10/02/2013 Sunday Politics South West


Similar Content

Browse content similar to 10/02/2013. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



In the South West, will the so- called bedroom tax ease our housing


crisis? And will council plans to cut beach


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2463 seconds


services damage the region's Hello. Why am Martin Oates. Coming


up: Has the male of Torbay -- email of Torbay changed his mind about


tourism? I don't recall saying that. We have


got it on tape. I would like to listen to the Tate, because I don't


recall that. I am joined by Alison Seabeck,


Labour MP, and by the Plymouth MP Robin Teverson. There was some good


news this week in terms of more money for flood defences in the


region, but it leaves this issue of people not being able to get flood


insurance. Many people get it now because a deal was struck between


the previous government and the insurers which runs out in five


months, and it has of being replaced. It is a worry for people


who have been flooded out. I spoke to the Secretary of State last week


and he assures me and others that those negotiations are going on.


The insurance industry is being tough about it. The Government is


determined to get that fixed. Hopefully it will be. In the


meantime, there are many people with white carpets who are


concerned about his. We have had people from the insurance industry


saying these negotiations are we problem. The Government recently


said the negotiations were going swimmingly. The insurance companies


are trying to give away as little as possible. They are putting


residents in a difficult position. The present deal, Alison, was


negotiated in 2008. It was agreed then that it would expire now. DQ


and -- is this a ticking bomb? original deal was that it would be


short term. The insurance companies would not have come to the table it


was a prolonged process. The point is that there are now 200,000


people or more he potentially have homes which cannot be insured after


June this year unless the Government can get the insurance


companies to broker a deal. hope they do. Five months and


counting. The so-called bedroom tax sounds as if it should belong in


the 18th century along with the window tax. David Cameron pointed


out that it is not pay tax at all, but a cut in housing benefit which


many people fear will cause problems for people in the South


West in a few months. It has been the family home for 17


years, but Michelle Kent says a hate -- each a change to housing


benefit called the bedroom tax is leaving her with a stark choice.


Lose out or -- move out or lose cash. This is not about bricks and


mortar. This is my home and I have been here for 17 years. From April,


working-age people in social housing deemed to have spare rooms


will get less housing benefit. Disabilities mean that Michelle


Clark work, but her home has three bedrooms and anyone of her three


children lives at home, so she will lose about �12 a week. I feel that


making somebody find some money from the bare minimum of what they


have got in the first place, I did then that is fair on anybody.


-- I did think that is fair. change, the Government claims, will


bring fairness back into the system. For two weeks, this has been under


scrutiny at PMQs, with Alison Seabeck raising the case of a


constituent whose son in the armed forces might not have a bedroom


when he comes home. There are many people in private rented


accommodation who don't have housing benefit and cannot afford


extra bedrooms, and we have to get control of housing benefit. We are


spending �23 billion on housing benefit, and we have to get back


under control. Critics argue that although the Government might be


right to tackle the housing benefit bill, this policy is not the right


way to do it, as there is simply not the social housing available


for people to downsize to. How can it possibly may sense to force


people into a situation where they cost the state more, not less, by


moving into the private rental sector?


The councillor in charge of housing in Cornwall echoes the Cup -- these


concerns. The bedroom tax will hit the people who need housing and


those people on low incomes. It will not deliver what the


Government wanted to deliver, which is for people to downsize. There


are not enough houses for people to downsize in tea. Michelle showed me


her third bedroom. You can see how small this is. Hair MP suggested


she could take in a lodger to cover her costs. Michelle thinks this is


ridiculous. Sarah Newton acknowledges that every case is


different. Cornwall council this financial year will be getting just


under �900,000, so where there are people who can't move, especially


people with disabilities to need a spare room, foster-parents, they


actually can have helped if they can't afford to make it up.


Government says the changes are not about forcing people to move, and


that it is expected most people will find a way to make up the


shortfall. With other welfare reform is about to a factor as well,


Michelle says that sometimes it is not that simple. The difference


with this is that it does not affect everybody, so those that he


desired effect cannot see what is going on and cannot see what it is


doing to people like me. Robin, you are a councillor in


Cornwall. Do you agree with your fellow councillor in that package


that it will be a problem to find smaller properties? Mark Kaczmarek


has a fair bit of knowledge about that. It is not quite as simple


about it -- as simple as that. We do have a small stock of social


housing. The Labour Party reduced the social housing stock by nearly


500,000 units. We have to live with that at the moment, though. Exactly.


