30/06/2013 Sunday Politics East


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biggest road scheme finally gets the go-ahead in the spending review -


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1922 seconds


but wouldn't it be better if we all here in the East. I'm Amelia


Reynolds. We're on the road this week as the region's biggest road


scheme gets the green light at last after decades of campaigning. But


we're told if more robust up to two wheels instead of four, we'd all


benefit. MPs are campaigning for investment in cycling. We're also


looking at the changes to welfare support, causing worries for people


who are struggling with disability and illness. I was once riding home


from here on my bike and a bus came a bit too close to me and the


thought went through my mind that even if I got hit by the bus, it


couldn't possibly hurt any more than I already hurt. We have a Liberal


Democrat MP for Cambridge, who is the co-chair of the Parliamentary


cycling group and a first appearance for Sharon Taylor, the Labour leader


of Stevenage Council and its prospective Parliamentary candidate.


Let's start with this week's big story, the government spending


review. Salvation is at hand for those who have to endure the


congested Arthur, 14. The government has guaranteed the �1.5 billion


route through Cambridgeshire. A new toll road will be built on the work


will start next year. I am among those in Cambridgeshire who've spent


the best part of two decades arguing for this project to go ahead and I


think it's important that it does go ahead and it shows we have the


financial backing of the government and can make it happen. The budget


for science remains ring fenced, while the capital budget is to


double to more than �1 billion a year. The government says Cambridge


and Norwich research Park will receive a large part of that money.


The big loser is local government. The central grant to councils will


be cut by 10%. Authorities will have to make up the shortfall through


other means. We're looking at car parking, business rates, council


tax. The money we have to make the shortfall up from his coming from


local people, who are being damaged by changes in welfare reform.


Sinclair has spent the week to adjusting all these big


announcements. He's in our Norwich studio. Council funding, science,


the A14 getting a lot of attention but what else stood out for you?


There were two announcements that stood out for me. The first is the


increased by 15% in the flood defences budget and the hint of a


new deal with the insurance industry. That will be of interest


to people where flooding has been a big worry. The other thing was the


national funding formula for pupils. At the moment, school funding has


been unevenly distributed and that has worried people in


Cambridgeshire. There was also more money for potholes and to encourage


offshore wind energy. There was more money for local enterprise


partnerships, although not as much as they had hoped for. I also


clocked that police commissioners will be getting less money and there


will also be less money for regional arts and sport. People are saying


the spending review as a springboard for the next election so what does


it tell us about the amp a message here in the East. You sense that the


Chancellor was turning a corner. They say they have a very strong


message. MPs in 2015 will be able to point to a completed A11 and the new


toll road about to start and say that they have invested in


infrastructure projects which they've had to wait years for. I


thought the Chancellor's argument about cutting spending to councils,


despite which public satisfaction with local authorities is at an


all-time high at is a strong argument that will come out in 2015.


Is that true? Are these the battle lines for the next election? We'll


have to see but there was good news in these tricky economic times. We


are still coping with the problems that started with the banking crisis


and the deficit and debt that was racked up them. But in many ways it


is very much the right thing to help jobs and growth in this area. In my


Cambridge constituency, we have unemployment substantially down


since the general election. I hope that will continue. I've been saying


for ages we need to sort out the worst bits of the a 14. Sharon


Taylor, infrastructure development, even if it is in three years, is a


vote winner, isn't it? It's a very long way off. We've seen some good


news and I'm delighted for friends who use the a 14, as I have many


times, that there is progress on that but if it is going to be a toll


road, there are big issues around that. We still haven't got the major


structure that we need which is the widening of the Aone. The East of


England has two contribute to the national economy and unless we get


the infrastructure investment, house prices in this region are so


expensive, particularly for young people, and we still need jobs for


our young people. One in four young people are still unemployed. I don't


recognise some of the good news story that we're hearing. Fairer


funding for education - that's particularly important in


Cambridgeshire. Yes and I used to campaign on this as a councillor in


Cambridgeshire. Cambridgeshire schools get the least per pupil of


anywhere in the entire country, �600 per pupil less than the English


average. -- English average. I was pleased the Chancellor confirmed


there will be a fairer formula and I will make sure they get the money as


soon as possible because I wanted to help our children really soon.


big losers here are local government. How are they going to


cope with that? We've done our best to make the savings that we've had


to do over the last two years but to carry on making those savings, you


can't get the same efficiencies out of the same pot more than once. Its


front-line services we're delivering. It's looking after


vulnerable young people. These are front-line services as well as


keeping the roads moving and keeping the streets safe and clean. We can't


carry on delivering the same savings out of the same pot. You talked


about keeping the roads moving and our roads are not only used by


motorists but by cyclists, too, and we're told we should all take up the


habit. It could ease congestion is healthier and better for the


environment. It will be argued in Parliament soon that huge rewards


could be reaped. Our reporter got on her bike to find out more. David


cycle six miles to and from his work in Ipswich three days a week. He


does it keep fit and save money. days like today you can't beat it. I


would rather be on bike man in the car. What are the pros and cons?


