05/02/2012 Sunday Politics South West


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In the South West, the children caring for their parents. Pleading


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1757 seconds


with councillors not to cut the Hello. Coming up on the Sunday


Politics in the South West: The controversial plan to cut the


funding which supports young carers in Somerset. One MP says he is


appalled by the idea and is calling on councillors to think again.


To discuss that and much more, I am joined by the Conservative MP


Sherryl Murray and by the Labour leader for Plymouth City Council


Tudor Evans. Welcome to the programme.


David Cameron was in Plymouth this week and mistakenly referred to the


City as an enterprise zone. What you make of that? We had the recent


announcement that Plymouth was going to see this Marine Energy


Park, and I wonder whether that was the reason the Prime Minister made


this mistake. It is undeniably needed, some kind of investment in


Plymouth. Absolutely, but I would not want to talk businesses in


Plymouth down. They provide a lot of employment for my constituents,


and for people on this side of the Qamar. We have a lot of vibrancy


businesses already in Plymouth which the Government is supporting.


We are cut in corporation tax, providing help for apprenticeship


schemes, and that sort of thing. would have been nice, wouldn't it,


if it was an enterprise zone? Particularly because it is only a


few months before the -- since they turned us down. Perhaps they got


confused. But it is not the first gaffe he has made. He thought the


Americans joined the Second World War in 1939. Or would you like to


see happen in Plymouth? One of the things about the enterprise zone is


that they incentivise rates. The Government are also planning to


localised business rates without equalising them, meaning that areas


like London, which generate a lot of business rates, can subsidise


themselves a lot more, than can businesses in the Plymouth area. In


fact, throughout the South West, we will be at a disadvantage. Sherryl


Murray, will David Cameron be embarrassed by this gaffe? I think


he will probably not having -- not like having made the mistake, but


we have to remember, there is only a certain amount of money in the


pot, and we could not go on the way we were before.


Train passengers in the South West may be green with envy if they


happened to be in an overcrowded, to a carriage and been reading


about the massive investment in High Speed Rail elsewhere. The next


contract is due to start next year in the South West. What incentives


can Piers offer firms to improve It has not been the smoothest of


journeys. Covering the Penzance to Paddington line, criticism of the


current Great Western rail franchise has been widespread.


Protests led to a management reshuffle, more services and extra


carriages, but it came at extra cost to the taxpayer an operator.


Trains like this Paddington to Plymouth service have been run by


First Great Western since 2006. With the new franchise up for grabs,


campaigners say lessons must be learned. First Great Western are


opting out of their current deal next year. That is three years


early. It has triggered a public consultation on how the new 15 year


franchise should look. Chris Owen, a transport campaigner, uses trains


every day, and he has clear views of what the Government needs to


take on board. They need to look at performance and reliability. If


trains do not run on time, people are stuffed. If you cannot get a


seat, you get very upset. The third problem for us in the South West is


journey time. The problem of getting where you want to go at the


time of day you want to travel in a reasonable amount of time. He is


worried that planned improvements to the line and only as far West as


Bristol were are such -- isolate the far South West. We have got the


worst a franchise deal of any part of the country. We need to make


sure that this time round the franchise delivers things that we


want. Experts like Chris predict a gap of around 100 million seats on


mainline services over the next decade despite proposals to bring


in more intercity express trains. Branch lines like Truro to a


Falmouth break records for the numbers using them, and the


Department for Transport are being pressured to introduce extra trains.


But the fears that of mistakes could be repeated made his way to


the House of Lords this week. of most crowded trains are in


government statistics on First Great Western. They pledged there


will be more carriages. The doubt remains whether the ministers will


take the right track. My concern is that in 15 years, passenger numbers


could go up dramatically. The new franchise has to be incentivised by


the Government to want to change. Back at Exeter St Davids, it is all


about getting a seat. There are people standing in first class and


it is always packed. During the commuter hours, there is never


enough seats. It would be nice if there weren't more seats on the


busier journeys. There is two months to go until firms bid for


the new contract, due to start in April 2013.


