29/01/2012 Sunday Politics South West


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Hello and welcome to the Sunday Politics in the South West. Coming


Taking away free bus travel from pensioners, the leader of Cornwall


Council will be here to defend his controversial proposal.


This week we are joined by Anne- Marie Morris, the Conservative MP


for Newton Abbot, and the Labour MP for Plymouth Moor View Alison


Seabeck. Anne-Marie is currently on the look out for musicians in her


constituency interested in entering the annual parliamentary music


competition Rock the House. She has been rocking the house herself this


week with a debate devoted to microbusinesses, a cause that is


close to her heart. Not a great week for businesses for


the economy with the GDP figures. They were disappointing but not


disappointing. I think that we have to focus on what we do now to


ensure that we keep this growth steadily growing. We need to ensure


that we keep regulation, which is a real problem, and we need to see


what we can do on the tax front. While the Prime Minister was


defending pairs of figures, there was a tweed from Alison pointing


out that Eton mess was being served. It is quite easy to point across


the government benches and say that regardless of the eurozone crisis


we have been making a better job of the economy. Yes, but that is not


what we should be doing. I have worked behind the scenes and of


what you have to do is ensure that you do not over promise. -- and


what you have to do in his ensure that you do not over promise.


Bodies like the IMF have concerns about the level of austerity


measures which are being imposed on the British people. By the time I


scurried across the road to get the Eton mess all of the meringue were


gone. UN Tuesday, the Health Select


Committee has said that -- on Tuesday, the Health Select


Committee has said that his ability to safeguard its future is being


compromised. The Lib Dem MP Andrew George is


urging the government to listen to medics and their mounting


opposition to the planned changes to the NHS. There has been hardly a


day this week when the Health and Social Care Bill has not been in


the headlines, with a critical report saying the overhaul was


getting in the way of finding savings to safeguard the future of


the service. The medical profession has been uniting in its opposition


to health care changes but there is a feeling in Cornwall that


ministers are not taking any notice. I do not have any trust in the


government about the NHS. I say that varies subtly. Unfortunately -


- I say that very sadly, because they have not been listening to the


Royal College of Nurses or any of the GPs who are leading the reforms,


and they certainly have not listened to patient. The NHS is


going through the biggest reorganisation in its history.


Under new plans, but it will be managed in local areas, a job that


used to be done by primary care trusts. There will be competition


from charity and private providers. At the same time, �20 billion in


savings have to be found by 2015. Some patients believe it that


digger will see to be played in commissioning the services. -- some


patients believe that there needs to be more accountability when it


comes to commissioning these services. But it is the idea of


private sector in the NHS that were raised this doctor. The remain just


of this Bill is -- the main gist of this Bill is that doctors will have


concerns that this will lead to all sorts of inequalities and we are


worried about services being fragmented and broken up and


providers coming in and cherry- picking the best services.


Ministers say they will safeguard against privatisation. They also


say that financial pressures caused by a Labour and disapproval of


pension changes are the real reasons for the backlash.


The South West has been a focus for rebellion against the plans, what


Adrian Sanders and Andrew George among cost only for her MPs against


the Bill -- among cooler four MPs against the Bill. This is the


largest amount of money we have ever had to cut from the NHS and we


have to do more things and use less money but you need stability and


uncertain -- certainty. You do not need to have a catastrophe going on


in the NHS at the same time what the whole world being turned upside


down. But despite backbench unease over


the Bill, this week, David Cameron continued to defend it. The error


thousands of GPs across the country -- the there are thousands of GPs


across the country who are implementing these reforms. Last


year Nick Clegg claimed victory after the Government backed down on


some of the reforms. Next month, the Bill will return to the Lords,


and attention will return to the Lib Dems to see if any of them will


make renewed attempts to block the Bill.


Emery, this is turning into a I do not think I would agree that


this is a disaster. I think the real challenge to the NHS is that


it is a centre at issue and we need to make sure that we communicate


but we are doing in an appropriate way and that is one of the problems.


I think that is why we are where we are. We have an ageing population


and we have to make sure that we have an NHS for the future. A lot


of people are saying it is not doing very badly and does not need


to be turned upside down. reality is that the costs are


soaring and there have been changes as far as what is available. We


have an ageing population and if we do not address this now we will put


ourselves in a difficult position for the future. When you talk about


change, up most of the change is taking place. These new


commissioning bodies are already there and working and a budget is


being held by the PC 80s. If I can give you a personal example, I used


to chair a committee when I was a councillor, and I used to find that


having a PC tea meant that I did not get the same focus on the real


local means that I believe these counselling groups can do at a


reduced cost. Alison, Labour is the last -- Labour is saying the last


thing the NHS needs his reorganisation. There is a lesson


to be learned. We were saying this in the last Parliament. A number of


people were saying that we do not need any more reorganisation and


the Prime Minister felt the same way. He pledged that there would be


no reorganisation and the first thing they did was re organise it


at a time when the economy is in a downward spiral and morale is


damaged. Morale is at rock-bottom. We are seeing waiting lists going


up and we have bodies like the BMA and the Royal College of midwives,


who I was only with this week, and they are all saying this is wrong.


I suspect that when it is discussed in the house we will see very


strong opposition to it from a number of different angles. I hope


the Government does listen. Murray, Andrew George says that GPs


are were accountable and the coalition was proposing elected


board members who would be elected by the Government into primary care


trusts. I think the answer is that they are not accountable. They are


responsible to the overall commissioning Board. There is


accountability and responsibility. At the end of the day, what are we


trying to deliver? A good service that we can afford. We have got


4,000 new GPs' and the waiting list time has come down. There has been


some significant benefit. It has only been a few years since


the over-60s bus pass was added to a list of life's certainties. But


now there its an idea that there could be a charge of 50p per ride.


