19/02/2012 Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria


19/02/2012

Andrew Neil and Richard Moss with the latest from Greece on the debt crisis, John Prescott on police commissioners and an interview with Scottish secretary Michael Moore.


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Transcript


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And in the north-east and Cumbria, when it beat Durham, Newcastle, or

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1714 seconds

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Sunderland, or investing to be the A warm welcome to your local part

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of the show. A delight to see you. It could help create more

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environmentally friendly businesses like this one, with no less than

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four local bits, what chance do the North East have him becoming the

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new green bank. With us, the Hartlepool MP and Lord Shipley. Art

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and are councils being too heavy- handed with people who won't pay

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council tax, taking court action against them or sending in the

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bailiffs, is that a reasonable way of reclaiming debt. Some think they

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are too quick and have accused private bailiffs of abusing powers.

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Our reporter has met one woman and a man who has been accused of not

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paying council tax. Citizens Advice had sent them a letter offering to

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make a payment, they refused the offer to make the payment, saying

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it must be paid in full. There is nothing I can do, all I can do is

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wait to go to court. They will not take any payment from the unless it

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is in full. You cannot have your windows open, so you feel closed in.

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You must make sure nobody is out there before you shut the door. It

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is quite complicated. When you walk back into your home, you are

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looking to see if anyone is watching you. How common is that

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sort of experience? We asked every council how many occasions bailiffs

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were used to reclaim tax debts last year. Figures obtained by the BBC's

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suggest different councils work differently, in Newcastle more than

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25,000 court summons was issued by the City Council. That compares

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with fewer than 10,000 from the Sunderland, a city with a bigger

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population. Bailiffs got involved in Newcastle in more than 9000

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occasions, 6000 more than Sunderland. They say bailiffs are

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only used as a last resort to protect the interests of taxpayers.

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We signed up to the Association code of conduct, we told all of the

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companies we use that we have high expectations when they are carrying

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out their work. What we are trying to do is much more proactive

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preventive support, working with families in difficulty so we can

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support them and help them to plan how to pay the council tax. Rather

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than sending in bailiffs. Newcastle council deputy leader

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there. Let us speak to the vice chair of Newcastle council, how

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widespread is this case and cases like this? Things are getting

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harder, people are struggling with money, council tax debts are

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getting bigger. A quite heavy- handed approach by bailiffs at

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times? The legislation for Bayliss goes back to medieval times and we

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think it is a brutal instrument. Granted the council must collect

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council tax and people should pay it, but if people have mental

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health problems and are struggling, it is very quick when they take

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action, it builds up quickly and as the interviewer said, the charges

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are sometimes as much as the original debt. People at home will

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have little sympathy. They will say we pay council tax, they must

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expect consequences if they don't. Yes, but the problem is that

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sometimes they get a letter from the council and they just don't

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respond. That is when bailiffs do have to get involved. Our approach

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is to get in earlier with these cases and we are working with the

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council. It costs money to get Baylis to do this work and we would

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rather have this money kept for local people. I would suggest that

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people need to get help quickly, don't ignore a letter from the

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council and make sure you know what you must pay and pay it as soon as

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you can. You can arrange payments with the council around the

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bailiffs or get advice quickly. Thank you. Up till a year ago, John,

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your party was in control. Summons and bailiffs were even higher at

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that point, was there is a policy? Not a deliberate policy but the

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Audit Commission had been critical of Newcastle's collection rates,

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when we collected at. One of the consequences of that has been the

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that people have been very keen to make sure that the council tax

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returns and payments are... Overcame perhaps? A I think it is

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possible that there has been an over-keen approach. You can

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understand why. If people are paying council tax it is

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unreasonable for them to be subsidising people who are not. We

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should just say that the procedures are altering and there are fewer

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incidents now. A huge discrepancy. Sunderland a city not hugely

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different to Newcastle, they collected with far fewer

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interventions with bailiffs. That is true, but while Newcastle has an

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external bailiff service, Sunderland has an internal bailiff

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service. They have six full-time staff. That says something to us

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about how it works. I agree with what has been said, people need

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help and advice. One of the things I hope will come out of this is

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that councils will work closely with the voluntary sector in a

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giving people could debt advice. This is not money counters can

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write off, those who pay council tax probably have to make up for

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those who don't. I think it is a fair approach, it is a case of

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being sensitive to the economic needs but we have had unemployment

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figures rising in the North East and we must be mindful of that.