That is why we need to use the current stock more effectively. We


do not have a lot of social housing being built. What we have to do is


try to make sure we have some mobility within that market, like


it is in the private sector. It the real problem is the 5 million


people nationwide that are on waiting lists, not even in houses


at the minute, but we have to help the one see what they're at the


moment. You talk about moving into the private sector. Ed Miliband


said it would be a bad thing to happen. He may be prejudiced


against the private sector... might be more expensive, which


would defeat the object, he is think. No, what we're trying to do


here, the object is, and it is a difficult process, because the


amount of investment in housing stock by the last government has


been minimal, is that we have to try to get the stock that we have


got working better, which means that the one million or so bedrooms


that are out there can provide better value for tax paper --


taxpayers. So Robin is saying that this is part of the inheritance


from the Labour Party. Also, he seems to be saying that if people


move into the private sector, this is part of the solution. This is


not part of the solution. We need more homes. Everyone is agreed on


that. The point about the private sector is that if more people are


beginning to the private sector, and I know because I met some


landlords in the South West recently, there are simply not the


private properties in the private sector either. So what you do is


put pressure on the private sector which means that prices go up


because there is a scarcity, housing benefit comes in for others


at a different level, and the housing benefit bill will continue


to rise. We have seen this in London where there is pressure on


the private sector. This is not the solution. It is a ham-fisted


attempt by the Government and it is hurting people. As the woman said


in the film, this is not just about the bedroom tax, but about council


tax benefit changes which will also hit the working poor, and they are


simply saying to me, why is David Cameron doing this to people like


us? What about the people who have their houses, Alison? It is all


about people you are lucky enough, they're all sort of challenge is


there, but there is a whole raft of people who cannot afford housing at


all and have no prospect of housing at all. That was the last


Government's doing. No, it wasn't. The social housing budget was cut


almost in half by Eric Pickles, so the blame for the lack of


building... 400,000 less social housing units in stock at the end


of the Labour government than at the beginning. That is a fact.


are putting the right to buy issue into the debate. The point is that


more houses that get build that -- that were built under the last


Labour government they are being built now. We were up to 210,000


houses a year. We need 250, and it was on an upward trend. We are now


seeing more homeless people, fewer planning applications. This


government is not building houses. Nationally, during the period of


the Labour government, there were no more than three digits, it never


got into the thousands of council houses that were built. Should


people be in bigger houses than they need? It is wasteful, isn't


it? No. We need to look at people occupy their homes, clearly. We


have a different mindset. The lady on the film, when she took her home,


it was her home for life. If you are starting to rent from scratch


now, you would say to people, this is your home, but we may need to


look at how will you cannot abide and if you need all your dreams. It


is really difficult to suddenly draw a line in the sand and say,


sorry, that is not your home any more and you cannot have your son


or your carer to come and stay. Disability and carers, that's


allowed, and foster parents as well. With respect, if you look at my


caseload and the people you are getting advice, and I have had


advice from Lord Freud himself about some of these people,


including the lady with the sun in the armed forces, it is entirely


contradictory. People need clarity and they are not getting it, and


some people are genuinely frightened that they will lose


their homes. Pensioners are excluded from this, people with


Careys and those who are foster- parents. We must move on.


Councils and coats, and all too familiar refrain, especially at


this time of year. -- councils and cuts. Torbay has the region's an


elected Mayor and has cut �10 million to balance the books. --


only elected Mayor. It has been a while since Torbay


was the destination of choice when it came to summer holidays. Glamour


may have faded from the English Riviera, but tourism is still its


most important business. No wonder that eyebrows were raised when the


Mayor announced a series of money- saving measures. The Tourist


Information Centre in Paignton will close for good, and on the beaches,


the day's blue flags might be removed for ever. I am not a local,


but I have been coming here for 10 years, and I live here now. I think


they drive people away, because people would come here. On the face


of it, 142,000 hand-cut in beach cleaning might seem like small beer,


given the cuts elsewhere. But many believe that tourism is the goose


that lays Torbay's golden egg. During the mayoral election


campaign, Gordon Oliver told the Sunday Politics that Torbay needed


to promote tourism a lot more. of the poorest regions in Europe...


I don't recall saying that. I didn't say that, but in Europe. I


would like his is an to the Tate. - - I would like to listen to the


tape. We are now one of the poorest


regions in Europe, yet be a Britain's second biggest holiday


resort. We need to market the be a lot more. There are many things


left undone. But Torbay is now faced with cuts


of �10 million. It seems the May a's approach has changed. We may


have our own local protocol which we can promote in end of the more


efficient way instead of paying out substantial sums for the Blue Flags.


