12/02/2012 Sunday Politics West


Andrew Neil and David Garmston with the latest political news, interviews and debate including cabinet minister Eric Pickles on the government's NHS bill.

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We're finding out why your Parish or Town council could be set to


raise your bill by up to 20% whilst bigger councils are told they have


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1703 seconds


Hello, in the Sunday Politics in at the West...


Local authority staff Ocean charges but don't think you can't a tax


won't be going up. Your parish or count hat -- town council may still


increase their part of the bill, some bite �20 per home. The will


ask if it is worth it. Our guests today is Neil Hamilton,


a prominent member of you kept -- UKIP. He is married to the famous


Christine Hamilton. We are grateful to her for letting you are this


afternoon! Next to him, a euro enthusiast,


Graham Watson, a staunch republican who has just been knighted. He says


he was happy to accept the honour for his public service.


Why did you accept that when you don't really want a monarchy?


country has its system of honours, ours happens to be given out baby


monarchy. I would have preferred to receive it from an elected


president. There is no both of allegiance involved. It was given


on the recommendation of the Prime Minister rather than the


recommendation of the monarch and I have no problem accepting it as an


honour for my contribution to society, not for my contribution to


the monarchy. Your fellow Euro MEP for this region said it was


hypocritical to accept it. Is this the same flawed. With here is an


hereditary peer? -- Lord DARD wife. It has been my view and it has been


for many years that when the current monarch retires, we should


become a republic. I think she has done excellent service for the


country. I do not think there is as much public confidence in as many


of her successors as there is in the Queen. We should prepare to


have an elected president. You are a firm monarchist? I would much


rather have the Queen as our head of state or somebody -- rather than


some the like Tony Blair. The honours lists are different. What


do they mean nowadays? So many of these titles are dished out. Graham


has been a conscientious MEP for 20 years and does a very good job. I


don't agree with his politics but as a public servant I have no


difficulty in agreeing with his assessment of himself in this


respect. Do we really need these Ruritanian baubles any more? Don't


you feel that it is like something out of a Gilbert and Sullivan


operetta? Would U-turn one down? course I would. I should get a


medal for living with my wife for all these years!


Local authorities across the West have almost all agreed to freeze


what they charge of next year. If you think that means you can't to


tax bill will not go up, think again. -- you're council tax bill.


Parish and town councils are free from this and some are still


spending. In towns and villages across the


West Country their responsibilities range from street cleaning and


flower beds to youth clubs and CCTV. The more they do, the more towns


and parishes charge taxpayers. Frome in Somerset is a pretty place


and people want to keep it that way. On historic Catherine Hill, the


town council leader meets a shopkeeper concerned it is not


always properly cleaned. It doesn't take that much to pick up rubbish,


as you know. I came by one Saturday morning and with the deputy chief


executive of the town council, moved stuff that should have been


moved by the district council. is the responsibility of Mendip


District Council, who have been making cuts. Frome councillors are


having talks about helping fund street cleaning. They are prepared


to step forward or others are stepping back. They will put up


their part of the council tax by almost a parte -- quarter. But is


not the most popular decision we have ever made and it was not easy


to make the decision. 23% represents �19 per year, so if we


spend unwisely, I am hoping the residents will understand why it


had to happen. -- if we spend wisely. They have plans such as


improvements at the Cheese and Grain Arts Centre and supporting


the services. Cuts by Somerset County Council means the recycling


centre is not open as much as it used to be. The town council is


offering �9,000 to ensure it opens on Sundays. They hope this will win


over any locals who are not convinced about the merits of


paying more tax. The skip being open when I wanted to be is


beneficial. In if they improve the services then definitely. If it was


a tenor it would be better. It is not necessary to raise the council


tax. It is not just about replacing what has been cut. The council


hopes it will boost from economically. If they are using


their money sensibly, if it improves quality of life and makes


from a better place to do business or two level, shop, -- then people


will see it as a good thing. -- to live or work to shop. Local people


are being encouraged to do more and change it if they do not like it.


