23/06/2013 Sunday Politics South West


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for the future of our railway. And Labour's search for a candidate in


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2111 seconds


the place it thinks it's got the on the Sunday Politics in the South


West: Labour's search for a candidate in the place it thinks


it's got the best chance of gaining an MP down here.


And for the next twenty minutes, I'm joined by Lib Dem MP Dan Rogerson


and Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, welcome both of you to the programme. Let's


start with schools. This week an Ofsted report said rural and coastal


schools are failing poor pupils more than inner city areas. The report


said disadvantaged children in London and Manchester are doing


better than those children in the South West. Then, it is shocking.


Why is it happening? Is it a Labour legacy? It is the positive story in


London and Manchester. There have been huge improvements in inner


cities. London had the worst schools but now has the best and fastest


improving. That was the result of investment and initiatives in London


and support for excellent head teachers. That is good news in


London and Manchester. Labour is advocating a similar scheme in the


south-west to London where you get super teachers coming in, schools


corporate and, better leadership and good local authorities to manage


this and with the fragmentation with academies and preschools, you have


no means for the local authority to manage failure. The only person who


can do anything is Michael Gove in London. You co-chaired the Lib Dem


education group. What is happening? There's been a wide gap between the


attainment historically of people from low income backgrounds and


people from higher income backgrounds which is why the Lib


Dems put the pupil premium to target money at schools. We want a change


in the funding formula. Under previous government money has been


focused in urban areas. There are in poor income areas like Cornwall to


say we need a fairer allocation of money with additional resources to


invest in more training for teachers and support them to deliver


education. Stay with us. Plenty more to discuss. Trains were back on the


agenda at Westminster last week. The tricky business of drawing up a new


contract for the region's rail services is still on hold as the


franchise system is repaired. Ministers are in the middle of


negotiations for an interim contract to keep our trains running in the


meantime. All this uncertainty is leading to renewed calls for the


railways to return to public ownership. Tamsin Melville reports.


This heritage line is the only train running in the constituency of North


Cornwall. The local MP may deeply for a return of rail services to the


area not seem since -- since the cats of the 1960s. There are hopes a


new franchise will bring more services more regularly. But we


could be waiting a long time. If everything went to plan, there would


be a new franchise for great Western services by now. Things are still


very much up in the air. Following the collapse of the West Coast line


franchise process last day, the system is under review. That has


meant the current operators have already had one extension to their


contract and are now negotiating with government for a further two


years. Unions are not happy. I think they are pushing it into the long


grass. It takes us be on the next election. I do not think the


critical parties have any idea what they want to do with the railways


and transport in general and my view is there is only one option which is


bring back the railways under public control. Whether the trains run by


public or private companies is not the main issue.


I could not care less really, as long as it is cheap when you're a


pensioner. That is the thing that matters. It does not make the


slightest difference whatsoever. The main thing is getting there. I am


not bothered who runs it as long as it is run properly. This transport


campaigner thinks the call for renationalisation is a red herring.


People want value for money, reliability and frankly if franchise


changes hands the only thing that changes the most passengers is the


colour of the uniform. With the franchise timetable slipping, he is


worried key engineering works further up the line mean a two-year


extension for first group is not the right approach. It would make more


sense to give an interim franchise to first group and then a new


franchise in 2018 when the railway is ready to take something


different. First group says the contract negotiations with


government are progressing well. It expects to submit its proposals next


month. Tamsin Melville reporting, earlier I


spoke to Transport Minister, Simon Burns... I started by asking him


whether the RMT was right to say these interim franchise negotiations


are about to collapse. Well, I am afraid the RMT are not correct.


