deserve that kind of extreme treatment. But extreme treatment grabs headlines. And the recent Christmas chart triumph of Rage Against the Machine over Joe McElderry’s X Factor single indicates a hitherto-untapped, steadily expanding groundswell of anti-Cowell discontent which a cynical and desperate party could exploit for its own nefarious ends. Barbaric and cynical, yes – but on balance marginally more humane than scapegoating an entire minority and establishing death camps or anything quite as horrible like that.

Poster: Photoshop of Cowell’s head on pole. Slogan: “BRITAIN’S GOT PAYBACK.”

Plesdge 3: free warm croissants on buses.
Yes it’s lame, but it’ll get people talking far more than yet another dull promise about education spending or the like. Not only can the voter imagine it actually happening, they can virtually smell it in their mind’s nose. And that feels good during a cold snap. Come on, Labour. Go for it!

Poster: mouth-watering close-up of warm croissant. Slogan: “MMMM!”

Pledge 4: let the country exit with a bang.

Let’s face it, no matter what we do the environment’s knackered, the deficit’s insurmountable, and Britain’s Got Talent will return in the summer. The future’s bleak, so rather than face it, why not encourage the entire nation to go out in a frenzy of nihilistic excess? Step one: legalise everything. Step two: sell all remaining national assets to the Chinese. Step three: spend everything we have on chocolate pudding, narcotics and sex toys. Step four: announce the beginning of a year-long mass public orgy during which absolutely anything goes and participation is compulsory. Step five: on New Year’s Eve, we congregate naked around a massive bomb and nuke ourselves out of history for ever.

Poster: an explicit orgy photo. Slogan: “HEY, WE MIGHT AS WELL.”

Anyway, there you go. One or more are probably worth a try. In Breaking Bad, the protagonist uses his grim predicament as the catalyst for a string of crazy actions that leave him feeling more alive than ever. Perhaps embracing an equally hopeless situation with similarly mad gusto is the only actual hope Labour has left.

Flood prevention in Worcester Park?

January 12th, 2010

Would be good to get an idea on flooding prevention from London Borough of Sutton regarding potential issues at the bottom of Worcester Park.

Suggestion: clear the existing flood drainage ditch of trees, branches and other rubbish asap as when the snow melts you just know that its going to start raining. With a combination of rain plus the run-off of the melting snows Green Lane is going to be the new borough saling centre….