13/01/2013 Sunday Politics East Midlands


Andrew Neil and Marie Ashby with the latest political news, interviews and debate. With Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

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And in the East Midlands, the fight to save our paths. MPs line up to


call for more protection for them but with a team closing per week,


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2534 seconds


In the East Midlands, what is the future for our pants closing at the


rate of 18 Aref -- at each week? do reception, and then and I do get


cleaning job to try and make ends meet. Joining me this week, the


Conservative MP Patrick Mercer and Jon Ashworth. It looks like being


at bay the year for rail transport. Network Rail will spend �500


million Electa find the Midland mainline meaning faster and more


reliable trains to London. The Transport Secretary is expected to


confirm that that there will be as station on a high-speed line. A


electrification of the Midland main line has to be good news? And I am


pleased about this. I have been campaigning on this. It is great


news for Leicester. It is important for these Midlands economy. I hope


we can get on with it as quickly as possible. We know the economy has


been in the doldrums, this investment is great for economic


growth. It has been in the pipeline for a long time. What benefits will


us bring to the area? I think he is spot on. This is an extremely


important project. We must make progress. We have seen in the new


work, ten years ago when I was first elected, travelling time to


London was slightly faster. With this improvement, I hope they will


be back to where they were five or six years ago and we can get to


London in just over an hour. That is amazing. Have more people


relocated? I would like to say yes with businesses that I am not so


Stuart. I was on the train the other day with a man who said he


had moved there because he used to live in Brighton and travelling


from brighten up to London is slow were now. We are definitely getting


more commuters. Are you concerned about being cut off because the


other side of the country is getting the benefit? It is


definitely going to benefit us. I do not care about of the west side


of the country. We are doing well. We are extremely lucky with our


relics. It is a huge amount of money, �500 million. That will make


a difference of five minutes from Leicester to London. Is it worth


that Investment? It is important for the economy. We are the slowest


line north of London and that is ridiculous. It is only five minutes.


It is important. It will improve connections to London. We need that


investment. I am a supporter of the high-speed line, but the worry is


that it will suck all the funding and we will get two years down the


road, there will not be enough for us. You will see a difference in


house prices in Leicester. It worked wonderfully in my area.


us hope it does wonders for the economy? All of our MPs agree on


the need to save our pubs. MPs played a leading role on the cross-


party debate on the future of the local and it was led by Toby


Perkins. They called for a setting up of an independent adjudicator to


protect landlords from unfair practices. Is it enough to save


your local pub that? According to research, �5,800 like this one have


closed in the last four years. Last year they were closing at a rate of


18 a week. At this handbook, a gathering of a local preservation


society. They want to preserve their local and that thousands of


other homes are threatened with closure. If I want to have a quiet


drink, it is great, but on the other hand I like to come out and


meet people. Beer sales in pubs are down by one-third. The average pint


here costs between �3 and three pounds 50. Tax has increased by 40%.


That beer escalator means that 30% of what you paid goes to the


government. A lobby of Parliament before Christmas warned MPs of


another threat to the pub. This estate used to have its own a local


and some regulars. The beer was out of this world but not enough, it


closed last year and it is now a supermarket. This local councillor


led a campaign and organised petitions to block a supermarket


sweep of so many pubs. What were you told? They said they had


decided to reduce the number of pubs they had in the area, they did


not take any account of the wishes of people in the area. He in the


last two years alone, 200 former pubs have been converted into


convenience stores. It has been taken over by a supermarket, is


that more welcome? Yes. I think so. A lot of people have said has much.


Do you miss it? I think everyone misses it who used to it. Back here,


and concentration on the pint has been replaced by looking to


Parliament. A last year beer and pubs contributed millions to the


economy and it is estimated that the average pub employs 11 people.


We want to introduce a relationship that is market-based, whether it is


genuine competition or a genuine choice for people entering the


industry. Debates on government proposals to give pub tenants


greater freedom from the companies that dominate the trade. I am tied


to Marsden's for my products. As a company, they supply us with a


different range of beers but we have to purchase them through that


company. They are saying let's freeze duty, let's legislate that


pubs cannot be demolished to retail used without permission and I think


there will be some hope. Tax, rising prices and supermarkets, the


pressure is on, could it be last orders for the traditional pub?