Joining us from a Exeter studio we have Dr David Boughey, rail experts


from the University of Exeter Business School. People pay a lot


of money for rail tickets. Fares are still going up. Yet the biggest


gripe is that they cannot even get a seat. Do you think that this new


franchise means there will be improvements for Allah service?


think expectations are likely to be incredibly high with a new


franchise. Why wouldn't they be, given the circumstances that


passengers are experiencing? But I am afraid that it will be until


2017 until there is substantial improvement on the line. What kind


of improvement might we see by then? When we get to that point,


the new InterCity Express programme should have started delivering the


new trains across the network, meaning that we will see some of


those new trains heading towards Exeter and the displacement of


other trains that currently run on other lines also in this direction,


which should bring more capacity and faster journey times. And what


kind of government incentives make a big difference to customers? What


could be offered G as part of the consultation process, customers are


invited to say what matters to them. We have heard about the speed of


the journey, but there are other elements around catering, retailing,


space of seeds and luggage space, and all of these can be built into


contract arrangements as part of the franchise. Sherryl Murray, you


travel back and forth between Cornwall and Parliament every week.


You must want see some improvement. Should there be more in reticent --


Investment? Colleagues and I took part in a debate in Westminster


Hall last week, and what we called on the minister to include in the


new franchise was the retention of the sleeper service, improved


capacity, because I have travelled from Plymouth down to Liskeard on a


carriage train when it has been absolutely trapped, and they


pointed out then that the amount of luggage could even impact on safety.


And that is not necessarily good for the economy either? Certainly


not. Tudor Evans, should we be looking to other countries where


there are better models for train services? I have not made a great


study, although I have been on the Japanese railway system, and the


argument would be about taxpayers' money and subsidies. On the NHS to


debate -- High Speed Rail debate, the Government has just spent �500


million to make sure the line does not go through one Tory MP's


constituency. I understand what David are saying by Exeter, but


there is a lot of railway after Exeter which would not be suitable


for the new trains. What we need to look at for the franchise is an


improvement. I think the problem is we have got three our journeys to


Plymouth, and we need more of those. With Cornwall, because Brunel build


the railway would be sweeping bends, some of the high-speed trains


cannot actually travel at speed. That is an argument for more


investments, then, surely. Absolutely.


Children in Somerset to care for a family member are facing a 50% cut


to the money which funds their support network. There are 300 come


-- young carers registered in the county. Somerset County Council is


the only authority in the region proposing these kinds of cuts. An


MP has called it appalling. Councillors say they wish to make


things easier for children by relieving them of responsibilities.


What are we having a 40 tonight? Mashed potato and beans. After a


full day of school, Jasmine Searle gets the tee on.


Her dad mark suffers from severe arthritis, which makes walking


painful and slow. Some days he cannot even get out of bed, so the


bulk of the household chores fall on Jasmine. Do you enjoy cooking?


It gives me and Dad some quality time together. It is good to so --


because Wenham older I'll know what to do. Also growing up fast is her


nine-year-old brother Kelson. Both children are supported by the Young


Carers Project funded by Somerset County Council. They have a project


worker they can talk to and confiding. But the council wants to


make savings and is looking to cut the number of project workers and


replace them with volunteers. Mark thinks that will not work. I don't


think there is going to be continuity mayor, which is very


important for the young people. have just one woman who comes every


week. I talked to her sometimes about Dad and things, but Eddie not


think I would be able to talk to anyone else. Fighting their corner


is Carole Paterson, who helped develop the service. She is


troubled by the council's desire to extricate young carers from their


caring responsibilities, because she thinks it ignores the real


problem. These children, they live in the summer, -- these families,


it is their world. You need to give them support, give them a break.


