20/01/2013 Sunday Politics West


Andrew Neil and David Garmston with political news, interviews and debate. Andrew Neil looks at David Cameron's future Europe plans with Dr Liam Fox and Douglas Alexander.

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In the West, a landlord who cannot sell his own pub. How the


Government's new localism act gives the community the first chance to


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2293 seconds


Thanks, Andrew. Welcome to the Sunday Politics here in a very cold


west country. But it's not just the weather that's in the deep freeze -


many people have had their pay frozen too. This man hasn't though,


the new mayor of Bristol finally had his salary agreed this week. It


raises the question, are local politicians underpaid for the


privilege of looking after us? With me are two guests who join me for


the usual BBC appearance fee on programmes like this - nothing at


all. They are Stephen Williams, a Liberal Democrat MP in Bristol. And


Justin Tomlinson MP, a Conservative from Swindon. They're in government


together but on the issue of Europe they don't agree about anything.


Stephen WIlliams says, and I quote, "the EU is the most successful


multilateral organisation in history and to leave would be


madness." that is quite a controversial view these days.


I do not know, I think it is quite common sense. Since Britain joined


the European Community it has been a great success for us and for


Europe as well. When I got into politics we had the Warsaw Pact,


the Iron Curtain, the prospect of war and now no one considers the


possibility of Europeans fighting with each other. I would far rather


go to conferences than be one of those and people who are younger


with the prospect of going to war. The position we have with our


European neighbours, the vast majority want to reconsider that,


is that right? Absolutely. I think it would be the right thing to give


people an opportunity to reconsider. I am naturally Eurosceptic. We have


got to do what is best for this country. We must recognise


fundamental change in the way that Europe works, the UK works and the


world economy works. The owner of a village pub in Somerset claims he's


lost thousands of pounds because he's not allowed to sell his own


property. It's because the government introduced a new law,


The Localism Act, which insists that local people should have the


first option to buy community buildings. Danie Linsell reports.


This is the kind of thing the Localism Act was hoping to save.


The old hospital in Minehead closed down in 2011 but two years on, a


group of residents have applied to give the building Community Asset


status, to stop it from being grabbed by greedy developers.


concern has always been that it will be turned into flats. The


community really does not want that. It is a fantastic asset for the


local community. It is right in the heart of the town here, it creates


a perfect community pub. -- hub. They're hoping to turn it into a


cultural centre for the town. And are asking for pledges of support


and money from locals. Listing it as a community asset means they've


now bought themselves some time to try and buy the building. It is a


triumph for democracy of a bureaucracy. Well, people in


Minehead might agree with local Government Secretary Eric Pickles,


but they certainly don't a couple of miles down the road in


Monksilver. The local pub has been shut ever since a community group


tried to keep it open. The pub here in the village closed its doors


last September and it was put up for sale. But local people were


worried that they might lose it for good, so they decided to take Mr


Pickles up on his offer, and nominate the pub as a Community


Asset. The only problem is, the owner wasn't told. I had absolutely


no idea this was happening. I had never heard of this legislation. I


was dumbfounded. The more I found out about it I was absolutely


appalled. In my view this is very bad legislation and I cannot


understand why it has come about with a Conservative Government.


Under the Localism Act, groups can nominate things like shops or pubs


as Community Assets. If the local council approves it, the building


cannot be sold on the open market, unless the community has had the


chance to buy it first - and they've got six months to come up


with the money. The Notley Arms had barely been on the market before it


was approved as a Community Asset, giving locals first refusal and


stopping any other sales in their tracks. The net result was that we


had not one but two purchasers ringing and ringing to purchase. It


would have been open, up and running, if it had not been for


this ridiculous new legislation. And while the six months provides a


welcome buffer zone for the group in Minehead, others are picking up


the tab for this new legislation - forced to pay business rates on an


empty property they're not allowed to sell. Despite challenging the


Community Asset on his pub, West Somerset ruled against Mr Wilkins.


But he's adamant. The confrontation with the council may now end up in


the courts. So is the Localism Act not what people had hoped for?


