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In the south west: The councillor who says services will be cut
unless tax is put up. And, the latest in the wind turbine
Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2173 seconds
Hello, I'm Lucie Fisher. Coming up on the Sunday Politics in the South
West: The wind turbine row continues, as one senior
Conservative talks about the risks of renewable energy.
And, to discuss that and much more besides, I'm joined by two Lords.
The Lib Dem Lord Burnett, and Labour's Lord Whitty. Welcome, both
of you, to the programme. We're going to start by asking
whether David Cameron's speech this week addressed the concern from one
of his own MPs, that the Conservatives were being perceived
as the party for posh boys. The MP for Camborne and Redruth, George
Eustice, is reported to have said that, being thought of as the party
of the rich could be a "major problem" at the election. He's said
to be concerned about "unforced errors" by fellow Tory MPs which,
he says, have damaged public perception of the party.
He might have been talking about Andrew Mitchell and his comment to
police officers. Lord Burnett, as a coalition, did you think David
Cameron did enough to allay any of these fears about posh Tory boys?
He seemed to be tried to talk about spreading the privilege, to turn it
into an advantage if you like? I think he has to act in relation
to the Andrew Mitchell affair. Because it is now simmering. In
fact, it is coming to a boil. If you are a Tory member of Parliament,
and you read that the Daily Telegraph has a leader of saying,
Andrew Mitchell must go, I believe there's something in the Spectator
magazine coming out as well, you have to be concerned, and I think
the Prime Minister might well be concerned. Some of this is unfair
but you cannot have the police being undermined. They do a
wonderful job in our country. about this notion of privilege, can
he spread that? Was about people whose benefits are being cut, it
it's a hard sell if you say privilege is being spread about?
That is certainly true. There is an aura of privilege among the Cabinet.
And Nick Clegg, he has a privileged background. Is that damaging?
have a privileged background as well. What greatest present I ever
learnt, as a Royal Marine officer, when I saw the men under my command,
the most imperative lesson was, if they had had half my advantages,
they would be the officer, and I would be the enlisted men.
Sometimes I think that lessons like that come through experience and
time, and maybe that is something some members of the government, it
is a lesson some of them have got to learn. Lord Whitty, was it a
mistake to attack Ed Miliband? not very clever to say it Ed
Miliband is a bit posh when the whole of the Tory, that everybody
knows it is extremely posh. It doesn't matter if you are posh, as
long as you behave in away which relate to other people. The problem
with Andrew Mitchell, this is about an arrogant and elitist behaviour
which is a serious problem, one which is borne out by some of the
policies they are pursuing, including cutting the benefits. To
do that at the same time as you have a very rich looking government,
actually does not impress people. What about the reshuffle, what you
make of it? I would like to say, not every member of the Cabinet is
privileged or wealthy, and the benefits argument is an argument
which is different. As for the reshuffle, I was particularly
concerned that we had abandoned the defence portfolio. We had an
extremely able minister, it is not just the same that, but the senior
people in the armed forces telling me, civil servants, his fellow
Conservative ministers. We have also exchanged it for International
Development. I do not think politically that was a smart move,
I did not think it then or now. Plenty more to discuss. Eric
Pickles has once again tried to persuade councils not to increase
council tax, announcing this week that there'll be another freeze
fund next year. It's money which councils can use instead of putting
up council tax. He says it will help taxpayers, struggling to make
ends meet. But one senior Cornwall councillor has warned services will
have to be cut, unless council tax goes up. Tamsin Melville reports.
Meet Henry Davies, a self employed, married father of two living in
Truro. Henry pays �160 a month council-tax on his home. Although
the household budget can be tapped, he thinks this is value-for-money.
I would always like to pay less but there are realities. Yes, I
certainly feel more comfortable paying council tax band I do paying
water bills. It is people like Henry, from a hard-working family,
that the Local Government Secretary said today he wants to help.
believe in lower taxes. Whereas Labour doubles council tax, we have
worked with councils for the last two years to freeze it. And this
year, we are offering additional funding to help councils freeze
their bills again. Eric Pickles has offered a grant equivalent putting
council tax up by 1%, compared to last year of 2.5%, with the money
needed to help fund already squeezing frontline services like
rubbish bin collections, libraries and parks, one senior Cornwall
councillor is not impressed. If the council goes away nervously with
the 1%, then front line services will be cut. The new cuts of next
May will have a horrendous problem. How many councillors will be brave
enough and bite the bullet and say, we will put up council tax because,
in the long turn, it is the best thing for our people and everybody.