Traffic is always a bit dangerous. Cars get too close, don't always see


you coming out of junctions. You've just got to be very, very careful.


The pros are that a lot of the time you can beat the traffic. There have


been occasions when I have definitely beaten cars home.


David's bosses also a keen cyclist and is encouraging all staff to get


on their bikes, even in their lunch breaks. We've created facilities for


them to do it, somewhere to keep their bikes securely and if they're


cycling some distance, shower facilities so they can wash and


change before they go to their desks in the morning. And we've provided


bicycles for other staff who can't cycle to work use a lunchtime if


they want to go to the shops. Although there's been a temper cent


increase in cycling to work, it still accounts for just 2% about


journeys. A local MP wants to see that increased to 10% by 2025. His


Cambridge constituency already has the highest number of cycle commutes


to work. The evidence is clear that the more people who cycle, the safer


it gets. One study showed that if you double the number of cyclists


the accident risk is reduced by over a third. Calls are growing for the


spending per person to be brought more in line with other European


cities. We're working with employers to try to develop green travel


plans. We've got the schools to try to develop green travel plans


eventually adding to our infrastructure network of cycle


ways, so all those things together are pushed towards getting people to


do perhaps just ten minutes on the bike every day. Do you cycle to


work? Now and again. It depends on the weather. It's likely to be an


uphill battle persuading us to give up our four wheels for two. So do


you think the new A14 toll should have a bike lane? Should that be the


way forward? If you're going to build new roads, should you


incorporate the bike lanes? I don't think alongside the A14 is the best


place. Encouraging people to cycle by providing safe facilities does


also ease congestion for those people who are driving, so it's a


huge benefit. It also says it huge amount of money for public health


because people can fit it into their day more easily. There's been a


cross-party effort to support cycling. The money we've got from


government is very welcome. There are a number of changes to help


cyclists but also pedestrians, as well, because we want to have people


have active transport. Sharon, we talked about the pressure on local


government finances. Have you got money spare to help and support


cyclists? You're going to get an outbreak of cross-party agreement.


I'm lucky enough to have lived in Stevenage, where the first post-war


new town was built with a complete network of cycle ways all around the


town. That's a huge boost and I would love to see that kind of


facility available in as many places as it's possible to deliver it. It's


a great thing. It's environmentally friendly and keeps people fit and


the more people that do it, the safer it gets so it's great. It's


recreational, a good transport to work and I am all for the more


cycling the better and we should invest in it. We keep our cycleways


up to scratch and we make sure that we've got good cycle maps and good


routes for people to go out when they're using cycling for


recreation. Well. This month has seen changes to


welfare benefits for people who, through illness or disability, need


help with everyday life. If you are over 16 and under 65 you will no


longer be able to claim Disability Living Allowance. Instead, you will


have to claim a personal independence payment or PIP. It's


estimated that half a million fewer disabled people will qualify for


that funding by 2018, as the government struggles to curb its


welfare bill. And that's worrying people like Nicola Gouldsmith, who


runs a haberdashery shop in Needham Market in Suffolk. I started the


haberdashery because when I was 38 - I'm 41 now - I became aware of the


fact that I was not very well. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.


It came on very suddenly. I woke up one day and fell over. The


progression of the disease has been quite aggressive so I've had to


change the way that I work. In the end I decided I would teach the


skills I have to people instead of trying to do it myself. At the


moment, I can so for about an hour. Then I can't so again for a week.


The people around me are very patient and help me quite a lot.


This time last year I was coming to work in my pyjamas and my mum was


helping me dress in the office. When I was first ill, I didn't really


know much about rheumatoid arthritis. I didn't know anything


about the disability living allowance. I printed out the form


and started filling in the form it took me about three months because


my hands were so bad and this is when I was getting about flare up by


prescription has changed about ten times in that time so when I was


filling in the drugs I was taking, it was difficult. I nearly gave up.


On the old DLA form, it asked how far you could walk without pain or


how many steps you could take. In the new form, as far as I can see


it's how far you can walk. Well, I can walk but I have to stop and if I


stop for any length of time, it takes me a long time to start again.


