30/06/2013 Sunday Politics South West


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In the South West: Our rural schools are told they'll get a fair


slice of the funding cake, but the Chancellor is yet to respond to


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1927 seconds


calls for the police to get the Hello, I'm Martyn Oates. Coming up


on the Sunday Politics in the South West: The sun has got his hat on


and he's coming out to play. Ministers plan to give him more


solar farms to play with. Others say we're spoiling him with


too many toys - and spoiling the countryside as well. And for the


next 20 minutes, I'm joined by the Conservative MP Sheryll Murray and


the Labour peer Ann Mallalieu. The Chancellor's spending review is, of


course, the main event for us this week. But we're beginning with


Sheryll Murray's good deeds. According to a political magazine


she's one of the most courteous MPs at Westminster and a great one for


opening doors for her colleagues. Do you think you are unusual?


don't. Everybody I have come across in the House of Commons and the


House of Lords are the same as I am. You just automatically behave


courteously and sometimes I may not but I don't know. There may be a


few people who don't but I am very grateful to this particular group


of researchers who wrote to this magazine. But I don't think I


behaved unusually. And it is particularly civilised at the Lords


end, isn't it? But could you can meet somebody the other way and


very often they look straight through you and you are not sure


whether they are defective in vision or hearing but within the


chamber people are courteous and the staff are unfailingly courteous


even in the face of severe provocation. And we will not


mention the people who get black marks.


On Wednesday the Chancellor announced that the government is


finally planning to change the school funding formula to bring


more money to pupils in places like the South West. But council leaders


and police commissioners were disappointed to find their


financial concerns had fallen on deaf ears as Mr Osborne drew up his


latest spending review. Jenny Kumah reports.


Four years, Devon schools have been amongst the lowest funded in the


country. This year, the government will spend �4,000 educating a Devon


child but it will spend twice as much schooling a youngster in


London. But hope is on the horizon. The lowest funded local authorities


in this country will at last received an increase in their per


pupil funding as we introduce a national funding formula to ensure


no child in any part of our country is discriminated against. The day


after this review, the Education Secretary visited them and -- Devon


to hammer home the good news. the spring of 2015, the and --


historical unfairness will end. It is really good news that you have a


Coalition government determined to recognise the unique needs of


students, particularly the poorest students, in a part of the country


that has been under Sturt so far. But there was also disappointment


that the government has not recognise the unique challenges of


the police which is facing a cut. We are in a position which is


fragile over policing. If we have to take further cuts, it will drive


neighbourhood policing down and will result in further cuts in


policing. The force has to cope with high visitor numbers in the


holidays and the commissioner argues it is not just rural schools


that need a fairer slice of the cake. There may be a political


aspect to the reason Brits schools but I am here to look after the


effectiveness of our police and I will lobby as hard as education, if


not harder. Councils that look after rural areas are also feeling


rejected. We are not getting a fair share. If you live on the boundary


of our district with premise you are getting 178 - Mar �170 per head


worse off and that has not been reflected today. The Conservative


leader of Devon once the cut will be more painful here. Our concern


as the district council is that we may find the cut is bigger than 10%


because the Chancellor has given an undertaking that he will protect


the social care budget and that facility is delivered by unitary


authorities. To protect them, I suspect he will do something more


than 10% reduction. The Coalition MPs have been falling over


themselves to celebrate the score funding announcement and some are


already asking whether ministers will apply the same logic elsewhere.


So far, the Chancellor's answer has been brief. Yes.


The Chancellor ending that report. Isn't this evidence that the


Coalition government is delivering for places like the rural south-


west? They are promising to deliver and other promises haven't shown


results on the banned -- ground and high-speed broadband is one of them.