Joining us in the studio is Darren Jones, who's Labour's chosen


candidate for the parliamentary seat of Bristol North West. And


beside him, Professor Robin Hambleton, an expert in local


government from the University of the West of England. A Conservative


Government or conservative in coalition Government passes along


that stops at six since selling his property, how does that work?


a member of the Save the pub groups will I understand this issue very


well. Often a community Cup is the last standing community facility.


It is frustrating for the business but that six months allows the


community to organise themselves, raise the profile for a sustainable


Asset. Here you are telling an honest citizen who he can sell his


property to. Six months is not an unreasonable amount of time. But he


is still having to pay business rates and he has lost a buyer.


know communities where this is the very last facility and once it is


gone, it is gone forever. I think there were very good intentions. In


this case there may have been poor administrations. It is not just a


rural issue, it could be an urban issue as well. There was a similar


situation in Bristol where the owners wanted to sell a pub that


was more valuable for flats and houses. That is what it is designed


to combat, to make sure a community as it is not sold for private use.


I think the intentions are good but there are 200 on sections in the


act. There is not significant devolution of power flowing from


the legislation. We have had a creeping process of centralisation


and the desire inadequate process of reversal. Did you notice it was


all top-down from Government? said we were committed to localism.


Let us be clear about this Act. It is an example of the Government


saying one thing and doing another. That is a bit rich coming from


Labour. When hospital managers had a question and answer session under


Labour the had to ring the Health Secretary. Ed Miliband is talking


about a one-nation Labour and what that means for the future of our


country. We need to work together to find sensible solutions and make


these things work for local people. His localism ever going to work?


The Government says it wants more houses but most people have found a


fundamental clash between what is happening on their own doorstep and


the bigger picture. We are out of line in the UK. We have centralised


power in the way that other countries have not. We need a


significant reversal. It is helpful that Michael Heseltine in his


report, no stone unturned, was looking for ideas for economic


growth. He proposed transfer in �12 billion of spending from Whitehall


to the local level. That would really be localism but we have not


heard too much response to his ideas. M Bristol City v New near


now has more control over his budgets. -- in Bristol City v New


Mayor now has more control over his budgets. We are committed to


localism and have made a very good start but there is still a long way


to go. Eric Pickles over wrote the views of local councils when it


comes to housing. I was told us a councillor we had to find �36,000


within 10 years which was staggering. We now say that local


communities can set their own numbers and if they can agree on


that they can afford it. What you have to do if you are going to


decentralise is allowed those sorts of things to go on. Councils would


be financially rewarded if they went out to build houses and could


then spend that money however they wanted. In Bristol the mayor has a


little bit more leeway but this is about centralisation of power and


decentralisation of responsibility. The Government are saying go and


talk to a local commissioning group, but it is the Government to have


centralisation of power. I think parties have failed to realise the


way power has become centralised. It is a really radical shift. In


Sweden 80% of citizens only pay taxes to local Government. Here it


is nothing like that. Thank you very much indeed for coming in. The


new mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson, is promising to give away


�12,000 of his salary, that's �1,000 a month. It follows the


decision by the council to pay him �65,000 a year, about the same as


an MP. The trouble is, many people expect politicians and councillors


to work on our behalf for next to nothing. Here's Paul Barltrop.


Bristol's new mayor is adamant, he's not in it for the money.


would say I am going to read the chamber until a decision is made.


He stepped out as councillors made him the West's second highest paid


local politician, earning �65,000. With a salary like that there will


probably never be a shortage of people wanting to be mayor but


council chambers are often dominated by older people. The most


recent census found the South West had England's oldest councilors.


Nearly a quarter were over 70. Most are retired. Only 16% have full-


time jobs. Allowances vary enormously. At the upper end are


big unitary authorities. Wiltshire and Bristol pay councillors just


over �11,000. At the bottom end are small district councils. Cotswold


pays 4,000. While in West Somerset, it's just �2,700. So it's unusual


to find someone like Simon Killane. The Wiltshire councillor has both a


demanding job and young children. It is extremely difficult for me to


do what I do with the council. The system has really no place for


those people, middle to low income with children and nine to five jobs.


