01/07/2012 Sunday Politics West


01/07/2012

Andrew Neil and David Garmston with the latest political news and debate including the Leader of the House of Lords, Lord Strathclyde, on plans to reform the second chamber.


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In the West: Should you be allowed to keep a dog

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in a council flat? A local authority has changed the rules,

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saying it is a human right to keep a pet. But now other tenants are

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1681 seconds

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Coming up in the West this week: They are said to be man's best

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friend. But not all council tenants in this block of flats are happy

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with their neighbours keeping dogs. They want the council to ban them.

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But will Europe have the final say? Joining us today is the cat-loving

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Lib Dem from Bath Don Foster. And the Labour Councillor from Taunton

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Libby Lisgo. I want to talk about the banking scandal first. Is there

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an argument to say the find that Barclays had should be used to

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build a big prison that people at the top can be properly punished?

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do not think so. Not directly. I, along with a lot of people, feel

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that the situation is an obscenity. The banking system has clearly got

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completely out of hand. We need a completely independent, arm's

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length inquiry to look at who has done what so that people who have

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done the worst things can be punished. People are saying it is

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one rule for the rich and another for the poor. You fiddle your

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benefits and they come down on you like a ton of bricks, but you do

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something on a massive scale and you are untouchable. It was a

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massive fine. �300 million, which is peanuts to a bank like barkers.

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It was only �60 million of the find in the UK -- Barclays. The rest as

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in the USA. Some have said for a long time that at the moment the

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banks have two different parts, high-street lending and the risky

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casino banking. And if they get into difficulty with that, we end

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up bailing them out. None of us is getting any younger.

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But who is going to pay for our care when we get older? At the

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moment, if you have savings of more than �23,000, you have to pay for

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yourself. But it is proposed that limit should go up to �100,000. But

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is that affordable? At a senior citizens' social club on the east

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side of Bristol, it is raffle time. Most who attend still live

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independently. But they know one day they'll need help. I could live

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until I am 100 and I do not know who will -- what will happen.

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the moment I manage on my own. will have to sell powerhouses. --

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RN houses. The Emersons Green club is run by volunteers. But charities

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are small players in the country's care system. Everyone agrees that

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the amount must go up massively, not just because people live longer

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but also that an official report concluded the state should pay a

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greater share. The problem is how to afford it. At her home in

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Melksham, Patricia Simpson-Bysman is among one and a half million

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adults who need help. Carers visit four times a day, paid for by her

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and Wiltshire council. They have to realise that while we may be living

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longer, we have paid, financially, and many of us in emotions, to fund

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the country's welfare. The funding of care was investigated by

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economist Andrew Dilnot. All main parties welcomed his commission's

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conclusions. We need to the States to provide certainty and

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reassurance so that people know the worst case is something they can

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manage. At present in England, people must pay for all their care

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if they have more than �23,250 savings. It still leaves the

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Government paying 12 billion. Andrew Dilnot suggested raising the

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threshold and putting a cap on individual contributions. The cost

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to the Government, �1.7 billion extra. The commission recognised

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implementing the reforms would have significant cost that the

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Government will need to consider against other priorities. It has

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proved very difficult. The government's white paper on social

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care is months overdue, after a rough passage in the Treasury.

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not think they are holding it up. I think there are strong discussions

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at the heart of government. Everybody realises this is an issue

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that for too long politicians have not have to worry about the cars if

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you push it into the long grass because you don't need to worry

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about election time. The time has come when we can no longer avoid

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delay. He has thought about it and come up with proposals which he

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reckons could save taxpayers �1 billion a year. Elsewhere in Europe,

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they have said if you want to look after an Old City -- elderly

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relative we can give you the cash directly at two-thirds the cost. In

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Germany and the Netherlands, people have taken cash and it gives them

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greater freedom to choose where to spend that money. It brings down

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costs. Back in his constituency, lunch is being served. These senior

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citizens were not sure about simply relying on family members. They

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know care ultimately needs cash. think any expenditure like that

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should come out of income tax. If it is not high enough to pay for it,

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it should be increased. Whoever is in Parliament, they are not miracle

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workers. They only have so much money. We grumble about them, but I

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would not like to be in their shoes. They voice of reason. We can

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discuss those points. People feel they have paid national insurance.