We were told it was all happening and it hasn't. I am encouraged by


what Michael Gove had to say and encouraged by what is said about


what will happen by 2015 and I hope it does. Everybody is squealing


about the cuts and the police obviously ask wheeling. As a former


lawyer I am squealing about the effective dismantling of the


independent Bar and the legal-aid system. But I hope that caps that


have to be made will be made in such a way that front line police


are preserved if at all possible. I do not believe there are


administrative cuts they could still be made. Looking at the


school funding issue, I can see there is an argument that it is


rather late in the day, but I am sure some would say it comes after


a decade of the Labour government doing nothing. When I am lucky


enough to be asked on this programme, you always take an


aggressive line... But you are right in that rural areas have been


ignored for years. Areas like the south-west have received a poor cut


of the cake and I think that particular piece of the


announcement yesterday is something we all celebrate and we hope it


happens. You must be quite relieved that something is being done on


schools because you have all of these other areas where the party


of the countryside, as you often present yourself, hasn't done


anything? I can remember being elected to Cornwall County Council


in 2001 and it was the last Labour government that changed the way the


funding was allocated. They took away the rurality payments for a


lot of things and looked at ethnicity or population. This is


the problem. I think there is broad consensus on that, but your


government has dragged its heels, hasn't it? This might squeak in, we


are told, before the next election. I fully believe that Michael Gove


will do this. We have started with the people premium but you have to


be fair to all schools and those having a massive amount of funding


for... You have to allow them time to adjust. I am delighted. I know


schools will be hard pushed between now and 2015 and I will press to


make sure that the pain is lessened. What about the pain for the police?


They have not got this sort of bright horizon to look forward to.


How many officers might we lose? have seen Tony Hogg in place for a


year. I am yet to be convinced, and die except that what he might be


saying is correct. If he can show me that he has cut every single


area of office savings that he has been able to make than I will go to


the Home Secretary. Are you sceptical? He has been in post for


a year, a short time but I am yet to be convinced there it isn't any


more fat that can be trimmed. We are in the middle of an economic


situation that is unprecedented. Everybody has to take pain. If Tony


Hogg can show me that he really cannot cut anything else I will go


to the Home Secretary and say, this is unfair. There is a challenge to


him then. I don't want to dwell on Labour's past, I want to look at


the future. The Conservatives and Lib Dems are saying what would you


do in this situation and stop talking about our record in


government? The reality is at the moment that, as the ministers when


they left said, There isn't any money and whatever government is in


power they will have to make cuts. There will be differences in


priorities. Under benefits, some things are happening that are


working very badly and wrongly and depriving people who are really in


need. But the bulk of these cuts would have been made, in my own


view, whoever would have been in power. On the issue of council


funding in general. Geoffrey Cox in Torridge and West Devon says he's -


- his two district councils are fighting to survive. Does that cut


the mustard? Eric Pickles is an expert in local government.


knows more about local council than they do themselves. He comes from


local government and there are brilliant examples of Conservative-


run administrations having made the savings and been a very good. What


I would say to people like West Devon, look at partnership working


and working with other councils. They already do in the South Hams.


These are your fellow Conservatives running councils disagreeing with


you and saying, we do that job and there isn't any more fat. I have


just spent three or four years with a Conservative lead council in


Cornwall and each individual portfolio holder was writing to me


saying, government have cut our funding. Actually, one of the


biggest problems is councillors have had a Labour government for 12


years who dictated to them out to spend their money. They have to get


used to working themselves. A let us step out of the time machine


finally. The day after the spending The day after the Spending Review


the Government tried to cheer us all up by talking about its


investment plans. There was good news for the region's renewable


energy companies with new guarantees on the price they get


for wind and solar electricity. But some, including both my guests,


remain sceptical about the impact solar farms are having on the South


West's landscape, as Janine Jansen reports.


Fields covered in plastic. Or are they? Actually, no. They are solar


panels. Solar farms are on the increase, especially in Cornwall.


They are controversial and they are making headlines. This week, the


government reiterated its plans to have renewables Paris 30% of that


energy by 2020. This Solar farm has sprung up outside weight bridge. It


is run by a German company, Belectrice Solar, and they play --


pay ground rent to the farmer. He says when it has been seeded he


will graze he/she pay. But locals say there has been a lot of


opposition to the solar farm. a blight. It is very sad. It is on


the ridge line and you can see it for about 10 mind -- 10 miles. It


is a terrific shame. It is prime agricultural land. The best to get


in Cornwall. So it is what is described as the best and most


versatile. The council's own policies were not to use it for


renewables but that was over ridden. At the time of need for food and


not imported food but locally grown food, it is a waste. I went to meet


the farmer who says he has not lost much agricultural land. I have


sheep in and under the panel's. It is midsummer now, but in the winter


when we are Lamming, the baby lambs are under the panels. It is lovely


for them. The baby ones are sheltered. It is all good. I don't


agree with the loss of farmland. They could be a very small loss,


maybe 5%, because we have a small workings and an electric house. But


in the context of loss, that is small. Andrew showed me around his


small solar farm at home. It powers or the electricity for his farm


cottages, but the new 36 acre site has yet to be grassed over. Land


management around the panel's is something scientists are keen to


explore. We are interested in looking how animal biodiversity and


flowers can be enhanced. You have seen animals crazy underneath some


and that is acceptable. But in a larger site, we could look at


creating habitat features that might encourage bees or pollinators


or floral diversity encouragement at no extra cost to the developers.