To get to numerous daytime meetings he uses up annual leave. He admits


his career loses out, as do his wife and kids. It has an effect on


your family because when you are passionate and you push and push


you have a situation where you have no time to spend with your family.


I was home for five minutes last night, just time to grab a shirt


and get out again like I came in. The challenges of being a


councillor were investigated by a committee of MPs. To attract


younger people they suggested changes that could push up pay


levels. Out canvassing is another atypical councillor. It is very


difficult for councillors to take a boat on raising their own pay and


conditions. There are alternatives. Joe Harris is just 19. Things like


career and kids lie in the future. He doesn't complain about


Cotswold's lowly allowance or the variable workload. It is a big


commitment and you are told about that when you get elected. They say


you can put as much into it as you want. I to cooked in a good amount,


three days in the amount of hours by comparison. I think that pays


off. In November Joe Harris helped tackle the floods in Cirencester.


He and many others are busy this weekend dealing with the cold snap.


There are times, say councillors, when their money really doesn't


matter. Money going to the victims of the cups, what does this amount


of money say about our politicians? -- cuts. I do not think the money


is the problem, it is the timings of the council meetings. The guy in


the video of news that Wiltshire council with the daytime meetings


is having to use up all his holiday town to attend these meetings, I


think that is where the have to have a look. If you peer a big


salary would you get a better calibre of person? Most places do


not have executive responsibility for running the city. What really


matters is what time the meetings are held. If you want people who


are a cross section of population you have to make sure it is a time


when people can attend who are of working age. I simply could not


continue taking time off from work when I was in that position. Let us


be sensible about it. If we want people going to meetings and


attending to their duties, working with local people during the


working day, they have to be remunerated for it. People go to


work to pay for things and if we need them to do stuff we need to


renew many them sensibly otherwise you end up with a large percentage


of retired people who have the time to do it. Have you got something


against the over 70s? Absolutely not, the maker tremendous community


-- a tremendous contribution to but to get other people with a


different understanding. I think it is about the relevance of the


meetings, the time of the meetings. If you can make the council


meetings talk about matters that matter at to a cross section, money


is so relevant. Some wanted an increase of �20,000. In true


coalition spirit neither of us participated in that and I think


sensibly so. Isn't it because you are worth it? I find it a rewarding


job anyway. Thank you for joining us. It's time now to take a look at


the political stories of the week in our 60 second roundup. Bristol


councillors got a big cheer from football fans on Wednesday as they


approved plans which should mean Rovers getting a new stadium. But


the news that Sainsbury's will build on their old site hasn't been


so well received by nearby traders. But there was all-round


condemnation of an online comment by South West MEP Graham Watson.


His tweet: Al-Qaeda 1, David Cameron 0, was called sick and


offensive by party leader Nick Clegg. He quickly apologised and


deleted the tweet. Calmer conditions for Stroud MP Neil


Carmichael who's just been to the Antarctic. Days later he talked in


Parliament about the visit as he led a debate on his private members


bill to boost protection for the continent. And a former health


minister is proposing that owners of hospitals like Winterborne View


should be liable for prosecution where things go wrong. Paul Burstow


has introduced a bill. This new law would act as a deterrent forcing


week providers to pull their socks up. That was a rather cold week


that has gone by and let's pick up on one of those stories. The MP to


tweeted about Alcan leader one, David Cameron 0. How daft is that?


I was coming back from London on the train when I saw it on my eye


pad and I hope it was not Graham. He realised it was a big mistake


and what realised -- what he did when he realised was to apologise.


Treating is the equivalent of broadcasting and that is the


equivalent of seeing it on this programme. It was daft and he


apologised. I am surprised politicians allow other people to


post on their behalf on their accounts. Twitter can be helpful


but it can also cause other problems. I do the do It


considering the mind feels that are dear? I held out for ages hoping it


would go away. It is interesting to see what other politicians are up-


to- and any opportunity to keep in touch you welcome. You have not to


get too obsessed with social media and forget to go out and talk to


people. OK, that is where we have to leave it. That is it from us in


the West for it this week now we can return to London and Andrew


Neil. You can e-mail us if you have anything to comment on. You can


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