15/01/2012 Sunday Politics East Midlands


Andrew Neil and Marie Ashby with the latest political news, interviews and debate.

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Good afternoon and welcome to the very first edition of the Sunday


In the East Midlands, should local authorities accept a government


offer to freeze cancelled Cup -- council tax? Some council leader


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1683 seconds


say the coalition is setting them a Hello, I'm Marie Ashby and welcome


to the Sunday Politics in the East Midlands. Coming up:


Is it too good to be true? Why the leaders of two of our cities say


the Government's offer to freeze council tax is setting them a trap


With me throughout the programme, the Conservative MP for Broxtowe,


Anna Soubry, and Chris Williamson, the Shadow Communities Minister who


represents Derby North. Many of you will remember Anna from her days as


a reporter and presenter for Central Television in our region.


She then trained to become a barrister. Chris is a former


bricklayer and social worker. And he was a member of Derby City


Council for 20 years. Both of them entered Parliament for the first


time at the last election. You must be in a very small minority in the


Commons, Chris. A working-class MP! No, it is an incredible privilege


to represent my City as a Member of Parliament and it is true to say


that the number of MPs that are from a working-class background has


been falling over the last 50 or 60 years and I think all the political


parties have done a lot to increase representation from women and


people from minority backgrounds, but what we haven't done, but


parties are beginning to recognise this, is that if we are going to be


truly representative, we need more people from working-class


backgrounds. It is great to have the opportunity to represent my


city and coming from that background, I have got a better


ability to understand the concerns and issues of the people. Is this


really the job you've always wanted? No. To be honest, I didn't


really know what job I wanted! Things have just come along. I


think all MPs, the thing we share in, is a desire to make change,


that is why we get into politics, because we want to be empowered to


bring about those changes. It is how we do it is how we differ, so I


got involved in politics, and I was involved as a student, and then a


few years ago I got back to it because I felt very strongly about


things and I wanted to be a part of a change and make a difference. And


that is something I enjoy doing, especially when you can help


constituents out or stop and how I used settling in? I have tried to


find my feet, but you do get used to your working environment, which


is important because if you are going to be representing people,


you need to feel comfortable in your workplace, and it is an


important job that we are trying to do. And, so, yes, I can basically


find my way around. I have reached my office, so I am OK. And you?


I have got an office now. I enjoy it, the staff are extremely helpful


and kind, there is fantastic support services, whether it is in


the library, from your own party and own colleagues. And I like the,


Roderick and the banter, and members of the opposition, you


enjoy their company, and insult -- and enjoyed the insults on a joke


bases. Well, this week was an important


landmark in a case Anna's been taking a strong interest in. And


that's the horrific story involving a Stapleford mental health patient,


William Barnard, who killed his grandfather after stabbing him 50


times, and then seriously injured his grandmother when she tried to


protect him. An independent inquiry has identified serious failings in


the way his case was handled by his mental health team. They failed to


act despite Barnard refusing to open the door to them on several


occasions and despite the fact that he'd stopped taking his medication.


His uncle told East Midlands Today the report is a condemnation of the


health trust's failures. We would still have our father with us now


if any one of those many, many missed opportunities had been acted


Anna, You've been in regular contact with the family. They're


now calling for an inquest and they want the staff responsible for


those failings to be held accountable. Are they right? Very


much so. I think this must be the most damning report. Certainly,


Paul Bacon, who represented William Barnard, a unpaid, as a solicitor,


he says, and he has considerable experience in mental health cases,


this is the worst report he has seen and it is the worst one I have


seen. A damning indictment, a systemic failure and an absolute


outrage and scandal. My concern is that this report still doesn't not


tackle the questions that should have been answered. The strategic


health authority had not appreciated why these failings


occurred. And one of the things that really has caused me enormous


concern is that when William Barnard was taken out of hospital,


important information was not handed over to his new team. We


have the psychiatric nurses, if they had known that information,


they would have acted sooner. It is not missed opportunities but an


absolute failing to look after William, Corps went on to murder


his grandfather. -- who went on to murder. Do you think, Chris, that


we do enough in cases like this to bring those responsible to account?