These kids are so proud of what they do. Somerset County Council


insists it is only trying to make the lives of the young carers


better. What I want to do is relieve the burden. If I can do


that in any small way by working with social services you have a


duty to assess the family. What we want them to do is to come in and


help the young people and the adults provide the proper care, so


that young people may have more free time so they can enjoy other


parts of their lives. One local MP is calling on the council to review


the scale of the cuts. To remove overnight half of the funding for


actually quite a small service that is supporting already 350 young


people between the age of eight and 18, it seems to me to be beyond the


pale. I would appeal to the county council to go back and look at


these decisions. Somerset County Council says it is due to make its


final decision on 15th February. Tudor, we heard the leader of the


council there say that he is hoping to relieve children of their


responsibilities. That is one of the most harmless things I have


ever heard. That is a family that is coping, a family that is doing


their best, a family that has worked out between the three of


them how to run their lives. That kind of patronising behaviour


belongs to a Victorian system of social services, not one of the


21st century. Did I hear the word consultation? Has anybody ask the


children what they think? No. The truth is that it is a money-saving


exercise, it is nothing to do with improving the lives of those kids


or their father. Is this the Big Society gone wrong? We heard they


are going to bring in volunteers. I wonder whether David Cameron would


like the thought that a Big Society is being used to defend cuts to


vulnerable children. Let's face it, what they have said is that they


want to give the children more free time. Nobody wants to see their


child become their carer. I think there is a very fine line to be


drawn between imposing on a child and providing support for them.


What I would like to see is the council talk to these children to


find out... But whereas the money coming from? It is a Tory council


proposing to make these cuts, so where is the money coming from to


relieve those responsibilities? That is the biggest decision. As a


government, we have given local councillors the responsibility to


be able to do their job as a councillor without dictating to


them, like the last government. The councillors have to make their


choice. Tudor, some of these services have expanded over the


years, and it is true that cuts are necessary. It it just one of those


things where services have to contract? This is the week when


Eric Pickles has been pushing again his �250 million gift to local


councils that will only do what they are told. It is about


priorities. Politics is the language of priorities, and in the


case of Somerset, they have got their priorities quite badly wrong.


Thank you. Our regular round-up of the


South West water bills are to go up by nearly 5% in April. A


spokesperson told customers that it could have been worse. Any price


rise is unwelcome, but it is less than the rise in other parts of the


country. Art courses in Falmouth are bearing


the brunt of the tuition fee rise. A study has revealed that nowhere


else in the region has suffered a bigger drop in applications.


The tax Expos at Cornwall Council continues. The Lib Dem leader was


asked to explain why all four councillors who failed to pay their


council tax were I in his party. is something that people are very


upset about and I would rather it had not happened.


MPs warned that cuts to the defence budget appeared in homes at risk.


And the Eden Project is going head- to-head with Torbay in a race to


become home of the Government's Green Investment Bank.


That was our week in 60 seconds. Sherryl Murray, the water story


there. The Government has announced �50 for every customer pay year off


South West Water's bills. But in the same week, we have seen water


bill rises. Isn't that giving with one hand and taking away with the


other? I do not want to mislead anyone. It is �50 from next year.


It is South West Water that have increased the charges. We do have


the biggest coastline to clean up. We do have a very large capital


programme. I will be speaking to them to find out whether there are


any savings, because nobody wants to see any further increases from


water bills. I will be working with other South West MPs, I am sure, to


look at things like subsidising other authorities. At least the


coalition is doing something to mitigate the bill rises? Labour did


nothing. I think you'll find that the bills have gone up to their


highest ever level under the Coalition Government. I think


you'll find that the report that George was born based at his


promise on, a 50 pence reduction, is actually a commission from the


last Labour governments and championed by the previous MP for


Labour in Plymouth. I honestly think you'll find that actually the


reduction is down to Labour. The difficulty we have at the moment is


that with BBA tea, with all these other price rises since the


coalition has been in power... have to say, Labour had 13 years to


deal with the excessive water charges, and they did nothing. I


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