14/07/2013 Sunday Politics South West


14/07/2013

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In the South West. The �5 million cut to fire services

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in Devon and Somerset. And the MPs who say gypsy and

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2226 seconds

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traveller sites shouldn't get on the Sunday Politics in the South

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West. The duty to provide sites for gypsies and travellers. Conservative

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MPs say it should be removed and we should take a much harder line with

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illegal camps. And for the next 20 minutes, I'm joined by the Labour MP

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Alison Seabeck and the Conservative MEP Julie Girling.

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The company which runs out-of-hours GP services in Cornwall has again

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come in for scathing criticism from MPs. The findings were in a report

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commissioned by the influential Public Accounts Committee. Here's a

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quick reminder of the heated exchanges which took place when the

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company, Serco, was giving evidence to the committee.

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How many unfilled shifts in January this year? In terms of unfilled

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shifts, I'd could tell you these statistics for last Saturday.

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to know them for January, February and March. It is important to

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recognise... Just answer the question. In terms of non-clinical

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or clinical or smack you can define them however you want but and so the

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question. Unfilled shifts, recently highlighted in the media as well,

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that is not an accurate way to measure the service.

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Some might say that this is not terribly encouraging in terms of a

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move towards even more private sector involvement in the NHS.

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not familiar with the details of the Serco issue. The thing about service

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in the health service is that it does vary from place to place. If

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there is a problem in one place it needs to be sorted out and the

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Public Accounts Committee have got their teeth into this. I hope they

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come to a solution. But it does not mean, any more than all public

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service is bad, that all private services are bad. In terms of out of

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hours care, my own personal view, I have always been uncomfortable with

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the reforms that came in and took it away from the family prang. I

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thought that was a bad idea and I regret that it has not been changed

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since the government changed. to go back to Labour, one of Julie

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was my colleagues has also said that this happened in Cornwall where

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there was insufficient monitoring by the primary care trust. Now we have

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got doctors running the NHS and things are improving? I think there

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are wider issue. This happens in all sectors to some extent or another,

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public or private. The important thing is we need to get to the

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bottom of what happened in Cornwall. I am about to work on a

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Bill in Parliament designed to put a private company in charge of defence

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procurement. We need to be sure that accountability is in place,

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transparency is in place and mechanisms are there to ensure that

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these things are properly scrutinised to avoid the kind of

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examples that we have seen in Cornwall in particular. Harrowing

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tales coming out from Cornwall. Fewer people are dying in fires and

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firefighters are dealing with fewer emergency incidents.

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That was the justification for over �5 million worth of cuts to front

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line fire services in Devon and Somerset. But unions and members of

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the public say the austerity-driven move puts lives at risk. Jenny Kumah

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reports. Campaigners outside one of the most

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significant fire authority meetings in recent years. But their hopes

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were dashed as �5 million of cuts were voted through. They need to

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revisit their plans. The level of cuts to the front-line is just

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unacceptable. In Plymouth three fire engines would be cut from being

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crude full-time to on-call. The second fire engine in Torquay would

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be cut to on-call as is the second fire engine in Taunton. In

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Ilfracombe the fire engine is being cut from being a full crew to being

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on call. Plymouth, they will have on-call firefighters which means

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that some residents served by this station are likely to see slower

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response times. At the moment if you live here near Plymouth Fire can get

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to you in an emergency within ten minutes. But under the changes this

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week response times would be slower and you could have to wait up to

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three minutes longer. The Fire Brigades union says the cuts will

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put lives at risk. It is quite simple. The more if I developed the

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more danger if resents both to the public and firefighters alike. So if

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you delay by five minutes, how quickly will these people be able to

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get to a station in the summer? It is not acceptable. But the Devon and

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Somerset Fire authority argues that the cuts affect the changing nature

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of their work. They saved the number of emergency incidents has

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significantly dropped from 4000 in 2007, to 3000 in 2012. The reduced

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pressure is on fire services were highlighted in a recent review. In

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that report from the government it was said that fire deaths are at an

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all-time low. It is not about cutting a service but adjusting it

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to the new need of the public which is a lesser need in terms of

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critical response with fewer fire deaths and injuries. The fire

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authority agrees that their work is more about prevention and less about

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response. The future for me is education. We have got to be

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proactive rather than reactive to all situations. You have seen the

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statistics, it makes sense to be proactive instead of reactive.

