07/10/2012 Sunday Politics East


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In the East: The dissent in our Tory ranks pulling the party apart.


And the region's rural schools facing a struggle for survival, as


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2133 seconds


the Government changes the way they Welcome to Sunday Politics East.


Rural schools that could suffer through the change to the


Government's funding formula. First, let's make the guests for


this week. Sir Bob Russell, Liberal Democrat MP, and Jessica Asato,


Labour's parliamentary candidate. We will also meet Brandon Lewis for


Great Yarmouth, newly-appointed local government are Minister.


Let us begin with a brief word about the rail franchise fiasco.


The Government has halted the handover of the West Coast Main


Line and suspended the bidding process for the ThamesLink


franchise and a line from Fenchurch Street to Essex. Passengers at


Milton Keynes, Northampton, and Essex had been looking forward to


enhanced services, but rail user groups are now worried the changes


will be delayed. We put those concerns to the Prime Minister.


The rail service will continue as it is today, and we will continue


with the mass of upgrades in terms of electrification of lines,


improvements to stations and platforms, that all goes ahead. I


am disappointed by what happened with the West Coast franchise


arrangement. It should not have happened, I am very angry that it


did happen, and we will get to the bottom of the mistakes made. But it


is right to stop other franchising going ahead while we get to the


bottom of it. Are you annoyed that improvements to local services are


delayed? Of course. You used the word fiasco, there is no other word


to describe it. I believe our railway should never have been


privatised and fragmented. I think it is a public service and should


be run by professionals, not the civil servants. Some civil servants


have been blamed for this, is that fair? We have to wait for the


outcome of the Government's own review of what happened, but it


seems as though the government are passing the buck on civil servants.


David Cameron said in the past that if there is a systemic failure it


should be ministers that take the blame. In this case it looks as


though there has been one, and there are some serious concerns,


particularly if you see the delays that might happen to franchise


agreements for the down the line. Some analysts say that other things


could be delayed as well. What about the cost? We are told the


cost could be �40 million to the British taxpayer, which is usually


expense. I think that is an underestimate. We have a situation


where these companies compete with each other, only a few companies


actually get involved, and some faceless bureaucracy allocates them


to the prize winners, but on this occasion it would appear that the


prize winner should have been kept with Virgin trains and not handed


over to first group, but here in the east we have experience in the


past of first group, that we have a fragmented railway system, with


Network Rail and the various operating companies, and we know


from weekend travel what that means, it means buses rather than trains.


Hopefully there will be an improvement at least on that, in


the future. What about today's announcement from the Conservative


Party conference, at that rail fares increases will be capped at


1% above inflation. That is good news, is it not? If the


Conservatives and Liberal Democrats had agreed with that, they should


have voted with Labour has amendment when it went to


Parliament, but they did not do that. Why have they changed their


tune? Again, Labour has been making the Tories and Lib Dems follow


their lead. They have anything else does say? I find it odd that after


13 years of financial misrule that the Liberal Democrats have gone to


government to try to sort out labour's financial mess.


It is not just allegations of incompetency plaguing David Cameron,


but a rift in the ranks. A poll this week found 61% of people


believe the contest -- the Conservative Party to be divided.


We reckon that around half of the Tory MPs in our region, the East,


have spoken out or voted against their government on issues as


varied as Europe, wind farms and House of Lords reform. Opposition


to the coalition itself is the real nub of the problem, of which many


in the party are blaming for the Conservatives' poor showing in the


They visited the Basildon tractor plant together in May. The blue and


yellow livery on your tractors are tailor-made for the politics of


this coalition. The message was very clear. The economy may be in


trouble, but the coalition is here to stay. Saying that -- since the


last party conference, the Tories have fallen seven points in the


opinion poll and have lost seats. The expect next year's county


council elections to be tough, and the core of the by-election is


looming. The grassroots are worried. There is an atmosphere of


despondency. They would like to see us doing much better in the polls.


The activists would like to see more conservative policies coming


through and being announced. That is what they are open for we're at


a tipping point as a party, and from this conference on birds,


things have to become better. Nadine got it -- Nadine Dorries is


often dismissed as a mother of maverick, but she says the local


organisations believe that the Liberal Democrats are smothering


the coalition. We have heard the Liberal Democrat saying about how


much dominance they have in the party policy at the moment. What we


need to do is be able to say, enough is enough, now it is perhaps


time for a Conservative policy to dominate. She is not alone. A


number of MPs have expressed doubts about the coalition. Stuart Jackson


question the whole point of it. Others have fired warning shots


across the Lib Dem bows. Ideally I think the coalition


government should break-up sooner rather than later, and we should


govern as a conservative minority government, then going to the


electorate. I do not see how we can continue stumbling on with a


difficult partner, until 2015. If a marriage is fading, perhaps you


should divorce earlier than later. Such opinions are still held by a


minority. Most of them still accept that coalition is the right thing,


though not ideal. I would like to see a Conservative-led government.