Something has to be done, but what? It is a dire situation. In towns


like the ones that we represent, especially in my town, where there


is a huge Korean tradition and a whole series of micro-breweries who


are independent, the local pub is terribly important. I think the


debate made a great deal of sense and I think the government's idea,


the beer escalator, is that the right phrase? It cannot continue


like this because it is driving people out of business. We heard a


woman saying she would rather have a supermarket. There are a lot of


things that have gone on. Their other supermarkets, the smoking ban,


but it has hit hands. There is taxation. It has focused on


landlords, the rent that they pay and the beers that they come by,


this is tied down. Vince Cable said he would look at that. He has


ignored are debates that we have been having. I am a member of a


working men's club, they have been under pressure as well. The


Government needs a strategy to support pubs and are working men's


club. Is there a case where the minimum price for alcohol would be


a benefit? There could be. The subject earlier, I think it


probably makes sense. As an Ombudsman between the big and small


firms, this would have an effect. This is not just about what MPs can


do, it is also about a change in society? Some people will go to the


pub willingly, but you cannot force people. There is a change in how we


get our alcohol. Yes there is. There is a change in the face of


pubs. Pubs used to be purely and simply about the consumption of


alcohol with the vast proportion of individuals going in there the men.


That has changed, they now give food and entertainment and has a


broader appeal. It is not a question of forcing people in, it


is a case of keeping them out! saw a lot of MPs there. You say it


is important, but are you jumping on the bandwagon. Be it is popular


and I have had meetings in Parliament. I am having a dry


January, but I enjoy a pint. I think people would be really


disappointed if the great British pub disappear. That is why we have


to save them. It has got to be one of the biggest political issues of


the year, what should we pay people in benefits? MPs have voted to cap


increases to 1%, but as well as that there are cuts on the way.


What is the view of people who rely on benefits to get by? Even for


those with a job, benefit still play a role of? Best players offers


advice but it also offers jobs. Most of the workers here are


recruited locally and the project includes a building firm which


carries out renovations and takes on unemployed people to carry out


the work. It means that the people here are in work that many still


rely on benefits. This woman works as an administrator and she is a


single mother and could face cuts of up to �50 per month in her


income because of changes to housing benefit and reductions in


council tax rebates. You go to work and work hard and obviously been a


single parent, you need help, but to be penalised for actually going


to work, you think he would be better off still staying on


benefits. This woman is an administrator, she has two jobs to


make ends meet but still relies on housing benefit. She is facing a


cut of �44 per man. They do reception in the daytime and in the


evening I do a cleaning job to make ends meet, but it looks like when


this tax comes in, whatever spare time I have, I will have to find


myself another job. You are a managing director of that project


and it is a very common story, people working but still needing


benefits? Yes. A huge number of people are very poor. They work


extremely hard and require the benefit system to ensure that they


can sustain their work. Do you think that politicians get that? Do


they understand the sort of struggle that people are facing?


do not know. I do not want to talk about what politicians know and do


not know. The facts are that the huge number of very decent people


get up every morning and work for low wages. These are people like


carers, hospital porters, hospital workers, a huge list of people who


are at the core of our society and are the people who make it tick.


And they are the ones who will be struggling. You heard it from her.