What makes you so sure that people are so happy to pay this extra


amount? We tapped into a deep disillusionment with independent


normal citizens. The ticket was about change, about making sure the


town his bed for the future. The recession will end some time.


are very tight and it is only �19. For a family that is a trip to the


cinema or going out for a burger or a treat. You have decided to take


that many of them. We have decided together, we will try and make sure


that from is ready for the future. �19 a year is a significant sum of


money for some families but it is three Mars bars a month. If every


local of Gardai took that view it would be much more sizable,


wouldn't it? -- local authority. We were aware that Battista council


would not put up council tax. -- that the district council. Why is


the coalition overriding local democracy by insisting there are


friezes? It is not over riding. It is saying, we are making big cuts


in public spending at national level. We do not want to see you


increasing spending locally. In my view, there is an obligation on all


of us to look at keeping our spending down. There is a perfectly


legitimate case that says in future, perhaps more of our tax should be


raised at the level at which it is spent. If you need to spend money


locally, raised it locally, do not have local councils dependent on


local government. Isn't that UKIP policy? A we want to reduce


spending at government level as much as possible. We do not what


decisions to be taken remotely. I am in favour of increasing the


number of things that parish councils and town councils can do


at the expense of the bigger councils that do them at the moment.


This is the interface with the public and do things that really


matter. One of the Lilley's policies is to abolish local


politically correct services. What did you have in mind? All the usual


stuff about promotion of causes that are close to the heart of some


minorities, Ceri my gaze and the rest of it. Do you recognise that


position? No. Let's go back to Europe. In France you have the town


hall and the Mail has a standing in the community. The day centrally


controlled what is raised? -- to date centrally controlled. There is


more local control on the Continent and in the UK do it -- United


Kingdom. Yes, there are gaps on local government spending. -- caps.


In the case of Germany, it is between the federal government and


a local member. Clearly, we need a solution that is going to allow


local councils to make intelligent decisions about which local


services can be afforded, which may need to be cut. Let's move on. If


you decide to stand for election, do you think and the tax payer


should its pay for your campaign? It would be one way of removing the


power of the rich from election campaigns and idea -- and an idea


gaining ground here in the West. A government came to power the


Barling to banish scandals like cash for honours to the history


groups. -- Levein. They promised to read


politics Abed money. So far, little has happened. Then, this.


government is committed to reforming party funding. This is


best achieved as far as possible by consensus and it to be said I will


write to the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition next week


asking him to nominate representatives to take part in


preliminary cross-party discussions. In the West, where most election


struggles are races between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats,


the Lib Dems are crying foul over money. While they said they enjoy a


big share of the vote, they lack a share of the funds. Paul Harrod was


runner-up in Bristol North West. He said he was outgunned by some


serious spending by the Tories. are up against a Conservative Party


that was heavily funded, particularly from Lord Ashcroft.


That made a difference in the campaign. The system is broken at


the moment. There is too much with trade unions and big business.


welcomes the findings of an independent parliamentary committee


which has proposed a cap on donations to the tune of �10,000.


Reducing election spending by 50% and controversially, asking


taxpayers to dig deep and fund political parties. This former


English Democrat backs tax payer contributions but only if used to


create a more transparent system. He was so meticulous in his


election expenses he fired one receipt for letting out the widest


band on his trousers. But he fired one receipt. I thought, it is for


the election, so I must recorded. They said, if you have anything


that you are spending as a result of the election you must declare it,


so I did. In threadbare times, it is easy to argue that taxpayers


should not be asked to foot the bill for rosettes and megaphones.


It is estimated to cost the taxpayer of propping up political


parties may only be 50p per voter. That is slightly more than the cost


of voting on X Factor. That is one way of looking at it.


