09/06/2013 Sunday Politics East Midlands


09/06/2013

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.

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

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2141 seconds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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dragging their feet on with the offer of a mandatory rightful

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

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

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

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

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disastrous idea. The Government has just finished a

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consultation on its plans which could mean the number of criminal

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

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

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very foundation of the English system. The government insists there

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are sorrow over the top. -- their arguments.

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

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

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

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not impressed with the reforms and have been protesting in Leicester

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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million from the legal aid budget, introducing competitive tendering

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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are trying to bring down a substantial deficit and increase

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

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decisions about making the criminal justice system work more

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efficiently. Officially the consultation process is over but the

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

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There may be time for a last-minute reprieve.

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

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

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

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

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protests that have arisen over the consultation are unprecedented. They

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demonstrate universal opposition to the government's proposal for

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

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

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

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change in the criminal justice system could bring the Truman

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

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the criminal justice system. judge in this area at eight

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

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

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

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

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have also heard from senior Conservatives like Sir Edward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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no fundamental opposition to the motion of exacting savings. We

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understand the difficulty the Treasury is in. We support the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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raft of things that vulnerable people have been treated really

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

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

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

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

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will deliver savings that the government claim they will.

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

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

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

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

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

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taxpayers money there. But the public to understand that natural

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

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

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

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

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

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

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want to give people the right representation. People assume

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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some of my youngest lawyers and trainees is absolutely derisory.

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

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

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2141 seconds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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of the most effective -- affected areas?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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based on current market values rather than things seemed when the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Everyone complains about the supermarkets but lots of people use

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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hospital is costing it �40 million a year.

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

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

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people who've recently joined the party.

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

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maintenance costs has been upheld after being challenged by

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

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