22/04/2012 Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria


Andrew Neil and Richard Moss with the latest political news, including an interview with the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.

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In the North East, at Durham prison as a category B prison home to


serious offenders. Should a private company be allowed to run it for


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1729 seconds


A warm welcome to your local party official. Coming up - now cheaper


to buy a council house backs it extra discounts from the government.


Does that mean few affordable homes for those who need in the most?


Talking about that are my guests, Stockton MP James Wharton. Durham


is a category B prison that it contains the most dangerous


offenders. It is one of nine prisons that the Government is


considering handing over to a private company to run. Ministers


say there is more to it than saving money because they say it could


also help cut reoffending rates. Prison officers say making money


out of prisoners is plain wrong. Durham prison. One of the oldest in


Britain. Inside, just over 1000 prisoners. This places be on the


news this week as it has been revealed one in eight prisoners


here develop a drug habit after being locked up here. This is of


concern particularly because the prison is facing competition. The


competition comes from private companies who want to run the


prison. It is a form of privatisation that the Government


calls market testing. The unions say this is a bad idea. We do not


think there is a need for this competition policy. We believe that


a public sector Prison Service as an effective and cost effective. We


do not believe it is morally correct to put profit in private


shareholders from the misery of others. A by the end of the year,


this prison could be run by a private firm. A good deal for


taxpayers are a dangerous risk? You have heard what the Prison


Officers' Association have said. Basically, it is distasteful to


make money out of prisons? understand the concern. The


important thing is to ensure that standards are maintained and things


are done properly. At the moment, it cost �45,000 to run at a single


prison cell. The last government started the programme at looking at


whether the private sector could contribute to running a presence


and an effective and efficient way. Where appropriate, it should be


rolled out. That has not been for a very prison. We will look at


individual circumstances and how prisons are being run today before


making that decision. This whole process started under the last


government. Are you against it now? I was against it then and against


it now. I did not hear you shouting about it are threatening to resign.


You're not listening because I have been speaking up against the


privatisation of prisons for a long time. The inspectors' report this


week said that the prison was making enormous progress and had


very good management. Unfortunately, the media are being distracted at


the moment by this privatisation progress. That is not good for the


running of our prisons and they do an effective job. What I would like


to do support the prison staff. They do an incredibly difficult job


and have very serious issues to deal with. I accept there was some


praise and that report but it found the prison was not sufficiently


safe and one in five inmates tested positive for drugs. There were lots


of positive points in that report and it pointed to a particular


issue and drug use. That is being tackled by the management of the


prison who, since the report was written, have really tackled the


drugs issue and reduced drug usage by about 1 1/2. They're making


progress and need to be supported and be do not want to see the


prison privatised. This was never a lover the Democrat policy but I can


remember. -- Liberal Democrat policy. Our policy has always been


that we are in favour of public or private sector running prisons as


long as they do it efficiently and well. So what is already to make


profit out of prisons? -- it is all right. If they can run it more


efficiently through a private contractor then that is OK, that


his spine. What I am pleased about with this is that it has been to


put out to the public sector is well to run it. It is in stark


contrast to something like academies where local academies --


local authorities are not like to put forward a community school and


they have to look at the Academy's first. Here, you have a level


playing field where public and private and partnerships can come


together and offer to do it. Is it a level playing field? As I


understand it, 20% has been added to the costs of the in house picked


by the existing public sector management. It is difficult as to


how you'd apply criteria to get a level playing field. Their costs


involved behind the scenes that are centrally and kerb at the


Department of Justice that contribute towards, or take away


from the costs of up public sector organisation has a private sector


has to provide. We're not saying all prisons should be privatised


but we should look at whether there is an effective and more efficient


way of doing this. The report that he met this week implied that at a


time when they're trying to tackle these problems, they have to


produce a bed for the prison they already run. We have a problem with


the image of prison provision in this country at the moment. There


are only about 2000 spare spaces in our prisons, many of which are


already overcrowded and we have to do something about that. We cannot


find savings because there is no money left. We are massively of a


spending as a country. If we cannot find a more effective way of


running a prisons, we will run into bigger problems in the future.


is about value for money for the taxpayer. That cannot be a bad


thing? We want prisons to run effectively but they also have to


do a good job and rehabilitate the people who are there. Some of the


praise that was given to the prison management this week was about how


the strength and work opportunities and training opportunities within


the prison. Some of those schemes are now being put at risk by cuts


and by the privatisation proposals. It is not only about efficiency and


the running of the prison but ensuring that the people who are


there do not go out and continue to commit crimes. That is not included


atoll in the tender documents. this be a waste of money if it ends


up being in in his bed? But -- in house bid. The tendering process is


useful because there is currently a lot of dissatisfaction. It is


about... Who will have to cut you off there.


From this month, it is cheaper to buy a council house should you what


it. Ministers are offering bigger discounts and say it is about


resurrecting the spirit of ownership from thatcher's time in


office. Some say it is not welcome news and that money gained from


selling homes will not be enough to build more affordable homes.


1987 - Madonna was in the charts, Mrs thatcher won a third term and


this family bought their council house. The benefits have been that


I have something to leave the children. It was about security. It


was about getting on the property ladder. The fact that I love these


decide, I loved it here, and they wanted to buy a house here. After


the heyday of the policy, the number exercising their right to


buy has fallen. The coalition government is giving up another


lease of life. From now on, tenants purchasing council houses get a


much bigger discount. The maximum saving in the North East has risen


from �22,000 to 75 -- �75,000 below the market value.


The effect of three decades of right-to-buy can be seen clearly in


a street like this one. It used to be all council-owned but it is now


three-quarters private. Supporters of the transition say it has meant


greater pride and vitality. Critics have a right to buy say that 30


years on, it has led to a shortage of affordable rental homes for


those who need them most. Ministers say it would different this time.


