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In the south-west, the plan to save our feeling high streets.
And of the small businessman who says ministers must do more to help
Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1771 seconds
A warm welcome to the Sunday politics South West. Coming up...
David Cameron says a vote on a hunting ban will happen before the
election, but one hunt master says he thinks the Prime Minister should
wait for a Conservative majority. They will not discuss it again, but
this is the one chance. And I am joined by the Lib Dem MP
Stephen Gilbert and the Labour councillor for Torbay, Simon Cowell.
-- Darren Cowell. This week brought a disappointing
employment figures for the South West, and in Cornwall the number
out of work has risen sharply. Are you worried?
Absolutely, there is no doubt it is concerning. We need jobs to support
families. It is good news we are under the National average. We need
new initiatives to really play on our strengths, our natural
environment and beaches, to ensure that people are able to access
well-paid jobs. The figures are also particularly disappointing for
Torbay, Darren Cowell. How disappointed are you? A hugely
disappointed, not just for the area, but for the individuals
unemployment devastates. We have one in four households in Torbay
where we have no one in work at all. That is having a huge impact on
child poverty, where we have 22 % of children living in poverty. It
is a major concern for us all. Staying with the economy, MPs have
been debating Mary Portas's plan to save Britain's high streets. One
small businessman in tour key -- toured he says that ministers
should change regulations to help high streets compete with out-of-
town stores. Take a look around Paignton and you
can see that retail is struggling. A recent Government report into
high-speed performance found that a third of Britain's town centres
were degenerating were failing. Spending in town centres was going
down, while and of town shopping centres and online solid Corp.
Torbay's town centres are in that group. -- sock it caught up.
John Dougherty believes the High Street is hugely disadvantaged
because the business rate and parking provision are hugely skewed
in favour of out-of-town stores. If you take small amount of money
because of the nature of your business, your costs are the same
as the store next door that may be taking an enormous summit of money
because their business is slightly different. It does not relate at
all. -- an enormous amount of money. Land values and of town are much
cheaper and business rates are based on market values. At the end
of last year, Mary Portas compiled a report designed to help to a high
street back on to its feet. It is being discussed this week in the
Commons. It is understanding consumer needs, tapping into the
social needs of consumers, not just about retail. It is about creating
community driven places. People want to get together and meat. What
will enable them to do that? What is the high street of against? In
Torquay, there is there Willows, a large stores and lots of free
parking. It is an -- it is essential that in
the regeneration of our high streets space is given for car-
parking, either free or very reasonable or three for a certain
period of time. Something else highlighted in the
report is business improvement districts. Retailers pay a small
percentage extra on business rates but have a collector of a mood of
money to spend on enticing people into the high street. -- collector
Lee -- collectively have an a mega of money.
A we are encouraging more independent retailers back in two
towns. Rental values are falling at the moment, and most landlords are
always willing to do a deal with someone to keep the shop occupied.
We will not go back to a nation of small shopkeepers, but we will be
having that flavour in the town centres. That is where we are going.
Torbay is hoping a new relief road into the borough will help drive
growth. Local minister Grant Shapps will give his response to the
review in the spring. Darren Cowell, that is your account.
What could you make of the cafe owner saying he is at a competitive
disadvantage took out of-town supermarkets because his business
rates per square foot are more? I think it is the way in which
business rates are calculated. It is driven by the fact that you have
good shop frontage on a high street, compared to a large store out of
time. Yes, there is opportunity within the system currently for
businesses to apply for business rate relief, but if you do that you
are going to have good bridge that gap by cutting services in of an
areas. Stephen Gilbert, you are part of
the Government commission that has commissioned Mary Portas. Do you
think she can save a high-speed, or is this just a bit of celebrity
gloss? I think the Mary Portas review has
come up with two interesting ideas that I think can make a real
difference to some of our high streets. The first thing is that
people want high streets to be destinations. There has to be more
on offer than you can get online. People want somewhere they can come
and socialise, and I bank that is a bike using town centre managers to
put on events people want to come in for. The second is the issue of
car-parking. Businesses in the town centre tell me all the time they
think car-parking charges are too expensive. My thought is that we
can perhaps look again at summertime charges in look of a
reduction in the winter. -- to do with a reduction in the winter.