I would like us to be tougher on Europe. The Government want us to


be grown-up and work together. it seems there is a potential


divided in the party. We will all be behind David Cameron. If he


looks like he is going to be a winner than 2015. If he looks like


he is going to lose the 2015 Election and the polls remain


stubborn as they are, I think a challenge to his leadership has a


very real threat. Earlier this week, Andrew Sinclair


met the Prime Minister and asked him if the coalition is holding him


back. No, we are taking the action that the country needs to get us


out the mess that was left by the last government. We have cut the


deficit by a quarter, and also we have created one million new jobs


in the private sector, which means unemployment has been falling


rather than rising. We still have a long way to go with a huge amount


to do. Coalition can sometimes be frustrating, but without a


coalition we would not have a majority or get things done. I


believe and my party believes in doing the right thing and the


National Interest, which is making the coalition work. But a number of


MPs from this region are worried about the direction of travel. Your


party is splitting over the coalition. I do not accept that. I


think the vast majority of Conservatives know that the it --


these are tough times and they require making the coalition work.


If we left the coalition we would not have a marriage -- a majority,


and we would not be able to take the steps that are required.


Difficult times that require strong leadership, which is what we're


giving them. When MPs speak out, does that anger your worry you?


There has never been a time in politics when certain backbenchers


have not wanted to speak out. The key thing is to keep your eyes on


the road. Brandon Lewis joins us now. Great Yarmouth are one of the


councils that the Tories lost this year. You were hit by voters being


disillusioned by the coalition, were you knocked? I think people do


understand we are having to make tough decisions. I think that


sometimes in local elections you have other parties that will


benefit from certain things, and we must deliver to the country.


you saying there was no dissatisfaction regarding the


coalition at a grassroots level? do see various parties become small


parts of the vote. Walsall Labour - - we saw Labour taking some other


seats. Getting the finances right will be the right thing to do for


the country. I will ask you again, did people have concerns that they


voiced to you about the direction of the party and about the fact


that you are in coalition with the Liberal Democrats? I never had


anybody on the ground comment to me about being in the coalition,


people understood why we were. Her members understood why we went into


coalition. What people want to see is moving the country in the right


direction, delivering for the people, and that is a long process,


something we have to stay prole -- focused on. We gave a long list of


MPs and in this region voicing dissent because they say the split


is drowning out the Government's achievements, damaging the party.


Do you have read? No, what you see across all political parties,


particularly the Conservative party, everyone has various opinions on


different issues, but what really matters at the end of the day is


government policy, and what they are delivering. We're delivering


good reforms and moving the country forward. We hope we can show people


who need an outright majority -- that we need an outright majority


in 2050. I am told Great Yarmouth has come second from bottom in the


country for lack of educational and employment of a Trinity's. We have


seen unemployment falling in Great Yarmouth and employment rights,


which is really good news. The energy industry has great


opportunities. The Enterprise Zone has given a real opportunities.


What we need to make sure is that we have got the skills to match the


jobs that are available. That is something the industry is keen on,


and we are working together to deliver for Great Yarmouth and East


Anglia. News from Birmingham and the confidence of a council tax


freeze and the threat of a veto on EU budget. Will that silence the


critics are? The council tax freezes are really important


message. We understand just how much council tax and by its people


and we wanted to do her best to make sure people who worked hard


are helped. After years of council tax rises, we are now showing that


we have an opportunity for a council tax freeze, and I hope


councils across the country will take up the opportunity for the


residents are. Thank you. Bob Russell, you were not happy with


the coalition at first. I am a One nation Liberal Democrat, and


Brandon is a very sensible person, completely different to the roll-


call of the right wing MPs you had early on. I went along with the


coalition because I think it was in the national interest. I remain a


Liberal Democrat, and do not accept the criticism from the right-wing


Tories. They do not like the coalition, but I tell you this,


David Cameron would much prefer to work with sensible ministers like


Brandon and Liberal Democrats than he would with some of those right-


wing MPs earlier. Thank very much. Now to concern


over the future of rural schools. Staff may have to be cut because a


new government funding system means they could lose out on thousands of


pounds. There will be winners and losers under the new rules but


everyone agrees councils will have their hands tied in the future in


smaller isolated schools, which are much more likely to miss the out.