Cornwall cows will's idea to charge pensioners 50 p per ride has were


fired some. -- Cornwall Council. This is bad. It has to be stopped


now. It will be back across the country if they get away with it.


The free bus pass was brought in by Labour, and from the start,


councillors from across the region have complained about its funding.


Government initially said they would be funding this scheme. They


have introduced a scheme that does not work and his leading places


like Exeter very short. Now, in Devon and Dorset, councillors are


having to cut around �1 million from their annual budgets.


Transport campaigners have said that that is because funding has


been cut by nearly one-third. Government cuts the funding and the


it has been squeezed, the budget, and some ministers are saying they


have had to put their hands into other parts of money which should


be used to help fix roots and other parts of the transport service.


Cornwall Council says it will have to start cutting bus services in


two years' time unless it is a large -- allowed to charge


pensioners 50p per ride. Some pensioners think it is a sensible


idea. I would rather pay full fare and have a bus then lose a bus.


Such tinkering with the over-60s scheme would need a change in the


law, and that does not look likely. In East Yorkshire, a voluntary


charge was tried out, but it did not work out. Ministers say that


some councils are planning to deal with the cuts using a little bit at


imagination, but it seems the, all idea is not quite what they are


looking for. I understand the idea. It is not an unreasonable idea. We


think we could put people off travelling by bus if we use this


idea. The Government has just put �90 million into a national


community transport fund and says that pensioners like Thomas need to


be confident that the free bus pass they get today will be the same as


they get next year. But others worry about how useful that pass


will be if writs are shut down to pay for it. -- if it runs are shut


down. We cannot speak to the reader of


Cornwell Council. One man said -- we can now speak to the leader of


Cornwall Council. One man said this was mad and bad. This was a


suggestion that came from the very pensioners who were using these


buses. How representative is this group? The big question in people's


minds, knowing that the government funding is coming down to support


this scheme, is that bus routes are threatened. People do not want to


lose theirs. What is the point of a free bus pass it there is no bus to


use it on? We are hearing this from all over the country, that people


would rather pay a small amount they have no bass. What do you make


of your own government's answer to this? We have to use all of the


imagination and solve this in different ways. We are suggesting a


pilot scheme at the moment. It does not look as though it will happen,


does it? We will be pushing for it. There is a strong argument to keep


pushing for it because Cornwall is in a stronger position than most


local authorities. We sat a four your budget strategy and we have


put money into reserves. We will be using reserves to support our bus


services in the short term for the next two years. That is exactly


what we are going to do. Government is not very welcoming of


this proposal. Emery, you have got local government experience. There


is no doubt that you sympathise. Is the government right to say that


they should use their imagination? I think they should go away and


think about it. The honest answer is that we are in different times


and have a significant that that we have to deal with and we have to be


creative. There has been a lot of cross working in Devon between the


local authority and local charities and local people. I think there are


creative ways. The Isle of Wight has come up with a very creative


way. This is creative. Yes, it is creative, and I empathise with what


people are saying. But I just feel that you could not differentiate


between those in need and those not in need. If I was going to do


something on a voluntary basis, I would create a charity. There could


be a bus pot. I know it has been tried in other areas. There had


been a areas that have tried it and have not been allowed to continue.


This will have to be addressed in a number of ways. We will be able to


buy some time in Cornwall to be creative. We need to roll out


community schemes. Other authorities will not be able to do


that. They do not have at the level of reserves and they have not


budgeted the way that we have. I see bus services Britain all over


the country, particularly in areas that will affect the coalition


government, and I think the Government will have to look at all


of the options. The primary legislation at the moment is too


restrictive. Another localism agenda, we should be allowing local


people to find their own solutions. Before the recession, Labour


brought in an agenda at that authorities said, the Government


has given us the responsibility but not the money. If it was an


affordable then it will be an affordable now. Local authorities


and pensioners are Between a Rock and a hard place on this one. They


have had their tax benefits cast -- cut. It will hit some areas hardest.


Pensioners and charities like a UK are deeply worried. I understand


why you were thinking about this. But this will hit the most of


marble and poorest the hardest. I would be surprised if the treasurer


changed his mind. We will have to look for exemptions where we can.


Now for a round-up of the political week in 60 seconds.


And the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges is holding a summit. We


have It's been a thoroughly energised Week as the South West


was declared Britain's first Marine Energy Park.


Anti-nuclear campaigners have been getting their teeth into plans to


expand Hinkley Point. The sun broke through for people


hoping to get generous subsidies to generate solar power. The


government wanted to slash the payments by half from last December.


Now the Appeal Court says the Energy Minister will have to think


again. Or will he? We were disappointed with this result,


clearly. The Secretary of State is now clear that we will take this to


the Supreme Court. The economic prospect was decidedly


cloudy as the Centre for Cities declared Plymouth one of the worst


places in the country for losing private sector jobs.


In Exeter, though, one of the city's oldest trades,


ecclesiastical tailoring, proved it's still as vibrant as ever.


have been having a clerical fashion crisis!


But about the way this has been handled, Anne Marie? I believe that


this is a great scheme but the way it was handled in terms of the


termination at such short did us, I agree with you... It should have


been foreseen. It could have been done the from the. We need to get


help for energy because it has to be one of the most important


sources going for it to solve our problem. Labour set it up, should


they have foreseen that this would have been unaffordable? I think


governments always have a responsibility to look for word


when it comes to the cost of a programme. It is an incredibly


valuable programme. There have been small set-ups and some large


proposals. I am surprised that the Government is going to spend even


more tax payer money on taking this right to the bitter end, to the


wire. I think it makes more sense now to say, let's go with it,


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