For a very council house sold, they promise an affordable home will be


built. One of these council says it will not get enough money from each


sale to fund a replacement. There is a shortfall of around �13,000


because tenants get a very large discount now and we also have to


hand back substantial amounts to the government. We have estimated


that for every 25 houses we sell, we will only be able to provide 10.


This Darlington estate is already a mix of council and private. What


the residents here think? I think it is a good idea because if the


price reduction comes down a lot lower, it will help young people to


get onto the property ladder. they try selling them off, there


will not be enough for people like me and my husband to a disabled to


Nevin. As well as concern about the housing shortage, their fears about


the financial risk of buying a house in -- council house and a


volatile market. There are fears that those who have bought their


houses through right-to-buy at higher risk of mortgage arrears and


losing their properties. Because of the higher rates of unemployment


here, that is something that worries us for the future. In a


previous see a, were right to buy East up-to-date aspirational chord


with the electorate. It is far from clear that this remixed policy will


be a hit with voters. James Wharton, this might be great


for those who get a big discount but the danger is these people will


be pulling up a ladder behind them at at least places like Darlington


short of affordable homes. somebody buys their home, that is


one less person who needs a council house, so there is less demand.


Money released by that has been be invested by the Government through


a centralised scheme to allow a one-for-one replacement nationally


so that for every house that is sold, another is built. Where does


that leave a place like Darlington who do not see all this money come


back? For every 25 houses sold, they have 25 fewer council tenants


who need those homes. government has made a big play of


needing to build new homes. If it reduces the stock, this cannot be a


success came at you will have 25 people who wear in council homes


who do not need them. You use some of the money to build new


affordable properties for people to move into. You will have more stock,


more people living in their own homes. It is a good scheme and it


is right to be invigorated in this way. The right to buy it made a


huge difference to people's lives. Your Government made it difficult


for people to get the same benefit? We support aspiration and the right


to buy. We were shifting resources because we inherited an �18 billion


black gold. We had to ensure that properties were brought up to a


basic standard. Only 25% of the receipts of sales are going to stay


with the local area. When the replacement house is built if it is


ever built, that will be at 80% of market rent so it will not be like-


for-like. No local authority will get any money until an additional


13,000 houses had been put on to the right to buy. Our criticism is


about like-for-like replacement. that not commonsense to it, rather


than just handing the money straight back to the council, take


a more strategic view. They may not be needed in Darlington but instead


in Durham, for instance? The point is that this is not replacement of


like-for-like. There as an acute shortage of affordable housing


right across the country. Up if we're going to lose yet more houses


from the affordable rented sector, then we need more affordable houses


to be built in that area. This is just not going to happen under the


scheme. Has the Government got it right here? In rural areas, it may


be more of a problem? There is something to be aware of here which


is that in this, there is an additional commitment to build


130,000 extra houses in this Parliament. That is in addition to


the one for one. Weaver very police have Liberal Democrats to get this


one for one replacement for each household because that was not


there before. As ever, the devil is in the detail and we have to be


aware of that. The other issue we would like to have seen would have


been to have a more local approach to it. The �75,000 discount in the


media like the North is far too much. Because the houses are worth


a lot less? Yes, so we would like to have seen that be locally


determined and be more strategic. You're right about rural areas like


the one I live and where we are desperate for affordable homes.


everyone get �75,000. That is the maximum some people can get and it


depends how many years she had been in the house, there is a formula.


Thank you all very much. No shortage of other news this week


with a special debate in Parliament about the North East economy and


the local election visit to Cumbria by the Prime Minister. He that his


and 60 seconds. The first steel has been produced


at the reopened blast furnace on Teesside. It was lit again last


weekend after being mothballed. David Cameron has promised to make


apprenticeships attractive alternative to university. He was


speaking during a visit to Carlisle. The Greens have parallel in their


sights as well. We are looking to challenge the cuts agenda but we


also be looking to make sure that money stays within local community.


I Gateshead MP accused ministers of presiding of a slash-and-burn


agenda for the North. The much-heralded regional growth


fund has funnelled money directly into companies in the north.


MPs have welcomed a decision to display the Lindisfarne Gospels


next summer. A man and a rush there.


Welcome news about the Cuthbert Bible but does this helped the


campaign to get the Gospels displayed permanently in Durham?


think it does. We are looking forward to next year and we think


it will be fantastic for Durham and the North East to have a


Lindisfarne Gospel and the Cuthbert gospel displayed alongside it. We


think it will be a huge attraction for the North East and bring lots


of people into the area. We will have to use that and use the


display to really step up a campaign for a permanent relocation.


James Wharton, a good news for Teesside? What you think it means


for the state of the economy that work is ongoing for their? No one


is denying the economy is still on a tough situation. With the


reopening of this blast furnace and Teesside, that is great news.


Hitachi are opening and good news from Nissan. A lot of good news in


the North East economy which suggests we are coming into the


difficult period which means jobs and investment in the future, which


we need. There are important developments such as the Durham


Valley airport. Any development there? It has been bought by People


who used to be dealers. They are pushing ahead with an advertising


drive and looking for support across Teesside. We wanted to be


excess it and hopefully it can be. Do people in North Yorkshire Cup --


care about this airport bar do they wanted us go to Bradford?


Improvements are being made which is fantastic. I cannot see it


released are making much of a note in North Yorkshire. We're very well


served by Leeds-Bradford. That's about it for months. If you live in


Newcastle and would like to get involved in the debate over an


elected mayor, there is a good opportunity tomorrow lunchtime. I


will be taking the debate to the city centre and looking for people


who wish to put questions towards both the yes and No campaigns. If


he still need to make up your mind, it make a worthwhile coming along.


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