Talks are going well, they are going smoothly and we will await the


outcome of the conclusion of the talks in June course. The RMT says a


rescue plan is on the cards, to bring in the publicly owned


railways. What the RMT do not understand is with all franchises as


they are being discussed and put together, we, as a department, have


to use the procedures in place to ensure there is a cut plan if the


franchise agreements are not reached. All franchisees are a if


franchise is not agreed then a door will be operated so the Secretary of


State for transport can fulfil his legal obligations to have a


continuously running railway. franchise is known for having out of


date rolling stock, overcrowded trains and lack of investment. Isn't


it time proper investment was brought to the south-west? 33


billion is being spent in the North. We are spending 33 billion over 20


years on high-speed rail, that is a different project. It is but the new


economic foundation said it was not value for money. If you let me


answer, you might get. . Are spending over the next few years �37


billion to network rail and investing in the railways. How much


is coming to the south-west, ? What you are seeing on the first Great


Western line is electrification moving forward down to Bristol and


beyond into South Wales, we are seeing improvements to stations like


the massive improvement on Reading station. That helps get to London


that what about Bristol South? We are also seeing work being done in


addition in Cornwall and Devon which has put in a passing loop at Penry


increasing services which in Falmouth and Truro increasing... It


is small amounts of money. Little bits money of on little projects,


putting more carriages on the direct services down to Devon and to help


alleviate the overcrowding. It is an ongoing process and it will


continue. Thank you for joining us. Does that put your mind at rest? No,


we are paying a high price for the incompetence of the West Coast Main


line franchise. Ownership is not the issue. I wish the government would


spend more time sorting out first Great Western franchises rather than


re-privatising the East Coast mainline which is bringing millions


of pounds back to the taxpayer. We desperately need this investment. We


need it all over the region, better rolling stock, more reliable trains.


It has been put off because of incompetence. Do you want to see the


main railway line in public ownership? My approach is not


ideological. Actually, it is not ownership that matters. The East


Coast mainline has done well in the public sector. I have nothing


against that in our franchise region. What the public want is a


good service, affordable fares, decent rolling stock and reliable


trains. That is investment we should have had by now.


Dan, what do you say? It is a huge problem caused by the mess left over


over the Western mainline issues. There has been a lot of fallout.


Local authorities like Cornwall and the old Cornwall county council and


the new administration are keen to work with government to look where


we can bring local public transport funding. 33 billion is going up to


the HS2 project wonderful and the North but what about us? We were cut


over from Exeter for three weeks. How come there is no more money, how


can you justify 30,000,000,001 direction and peanuts in the other?


The debate was to look at things which will improve services. There


is a gap in the franchise. We have time to make sure we get it right so


it guarantees what we have and increases the level of service. I


support electrification and we will get a cascading down of new rolling


stock. You are right, it is the delay causing problems because we


should have had investment by now. There is a challenge, where


electrification has come to Exeter, what would it mean to Penzance?


There are technological ways. In the short-term, we want investment in


the key points and flood resilience which will see us through. Thank you


very much. Last weekend the Totnes MP Sarah Wollaston was in the


national papers reminding the Prime Minister of his promise that more MP


candidates would be chosen the way she was - in an election open to


every voter in the constituency. Meanwhile Labour is busy selecting


its candidate to fight the party's number one South West target in


2015. John Danks has been speaking to the two men who've made it to the


final round. We live in a city of 265,000 people


and a diverse group of people. In the last census there were 80 96,


one of them is destined to be the MP for the area. Chaz Singh is


confident, he has had a taste of victory. He was elected as a Labour


councillor in the local elections. The former shopkeeper believes he is


the right person to represent this Plymouth constituency as an MP.


Being a people person is most important. People need to connect


with you, being a real person, being a real voice and being able to bring


those qualities and change for people in Plymouth Sutton and


Devonport. Oliver Colvile took the seat from Linda Gilroy at the last


election. Labour believe they can win back the seat. Luke Pollard


hopes he will be the man the party chooses to do the job. It will not


be easy to overturn the majority Oliver Colvile had but we will do


that by listening and campaigning and making sure we are fighting on


the issues people care about, the living wage and transport and


performing -- reforming welfare. We have to be able to present a


positive message, not just the negative message about how badly the


Tories and Lib Dems are doing. Lucas interest began at an early age. --


Luke Pollard macro interest. She was political and taught me you should


do stuff to help other people and I wanted to get involved in the


community and it was always labour I supported. When I joined the party I


joined and I went campaigning on the doorstep.


I am Sarah Wollaston. When the Sarah Wollaston was selected in 2009 it


was with the backing of 8000 local voters. This was Britain's first


open primary selection. The coalition promised 300 more. People


say to me they did not vote at the general election but they did in the


open primary. The point is they feel a sense of connection and ownership.


I look at safe seats, there are many which never change hands. What


happens is effectively around 50 people get to choose who will


represent a constituency for decades to come. That cannot be right. Back


in Plymouth, this hall is where 300 Labour Party members would choose


their candidates to challenge for the Sutton and Devonport seat.