It's not just the shrinking grant getting some backs up in local
government. The 2011 Act allows President Obama's to veto excessive
council tax rises by referendum. Last year, the government said the
trigger at a 3.5% increase, this year it is suggested that goes down
to 2%. One public finance expert doesn't think this sits well with
the governors vocalism policy. third year we have been freezing
council tax with government making the running. Making those decisions.
There is a danger here that we will end up forgetting that the council
tax is really a local tax, set by local councils, every important
part of local democracy. Last year, this was one or two authorities to
reject the freeze funds and asked residents to pay more, avoiding a
hole in the next Budget. Cornwall went for the freeze but bills
across the counter went up anyway as the police of 30 and towns and
pressures put their parts up. Henry thinks it is difficult. Part of me
wants to say, yes, freeze it, I am happier. I think there is a middle
ground where they could be a slight rise but not in line with inflation.
If you freeze it, in the short turn a lot of people will be happy, but
actually it's the services which would have an adverse effect.
Eric Pickles, this is to get councils cutting back on spending.
In Cornwall, with local elections looming, more budget cuts on the
way, no let up in the demand for frontline services, politicians
face a tricky balancing act. Lord Burnett, this hot from the
government is a short-term fix. If they accept it, councils will find
they have to make even more sudden cuts down the line. Can that be
right? I was delighted to hear what West Devon and South Hams have done
on your report. They are at an efficient council. Led by their
last chief executive. You are pleased they haven't accepted the
offer by Eric Pickles? I am actually. Because efficiency and
value for money of what the public want. Now, there are, built into
the system, going to be extra demands, especially with care homes
and care for the elderly. That is something that is brewing up to be
a major problem. But it is good for the taxpayer? Good for the taxpayer
and also for the public as well. With councils that are not
efficient, they will have to work with fewer people, but more
efficiently, more productively. Before the last election...
freeze to fund -- freeze fund would be good, at a time when people
cannot afford it. The problem is, if you take the freeze fund, you
are not necessarily going to get it next year. You are going to spend
money which will not be replicated next year which is a problem.
Whitty, should council tax be frozen at the moment or is it
putting vital services at risk? think the councils should make
their own government -- judgment. I this government started out with
benign talk about localism. In fact, what Eric Pickles is now saying,
you can have because of but if you take the wrong decision by what
overall view. He is doing it on housing and planning. It is an
internal condition in relation to the government policy. Lord
Burnett? On planning, he is talking about muscular because of. To go
back to the point on council tax. The issue of vocalism, it isn't
taking power away from local councils on vital issues? 80% of
what local government spends comes from central government any way.
Central government should have a say in it. It wouldn't bother you
at all. Lord Whitty, you talked, you said it would give the decision
to local people but you haven't said whether you agree with it
being frozen? It is in light of their position on their own budget
and in their community. Actually, in other countries, the balance is
much more towards the local level. Local problems should be solved by
local of priorities. David, says Labour doesn't want to interfere at
-- just wants to put up taxes and spending. Some local councils may
well freeze. By. Is it should be a local decision. The issue about
borrowing -- my point is that it should be a local decision. Local
communities should make their own decision and not be imposed upon.
have to stop you there. A brief word? Remember that if councillors,
local councillors, wish to increase the rates of council tax by more
than 2.5%, there has to be a referendum. You have the chance
there for local decision-making. Arguments about wind turbines have
been raging for years now. There are those who think they're the
answer to the country's green energy needs. Others see them as a
blight on the landscape. The recent reshuffle cast doubts about the
Government's support for renewable energy. And, this week, the new
Environment Secretary said wind farms risk upsetting local people.
John Henderson reports. Has the great wind debate taken a
dramatic step forward? Listen to what the Environment Secretary said
to the Conservative Party conference this week.
relationship between renewable energy sources, and the communities
we expect to host them, must be appropriate, and sustainable. Above
all, acceptable to local people. Tuesday night, and the local people
are meeting here near Totnes. Passions are running high. Up for
discussion, the prospect of two wind turbines in the parish.
Acceptable? Listen. If they go ahead and the noise is as bad as
the report says it will be, then we will move out. It is about the
noise and use it to our countryside every day and every night way you
cannot get away from it. And the health issues associated with it.
We are really lucky to live here, so the least we can do his to find
ways of making our own energy. wrote to councillors to support it.
