09/06/2013 Sunday Politics East Midlands


Andrew Neil and Marie Ashby are joined by Labour's Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, with all the latest political news, interviews and debate.

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protest over Government plans to reform their industry.


Also disappearing, our high street shops. Up to a third could go. Do


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2141 seconds


Hello, I'm Marie Ashby. My guests this week, the Conservative MP for


Amber Valley, Nigel Mills, and Labour's Chesterfield MP, Toby


Perkins. The system has worked well for 800 years and it will simply


disappear. Also disappearing, our high street shops. Do you want them


to stay? You get personal service. Hello. My guests this morning, the


Conservative MP for Amber Valley, Nigel Mills, and Labour's


Chesterfield MP, Toby Perkins. First, the Government is throwing a


lifeline to struggling pubs. David Cameron says he's setting up a fund


of up to �250 million to help local communities take over pubs and even


village halls. It is always a popular measure, to help pubs. 26 of


them are closing every week. We have had our fair share of those closures


in the East Midlands. Is this just a gimmick? I think it will work. I


have had a view expressions of interest where a pub has closed and


the community work together to get it reopened. 250 million is a lot of


money. I think it is something on the back of a cut in beer duty that


the Chancellor gave out. You have been campaigning to save pubs, Toby


Perkins. Will this help? It is a drop in the ocean. It is 250 million


over ten years. It might make a difference around small village


pubs. But there are far more fundamental things that need to be


done. One is to try to change the huge disparity between the costs of


off-licence sales and pub sales. The cost of beer is really significant.


At the moment we have got a consultation that the government are


dragging their feet on with the offer of a mandatory rightful


tenants to be free of tie. That could make a significant difference.


I am hoping the Government do that. But McRae -- Now, it's not very


often lawyers agree on anything, but they all seem to agree that the


Government's plans for a reform of the criminal judicial system are a


disastrous idea. The Government has just finished a


consultation on its plans which could mean the number of criminal


law firms falls from 1,200 to 400. Wesley Mallin's been examining the


evidence. Lawyers said this latest reform amounts to an attack on the


very foundation of the English system. The government insists there


are sorrow over the top. -- their arguments.


This old courtroom is now a museum as part of Nottingham's Galleries of


Justice. And some of the other features of legal life could soon be


consigned to history too. Lawyers, not a naturally militant bunch, are


not impressed with the reforms and have been protesting in Leicester


this week, saying hundreds of law firms will disappear. But how much


sympathy are they expecting? ordinary member of the public, if


you ask him to sympathise with a lawyer, he had some problems with


that. We all know the jokes about lawyers. What I have been trying to


tell people is that we are paid rates slightly less than you would


pay to have your car serviced in a non-franchised garage. My young


lawyers are not earning any kind of money at all. They do not go into


the business to make money. Government is proposing to cut �220


million from the legal aid budget, introducing competitive tendering


for legal aid contracts and ending the defendant's right to choose a


solicitor, appointing one for them instead. Chris Jackson's been


through the court system. He's worried losing the right to choose a


lawyer could lead to miscarriages of justice. I have been in trouble over


the years and I'm not proud of it, but I have been. I have seen people


in court who do not know their solicitor and the next minute they


have been sent down and they don't understand why. They did not have a


fair hearing. The solicitor stood there and did not fight their


corner. The kind of service Chris has been used to is part of what


Justice Minister Chris Grayling says is one of the most expensive legal


aid bills in the world at �2.1 billion and it has to face cuts like


any other area of public spending. We face tough times financially. We


are trying to bring down a substantial deficit and increase


spending on the health service. To do that we need to take tough


decisions about making the criminal justice system work more


efficiently. Officially the consultation process is over but the


government says it is open to ideas. A final decision has yet to be made.


There may be time for a last-minute reprieve.


Well, to discuss all of that we're joined by Ash Bhatia of the


Nottingham solicitors, Bhatia Best. He's also chairman of the Nottingham


Criminal Committee. The government says your protests are over the top.


Is that true? I do not believe the protests or over the top. The


protests that have arisen over the consultation are unprecedented. They


demonstrate universal opposition to the government's proposal for


substantial reform. That opposition is not only from the solicitor's


profession, from the bar, it is also from senior members of the


judiciary, no less the president of the Supreme Court. You believe this


change in the criminal justice system could bring the Truman


justice system here to the brink of collapse that macro it could bring


the criminal justice system. judge in this area at eight


comparatively recent meeting made it known he was so keen on finding


efficiencies and improvements to the system that if it did not come about


within an 18 month period there was a risk the criminal justice system


and the rule of law may collapse altogether. Very strong stuff. We


have also heard from senior Conservatives like Sir Edward


Garnier, a highly qualified lawyer himself, he says he has reservations


about this. Now the government's lawyers on the Panel of Counsel say


it could create an underclass with no access to justice. This is


serious. Clearly lawyers do not like this. We are in a situation where we


are spending �2 billion on it. We are not scrapping the budget


completely and taking representation away. We are trying to find a


saving. We currently have 1600 firms around the country doing criminal


legal aid. We are planning to take it down to six firms per county. We


are making it more efficient. This is not free. The taxpayer has two


pay a large cost. Cases end up going on for too long. We are trying to


have less firms involved to make it more efficient and get a better deal


for the taxpayer while leaving polity legal advice. It has to be


done. As far as both sides of the profession are concerned, there is


no fundamental opposition to the motion of exacting savings. We


understand the difficulty the Treasury is in. We support the


notion that proper savings should be achieved. The opposition is based


upon the way in which the savings are to be accepted, not the savings


themselves. What macro Toby Perkins, we are all facing tough times,


shouldn't the legal service do its bit -- Toby Perkins. We support the


need for savings but what we have seen among the government's policies


is a lack of fairness and incompetence. We have seen a whole


raft of things that vulnerable people have been treated really


badly. The savings the government promised they would deliver, they


have not done it. This is another of those cases where you will see


people who rely on legal aid who have no choice in terms of which


solicitor they use. At the same time, there are doubts whether it


will deliver savings that the government claim they will.


