22/01/2012 Sunday Politics South West


22/01/2012

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In the south-west, the plan to save our feeling high streets.

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And of the small businessman who says ministers must do more to help

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1771 seconds

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A warm welcome to the Sunday politics South West. Coming up...

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David Cameron says a vote on a hunting ban will happen before the

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election, but one hunt master says he thinks the Prime Minister should

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wait for a Conservative majority. They will not discuss it again, but

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this is the one chance. And I am joined by the Lib Dem MP

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Stephen Gilbert and the Labour councillor for Torbay, Simon Cowell.

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-- Darren Cowell. This week brought a disappointing

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employment figures for the South West, and in Cornwall the number

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out of work has risen sharply. Are you worried?

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Absolutely, there is no doubt it is concerning. We need jobs to support

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families. It is good news we are under the National average. We need

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new initiatives to really play on our strengths, our natural

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environment and beaches, to ensure that people are able to access

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well-paid jobs. The figures are also particularly disappointing for

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Torbay, Darren Cowell. How disappointed are you? A hugely

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disappointed, not just for the area, but for the individuals

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unemployment devastates. We have one in four households in Torbay

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where we have no one in work at all. That is having a huge impact on

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child poverty, where we have 22 % of children living in poverty. It

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is a major concern for us all. Staying with the economy, MPs have

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been debating Mary Portas's plan to save Britain's high streets. One

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small businessman in tour key -- toured he says that ministers

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should change regulations to help high streets compete with out-of-

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town stores. Take a look around Paignton and you

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can see that retail is struggling. A recent Government report into

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high-speed performance found that a third of Britain's town centres

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were degenerating were failing. Spending in town centres was going

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down, while and of town shopping centres and online solid Corp.

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Torbay's town centres are in that group. -- sock it caught up.

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John Dougherty believes the High Street is hugely disadvantaged

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because the business rate and parking provision are hugely skewed

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in favour of out-of-town stores. If you take small amount of money

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because of the nature of your business, your costs are the same

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as the store next door that may be taking an enormous summit of money

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because their business is slightly different. It does not relate at

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all. -- an enormous amount of money. Land values and of town are much

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cheaper and business rates are based on market values. At the end

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of last year, Mary Portas compiled a report designed to help to a high

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street back on to its feet. It is being discussed this week in the

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Commons. It is understanding consumer needs, tapping into the

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social needs of consumers, not just about retail. It is about creating

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community driven places. People want to get together and meat. What

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will enable them to do that? What is the high street of against? In

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Torquay, there is there Willows, a large stores and lots of free

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parking. It is an -- it is essential that in

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the regeneration of our high streets space is given for car-

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parking, either free or very reasonable or three for a certain

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period of time. Something else highlighted in the

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report is business improvement districts. Retailers pay a small

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percentage extra on business rates but have a collector of a mood of

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money to spend on enticing people into the high street. -- collector

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Lee -- collectively have an a mega of money.

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A we are encouraging more independent retailers back in two

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towns. Rental values are falling at the moment, and most landlords are

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always willing to do a deal with someone to keep the shop occupied.

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We will not go back to a nation of small shopkeepers, but we will be

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having that flavour in the town centres. That is where we are going.

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Torbay is hoping a new relief road into the borough will help drive

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growth. Local minister Grant Shapps will give his response to the

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review in the spring. Darren Cowell, that is your account.

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What could you make of the cafe owner saying he is at a competitive

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disadvantage took out of-town supermarkets because his business

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rates per square foot are more? I think it is the way in which

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business rates are calculated. It is driven by the fact that you have

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good shop frontage on a high street, compared to a large store out of

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time. Yes, there is opportunity within the system currently for

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businesses to apply for business rate relief, but if you do that you

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are going to have good bridge that gap by cutting services in of an

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areas. Stephen Gilbert, you are part of

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the Government commission that has commissioned Mary Portas. Do you

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think she can save a high-speed, or is this just a bit of celebrity

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gloss? I think the Mary Portas review has

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come up with two interesting ideas that I think can make a real

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difference to some of our high streets. The first thing is that

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people want high streets to be destinations. There has to be more

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on offer than you can get online. People want somewhere they can come

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and socialise, and I bank that is a bike using town centre managers to

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put on events people want to come in for. The second is the issue of

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car-parking. Businesses in the town centre tell me all the time they

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think car-parking charges are too expensive. My thought is that we

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can perhaps look again at summertime charges in look of a

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reduction in the winter. -- to do with a reduction in the winter.