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cuts made this week were about meeting tough spending targets set

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by the government. Even though fire risks have fallen some are still

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worried that the pressure to save money has led to a decision which

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could put lives at risk. And so a couple of different

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opinions. Is it in fact reasonable rationalisation of the service or

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plain dangerous? For Plymouth, you have a moral service in an urban

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environment and that does not make sense to us. No other comparable

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city are looking to do this. We also have something like one third of the

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major risks across the region, high-rise, nuclear activity,

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students, the level of risk is enormous. So you would not dispute

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the general point that incidents are coming down but saying that there

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are special circumstances in? Absolutely. And what the fire

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service are doing has been brilliant. But if all incidents at

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now responded to three minutes later, how many will turn into

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serious injury or fatality could make which previously did not

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because of the staffing levels. If you talk to firefighters they will

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say that a number of incidents do require two fire engines and require

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them to be on-site promptly. There was a significant incident requiring

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ladders and there are genuine concerns. The retained service, the

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firefighters largely do a fantastic job. I would not say that they would

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not do a good job. They would do the best job that they can. But the time

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of response is crucial in a fire. Julie, do you agree with the unions

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or the authority? I agree that we should look at it carefully. Money

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does have to be saved across all services. Throughout the whole

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south-west we do juggle with this issue around rural and urban areas.

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Retained firefighters in the South West are fantastic. The work that

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they do I think is second to none. Urban areas have unique problems. I

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would say, let us be flexible. you happen to be that minor

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statistic, your house is on fire, it is no consolation to you that

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generally it does make sense. agree with that and risk management

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is about weighing that up. Full risk assessment has happened here and it

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has been deemed that that risk is small enough to be not significant.

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Let us see how we go. Nobody could say that there could not be an

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incident in Plymouth where two fire engines were required in five

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minutes. But I think you can say with confidence that they have

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looked at those possibilities and that they are sure that the plan and

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they are putting in place will be adequate.

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Should the government - and the taxpayer - have a duty to provide

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residential sites for gypsies and travellers? Both this government and

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the last one have said yes. This week, though, Tory MPs were again

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insisting we shouldn't be giving them special treatment. But the

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authorities should be doing more to evict them from illegal camps. Scott

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Bingham reports. The debate over Gypsy and Traveller

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pictures has divided political parties, councils and communities.

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Under government guidance local authorities now have to identify a

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supply of deliverable fights sufficient for five years provision

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against locally set targets in their local plan. Cornwall Council

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identified this plot overlooking the sea as a potential site earlier this

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year. This lay-by in Cornwall is well known locally as an

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unauthorised site which until recently was occupied by a traveller

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known as the mushroom man due to the card wooden ornaments used to sell.

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Cornwall Council put forward a planning application to create

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permanent Gypsy and Traveller pictures here that there was

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widespread local opposition. The application has now been withdrawn

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and the mushroom man has moved on. Opposition to such land is often one

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of the major obstacles to local authorities being able to provide

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pictures. The local MP is firmly behind the object to this. To put in

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a planning application after somebody had just decided to park by

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the side of the road in a beauty spot was totally unacceptable. It

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sent out the message that anybody who was prepared to flout the

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planning laws would get away with it. It just was not right. She's not

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alone her view. I did not think it is the responsibility of the

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government to provide site for travellers. In most cases they are

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people who are not vulnerable but have plenty of resources. I think we

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should be better in forcing the law and removing them when they

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gate-crash online. Some want to go even further along that hard line.

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wanted to call my bill Gypsies and Travellers, the same planning rules

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as everyone else. This week Philip Holub own called for the removal of

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any special provision for Gypsies and Travellers from national

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planning regulations. I do not see why one category of person should be

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treated differently from anyone else. But Gypsy and Traveller groups

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say when local authorities are already struggling to provide enough

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pitches, such a move would simply force more people onto illegal

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encampments. I think local authorities will us the chance to

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have a home and have access to health and education and for a

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permanent base. Cornwall Council forecast it will need 237

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residential pitches by 2020 and has already approved 106 five since

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2006. It says it needs assessment is currently being updated for the next

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stage of the local plan. Well we're joined by the man whose

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job it is to provide Gypsy and Traveller sites in Cornwall.

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Councillor Jeff Brown. Where are you in your general need to satisfy

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this? Well the people who have been resident in one area have actually

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integrated well in one area and we have lessons to drool from that. We

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need to engage with local communities much earlier. But we

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need to provide, at the moment the target is 159 residential pitches.