You haven't voted for this cat. What do you say to people like


those women, they are working and cannot survive President Obama I


hear what she says and I thought the points we heard work entirely


fair. I applaud Iain Duncan Smith, I think he has the right idea, but


I would remind all of us that the sort of points we were making in


opposition, particularly about the administration and fairness of


measures like this is very difficult to get right. They do not


think it is fair, they will be worse off. I will say that we have


got to save money. There are people who depend on these benefits, we


have to take money away from those who are not in work and to try to


avoid it. How... Are you saying that we do not have the money and


cuts have to be made all over the place and this is one area that


will have to be cut as well? problem is that the people who are


being hit by these benefit cuts tend to be people on tax credits


and the majority of them are in work. This is dinner ladies,


primary school teachers, soldiers, police officers who will see their


tax credits cut and you have got the very poorest in society are


going to get their benefits cut and then on top of this, you have got


this bedroom tax, where people who because they have an extra bedroom,


have to pay in addition. A couple came to me, the wife is disabled,


she has to have medication and to has been does not stay in the same


room, unless they can find the extra money, they will be thrown


out of the specially adapted bungalow. That is not fair. Carers


are going to be massively affected by this. At the moment, foster-


parents are not allowed to have and the spare bedroom and they will be


paying this tax. It is the collateral damage, I think, and


poorer people are being treated it like collateral damage. The issue


is that these cuts will affect people who are working. They are


working people. I think some of the rhetoric is difficult. It is not


just the rhetoric! The application of it will have to be looked at


carefully. I come back to the point that the application matters. I


applaud the direction and I understand that those who do not


wish to work, something has to be done for the amount of money that


they are getting, but there are difficulties with this and I will


not pretend it is uncontentious and they will not pretend that my


sympathies lie with the many poor people in my constituency who are


decent hard-working people. It is not just the changes to benefits,


it is also implementing them and from April, local councils will see


the new Universal Credit scheme being rolled out. One council


leader was invited to Parliament as an expert on this subject. He told


them it will not work. People are finding it very difficult to plan.


As our other concern is that it will not work. The IT will not work,


the systems are not going to integrate with the universal credit


system and we're not going to be able to get them to talk to each


other. We need that information in order to operate the system. We are


concerned that that is not happening. What is the alternative


plan if it does not happen? Our plan is it will not work on time


and there is no alternative plan. The this is the concern. It is not


going to work and he believes it will make the matter worse. I think


he says a lot of things that I have been covering. If they cannot


administer this, it will not look good. The fact remains that it has


to be made to work and the government plans must be as


resilient as they possibly can be. I take the. Macro about an


alternative plan. Graham Chapman described this as a Europe poll tax.


We must make sure that it is not. Surely it is better in this case to


have local councillors - macro councils administering a these


benefits. A lot of people who have been getting it will lose that this


benefit in the next few months and that will be a poll tax. They will


be hit hard, there is a general unfairness. Let us remember, the


richest in society are getting in this tax cut because the 50 pence


rate has been reduced. The very poorest in society are being


clobbered. It it is because David Cameron and George Osborne want to


say they are getting tough on scroungers. How does your project


work? And we make progress in a small way. We are a small social


enterprise. We have huge social deprivation. It is complicated. I


run an organisation that employs local people. I set up a


construction company, right at the end of the recession, to try and


use capital spend more effectively. I went right back to basics on


procurement. A company has discovered that every pound they


spend with us has doubled their money in local impact. Is this the


way forward? We have got to stop demonising the poorer. To


continuously do this, you end up with the collateral damage that we


are experiencing. There is a huge amount of fear. People are


frightened that they do not know how to cope. We have to stop


demonising in the poorer and using policy to find nasty names for


people. It is not helping, it is not useful and it alienates people.


They are genuinely frightened. is talking about skivers and a


drivers. They are strivers. Those points are well made and it is


exactly what the coalition wants to try and avoid. The implementation


of this has to be carefully done. We will leave it there. Time now


for a round-up of some of the other stories in 60 seconds. The


Conservatives on Derby City Council have pulled out of a cross-party


approach to lobby the government for more money. The ruling Labour


group says Darby is getting a raw deal. Tories originally backed the


idea but their leader says they pulled out because Labour is using


it as a party political campaign. Derbyshire's Police and Crime


Commissioner has chosen his deputy after interviewing six candidates.


He has -- opted for this man who will leave his job with the


Nottingham probation trust. Patrick Mercer has this raided a government


Minister to visit this hospital. He said there had been concern over


its future but it was -- is confident it would remain open.


is on major routes. They're always susceptible to casualties, which we


see frequently during the year. the Health Minister said he will


come to the hospital, you must be pleased? I am delighted. It is a


Minister who understands of the nuts and bolts of health policy.


he definitely coming? He has promised he will. The what


difference do you think that will make? The difficulties are that


health chiefs in the trust have said that if a clinical case can be


made for further services are being opened in hospital, let us do it,


where as GPs have been less optimistic. I hope the Minister


will open the door for the first time and we will get more services.


Next week we will be asking if local councillors should be paid


more and Arab guests will include the Labour MP for at Ashfield. We


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