In the UK, about 75% of Solar panels are located on the rooftops.


But the south-west is different. Here, the ratio is closer to 50/50.


In the past three years, more than 150 Solar farms have been developed


in the UK and just over 100 in the south-west. Scientists say Cornwall


is the best place in the world for Solar energy as it has sun and rain,


vital to keep the panel's clean and working efficiently.


And we're joined by a director from the company which owns the 36 acre


solar farm we saw in the film, Toddington Harper.


I will begin with you. You are sceptical, to say the least. It is


a difficult position for a Cornish MP, isn't it? A lot of poor people


in the Cornish county think it has huge potential to improve life.


am sceptical of Solar fields. I turned on a Solar a raid at a major


employee and retail outlet in my constituency a few weeks ago and it


is on the roof of the building. Nobody knows it is there and it


produces one-third of its energy consumption. When he needs it


during daylight hours, that is and that is ideal. What we shouldn't be


doing is to actually cover it green fields with sober panels, unless it


has local by Ian. We should introduce the same restrictions as


far as planning in -- is concerned as we have seen for wind turbines.


Would you accept the best place for them is the rooves of buildings?


would agree that putting panels on rooves is a good idea. It is


something our company is involved in as well. To briefly correct the


comment. I am a UK individual and Belectrice Solar is a company which


has a German to parent company. It is important to bring into context


why people build solar farms in the UK. The headlines have been clear


this week. By 2015, the UK faces blackouts and we have lost 5% of


our generating capacity and we are losing a further 20%. By generating


capacity, there is almost no margin. Can you understand are planning


concern though? In a situation where you have to jump through all


kinds of hoops to build a small extension to your house but you can


shove these spreads over a huge areas of countryside? It is not as


simple as that. It is relatively easy to do it. And that is the


point. The committee has to agree they won the solar farm to be given


permission. It has been overturned in a number of circumstances around


the country so it is not as straightforward as you suggest to


get planning permission. Mallalieu you are sceptical as well.


Do you accept there are a lot of checks and balances? I'm very


sceptical about the whole business of the announcement yesterday and I


expect it is a sop for Hinckley Point, the nuclear plant that will


now get the go-ahead. We are in the mess we are because people did not


have the courage to grasp what was essential, they need for... You are


concerned about the development of these farms on greenfield areas.


You are the President of the Countryside Alliance. It was


striking looking at the that report to see sheep grazing under these


apparently insubstantial panels. It looks like agriculture and solar


energy can work side-by-side, doesn't it? I wonder how long they


will stay up when the sheep start rubbing themselves on them. It was


interesting to see and I wonder... Clearly, and she can praise below


and around. The argument that it is dealing agricultural land doesn't


apply. People's perception of the countryside is important in an area


where visitors come here for that reason. They complain already about


Fields of plastic and I have sympathy with farmers who want to


maximise the return of their land in any way they can but I think


local communities, because they have to look at it, have to be


accepting of it to. You have to listen to them before you do this.


What is in it for the farmers? could add another piece as well. I


will come back to that. What is in it for them is that farming is a


difficult industry, particularly over the last... How much money do


they get? They would get a percentage of revenue which would


be slightly more than they were typically get from farming.


Certainly, not a radical amount more than they would get from


farming. In different areas of the country, if it is sunnier you can


get more money than at their areas of the country. Coming back to the


point on planning, it is important for everyone to be Clear that we


are not actually physically taking away any land. Only 3% of the land


on a solar farm has anything attached to it. The panels are put


on thin pulse. The other percentage of land is used in the same way as


before -- they are placed on thin poles. We are running out of time,


I'm afraid. I would be interested to know whether Toddington agrees


that local people should have a say. OK. We have to go, I'm afraid.


Now our regular round-up of the Delight from business leaders as


ministers talk about removing one of the region's biggest bottle


necks. We think it is great news. The government has been subjected


to significant overtures about the importance of a second artery into


the far south-west and we think it is a vital to our future economy.


But it is just a lot of hot air according to Labour. What is so


disappointing is, after the hype, there is no announcement. It is


looking at a feasibility study and we have done that before. Calls for


a proportion of newly built homes to be reserved for local people.


And another demand for second homes to be subject to planning


permission. And a last-minute deal is struck between insurers and the


government to protect people living with flood risk. Their premiums


will be capped and excess charges will be capped. It will be targeted


to make sure those least able to pay pay the least.


Will we ever see beat A303 duelled. I hope so. Particularly for the


Royal Navy, it is brilliant. Take 40 million of the waste of time


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