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We have achieved 106. There are two problems. One is that we need to

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deliver pitches in places which Gypsies and Travellers will use and

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secondly they need to be accepted into the local community. It is

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incredibly difficult. One councillor said it was the most difficult job

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they had ever had to do as a councillor. It is usually

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challenging. It goes back to the Housing act of 2004, the obligation

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to provide these pictures. And now there is a bill coming through

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Parliament effectively saying, take the pain rushes away. Whether you

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agree or disagree with the latest build, the fact is that those

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Gypsies and Travellers will still be there and we need to provide for

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them, for the welfare of the children and families and their

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education as well. Julie, do you agree that really we do not as a

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society open Gypsies and Travellers this service? I get confused by

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travellers who talk about a permanent residents. If you are

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asking to be provided with a permanent site then you're not

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traveller. It is a cultural thing. I think I would say that transit

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fights are one thing. There is still a community out there that moves

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around, whether you like it or not, that exists. I live in

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Gloucestershire where we have a gypsy fair every year and we see a

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huge number of people travelling to that and the community has had to

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adjust to that and has done it well. I think Ford transit there is an

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issue. Councils to need to keep that in mind. But permanent residence for

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people who say they are Travellers, it is just a logical to me. If you

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want to stay in one place and integrate into a community, then

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that is a totally different thing. You are the expert on this, what do

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travellers want in these circumstances could make many of

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them do want a permanent base. of them travel in the summer months.

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Historically they travelled for work. In Cornwall it is one of our

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largest ethnic minority groups and it is important to realise that we

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have to provide for these people and it is better if we can provide for

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them in local authority sites so we can put in sanitation, freshwater,

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access to a network of support, medical and welfare support. Cheryl

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Murray was talking that she knew of Romany Gypsies in her constituency

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who had applied for planning a mission for a piece of land in the

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normal way. And we get a huge number of applications that do come through

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like that. The majority of our pitches are actually private

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applications. If that's not a better way forward with Mac even with the

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private applications, that is not delivering the number that we need

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to deliver. I think it is safe to say that you do not take the view

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that the obligation should be lifted from local authorities? No, indeed.

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I think authorities are being enlightened and people do need

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permanent sites. These are people who used to travel to pick hops in

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Kent or do agricultural work in Lincolnshire and then return back to

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a base where their children often were educated. So permanent is

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perhaps not quite -- the right word. But they do not do that any more.

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Most families still do. I do not agree with you about the need for

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transit. Plymouth have just got the go-ahead for a transit site. We have

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one persistent problem where it makes local people's lives hell. The

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council are operating with one arm tied behind their back. It is

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important that there is a duty to have transit sites. That will make

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it easier to enforce as well. think the Labour government should

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have taken a firmer line? It is years since you eventually restored

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this requirement and it has crept along at a smell's pace. It has been

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down to local councils to push it through and some have been better

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than others. Cornwall clearly have made some very good efforts and

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Plymouth have certainly tried. Whilst at the same time listening to

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the concerns of people. Most people's experience of settling is

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not a good one. A lot of Gypsies used to travel for agricultural work

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in the summer. Much of that is now done by Eastern Europeans and Now

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our regular round-up of the political week in 60 seconds.

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The Gypsies are now often travelling through Europe. At one site I spoke

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to one 12-year-old who was fluent in three languages. We will have to

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leave it there. I am pleased that the court listened

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to the challenge about fishing quotas. The Cornwall Council of the

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sparks fury with comments about disabled children resigns. An

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official report concluded that the things he had said were outrageous

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and grossly insensitive. In terms of reputation it has not been good for

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Cornwall. I regret that the comments were ever made in the first race and

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that is the problem we have to address. It deal has been signed to

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bring high-speed broadband to 97% of people in Dorset. It builds to

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impose licensing on street traders was introduced. And there is also a

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campaign to scrap business rates for public lavatories.

:00:18.:00:25.

Julie, you know a lot about fishing. Some suggested that moving the quota

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to smaller boat is not quite what it seems because some of the smaller

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boats can be powerful. Nowadays they have good engines on some of them

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but in the end they are small boats and there is a limit on how far out

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to see they can go. They are limited by their seagoing worthiness. I

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think the real issue in October and November, the Minister has committed

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to publishing full quotas for the UK. Up until now that has been very

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murky. Then we can get a good debate going. Let me just ask, this

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recommendation that MPs should get bigger salaries? Well an independent

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body have looked into it. And now nobody seems to like the outcome. I

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would urge Mike constituents to contribute to the consultation

:01:20.:01:26.

Andrew Neil and Martyn Oates with the latest political news, interviews and debate including energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey on whether it is time to think again about global warming.


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