27/05/2012 Sunday Politics West


Andrew Neil and David Garmston with the latest political news, interviews and debate, including shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna.

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Is And here in the West: will the Government be forced to do a U-turn


on plans to put VAT on static caravans like these? The campaign


is growing amid fears that the poor damage the tourist industry. --


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1666 seconds


that it would damage the tourist Welcome to the Sunday Politics in


Bristol. The Sun has been shining. Perfect excuse to pop down to the


caravans. But the Chancellor is putting VAT on static caravans like


these, and is it another pasty tax targeting the working-class? I am


joined by the Conservative MP from Bristol NW, Charlotte Leslie. She


knows about tourism from her time as or Life Guard, and Dan Norris,


former Labour MP for one stake who has had more time for holidays by


the sea after losing his seat at the last election. But his


political vacation could be over if he secures the Labour nomination


for mayor of Bristol. Welcome to you both. Westthorp about the


Olympic torch, which is going through our patch. Is that feel-


good factor going to reflect politically, kindly, on the


Government. Yes, the feel-good factor has been fantastic. The


torch went past my office. It felt like this is a special you. This is


an historic event. I hope that the Olympics leaves a legacy of


optimism and sporting opportunity for young people. An important


event in a time of austerity? has been gone well, people have


been happy to spend the money, but what's lovely to see was Blair


Hannan coming along with the torch, they were cheering, it was a


wonderful event. You cannot put a price on that. It will be a


brilliant advert for Britain a round the world. It has certainly


been a special week. The main story this week, the caravan tax. If you


won a caravan that can be towed, he will have paid VAT on it, and the


Government is extending VAT to static caravans that you see by the


1,000 in West Country all the parts. The accusation is that the


millionairess who already in the Bahamas are hammering the working-


class who take their be occasions in places like a Bream. These two


couples are not well the and buying more belongs has been a big


commitment and they are stunned that VAT may be imposed. We will be


looking to produce a new one, but that could restrict us and the


purchase of a new van. definitely will. It will make a big


difference. We would not have been able to afford a new caravan. It


has taken all other savings. From on high, you get an idea of how


important static caravans are on the stretch of coastline. The vast


majority are second homes, which the Budget is sitting with the tax


hike. It is the contrast between the different styles of holiday


warm that upsets people. If you have the money for a real house u p


stamp duty at 1% but that you can only stretch to a new mobile home,


next door, from October, you will be Payne VAT at 20%. The says a


typical example of the caravans we sell. Opposition has mounted.


almost �30,000 and from the 1st October this will be almost �36,000.


It will be priced out of the market. She showing a representative around


from Somerset tourism is Alan House, most of this static caravans in his


park are privately owned. The Government admits that the industry


will be hit. So my sect is the second largest camera van


destination after Skegness in the UK. We think that the industry will


be hit by 50%. If you take that market a way this is going to have


a massive impact on the local and national tourist economy. He pulled


do not budget for that sort of thing that is entirely arbitrary.


Which people are not going to be affected. David Cameron's whole


holidays are not going to be disrupted. The controversy has


reached the Prime Minister. Think again about this tax which will


Kapoor and already suffering industry. It MPs of all parties


opposed it. I do not think it is fair that immortal caravan pays VAT


but a stationary caravan does not. -- that I'm mobile caravan. At an


event aimed at boosting the local economy, this Somerset MP was


unapologetic. The Government does not expect anybody to like it, but


frankly, we are short of money and we are trying to get a more


rational, sensible VAT system and close the massive gap in the public


finances left by the last government. The so called caravan


tax should start in the autumn, unless it is blown off course Barry


government changes of backbench rebellion. -- by government changes.