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What has been said is correct, there must be a sensitive approach

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but much more of an emphasis on prevention. If you are trying to

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identify people that is quite tough isn't it? If there are services in

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place to make sure people don't put their head in the sand, from the

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Citizen Advice Bureau and the council then it is important. I

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understand Newcastle are announcing a Prix bailiff service to help

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people, I think that is probably the right approach. Actually,

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councils are going to want to collect his money, they need it.

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Newcastle, as I understand it, the bailiffs are only called in after

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seven or eight discussions of what attempts to contact a person. In my

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own experience the summonses have been too quick, people can be a way

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or sick. The council is something and then going to bailiffs, perhaps

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more quickly than they should. On the other hand, it is important

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that the tax is collected. Of all of the big cities in England,

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Newcastle has the best collection rate. Thank you very much for now.

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We have a new bank in the north- east, now called Virgin Money.

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Could we get another one? That is a view shared by Sunderland, Durham,

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Newcastle are monks others, for a new investment bank. White vans

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don't normally have a reputation for being green but these will be

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as they are fitted with electric engines. This firm in Washington is

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at the forefront of the low carbon revolution. As it looks to expand

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it could be handed a new green investment bank with �3 million in

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cash somewhere nearby. Innovations need to move forward quickly, our

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business would see access to Green Investment made more simple and

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straightforward by this location in the north-east. The good news for

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the company is there is a big push to bring the Green Investment Bank

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to the North East. Some are making the case that they should be on

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this firm's doorstep in Sunderland. It is easy to understand why

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Sunderland once the bank. It will employ around 80 people but it will

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also make Wareside a more attractive place for new green

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businesses and jobs. One of the reasons that the City believes the

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bid should be taken seriously. have the highest unemployment in

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the country and bringing any jobs to an area like the north-east and

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in particular Sunderland, would be a good thing. Any investments the

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government decides on, investment must be a factor. Sunderland is

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facing fierce competition however, no less than 32 places, from

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Cornwall in the south to Edinburgh in the north, competing to be the

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location for the Green Investment Bank. Sunderland even has

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competition in the north-east, because there are rival bids from

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Teesside, County Durham and Newcastle. Teesside's bid is based

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on the way of industry set up in the area already. This site in

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Middlesbrough is set up by a firm which turns rubbish into thermal

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energy. They believe the bank will be right at home. They want

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expertise in finance which we have in this area, they want support

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from professional firms to understand green energy, green

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activities, so we think we are extremely well placed. The most

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important thing is that we have had that sort of industry here, a low

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carbon future. Teesside's growing businesses are keen on the bank

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moving in. The businesses are struggling to get cash, money, for

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lots of good reasons. They are looking for the investment bank to

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open up that flow of cash and if it is here and then it will be good

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for the businesses it but also for investments because they have

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expertise around them and projects around them. With four North East

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bids, some feel it may have diluted its case and left the road clear

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for others. There may be a separate argument for bids from Teesside and

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County Durham, but to have a a whole set of bits coming in from a

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single labour market is daft. You are up against other areas which

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are much better organised. It will be difficult and it looks

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fragmented. And a decision about where the Green Investment Bank

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will go is expected at the end of the month. If it came to the north-

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east it could help supercharged the economy, but has the region given

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itself the best possible chance of winning?

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ERM, where do you stand on this, do you a broad this? The kind of

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businesses Teesside wants to encourage. I think it is a welcome

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suggestion, I am disappointed it is too little too late. The government

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has admitted that role borrowing powers will not be in place until

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2016 at the earliest. In terms of having the injection for growth I

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fail to see how it can help. Having said that, I think it is extremely

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important. Teesside could be the centre of excellence for new low

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carbon green technologies. We have seen that already. If you think

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about the criteria by which the investment bank location will be

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judged, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that his side is a

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very strong fit. Would it matter that much if it is in Teesside or a

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few miles up the road in Newcastle? I think it sends out a positive

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message. Just a theory is important. Like-minded industries with a

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supply chain close by. It can be a really important way by which

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wealth and job creation can be carried out. I will come back to

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the principle in a minute, but with four bits from the north-east is

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ridiculous, isn't it? Wells has one bid. Is it not diluting our chances.

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Yorkshire has Sheffield and Leeds. A much bigger region... That is

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true, but I don't subscribe to the idea it should not have been four.