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Why should they pay more? I am not sure that the question is as simple

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as that. If people are fairly well off, they can make choices about

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care, about how they live in older age. It is the people who have not

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got so much money that really get stuck sometimes with some of our

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least well-funded least good services. If people cannot afford

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to pay, in my view,... The state has to be there as the last stop

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provider. That is the important thing. What is really important in

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paying for care, it is massively important. It ought not to become a

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political football. It needs to be a cross party approach. That's why

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Ed Miliband initiated cross-party talks. It is �1,000 a week to put

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them in a care home, what about giving the relative �600 and it

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might give them an incentive to give -- to do the job. 5 million

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people in this country care for older people and for some of them

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it is a full-time job and the Government has provided more

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support for them. The ultimate issue as you heard Inverkip. The

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Andrew Dilnot report says we have to put a cap -- in the kip. He

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suggested an amount and thereafter the state picks up the rest. Let me

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suggest a way of funding it. The richer pensioners, maybe they could

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give up some of the things they currently get such as the winter

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fuel allowance. If you are poor, it is provided anyway. If you are rich,

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looking after your own care is peanuts anyway, it is the people in

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the middle. That is why there should be a limit. Andrew Dilnot

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suggests �35,000 and thereafter the state picks it up. That means

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everybody can be assured they will get proper care. That would stop

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people losing their houses which is distressing. And they do not

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actually use their houses the way it works, but they are required to

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use the value of their property to pay for care. That is a

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misconception. In Scotland, you get it for nothing. You only get the

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personal care free in Scotland. is a burden on the young, younger

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taxpayers. Paying for our generation as we get older. That is

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why I suggest one way would be to look at other things not on general

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taxation but which can -- tax pays for, such as the bonus you get for

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winter fuel allowance, which I do not think wealthier pensioners

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should get. It would be a way of the people who benefit funding it.

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Is it your human right to own a dog? Councillors in Bristol have

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decided it is and changed the rules to allow tenants in council flats

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to keep pets. But what about the rights of the other residents who

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do not want to want to hear the hounds next door? Maybe it's their

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rough luck. Man's best friend is not proving

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quite so popular here. Two years ago, Bristol City Council relaxed

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the rules to allow any tenant to keep pets in their council flats.

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It has prompted a surge in the number of dogs and a raft of

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complaints. People go out to work all the time. They do not take

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their animals out enough. But they bark, basically, everything.

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will have an owner who is not responsible to pick up dirt. The

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other day we had it in the doorway. Just inside the door, dog muck.

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Why? Can may not bend down and pick it up? Their concern is shared by

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the RSPCA. We do not think it is right that animals are kept in

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high-rise flats. The reasons are hygiene issues, exercise, the dog

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needs to go out and stretch its legs. Not everybody is a fan of

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animals and does not want the animal in a communal area. In other

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parts of the country, housing authorities have a blanket ban in

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high rise flats, but in Bristol the council says such a ban is

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difficult to end force and not fair. And an ombudsman has found it could

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contravene the European Convention on Human Rights. That allows the

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right to enjoy possessions and the right to a family life. It is that

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mention of Europe that has upset the Tories. In common with lots of

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councils and large organisations, they use these European d'etats to

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justify steps they wished to take. -- rulings. I think it is one of

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the reasons I feel that Europe is a difficulty for us all. Is this a

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case of Brussels meddling in Bristol affairs? Not so say the

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ruling Lib-Dems. We have a strategy in the city which is your home is

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your springboard for life. People of every 10 year has arrived to use

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their home. -- tenancy. It is their home. Everyone needs to be

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reasonable. By and large, most people are reasonable. Where that

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goes wrong, we have to do something about it. The council says it could

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be tougher on those with noisy dogs. It is writing to the housing

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minister for more powers to tackle nuisance neighbours, but for now

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some neighbours high above Bristol say that Barking and fouling

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continue to make their lives a misery.