The way I read it is that if you approach your illness, sickness or


disability in a positive manner and accommodated into your life and


adapt what you do, you will be penalised because it won't be seen


as having an effect on you. I think the people that are assessing people


like me have no understanding about pain management, where destruction


and motivation are very much relied on rather than drugs. That was my


concern. I know of a few people who haven't applied because they think


they're going to get turned down and they can't put up with being turned


down. The Minister for disabled people, estimate of eight, wouldn't


give us an interview so I spoke to Doctor Stephen Davis from the


Institute of economic affairs. The institute has argued the case for


the urgent reform for disability benefits and questioned why the


numbers of people claiming them really need to. So what did he make


of Nicola's point that many people will just not apply because they'll


find it too depressing. If people feel they shouldn't apply for those


reasons, they're making quite a serious mistake because the point of


this new system that the government is trying to create is one to have


interviews or assessments to establish exactly how the disability


that you have affects you and therefore how much help you need. So


there is a very strong reason to apply, rather than to not apply.


isn't the key point here that the government is just trying to cut


costs and save money, rather than responding to the needs of disabled


people. Not at all. I actually suspect they're not going to save


much money. I think when it comes out ultimately, the budget is going


to be the same as it was under the DLA. I think they're going to end up


spending the same money so I don't think this is going to have a


money-saving. The government has said they need to cut the bill by 20


percentage. That is what they say but I suspect the way this is going


to work out is that they are not going to say that much. Half a


million people will no longer receive funding. When you are living


in the 21st century in a civilised society, shouldn't people that need


support get it? Well, it's whether or not they still need it. The big


changes having regular assessments. What has been happening in many


cases is that people who did need assistance at one point, their


condition has improved or something has happened and changed their


circumstances and they no longer needed. But the of assessment has


changed and people like Nicola are concerned about that. Well, she's


concerned with the question of ability assistance. Mobility


assistance. There is still an element of that and it's based upon


whether you can move around and whether you can plan and organise


travel effectively. So if people still find that they aren't able to


show the assessor that they can't move easily, they will get


assistance. Are you reassured by that? Of everything this government


has done, I find this to be the most worrying and appalling. The amount


of concern and worry that people have been caused... And what I can't


understand is why we can't trust the commissions that look after these


people to do the work to say whether they are recovering from a


disability or not. Over and over again, they've been hit - by bedroom


tax, council tax support its use and now this change. The basic idea of


personal independence payments, I support. They should have the


ability to make decisions about what they need. But to take money out of


the funding pot and the impact of local government cuts in funding,


which have also impacted on the same group, is just not acceptable. I


don't think that's the sort of country that we want to see in the


UK. I don't think saving money should be the point. Nicola's case


was very powerful. Sharon and I would agree that the principle of


personal independence payments is the way to go - to trust people who


are disabled to spend money, rather than tell them what we think. What


we have to avoid is the disaster we saw with work capability


assessments. At us have a very bad reputation. -- AtoS. You do need to


save money but the number of disabled people aren't going to


suddenly dropped by 20 percentage. Yes, but the people who need support


will get it. It's not a limited budget. I'd save the money in all


sorts of other ways. There are other ways of doing things and I would


want to see the books balanced on the back of people who need help.


The welfare bill has got to come down and we've said we will look at


this very hard before we get to 2015 to have a look at what needs to be


done to bring that welfare bill down. I would call small council


homes so that we're not spending huge amounts of money on housing


benefit to pay twice the amount of rent in private housing that the


board have to pay elsewhere. So I would do that straightaway. Which is


why the statement had more money for affordable housing. It's time now


for a snapshot of this week's political news. We've talked about


cars and bikes but what about plans Calls for the board of the East of


England Ambulance Trust to go were heard in Westminster this week.


is deeply alarming and, in my view, thoroughly disgraceful is that there


are five nonexecutive directors who have resided over the mismanagement


of this trust and they still sit on the board. Not any more they don't.


The Scouts have now been claimed. The case was being made for more


funds at Kettering General Hospital. Nine MPs that an amendment against


HS2. And there were calls against a cut on expenditure on the military.


Will the Prime Minister gave an assurance that will be no further


cuts? And an MP deleted to eat after an unfortunate spelling error. Have


you ever do is is a tweet or may don't mistake like that?


-- deleted a tweet or made a mistake like that. Know but I sometimes get


my grandson pressing the buttons on my phone! Julian, you're an avid


tweeter. How important is it? important so people know what I'm up


to and why they can ask the questions and I have made errors, to


do with auto correct. The big thing is that if you delete it, people


wonder what you're trying to hide. So you have regretted pressing the


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