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Surely the money has to come from somewhere, if it does not come from

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car parking? We have just taken an extensive

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review of car parking in Torbay, and it yields around �5 million,

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which is significant to pay for some of the services people demand.

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But you have got to offset back against the loss of trade in town

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centres. One of the things the Government should group is a

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temporary reduction in VAT, which would help stimulate the economy

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and safeguard jobs. Do you agree, Steven?

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I think it is about getting a balance. If you look at the balance

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between winter charges, where we want to get more people in our town

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centres, particularly in regions like the South West that do quite

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well in the summer months, perhaps that balance can be struck in a

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different place. Also, being imaginative about events being held

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in town centres so that people want to make journeys away from laptops

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into the Sant -- town centre. Last Sunday the Prime Minister

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promised a free vote on the hunting ban before the next election. The

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debate had been mentioned in the coalition agreement, but David

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Cameron's renewed commitment has shocked some people who want to see

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the ban overturned. They are worried a vote with the current set

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of MPs would be lost and they want the premiers have to wait for a

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Conservative majority. -- the Prime Minister at to wait for a

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Conservative majority. The Cury Hunt in west Cornwall.

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This hunt has been gathering for around 150 years, with traditions

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passed down through generations. For the past seven years, things

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have been very different. Instead of chasing a fox, the hounds follow

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a specially laid trail. Now the hunters are sensing a possible

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opportunity of a return to the old ways, sooner rather than later.

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The coalition agreement mentions a free vote on repealing the 2,000 --

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2004 hunting act. It is an issue that will come

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forward, and the House of Commons will decide. My own view is that

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the hunting ban does not work and is ineffective. Are you afraid you

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will lose? It is a matter for the House of Commons, I want to bring

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this forward. The Prime Minister is clear it will

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be before the next election. problem has always been it was

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taking criminal law into an area where it did not belong. It is for

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the House of Commons to decide and the Government to act on that after

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that. Will it happen in this Parliament? We have said it will

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happen in this Parliament. David Cameron might be feeling more

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confident, but those on the ground are not so sure. If we had a

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majority Government, I think call with it, but with a coalition, it

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possibly won't go through. The trouble is, you only have one shot

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at it. They are not going to discuss it again. This is the one

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chance. Could the Prime Minister have an eye on a new West Lothian

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Commission, looking at the rate of all UK MPs to vote on purely

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English matters? The 2004 Act only applies to England and Wales, with

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the majority of Scotland's 59 MPs likely to be anti-hunting. If they

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are taking out of the equation, -- taken out of the equation, the hope

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of hundreds across the South West could be realised.

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If the West Lothian question was resolved, but it will not be, by

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the way, we would still have a majority of about half that vote,

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about 30, in favour of keeping the hunting act. Even if that was the

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case, we would still have a majority.

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Back with the Cury Hunt, it is agreed David Cameron camera --

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cannot look as if -- risk looking as if he has his priorities wrong

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as the country faces recession. If joining us down we have the

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director of the Countryside Alliance. Alison, you would like to

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see the law overturned, but is there any part of you that agrees

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with the hunt master who says that in the current climate this thought

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is unwinnable. -- this vote is unwinnable? To we are delighted

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that the Prime Minister has chosen to have a vote.

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It is a coalition we are working with. We are optimistic the Prime

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Minister will called the vote when he thinks it is right. We have

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every opportunity of winning that thought -- that are thought and

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we're working hard to make sure we He why do you think this lot needs

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overcoming? It is actually quite a popular law and you have record

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numbers supporting the hunts, at the moment. He it is but a popular

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law within the countryside. We have a piece of legislation that

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has been on the statute books for seven years and there have only

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been five convictions for funds under this law. Every day our hunks

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go out, they are trying hard to operate within the law, and people

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within the countryside who support hunting want to see us revert back

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to the way we were before. We will continue to press very hard for

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that. We have promised the Countryside Alliance that we will

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continue to campaign on their behalf.

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Is there any chance this ban could be overturned?

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I think people who support hunting have every right to support this as

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a campaigning issue. I personally would never repealed a hunting act.

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Frankly, when we are facing the kind of economic crisis we talked

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about earlier, I think this is a distraction and I think Parliament

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should be focusing on fixing the economy, bringing back growth, and

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when we have overcome those severe difficulties then might be the

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right time to look again at this position.

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Alison is saying it could perhaps be winnable? Do you think that is

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likely? I am sure Alison is right.