This is an incredibly tragic case, and the report is pretty damning of


the way in which the perpetrator of this horrific crime was actually


handled. We do need to learn some lessons from this. And I think it


is... It is an indication of why we need to be so very careful in how


we handle the National Health Service and how we deal with


reorganisation because the last thing we need is a situation where


the transformation which is being proposed within the National Health


Service could actually make matters worse rather than better. But we


hear this so often that lessons have got to be learnt, but they


haven't, have they? What more should we be doing? They want to


make sure, the family, that all of these recommendations are carried


out. The real thing about this is this is not a party political point,


and not an issue, but mental health has been a Cinderella service and


the people that work in mental health, the people that looked


after William are often the most dedicated people and the the most


appalling circumstances and that is why they need to be properly


supervised and that is why communication needs to be better


and they need to have plans of action. The inquiry pointed out


that William Barnard did not have a history of violence and the attack


was not predictable. That is their due, but they are wrong because in


2002, when he was poorly for the first time, William disclosed to


his psychiatrist he thought people were going to kill him. He said he


had an axe, he probably didn't, those were her it -- his delusions,


but those were indicators of what might happen and those were the


risk factors that they spectacularly failed to make sure


to put there. The team didn't know that, and that is a complete


failure that really should be absolutely nailed and should be


understood, and it was a disgrace because John McGrath did not have


to die. Why don't we punish those responsible? The important thing is


not to demonise the mental health workers, who do an incredibly


difficult job, and I think Anna Soubry would agree. They have got


to have the adequate resources, training, supervision. So that they


avoid future tragedies. This report does not identify the supervisors


of the two most important key workers who, through no fault of


their own, could not give William the sort of care and attention they


needed. One of them was sick, in the most critical three-month


period, but nobody was supervising him. That is not in this report.


is an absolute tragedy and I know that you will have strong views on


our next story, too, the council tax.


I know you'll both have strong views on our next story, council


tax. The Government has offered councils a 2.5% increase in revenue


if they freeze the amount they charge you and me for the coming


year. But it's not quite that simple. Labour councillors smell a


trap, not least because they'll have to hold a referendum if they


reject the offer and increase rates by more than 3.5%. Here's our


political editor, John Hess. The relationship between national


government and our local councils can be a cat-and-mouse affair, so


who has got the cream, who feels rather trap? -- rather trapped up?


The annual budget round has become a craft that -- tougher game with


the Government wanting increases prison and is offering town halls a


cash incentive. Labour run Nottingham have rejected it. It is


a trap. If we take the money, it is going to cost us in great deal of


money further down the line. It will be a bit like taking out a pay


the loan and then paying about 40% interest per year. There is a


silver lining in those grey skies. Not an's council tax will rise by


3.4%. Accepting a freeze, Labour says, would mean it getting lower


funding the following year for benefit payments. We will lose


about a million pounds a year. that is big money? It has big


implications across services. And that is the crab. You will not hear


talk of a political trap here. County Hall in Nottinghamshire is


run by the Conservatives and they warm to the idea of a council tax


freeze. We have been given �7.7 million extra this year to put into


our budget and we have already taken that into account so we don't


have to make so many savings as we had expected to, so I am grateful


to the Government, and also there will be money there for next year


which means I do not have to ask the public to put the -- their


hands in their pockets. It would be wrong to but the council tax up,


especially when we have been offered money from the government


to keep it down. In Leicester, as in Labour Nottingham, the


Government's cash offer has been turned down. It's Labour mayor is


planning a 3.5% increase. The alternative, he says, is big cuts


to services and jobs. A1 % increase in the council tax produces �1


million. If we were to take the freeze Bob Grant, what it would do


is give us �2 million extra, but we would have to cut �3.5 million in


the coming year, and over the years to come a further �10 million in


three years. This grant is a trap. There is no other word for it.


is buried disappointing that Leicester City Council should take


that attitude. -- it is very disappointing. We are trying to


help hard-pressed families with their council to -- council tax


bills and all the surveys show that council tax is a concern. Coming


soon, the referendum game. Council tax increases over 3.5% will


trigger a referendum. The voters will have the final say. Who will


end up in the Mousetrap then a? So which way do you think councils


should jump? Joining us now, the Lib Dem leader of Hinckley and


Bosworth Council, Stuart Bray. What are you going to do? Are you going


to take the Government's money? we will freeze our council tax and


take the offer, which has about �105,000. Why? We think the people


of Hinckley and Bosworth are feeling the pinch right now, so we


have decided that it would be wrong we didn't take the offer. It would


be wrong and people are feeling the pinch. Well, this is the typical


Tory Lib Dem cynical gimmick, to give the impression is that they


are handling local government finances well. The truth is the


Government has singled out local government for the single biggest


reduction in funding of all public services. And, let's be clear,


local government is responsible for some of the most important public


services that defines the kind of society in which we live. And they


are being hammered. What is worse is that the areas like Nottingham,


Leicester, Derby, other cities and towns in the Midlands and the North


and some in London, they are bearing the biggest burden. And


more affluent parts of the country are seeing hardly any reduction at


all, so what we are seeing here is the poorest communities been


sacrificed on the altar of deficit reduction, whilst they are looking


after their friends in the Tory shire. So, you will take the money


despite that report, warning it will cost you more in the long run?