should the public care? Because the public of the UK have always cared


passionately about the rule of law and natural justice. It is easy and


it often arises in the press and the media to be critical of a criminal


who has committed a terrible offence. It is always of course


going to be difficult to justify the response in defending and using


taxpayers money there. But the public to understand that natural


justice is really important. It is critically important to ensure that


when an offence is committed the correct person is convicted. It is


not something you can mess around with. No one wants to mess around


with it. Ten years ago Tony Blair referred to the legal aid gravy


train. I would not like to call it that. But there has been a


recognition that we need to reform the system to make it cheaper. We


want to give people the right representation. People assume


lawyers make tonnes of money. Some do. The idea lawyers make tonnes of


money, especially legal aid lawyers, it is fundamentally untrue. Readers


of national newspapers may have seen figures of the highest paid more


funds in the country. But let us be clear, that is not payment going to


an individual. That is a payment often going to a large criminal


defence firm that deals with a huge number of clients and often in


various parts of the country. The actual rates payable especially to


some of my youngest lawyers and trainees is absolutely derisory.


What sort of effect do you think this will have? There is a real risk


that the criminal defence service to be provided in this area and across


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the rest of the country may well be councils do? Shops like this one can


be given a helping hand. People come in here regularly. Mary and her


staff put lots of time and effort into making the shop attractive.


They are lovely people poll -- they are lovely people. They should be


given a helping hand. Joining us is Professor Josh were Banfield who


produced that report. Have you found that the East Midlands will be one


of the most effective -- affected areas?


Wires that? There is a lack of understanding of spending and how it


relates to the economy. There are a number of small shops who are


marginally profitable. Are there more here than in other areas? Yes,


more than in places like the south. There are big changes going on in


the regional environment. RB, Leicester, Nottingham and so one, it


has a big impact. In smaller towns we see quite a problem with


neighbourhood shops, which will probably decline at a faster rate.


What you want politicians to do to help? There are several things.


Everybody agrees that the high street is worth saving. It is a


matter of partly looking at the way in which things are planned, but our


view is that, first of all, there is a problem with this list rates and


occupancy costs. The costs are rising. This was alluded to in our


film. What do you want to do happen to shops? We have market towns in my


constituency. People are changing how they shop. They shop online and


out of town. We need to make the high street a destination. We need


to bring in new things to attract people in. We need to increase


footfall. If you charge people lots to park in town centres, they are


not going to come in. Surely you can do something about that? Local


councils have much more power to choose these things. I think we need


local solutions to these things, but we need to find a new need for high


streets that attracts people in. What would Labour do? There's a lot


that councils can do. The fact that councils are facing massive


financial problems... Parking is one of the few revenue sources they


have. Labour didn't do a lot when they were in power to help the high


street. The most important thing you can do is to support people and make


sure they have money in their pockets. This is the slowest


recovery we we have ever had. We are five years into recession without


any growth. If you choke off the recovery, you will see a long period


of stagnation. That's what we're seeing. Can it get any better?


need to make cold strategic decisions. One is car parking. We


asked 1000 consumers and car parking and congestion issues come in the


top three of 70%. It is a really important problem. People want to


shop on the high street but they cannot get there. The second problem


is business rates. A place like Grimsby, the research shows that in


the town centre they pay �12.5 million every year in business


rates. The retailers outside of the town pay only �3.5 million. If you


are a retailer, where do you want to go? It is killing it. If you want


shops on the high street to remain, you have got to reduce the costs.


What is the government going to do about that? We have reduced the


rates. There has been some help. The business rates system should be


based on current market values rather than things seemed when the


scheme was designed a while ago. At a time of no revenue, it is hard to


say that we can give away business rates. There are no easy magic


solutions. We have to find ways of helping businesses who provide a


service. You also mentioned the fact this is almost a natural process. We


cannot go backwards. Is this what is happening? We have changed the way


we shop. Can we ever go back with Matt there is a little bit of that.


Everyone complains about the supermarkets but lots of people use


them. Lots of us shop online. We are changing habits and there is not


that much... Surely we cannot accept all of the job losses which come


with the collapse of the high street was much a lady in Ripley started


doing interior design in a garage and has now opened a shop on the


high street. It is not all a bad trend. We have a thriving small


business going up. We do not want to lose the jobs but it is about


finding local solutions. What works in Chesterfield will not work in


Hinckley. Thank you very much for joining us. Time now for a round-up


of some of the other political Nottingham City Council wants to cut


down on new off-licences in parts of the city. The council is drawing up


plans to make it harder for new off-licences to run in areas which


it says are saturated. It's looking at introducing the curbs in Radford,


the Arboretum and Hyson Green. King's Mill Hospital has admitted it


will need significant cash help from the Government to help meet its


massive debt. Paying the loans for the cost of a redevelopment of the


hospital is costing it �40 million a year.


The UKIP MEP Derke Clark is stepping down in June in case he runs out of


gas. Mr Clark who's 79 says he wants to make way for some of the younger


people who've recently joined the party.


A plan by Derby City Council to sell of some of its buildings to save on


maintenance costs has been upheld after being challenged by


Conservatives on the council. The council's looking to save almost �3


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