There are other ways of doing these things, but it has not been to say


that there is a negative aspect to it. Torbay is not alone when it


comes to facing tough decisions. Cornwall's councillors on the verge


of pulling funding for this magnificent stately home. Just when


they thought it could not get any worse, local authorities in the


region are being asked to stump up thousands of pounds for essential


repairs to the South West Coast Path. If the current level of cuts


continues, by 2020, we will be able to do nothing but our statutory


duties, and that means we won't be able to support the local economy


to improve jobs and tourism in important parts of the country such


as Cornwall and Torbay. Central government is unlikely to offer any


sympathy, let alone financial help. What kind of abysmal, philistine,


reactionary government puts dispense above library books?


people who are putting distance above those things are people who


care about the General Service for the electorate. I have to say, the


honourable gentleman is a bit of a luvvie, so no doubt he is looking


very intensely at the drop in culture. Matthew Clarke could


easily be described as a lovely. He runs a bookshop and his chairman of


the Paignton Business Improvement District. He is warning councillors


to tread carefully. The real problem is that when you win an


award, like the Blue Flag, and then it is taken away, the publicity can


damage the reputation of an area. Curtin beach services might not be


the hardest decision Torbay's councillors face next week, but


given the importance of tourism to the day, some fear the long-term


economic consequences. We asked Gordon Oliver to join us


on the programme. He was unavailable, but we are pleased to


welcome Councillor Chris Lewis, one of his height of -- right-hand men.


He seemed to change his mind a lot, a your boss. Tourism is our in the


front line for cuts. What we have done is put a lot of money into


tourism in the last two years while he has been male. He pledged to


defend �50,000, which we have spent two about the day. During the


Olympics we had adverts on the Tube. We went to the Midlands and


promoted their. One of the problems is that a lot of people don't


actually know what Torbay years or what it has to offer. We have been


at their promoting it, promoted events. When the Olympic torch came,


it came through a 0.5 miles in Torbay. We had an enormous turnout


of 100,000 people. -- 8.5 miles. But Blue Flag beaches, that is a


benchmark which is well known everywhere, and you are throwing


away. You say that, but we are negotiating a to keep the blue flag


status. One of the criteria of is that you have to have somebody


there from the council to man the beach. We are doing that during the


summer months, during school holidays, but let me tell you that


I am a councillor near one of the best beaches in Torbay. We have not


had a blue flag there for two years. The numbers have not gone down.


People don't visit beaches because they are blue flags. There are lots


of brilliant beaches across the country which don't have blue flags.


We lost it because they came and inspected it on a date that we have


had enormous range, and the water did not come up to the normal


standard. That was one day. I think the blue flag is a bit of a red


herring. But councils make a huge fuss about it when they get it, and


there's a lot of bad publicity about it when they use it. I don't


think we get back because of -- bad publicity. What we need to do is


promote Torbay and get people coming their from the Midlands and


other areas, driving down. That's what we need, people coming to


Torbay. I don't think they make a judgment on the blue flag, but on


other things which Gordon Oliver as Mayer is starting to do. The


promenade needed a lot of work doing to it. We need more events.


Can I just brink Robin in. There are a lot of prominent blue Flag


beaches in Cornwall. Councils to trumpet this when beaches get Blue


Flag status. Is it pointless? it is pointless. It is part of a


tourism offer. I don't think it is as high-profile as it once was. Now


we have sorted out problems with sewage going out into the sea, it


is important. We are the premiere tourist area of the UK, and we're


proud to be so. But I would say that there are many of your beaches


in Cornwall that don't have the blue flag but still attract


enormous numbers of holidaymakers, and tourist strip. We keep the are


the ones to ourselves! Places like St Ives and other resorts do have


them. Can I bring Dalacin in, because there is this broader issue


of cuts to tourism. There are all sorts of complicated issues at the


moment, particularly for councils like Torbay and Plymouth who are


poorer councils with severe needs of one sort or another. There --


they are making difficult decisions. Plymouth has decided that tourism


is important and they are going to keep the investment they have got


to in tourism. Mount Edgecombe is now a potentially using one of its


main backers. That is a debate we need to have in Plymouth. That is


the end of this debate. Thank you very much.


Time now for our round-up of the Fishing reform takes a big step


forward as the European Parliament votes to rent discards in less than


one year. I think predominantly, a move in this direction has got to


be good. Dorset's first Police Commissioner


explains why he is putting up council tax. If we don't bring new


police officers in, we will be on the thin edge, and that is why am


asking the people of also to give 1p per day.


Some MPs say the 8.5 billion -- �8.5 million pot for rural councils


is not big enough. Weymouth council is looking for a Big Society


solution to save the town's Pavilion. The model which we have


where we put all the shows and sell the tickets and to all the


advertising, all of that, that is not sustainable. And this charity


for the homeless in St Austell is the first Cornish winner of the


Prime Minister's BID Society award. Robin, it is true that the


coalition is not closing the funding act in rural areas, that is


embarrassing for people like you. Yes, it would be wrong and


embarrassing. At the moment, it is widening, and I don't defend it.


Although Torbay and Plymouth do not have -- have their issues, rural


areas have about half the funding of their bin areas. The Labour


Party is banging on about Northern cities not getting enough money at


the moment. The funding reform is very complex, and I can remember


working for a local government minister in government when we did


into cheese sparsity into the process -- introduce sparsity into


the process. The revolt case is being made very loud and clear. I


Download Subtitles