I am not going to come here and tell Graeme and Peter and others


have to run their council finances, that is their decision, and they


will have to answer to their electric. From our point of view,


we are taking �105,000, because it is the right thing to do, and we


will adjust our budget accordingly. We are losing 25% of our Grant ever


the first two years, but we are making savings and we have been


able to do that. Well, you have made your decision. Is there a


trap? They are allowing very well run and responsible local


authorities like the one Stewart leads to do the right thing. The


simple and reality is we are bust. We do not have any money. We have


reached the limit on our credit card. If anybody like that lives


like that, you have to make cuts. And Labour... Hang on, because you


had a good save. Labour will be doing exactly the same thing. And


we now know that if you get elected in 2015, you will continue to make


a cuts. Because of the deficit. Let's be clear. You're failing to


acknowledge the fact that George Osborne has had to borrow an


additional hundred �58 billion, which came out in the Autumn


Statement. -- an additional �158 billion. We should be investing in


growth. Remember, local government workers all pay tax. They are being


sacked in their tens and hundreds of thousands. We will not be


sacking anybody! They all pay tax and national insurance. I would


like to be clear on this, too. will not cut public service.


Impacts on the wider economy. Private sector organisations,


construction industries, that is on its knees. What will you Cup?


result of it -- the cuts... What would you cut? On Nottinghamshire's


figures, the taxpayer would save the grand total of �30 a year.


Don't knock it. I am not knocking it, I am telling you. That is


roughly �2.50 a month. For some people, that is a lot of money if.


It is a pint of beer. Is it really worth cutting more services?


some people, that is an awful lot of money in difficult times. There


are people not only having their pay frozen, they are finding they


are having overtime cut, these are difficult times. We are investing


in growth. You are not! We are having these enterprise zones.


are rearranging the deckchairs! These are proper investments we


need to see for growth. The reality is where we are. Kate cuts identify


is that she has a moral obligation when the government is helping her


counsel in the way it is, in the long-term, like Stuart Bray's


Council, helping to make sure that we are running our governments are


efficiently. What happens there year after? You're deficit X mac


what happens in the following year? What happens then? What is Labour's


solution? The government has been warning local authorities that if


they put up the council tax by more than 3.5%, they will have to put it


to referendum. Is that a step too far? I have got mixed reviews.


Years, you are sitting quietly in a corner. I would like to say about


the enterprise zones. Hinckley and Bosworth, that is not a gimmick.


This is bringing in thousands of jobs which my administration has


been helping to facilitate. On the referendum, I do have mixed views.


It is right the Government should be sent to councils, in tough times


keep the levels of council tax down but I think there are a couple of


problems. First, the cap level which is 3.5%. A lot of inflation


is running wild, probably 1% higher than that, so that is a cut or


local authorities. The second point, in my own authority, 1% of our


council tax rises about �44,000. My officers have advised me to run a


referendum, it would cost �100,000, so we would put our council tax up


to have a referendum, which is double standards in Government,


because we are not having a referendum on income tax. So, it is


not the time for a referendum? Myself as a local politician, I am


accountable two Electric. Thank you. -- accountable to my electric.


a round-up of the political week in the East Midlands with John Hess.


Good news for Tory leader of North West Leicestershire Council and


independent candidate has dropped an election court case with him.


When he announced he was quitting as an East Midlands euro MP, he


wanted Rupert Matthews to be his successor. It seems conservative


head office is worried he is too much of a maverick, even more than


Roger, clearly. Latest child poverty figures shows that


Nottinghamshire is the 9th was deprived authority. It underlines


the need for early intervention. Loughborough's Nicky Morgan wants


more help for children in rural areas. The Conservative MP is


worried cuts in school bus services are forcing some pupils to walk


along dangerous row at the stop at PMQss, Liz Kendall highlighted the


plight of 14-year-old Bethany Nicol Bird, who desperately needs a bone


marrow transplant. David Cameron agreed more needs to


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