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There is a suggestion that we can demonstrate breath and strength of

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the offer in green energy and it is a good story to tell. I think some

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are stronger than others. Durham were say one possible location is

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the see him, could they not have got a a bid together? There is an

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argument for saying that they should each have come together, but

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I do think the Newcastle bid contains a lot about the importance

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of Tees Valley. As long as a decision to locate the Green

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Investment Bank is made for the north-east, the strength of people

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working together on the ground afterwards, seems to me to be fine.

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I don't subscribe to the view that it isn't known goal. Although I

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have no role in it, in this decision, it seems to demonstrate

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the strength of our region. We will see if that is true. Ian Wright

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says it is too little, too late and it will not make a difference.

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are doing it and it has to be set up. There are rules and finances in

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the legality, it will be back on stream in about... A few months'

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time, I don't really subscribe to it. It is important we know what it

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is for, it is less for the No carbon side than for waste and

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offshore wind technology and so on which the region is very strong in.

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Ian Wright, isn't this just addressing a problem of pre-

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existing banks not lending money. Nobody needs public lending if they

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have a good business plan. What we need in this country is a co-

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ordinated industrial policy, other countries like Germany and South

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Korea have got that. Didn't you have 13 years to do that? UK and

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argue that but we need to look to the future and what we need to do

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in this country in the 21st century to be in the Premier League of

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developed nations. Why can't the banks lent to these businesses like

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businesses were always fancied? have had some confusion, there is

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not real clarity in terms of what the Green Investment Bank will do.

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We want it backed up by public money to help Labour in the private

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sector money. Thank you. The Commons has not been sitting this

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week but plenty has gone on including a flying visit to the

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north-east by the Prime Minister. Our reporter has packed the

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political week into 60 seconds. Unemployment in the north-east fell

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by 4000 in the last quarter in 2011. It is still 11.2 per cent, the

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highest in the UK. In Cumbria the jobless total went up by 800. David

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Cameron says tough action is needed to tackle binge drinking. He was

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speaking during a visit to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in

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Newcastle. Police can Stevin, it is against the law to sell to people

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who are drunk, to sell to people who are underrate and you can close

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down bars. We must look at the issue of pricing and how we can

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stop this. Good news for Cumbria motorist with the opening of the

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Carlisle Relief Road, the five MAR link will help cut congestion and

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improve journey times to and from West Cumbria. Finally, after a 3000

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mark walk, Lord Bates has arrived back and the UK. Just about one out,

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my second pair of boots, which is probably just means I am light on

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my feet. There is a man who deserves a rest. John Shipley,

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prime minister talking about our goal this week. Was it just a photo

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opportunity? An extremely important issue. Did he adds to the debate?

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On alcohol I think he did address the debate. We need minimum pricing

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has gone and is proposing to do. I thought his visit was extremely

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helpful. He went to school and afterwards and was discussing a

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whole range of things around independence which would impact on

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our region to. Also the RBI has experience on this and he picked

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one of the cities in the UK with some of the worst problems for

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hospital admissions because of alcohol. Ian Wright, where are you

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on this? The problem, minimum pricing, which John Sibley supports,

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it does not really help poor people who just want a drink does it?

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could be part of a package but if you are trying to address long-term

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cultural issues, I think you need a range of responses of which minimum

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pricing might be one. I would want to make sure it does not penalise

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moderate drinkers. I don't think the Prime Minister added to the

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debate, it was a PR stunt. Was 24 hour drinking a mistake? I think

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the? Is there, but the idea was a laudable one, to have the cafe

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culture. Did it happen? Some elements of Hartlepool, on the

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marina, are very European in terms of drinking culture. But it failed

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to address the 10 pints down the Net culture which is there. We need

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to look at what is actually quite a complex and difficult issue in a

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much more responsible and holistic way. I must say the fact he is

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cutting police officers from the forces does not help address crime.

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It is a bit rich to talk about looking more drum people up and

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targeting this when police numbers are falling, isn't it? The most of

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those are in back-office jobs, so the solution is to stop people

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getting drunk in the first place. Minimum pricing would help with

0:49:120:49:22
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that. You could get the... You could could seem the limit for a

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man for a week on four or �5. If it was at twice that level it may stop

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some, I believe it would. Scotland is talking about 45 pence per unit,

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why not the same for us. The BBC Inside Out programme has a special

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report on homes for Cumberland this week, a fairly organisation which

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