The House been a consultation and it is difficult. People who have


mobile caravans and will be looking at static caravans and thinking


that that is unfair. Will people be thinking it is unfair? It is always


difficult when you ask people to pay any tax. We are looking at what


it is doing to the industry, and the sadness of it, that has to be


looked at. I would ask the Government to look at it. You have


a Cabinet of millionaires. Static caravans are not on David Cameron's


radar, or George Osborne. That is not it at all. There are many


anomalies in the tax system. The minute you start to tackle those,


it becomes difficult, because the people who have had a good deal, it


hits them heart, and there is a case to be made about whether this


will save as much money as we think. For 45 million come over five years,


I think. What hundred and 70 million, but there is a point about


the entire Minister. I think it is 170 million. Diane Lawrence, any


sympathy with the Government over this? The Government has got to be


imaginative and this is not a way to raise tax effectively. It is a


nonsense that somebody who works in the city can buy a second home for


240 doesn't towns and Payne much less tax than someone who buys a


static caravan for �13,000. That is nonsensical. That is just not


thinking things through properly. You have got to use imagination and


energy and think things through carefully. Consultation, great, but


these are two very daft ideas, at the beginning and I bet you that


this does not go through. Can we see Ed Miliband pretending to take


caravan holidays and eat Cornish pasty is? I cannot answer for that,


but this is a serious matter. Caravans are associated with moving


around and these are more like second homes, and that is the best


comparison, therefore, it is unfair. People who enjoy a static caravans


see them as good for families, retired people, all the rest of it.


Well they see this as an attack on the working-class? People save for


them, they a modest, they enjoy him, and now they are being hammered.


Nobody is going to like tax being raised on it. I completely


sympathise with people. I agree that it might need to be looked at


again. We must look at the effect on the industry. If we need growth,


we need to be proud of British Industry, it is not intuitive to


clobber one of our indices. I agree. Somerset does have a


disproportionately high number of these static caravans. Why isn't


the Government's radar working? It's Conservative and Lib Dem


members in places like Somerset, why are the alarm bells not ringing,


because it is not worth the trouble for them to do this? As a


government trying to raise money in difficult times, you have got to


look at unfairness in the tax system. But you are giving


millionairess a tax break. difference between static caravans


and proper homes is a bit of an issue. We should look at it. That


is why the consultation is there. you're not going to commit whether


you going to vote against it. issue is when people can only


afford a static caravan they cannot afford a second proper home, and


that is why it is unfair and we need to put pressure on the


Government to do something about this. I will be making


representations. For thousands of people all over the West Country,


catching a bus is the only way to get around. But as Somerset county


council struggles to balance the books, it has taken the axe to


around 40 bus was. We spoke to campaigners who are refusing to


give up the fight over their bus was. Queuing for the bus. For


Eileen and her friends, it is the weekly trip from Jeddah to Bristol.


She has been catching this bus for more than 20 years -- from Cheddar.


But this is the last time they will be catching this bus. Their


lifeline is being cut. The council is stopping paying for the 490, so


this is its final run. For years, councils in rural areas have paid a


bus companies subsidies to one bus was like this. It will not make a


profit but the council says that it is socially necessary. Somerset


County Council is cutting the amount of its subsidies by more


than 50%, meaning dozens of bus routes like this.. It you try to


get private transport it is �75 return, and I cannot afford that.


Shopping and going to hospital. am diabetics why need appointments


in hospital at Bristol. I cannot drive. The buses packed for his


final voyage, that sometimes only gets ample passengers and with


almost all of them being over 60 they used free passes, making it


more difficult for the sums to add up for a bus company. That is why


it has fallen to the council to underwrite costs. This woman, Terry


King, has become the then leader of the passengers from Cheddar. Don't


cry. It is our last on at the moment, but do not give up hope. I


have got friends in high places. I have a friend on Somerset County


Council and she is working for us and she said, tell them all not to


giver yet, and hopefully, this will come back eventually. Thank you for


listening and thank you for coming out. APPLAUSE. The Conservative-run


council said that this route costs more than �10 per passenger and the


council is spending �2 million, still, on bus subsidies,


prioritising Bruce for students in rural areas. But one Lib Dem MP


says that the council priorities are wrong. The council has got �34


million in his bank account this year, for a rainy day. It is


raining. I know that it is sunny right now, but in financial terms,


it is raining, it is pouring, and they should be spending money on


this. The bus might have stopped on now, but, for these passengers, the


wheels are still in motion. They are put in the best route forward,


and refusing to give up the fight. I am joined by Tim Gardner,


managing director of a company that Bonn's some of the subsidised bus


routes in Somerset that have been cut. Do you have a moral duty to


keep the services going, subsidy or not? I think so, but you have to


bear in mind that these cuts come up in addition to cuts in the bus


service operators grant, particularly with in Somerset


County Council, a reduction in the concessionary reimbursement scheme.