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Personally I would never vote for repealing the hunting act, and I

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would much rather talk about bringing jobs into Cornwall,

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driving the economy forward. Darren Cowell, what is your cake?

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Do you think that David Cameron has reached the point of it being blown

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out of proportion now? You have to bear in mind there was

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a lot of criticism levelled at the Labour Government because we did

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not introduce legislation until late into our term. We wanted to

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focus on the priorities facing the country. I believe if there was a

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vote in the Commons now, the Act would be retained. I don't think

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they would be a majority, and there are fortunately some forward-

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thinking, modern Conservative MPs who would vote along with anti-hunt

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MPs. What makes you think it is winnable,

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Alison? It is a very close call. If the

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Lead were confident it could be one, they would push for a vote man. I

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agree that there are far more important things the Government

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needs to do at the moment, and no one within hunting expects it to

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happen imminently when the economy is in the mess it is in.

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Why do you think David Cameron made those comments to Country File?

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I think he was asked the question and give a straightforward, honest

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answer to the question he was asked. Do you think there is any reason

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for this tactical change? I think it is very easy to read a

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conspiracy theory into these things. I think Alison is right, the Prime

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Minister was asked a straightforward question and gave,

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in his style, a straightforward answer. I don't think Parliament

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will spend time on this now, and it is unlikely I would support

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repealing the Act. There is more analysis on David

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Cameron's recent comments on that Martin's blog.

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Now it is time for our round-up of Cornish councillor Alex Foulkes was

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in trouble for not paying his council tax. The Lib Dem group

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leader defended his deputy, saying that councillors are not paid

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enough. A councillor is page �12,000 per

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year. It is not a lot, and if he is doing that job full-time, it is not

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surprising they may find themselves in the situation where they have

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financial difficulty. That is why councillors in Devon have a board -

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- awarded themselves a pay rise of 23 %.

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West Somerset has been named as one of two locations for badger culling

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trials. The police say they are prepared for possible unrest.

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People have a right to protest peacefully, but I hope they realise

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the sole purpose of these trials is to establish whether we are right

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or they are right. And the Sherryl Murray continued

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her efforts to ban pet monkeys. I am putting this forward to the

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House today in order to speak on behalf of those who cannot speak

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That was our week in 60 seconds. Darren Cowell, let's look at the

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issue of Councillors' pay. His �12,000 enough to live on? I know

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that you have another job. I do have another job, and �12,000

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is a very high allowance. As a backbench councillor, my allowance

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is �7,500. As for any authority awarding a 23 % increase, normally

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these things are put through an independent review panel. The

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Stephen, have you any sympathy with this? I think no one will have any

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sympathy with people not paying council tax. It is right that

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people pay their council tax, particularly those who have a

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public duty towards council tax payers. There is an issue about

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people who want to come forward as councillors and making sure we get

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the balance right between all the people who may be retired and those

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who are working and on the younger side. I have to agree with Darren

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that that sounds a pretty reasonable allowance to me.

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Is there a case for having fewer, better paid councillors to attract

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the best candidate, as you would in a private company?

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My view when Cornwall came -- became an authority is to perhaps

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have slightly better allowances for fewer councillors to attract good

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quality people to do the job. We're talking about a potential with

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billions of pounds worth of spending. We need to make sure it

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is accountable, but we need quality councillors, too.

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If you are effectively paying someone a full-time allowance,

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there is no better focus for that individual and to ensure they are

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serving their constituents, because they don't want to be made

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redundant in four years' time. Now to the badger cull. We spoke to

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a Labour MP that people who were protesting could get themselves in

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the line of fire. Do you think there is enough provision in place

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to make sure this does not happened?

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This is a very emotive issue. It will play at over the next few

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months as B C the first batch recalls taking place. -- as we see

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the first batch of Kohl's taking place. -- badger culls.

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I am very disappointed these are going ahead in the first place.

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Previous evidence suggests there is no link. I am pretty confident that

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the police and security arrangements will be rigid enough

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to ensure public safety. Briefly, Sherryl Murray is getting

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attention this week for her attempts to ban pet monkeys. Are

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these issues worth raising? I think they are important, the our

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animal welfare issues and the public cares deeply about how we

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treat animals who cannot speak up for themselves. I have added my

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:51:00.:51:00.

Andrew Neil and Lucie Fisher with the latest political news with Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna on Labour's plan for the economy and is it time to leave the European Court of Human Rights?


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