Do you think rich people should be allowed to have influence on


politics? We could be funded in UKIP by one person with �10 million


by we would not be able to give anything in return. It all depends


on the circumstances in which the gift is handed over. We know there


have been widespread and dubious contributions in all parties to the


political process. That is not a good thing, self evidently, but I


am opposed to state funding of political parties. You can bet your


bottom dollar that it would be the big three that would have all the


money for themselves and the small parties would be frozen out. What


is the cost of the standing for election, even locally? Zilch.


get no help? Do you have to print posters and so forth? We pay for


that out of our own pockets. delight to see a mechanism in place


so that is funded? -- would you like. Not at a local level. The


political elite in this country are morally and ideologically bankrupt


and we need to find a new way forward and it is the traditional


political parties that hold the gateway to Parliament itself. Why


can't we have more independence in Parliament? Might have we have


people who have been successful as a head teacher for local business


and allow them to stand for one term only, so they can achieve


something in that term? At the moment, it is difficult for them to


stand. The ground swell, which is there, has not been tapped into yet.


Do you accept funding should be paid for by the tax payers? Already,


but tax payer pays a certain amount for political parties. It is very


small compared to the situation in some other countries. Nobody is


proposing, Nick Clegg has said this is not the moment to increase


funding. Other parties are saying, if you want to keep the big money


out of politics, you have to have some state funding. How do you


think the voters would react? voters would recognise it is not a


healthy situation when one or two will be individuals can effectively


by political parties. -- wealthy. Away the Tories have been


bankrolled by big food chains has had an effect. But you for coming


It has been a busy week. Here are This treetop protest against plans


for a new nuclear reactor at Hinckley Point was short lived.


Three men came down after just a day living in the cold. These are


the serious faces of members of the Gloucestershire police operative.


They voted for a freeze in the police budget despite serious


warnings over funding from the Chief Constable.


In a surprise U-turn, Conservative councillors in Taunton have


scrapped their plans to raise council-tax. The plans were


criticised by some in their own party and by Lib Dems in the area.


The euro is in trouble and the world's financial markets are in


turmoil. Bristol traders are stepping in with the launch of a


new currency, the Bristol pound. It can be spent in Bristol shops and


it is hoped it will keep money within the city.


The mayor of Stroud has told a court he wants a full trial for


refusing to fill in his senses form. John marjoram appeared at Bristol


magistrates on Wednesday. My usual jog through the week that


leaves me quite exhausted! Let's pick up the introduction of


the Bristol pound. It brings us to the euro. If we join the euro eight


Dec -- if we had joined the euro a decade ago, what situation which


the country be in? It would depend on how much influence we would have


had in the eurozone. We might not be in the situation we are in


generally had rejoined. Would we be Greece or Germany? I hope we would


be Germany. I suspect we would be somewhere in between. We have more


flexibility at the moment, not having joined the euro, to manage


our economy to deal with a difficult economic situation.


very much, but some. So, he was right when he said don't join?


think we will be in the euro one day but I think we will be in it at


a time of our own choosing and when we can have an ear prints on what


goes on. The difficulty with the euro is, they didn't get the ground


rules right in the first place. Whose fault is that? We went in


there so we could not implement it. In it will only work if everybody


works at the same rate all the time. If they diverge stresses and


strains appear. This is the same thing as the 50s and 60s on a wider


canvas. It will not go away. If some countries are forging ahead,


others are not going so quickly, and it is like building a bridge


without expansion. What situation with the West Country be in if we


had joined? It would have been a catastrophe. There is a single


interest rate for the whole of Europe and that affects different


countries in different ways. The boom in Greece and Ireland was


fuelled by their joining the eurozone in the first place. Now,


they are reaping the whirlwind because they have got much higher


interest rates than they would have had outside the eurozone and they


cannot devalue their currency. Argue losing the battle on Europe?


I do not think so. I fit the eurozone will get through its


difficulties. -- I think. They have accepted wheeze has to put in place


an austerity policies and then there will be helped to get out of


the situation and the euro will emerge as strong as it has ever


been. It has been predicted in this country for years that it was going


to collapse. It has not yet and I do not we did it will. Greece will


not be held! We shall have to see. Thank you both for joining us. The


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