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We are joined by the Lib Dem responsible for housing in Bristol

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and the Conservative, Chris windows. You have made a life -- life a

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misery for tenants? We have had a policy for a long time for not

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having pets in flats, but in reality that has been allowed to

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lapse for a long time for the good reason that you cannot enforce it.

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You can have a dog on the 15th floor? You cannot enforce demanding

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people not to have pets. Why is it not a enforceable? We only have

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under the Housing Act 1 real final redress, which is eviction. And

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there is nothing between. They should be something between. People

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love their animals. I am sure they do. I had large dogs as pets until

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a while ago. I loved my animals. If I lived in a high-rise, there is no

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way I would have a dog as a pet. I understand that some elderly people

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on their own would like a pet as company. Why would you object

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about? I would not. Is there any way you can say you could have a

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small dog, but not a pit bull? is a big dot macro? It is difficult.

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We have rules about -- dog. We do have rules about the type of animal

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that can be kept and bread, it cannot be a dangerous breed or a

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dog that causes a major problem. I do not how to distinguish between a

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small dog and a larger one. Somebody's nice dog might be

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another person's problem. How the politicians do with his? It is

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difficult. I do not recognise -- I do not envy the job he has to do.

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Some people do need an animal for company, but the ultimate issue is

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whether the council can enforce rules it has to ensure noise and

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nuisance that can be caused by irresponsible overs -- owners can

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be dealt with. I live in a flat. I know about this. It is not the

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right environment for animals. you live in a private flat, they

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have very strict rules, no barbecues, no animals, no ball

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games, and all that. Why should the council not take the same rules?

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There is a difference in terms of the law. It is difficult to enforce

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much of the conditions of the tenancies under the law as it

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stands. Why has Bristol gone out on a limb on this? They are banned in

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other parts of the country? So I understand. I do not know why the

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council has taken this view. I cannot understand it. I can

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understand better the elderly ladies and men who come to me,

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absolutely distraught, or I go to them and see them in their flats,

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because they are kept awake through the night by dogs barking. Some of

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them have been there for years in those flats and they are frightened

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to go out of their front door. They are frightened to identify

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themselves. That is pretty bad? That is pretty bad. And the fact is

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we get very few complaints. Perhaps people do not dare? We get fewer

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complaints. Should we ban stereo systems because people might make a

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noise? A lot of people might appreciate that! Thank you for

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coming in. It's time now to see some of the other stories making

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the headlines this week in just 60 seconds. Figures out this week show

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nearly 3,000 families in the West face having their homes repossessed.

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This is Michael Conway, his home is about to be taken away. He says

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there's not enough help for people like him. A quarter of working

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people in the Forest of Dean are on the brink of poverty. The Citizens

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advice bureau say over 60% of people looking for debt advice are

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in work and owe an average of �15,000.

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Bristol City Council is planning to borrow �70 million to fund major

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changes to its offices. It is also considering turning the vacated

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buildings into schools, nurseries and housing.

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There have been celebrations in Brussels after the Lib Dem MEP Sir

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Graham Watson won his battle to have prunes branded as a laxative.

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He challenged an EU commissioner to a prune eat-off last December. Now

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in a change of heart, the EU says prunes do help bowel functions,

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after all. I am sure they do. We can talk

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about one of those stories, repossession numbers. Not as high

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as the last recession, but still serious if you are in that

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situation. Very serious and dreadful for people, especially

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families, where they are trying to get through. It is a reflection of

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the economic situation. Perhaps the banks are being more lenient than

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last time? I think they are, but they could do more to develop a

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shared ownership scheme whereby they take back half ownership of

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that house and allow the people to continue to live there. There are

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ways forward and we have to find more effective ways to help people

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in those circumstances. That's all we've got time for today.

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Thank you to Don and Libby for joining us. We're off air next week

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because of the Wimbledon final. But we will be back with you on Sunday

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