It is the end of a school day for For these youngsters, a firm grasp


of figures will be handy in years to come, but for their head


teachers there is plenty of number- crunching behind the scenes, as the


government looks for a new funding formula. One wonders which schools


will be hardest hit, and I am now head of two large primary schools.


I am head of -- I have been head of a small village primary school and


I know how important every penny is in such a school, where they are


the heart of the community. A closure of a school could have a


huge effect. Jane is the headteacher of the school and


another more than -- and another, more than 300 pupils in total.


Every school will get the same amount of money, topped up by


funding per pupil. Council hands will be tied and it will not be


easy for them to give extra money to schools that need it. One of the


things that is inevitable and has already been started in some areas


is greater federations of schools. That is sensible, but what we do


not want to lose art-school suddenly leaving villagers. A


school is often a key part of the community.


The Education Secretary Michael Gove has been asking schools,


parents and governors and councils what they think of his plans to


change the funding formula as part of a move to a new education system


in 2015. He says he wants things to be fairer, simpler and more


consistent. He wants his department is said 10 key funding criteria to


replace the 37 that councils can use currently. Officials hope to


cushion any transition and say that no school will see more than a 1.5%


annual reduction in its budget in the next two years.


What schools really desperately need is the ability to be able to


plan strategically. To have a funding stream and a funding


mechanism which runs in parallel and supports that process. That has


to be the main thing we would like to see. The Department for


We have a huge variety of schools and a huge variety of pupils, and


anything that does this realigns the formula and a big way.


School similar in size to this have a budget of �850,000, and next year


they could lose the equivalent of a Brandon Lewis, we are told councils


will not be able to give geographically isolated schools as


much money as they could in the past. Are you concerned at schools


in your constituency will miss out? We heard that what is important is


the Government is asking schools to feed in what they need, to make


sure that we get a good system across all areas, as everyone has


to deal with cuts. But we need to make sure we still have a


maintainable system with schools that are an important part of the


community continue in. But it does not seem fair that some schools


will miss out on a teaching assistant next year. That is where


it is important to make sure we look at what feedback comes in. The


government can they respond to it to make sure it gets a strong,


sustainable and robust system in place. Jessica Asato, there will be


winners here, too, will you support under this criteria more money


going into deprived areas? Absolutely Labour will support any


changes that ensure that those areas with the most vulnerable


pupils get the money that they need. But the real story here is that


schools funding has decreased by the largest amount since the 19 50s.


Capital funding has decreased by 57%, the biggest of any other


department. Schools are already suffering because they do not have


enough money for their budgets, and the Pupil Premium is simply going


into a black hole to make up for what the government is not spending


on it. Rural schools look like they're going to be losing out, and


that is a concern. Bob Russell, you raise your eyebrows. The Pupil


Premium has been a great boost for so many schools, but we're talking


about rural schools, which closed under the last Labour government.


There are mixed messages coming out a white hole, and one thing is for


certain that Liberal Democrat campaigners across the eastern


counties will be fighting against any closures. The Government have


to make up their mind, are the centrally or locally controlled?


How closely will you be watching you schools in your particular


constituency to make sure they get their fair deal? I have poorer


rural areas where we want to see schools of -- flourish. I see both


sides of this. What is really important is we get a good policy


to make sure everybody gets the support they need, and we get


improved and better education to allow a far better aspiration in


areas like Great Yarmouth, to match the skills with the job now


available and growing. Thank you then much indeed.


Now, Deborah McGurran's political round-up for the week, where Police


Crime Commissioner has seen all He is hoping to persuade electors


in Norfolk to vote in the new police commissioner Paul. While the


future of research a were different paper of poll was causing concern


for a environmentalists last week after news that the British


Antarctic Survey could be moved from Cambridge. This is a step


towards taking away the priority of polar science the stop high praise


from Vince Cable. Education is exciting, a fusion


It has not about left and right any more, the country is in a dire


Collective courage to keep the What about the possible loss of the


British Antarctic Survey to the region? I hope it does not happen,


and I will be supporting my colleagues in Cambridge who want to


keep it there. Even Al Gore as against it, so you never know.


Jessica Asato, we have world renowned centres of excellence,


like the John Innes plans centre, how important are the to the


economy? They are very important, and the Antarctic Survey is world


renowned. They discovered the wall and the ozone layer, giving us


understanding about global warning. It centres like that disappear it


The you agree, Sir Bob Russell? course I endorse that. The last


centre of excellence was moved to Oxford under the Labour government


and got moved to Oxford. It then disappeared within a cup love you


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