A considerable amount of money. people over 65 automatically get


free trouble? That is an interesting question. We have to


bear in mind that many people who used concessionary cards regularly


are the elderly. I does not mean they cannot afford the bus there.


Yes, but at the end of the day, these are vulnerable people. They


might have just decided not to run a car. It is a universal benefit,


isn't it? Yes, but what about the environment? Should all these


people jump into their car and start polluting the Abbas you?


subsidies have doubled in recent years. -- polluting the atmosphere.


Let's bring in most other guests. Dan Norris, surely councils have to


save their money. I saw the unit cost their trip, and I thought, why


don't because will try to get that empty bus filled with other people,


unemployed people who want to sign on for example. When I was an MP,


that was something that people want it. They wanted to get around, go


to a hospital, whatever. But the elderly is a bust they can use the


free Pass. We should aspire to give all people dignity in retirement


and should give them a system where they might do not have to pay for


buses. They happy tax all their lives. Retired people make up the


poorest in society but also some of the richest. That is done through


the tax system. You should not stigmatise people by saying that


some people pay and some people don't. You should give dignity of


Europe -- dignity to older people, and this is a good way of making


sure that this need is met, because it there is often vulnerable people


there affected. Some people cannot get around any more because of


buses have been cut. It is tough, and brought communities suffer, but


the councils are struggling for money, buses require subsidies. I


agree with Daniel. You must protect the elderly, who are vulnerable,


from having to pay bus fares. If there was any change, it could not


come from politicians. It would have to come from them, themselves,


saying that we would rather have a bus and peer a little poorer, than


not, but that is not something that politics can do. Do the bosses


often an MP? Some of them do -- do the buses often when MC? -- run


empty? One of the first questions we asked Somerset County Council


was, what is the strategy, what are you trying to achieve? And the


response was, to save money. That is not unreasonable in these hard


times. We have a longer term objective to provide services to


the public. So what is the solution? Some bus services are


being paid a lot of money to one a red empty, particularly in role is.


There are community transport schemes. Buses which do not one at


regular times but do one regular routes. There are a host of


different schemes that can be used. We have to think of the bus service


as a mask transport solution. should be about meeting a genuine


need, efficiently as possible. we want to have a nationalised bus


industry? I don't, but... The if we had a decent will restructure the


buses become valuable to link up. We're back in the South West at


getting our fair share of that cash. Let's take a look back at some of


the other political highlights of The Bristol Lib Dem Stephen


Williams got an unexpected reaction at Prime Minister's Questions. He


wanted the Government to commit to more investment in housing and


infrastructure. After catcalls from the Shadow Chancellor, the Prime


Minister launched this attack. hard-won credibility that we would


have not had if we listen to the muttering idiot sitting across from


me. He was then asked if he would retract the statement by the


speaker. Conservative MP Clare Parry has called for more help for


people with epilepsy. She broke down in tears talking about the


death of her ten-year-old in her constituency the stock there is


nothing that I can say that will bring Charlie back, or give his


Some of the other stories. Let's talk about that muttering in the


remark from the Prime Minister to Ed Balls. -- muttering idiot. Do


you agree? Whether Ed Balls is a muttering idiot? I could not


possibly comment! Prime Minister's Questions is a funny old place. It


is something of a bear pit. It summarises the contest that goes on


in politics. It is not always that help poor, but you saw some genuine


passion there from Claire Parry. Balls deliberately wins up the


Prime Minister. You have to look at policies going back over a long


period, and prime ministers, and none of them are lost it, the way


that David Cameron does. He told Dennis Skinner to retire early when


he asked him a question. Labour represents a good cripple people


Andrew Neil and David Garmston with the latest political news, interviews and debate, including shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna.

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