15/01/2012 Sunday Politics East Midlands


15/01/2012

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

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In the East Midlands, should local authorities accept a government

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

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1683 seconds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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a reporter and presenter for Central Television in our region.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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parties have done a lot to increase representation from women and

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

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

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truly representative, we need more people from working-class

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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bases. Well, this week was an important

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

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

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William Barnard, who killed his grandfather after stabbing him 50

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

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protect him. An independent inquiry has identified serious failings in

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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tackle the questions that should have been answered. The strategic

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health authority had not appreciated why these failings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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we handle the National Health Service and how we deal with

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reorganisation because the last thing we need is a situation where

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the transformation which is being proposed within the National Health

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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appalling circumstances and that is why they need to be properly

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supervised and that is why communication needs to be better

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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risk factors that they spectacularly failed to make sure

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

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failure that really should be absolutely nailed and should be

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

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

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

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

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

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avoid future tragedies. This report does not identify the supervisors

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

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

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

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

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

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our next story, too, the council tax.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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political editor, John Hess. The relationship between national

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

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

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

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the Government wanting increases prison and is offering town halls a

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

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

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

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

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

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

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funding the following year for benefit payments. We will lose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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especially when we have been offered money from the government

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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is buried disappointing that Leicester City Council should take

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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are handling local government finances well. The truth is the

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Government has singled out local government for the single biggest

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

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local government is responsible for some of the most important public

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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trap? They are allowing very well run and responsible local

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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acknowledge the fact that George Osborne has had to borrow an

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Impacts on the wider economy. Private sector organisations,

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

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

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

:45:30.:45:38.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:46:07.:46:11.

are rearranging the deckchairs! These are proper investments we

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

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

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

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

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

:46:35.:46:44.

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

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solution? The government has been warning local authorities that if

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

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

:47:00.:47:06.

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

:47:06.:47:09.

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

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This is bringing in thousands of jobs which my administration has

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

:47:19.:47:23.

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

:47:23.:47:27.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:48:05.:48:12.

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

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

:48:22.:48:30.

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

:48:30.:48:35.

Good news for Tory leader of North West Leicestershire Council and

:48:35.:48:39.

independent candidate has dropped an election court case with him.

:48:39.:48:43.

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

:48:43.:48:47.

wanted Rupert Matthews to be his successor. It seems conservative

:48:47.:48:51.

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

:48:51.:48:57.

Roger, clearly. Latest child poverty figures shows that

:48:57.:49:00.

Nottinghamshire is the 9th was deprived authority. It underlines

:49:00.:49:05.

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

:49:05.:49:09.

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

:49:09.:49:13.

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

:49:13.:49:19.

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

:49:20.:49:24.

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

:49:24.:49:27.

marrow transplant. David Cameron agreed more needs to

:49:27.:49:37.
:49:37.:49:37.

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