This animation shows what they are talking about, plans for two of 100
metre high wind turbines capable of producing enough renewable energy
to supplied approximately 2,500 homes each year. When it comes to
acceptable community support, those behind the wind farm believe they
are in the majority. The majority view prevails. The most recent
government opinion poll shows 65% of the population in favour of
onshore wind. Locally, we can see that playing out with our
supporters. The number of people that turn up for the anti- campaign
begins his 40. We have 500 members locally. Who have all put money in,
have all made an investment on the possibility of gaining planning
consent on this site. Government subsidies for wind farms have been
cut by 10% or those some Conservatives wanted deeper cuts
hoping it would stop what they believe is the march of the wind
turbines across the countryside. One Cabinet Mr issued a coded
message that subsidies could still be cut further. My department will
work closely, as it considers future support levels for LOCOG and
energy. This will ensure that the impact of these new technologies on
the rural economy, and Environment, is fully taken into account.
that is music to the Air -- to the ears of campaigners who want to
show the scale of the turbines here. This is one third of the total
height so it will go a lot higher. Lowest by some, loved by others.
The divisive nature of wind farms stretches from those in power, to
wear that power is generated. Lord Whitty, given what you were
saying about local issues being in the hands of local people. Is the
Environment Secretary right to say proposals for things like wind
turbines should be acceptable to local people? I think local people
have to put their view, but as the gentleman in the clip said, there
is greatly exaggerated attention to those who are against. He said in
his area the majority of the population are in favour. Except it
is a big voice. You do hear a huge voice from those people against it?
You do have to take the decision side-by-side, the local community
needs to have a view. What worries made far more is the appointment of
Owen Paterson to head of environment, when he is manifestly
not convinced about man-made climate change, and not on the
carbon reduction agenda. There are changes in the energy department as
well. The government has switched from support at the beginning of
office, to being against it, which is seriously worrying. Lord Burnett,
are the government turning their back on a green energy? Can I talk
about localism again? You went to a local when you were in office.
Answer it first about this government reshuffle, we have a
cautious renewable energy secretary. I know Owen Paterson, he is an
honourable man, I am sure he will look at the evidence. I am
convinced there is a problem with climate change but not convinced
that the answer is onshore wind turbines. When I was Member of
Parliament by opposed the number of them in my constituency, I am not
sure the case has been made for their effectiveness in addressing
climate change. So you are pleased to see Owen Paterson? I am entirely,
he will be a good secretary of state. You have to ask yourself,
there is a cost in producing wind turbines, a cost in installing them.
The wind does not blow all the time. In places but Cornwall at the
forefront of renewable energy, places like this have benefited.
That is because of the subsidies. Are these onshore wind farms
worthwhile in addressing this? think you can argue about the level
of subsidy. We need to move rapidly to develop all forms of renewable
energy and nuclear energy, and get away from a fossil fuel based
energy mix. If decisions like this, apparent changes of tack by the
government on this, slow down this, the cost will be huge to everyone.
We have a measure of agreement between us. Yes, nuclear, yes of
shelf -- offshore wind energy. Onshore wind power I do not believe
is necessarily a good deal for Britain. Lord Whitty, do you think
Labour bail out try to move in and seize some of this green agenda for
their own? David Cameron introduced the Greentree as the logo, do you
think maybe there is a creativity shift here? The Labour garment in
its time did adopt some effective green measures but I wanted them to
go further. If the Conservatives, I would say about the Liberal
Democrats, if the Conservatives are abandoning background... Ed David
is the energy secretary who does seem to be championing the cause.
Only today, Ed Davey succumbed to Treasury pressure on reducing,
abolishing what was a good idea of the government... May I remind you,
there isn't a limitless pit of money to spend. Now, our regular
round-up of the political week in Clashes at sea between French and
south west fishermen, send in the Navy, said the MP for South East
Cornwall. I did feel that the situation was becoming out of hand,
and was beginning to become more inflated. Cash is on land, anti-
nuclear campaigners tried to stop a new power station. The Green Party
leader said she supported them. The fact is the government isn't
listening to the people. A Devon mother who has gained -- against
the takeover of child care by The same people are asking me to
movies. What do you do? -- to move these.
These clashes between the Fisher men. Lord Burnett, is it necessary
for a French navy vessel to move them? Do you think this hasn't
worked? I do, it creates tension. It is very bad for our country. And
bad for Europe. What about UKIP calling for the British Navy to be
deployed? Would this level of disputes have provoked a ship to
patrol? No, I really don't think so. That is exaggeration. I think a
little bit of diplomacy is what is needed. Lord Whitty? What you make
of this? It is clear there is not a Common Fisheries Policy in this
area. I do not know if this is a short-term local issue. If it
develops, we need the capacity to stand by to intervene if necessary.
The real issue is how we have a proper fisheries policy across all
of Europe. I understand, in the past, the Navy has been sent to
patrol in these instances, to almost all disputes amongst
fishermen. I think I might challenge that. In the past, these
have been serious events. If lives are at risk, then there will be a