Hustings next Sunday will be their chance to sell themselves to the


party faithful. To discuss this we are joined by someone who stood


against Sarah Wollaston in top mess. Welcome to the programme. -- top


mess. Would you have been a better candidate? That is not the issue. It


was good for democracy, it was good for the local Conservative party.


The key thing is to try to get people from a broader range of


backgrounds into Parliament and to engage people from the community in


politics. The open primary did that in spades. It is a shame it has not


been repeated elsewhere. If it less about the money, �40,000 per open


primary, or more about the fact it leads to a more rebellious nature of


MP, they do not owe their loyalty to anyone but the people. If you are


selected as Sarah was by the wider community it puts you in a strong


position when you go to Westminster. That is a good thing. I think she


would have been an independent minded courageous member of


Parliament no matter which way she was selected because what she brings


is real experience of life, being a doctor, local GP, and watching her


at the select committee questioning the chief executive of the National


Health Service, splendid television. We do not often get that calibre,


that calibre of questioning and scrutiny. Why have the Tories drop


the idea of open primaries? There is no conspiracy. In Torbay we have


selected a Parliamentary candidate and it's been an open process. But


in general they were going to roll it out to 200 areas. The


Conservatives are ahead of the others because it is common practice


now from local associations to open up the final selection to people


registered as voters. We only had a small turnout, 200 came along, maybe


because it could have been given a longer time for the candidates to


get across. There is a selection of candidates implement. The Labour


Party selected to candidates, neither were female. Does that send


out a message when they try to achieve more female MPs? We have


more women MPs than any other parties. We have three women Labour


MPs will stop they are good candidates with a strong pedigree.


The local party thought they were the best candidate to choose


between. I support the idea of open primaries. It is something to do


with the fact Sarah Wollaston has been such an excellent and


independent minded member of Parliament. How she damaged her


chances of going further? I hope not but I fear she has. She would make a


wonderful health minister given her experience as a GP but because she's


been so critical of the government policies it is unlikely she will


ever be made a minister. It is a great shame. Where do you stand? It


is one of those one-off things people will do in the moment and it


does not encouraging gauge route with the wider process. What I would


like is for the political parties to have a bigger membership, it is


partly our fault and partly a need to look at other ways of engagement.


In terms of policy formation and local elections and the fabric of


local communities it is better for everybody if political parties are


broadly based. There is no incentive to engage with the party. This is


something you could make a reality. I am not a fan of open primaries.


The coalition agreement is between the parties I am here as a Lib Dem


MP. Will you toe the party line? As you say, it is a coalition issue.


Your background is mainly in politics. Nick that it is good for


people from different backgrounds. I came in at a young age, I do not


think it would suit everybody but it is helpful that I was a younger


voice amongst... I was the only young councillor under the age of 50


on the council. Have you rebelled? You can check that in Hansard.


Tuition fees, I took a different view. Have you? It is difficult to


rebel as a government minister but I have spoken my mind. Rebelliousness


is not a good measure of being a good MP. You reach agreement and you


stay loyal. Will we see more of you? Politicians are a dull lot. The


system needs shaking up. Whether that is my task in life, I do not


know. Who knows? We will watch and see. Thank you for joining us. Now


our regular round-up of the political week in sixty seconds.


A pothole row broke out with motorists questioning why the


council does not repair the worst ones first. Because they are so


deep, you hit it and do not realise and southerly the wheel has gone.


New figures reveal the end of the spare room subsidy has put 40% of


Cornwall Council tenants behind with their rent. They are not paying


hoping it would be abolished or they are paying what they can afford or


they are paying it all and they are going without. There were calls for


better police funding in Dorset. We are not asking for more money. All


we are asking for is a better share of the cake. And Torbay Council


support of the Miss England competition divided opinion. We do


not want the kiss me quick nights to be synonymous with Torquay any more.


Let's look at the Miss world contest in Torbay. Is it acceptable to


parade and judge women in this age based on looks? I do not think it


presents the image most resorts want to. The wider issue with the council


should have given it a subsidy when local authorities are strapped for


cash. It is a bizarre decision.It raised more than they spent. It was


worth that in advertising. How to quantify it might have been worth?


My Lib Dem colleague is correct to say it is a strange use of money.


Are you in favour? You asked me about �100,000 fake palm tree.


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