Surely the money has to come from somewhere, if it does not come from
car parking? We have just taken an extensive
review of car parking in Torbay, and it yields around �5 million,
which is significant to pay for some of the services people demand.
But you have got to offset back against the loss of trade in town
centres. One of the things the Government should group is a
temporary reduction in VAT, which would help stimulate the economy
and safeguard jobs. Do you agree, Steven?
I think it is about getting a balance. If you look at the balance
between winter charges, where we want to get more people in our town
centres, particularly in regions like the South West that do quite
well in the summer months, perhaps that balance can be struck in a
different place. Also, being imaginative about events being held
in town centres so that people want to make journeys away from laptops
into the Sant -- town centre. Last Sunday the Prime Minister
promised a free vote on the hunting ban before the next election. The
debate had been mentioned in the coalition agreement, but David
Cameron's renewed commitment has shocked some people who want to see
the ban overturned. They are worried a vote with the current set
of MPs would be lost and they want the premiers have to wait for a
Conservative majority. -- the Prime Minister at to wait for a
Conservative majority. The Cury Hunt in west Cornwall.
This hunt has been gathering for around 150 years, with traditions
passed down through generations. For the past seven years, things
have been very different. Instead of chasing a fox, the hounds follow
a specially laid trail. Now the hunters are sensing a possible
opportunity of a return to the old ways, sooner rather than later.
The coalition agreement mentions a free vote on repealing the 2,000 --
2004 hunting act. It is an issue that will come
forward, and the House of Commons will decide. My own view is that
the hunting ban does not work and is ineffective. Are you afraid you
will lose? It is a matter for the House of Commons, I want to bring
this forward. The Prime Minister is clear it will
be before the next election. problem has always been it was
taking criminal law into an area where it did not belong. It is for
the House of Commons to decide and the Government to act on that after
that. Will it happen in this Parliament? We have said it will
happen in this Parliament. David Cameron might be feeling more
confident, but those on the ground are not so sure. If we had a
majority Government, I think call with it, but with a coalition, it
possibly won't go through. The trouble is, you only have one shot
at it. They are not going to discuss it again. This is the one
chance. Could the Prime Minister have an eye on a new West Lothian
Commission, looking at the rate of all UK MPs to vote on purely
English matters? The 2004 Act only applies to England and Wales, with
the majority of Scotland's 59 MPs likely to be anti-hunting. If they
are taking out of the equation, -- taken out of the equation, the hope
of hundreds across the South West could be realised.
If the West Lothian question was resolved, but it will not be, by
the way, we would still have a majority of about half that vote,
about 30, in favour of keeping the hunting act. Even if that was the
case, we would still have a majority.
Back with the Cury Hunt, it is agreed David Cameron camera --
cannot look as if -- risk looking as if he has his priorities wrong
as the country faces recession. If joining us down we have the
director of the Countryside Alliance. Alison, you would like to
see the law overturned, but is there any part of you that agrees
with the hunt master who says that in the current climate this thought
is unwinnable. -- this vote is unwinnable? To we are delighted
that the Prime Minister has chosen to have a vote.
It is a coalition we are working with. We are optimistic the Prime
Minister will called the vote when he thinks it is right. We have
every opportunity of winning that thought -- that are thought and
we're working hard to make sure we He why do you think this lot needs
overcoming? It is actually quite a popular law and you have record
numbers supporting the hunts, at the moment. He it is but a popular
law within the countryside. We have a piece of legislation that
has been on the statute books for seven years and there have only
been five convictions for funds under this law. Every day our hunks
go out, they are trying hard to operate within the law, and people
within the countryside who support hunting want to see us revert back
to the way we were before. We will continue to press very hard for
that. We have promised the Countryside Alliance that we will
continue to campaign on their behalf.
Is there any chance this ban could be overturned?
I think people who support hunting have every right to support this as
a campaigning issue. I personally would never repealed a hunting act.
Frankly, when we are facing the kind of economic crisis we talked
about earlier, I think this is a distraction and I think Parliament
should be focusing on fixing the economy, bringing back growth, and
when we have overcome those severe difficulties then might be the
right time to look again at this position.
Alison is saying it could perhaps be winnable? Do you think that is
likely? I am sure Alison is right.
Personally I would never vote for repealing the hunting act, and I
would much rather talk about bringing jobs into Cornwall,
driving the economy forward. Darren Cowell, what is your cake?
Do you think that David Cameron has reached the point of it being blown
out of proportion now? You have to bear in mind there was
a lot of criticism levelled at the Labour Government because we did
not introduce legislation until late into our term. We wanted to
focus on the priorities facing the country. I believe if there was a
vote in the Commons now, the Act would be retained. I don't think
they would be a majority, and there are fortunately some forward-
thinking, modern Conservative MPs who would vote along with anti-hunt
MPs. What makes you think it is winnable,
Alison? It is a very close call. If the
Lead were confident it could be one, they would push for a vote man. I
agree that there are far more important things the Government
needs to do at the moment, and no one within hunting expects it to
happen imminently when the economy is in the mess it is in.
Why do you think David Cameron made those comments to Country File?
I think he was asked the question and give a straightforward, honest
answer to the question he was asked. Do you think there is any reason
for this tactical change? I think it is very easy to read a
conspiracy theory into these things. I think Alison is right, the Prime
Minister was asked a straightforward question and gave,
in his style, a straightforward answer. I don't think Parliament
will spend time on this now, and it is unlikely I would support
repealing the Act. There is more analysis on David
Cameron's recent comments on that Martin's blog.
Now it is time for our round-up of Cornish councillor Alex Foulkes was
in trouble for not paying his council tax. The Lib Dem group
leader defended his deputy, saying that councillors are not paid
enough. A councillor is page �12,000 per
year. It is not a lot, and if he is doing that job full-time, it is not
surprising they may find themselves in the situation where they have
financial difficulty. That is why councillors in Devon have a board -
- awarded themselves a pay rise of 23 %.
West Somerset has been named as one of two locations for badger culling
trials. The police say they are prepared for possible unrest.
People have a right to protest peacefully, but I hope they realise
the sole purpose of these trials is to establish whether we are right
or they are right. And the Sherryl Murray continued
her efforts to ban pet monkeys. I am putting this forward to the
House today in order to speak on behalf of those who cannot speak
That was our week in 60 seconds. Darren Cowell, let's look at the
issue of Councillors' pay. His �12,000 enough to live on? I know
that you have another job. I do have another job, and �12,000
is a very high allowance. As a backbench councillor, my allowance
is �7,500. As for any authority awarding a 23 % increase, normally
these things are put through an independent review panel. The
Stephen, have you any sympathy with this? I think no one will have any
sympathy with people not paying council tax. It is right that
people pay their council tax, particularly those who have a
public duty towards council tax payers. There is an issue about
people who want to come forward as councillors and making sure we get
the balance right between all the people who may be retired and those
who are working and on the younger side. I have to agree with Darren
that that sounds a pretty reasonable allowance to me.
Is there a case for having fewer, better paid councillors to attract
the best candidate, as you would in a private company?
My view when Cornwall came -- became an authority is to perhaps
have slightly better allowances for fewer councillors to attract good
quality people to do the job. We're talking about a potential with
billions of pounds worth of spending. We need to make sure it
is accountable, but we need quality councillors, too.
If you are effectively paying someone a full-time allowance,
there is no better focus for that individual and to ensure they are
serving their constituents, because they don't want to be made
redundant in four years' time. Now to the badger cull. We spoke to
a Labour MP that people who were protesting could get themselves in
the line of fire. Do you think there is enough provision in place
to make sure this does not happened?
This is a very emotive issue. It will play at over the next few
months as B C the first batch recalls taking place. -- as we see
the first batch of Kohl's taking place. -- badger culls.
I am very disappointed these are going ahead in the first place.
Previous evidence suggests there is no link. I am pretty confident that
the police and security arrangements will be rigid enough
to ensure public safety. Briefly, Sherryl Murray is getting
attention this week for her attempts to ban pet monkeys. Are
these issues worth raising? I think they are important, the our
animal welfare issues and the public cares deeply about how we
treat animals who cannot speak up for themselves. I have added my
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?