27/11/2011 The Politics Show North East and Cumbria


27/11/2011

Jon Sopel and Richard Moss are here with the top political stories of the week.


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Transcript


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Here: MPs call on the BBC to protect

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services as it looks to cut 2000 jobs.

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And is this nurse right to join public sector workers in strike

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2018 seconds

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Hello, and a very warm welcome to your local part of the show. Coming

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This Cumbrian nurse will be among tens of thousands of people

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striking on Wednesday over their pension. But is industrial action

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really justified? First, it is clear that the BBC has

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to make cuts. A five-year freeze in the licence fee means the

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corporation needs to save 20% of its budget, and shed 2,000 jobs.

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Some of those cuts are planned for local stations like Radio Cumbria,

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BBC Tees and Newcastle. Local weather presentation and regional

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current affairs will also be hit. And that threat has pushed North

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East MPs into action. They have warned the BBC chairman that

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coverage could be reduced to a "bare minimum". But in an age of

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austerity, shouldn't the BBC share in the pain?

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Good morning, Peter. Breakfast on BBC Tees. Pick listening time and a

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programme where the audience plays a big part. We reflect their

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passions for living here, sometimes their frustrations, disappointments

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and successes. The relationship that we have with people who listen

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to BBC Tees is essential and hope Felipe is a very strong one.

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BBC says cuts should not affect the show, but afternoon, evening and

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some weekend programming will be shed regionally or across the whole

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of England for all local radio stations. We have got less money

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and what we are doing as a business is thinking, where shall we put the

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money so listeners do not suffer? Breakfast, mid-morning, drive-time

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and sport is where 86% of the audience spend their time. Where we

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have less money, if we can protect that side of the business, it is

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more important than spending money on off-peak times such as

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afternoons. That is certainly not the News Brian wants to hear. He

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has been tuning into BBC Tees for 40 years. Since his wife died, it

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has become a lifeline. He says the changes are unacceptable. It no

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longer became the local radio anymore, you were getting

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programmes from Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle. It loses its identity,

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so I think Teesside, North Yorkshire and Durham will be short-

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changed. The problem for stations like BBC Tees, Newcastle and

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Cumbria if it is not just about sharing programmes. They all stand

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to lose 20% of their budget under the cuts. For somewhere like teas,

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it means 10 jobs will have to get. There are some who believe if that

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goes ahead, a local radio stations will never sound the same again.

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Sharing programmes in the afternoon would save perhaps two jobs on the

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station that did not have its programme, but they are talking

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between 7 and 9 so where are the other jobs coming from? They have

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to come from the other programmes, so of course they will be affected.

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It is simple mathematics. And there are other cuts are causing concern.

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The region's Inside Out team has won awards for investigations into

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the likes of Southern Cross but faces a 40% cut in its budget,

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something that was raised in Parliament this week. It is really

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important that investigative journalism has the scale and the

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presence locally to be able to identify a issues of such

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significance to local people's lives such as Southern Cross.

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families up and down the country are trying to manage their budgets

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as well, it is not the right time to substantially increase the BBC

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licence fee. What the BBC does have which no other media in this

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company has, and indeed very few companies around the world have,

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his certainty of funding until March 2017. That is certainly a

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luxury that commercial radio would kill for. They rely and adverts to

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pay for their programmes and depression in that market has hit

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many stations hard. But this station believes it has found ways

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to stay local and improve what it offers. I think we have how are now

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have, we have got a strategy that is clear, that is all about local,

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-- we have held our nerve. It would have been wrong to consolidate all

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go down the network grid because that is not what we're about, and

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it has enabled us to sustain and grow audiences. The BBC is also

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convinced it will still serve local audiences well even after the

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cutbacks. Some MPs and listeners beg to differ. But in the current

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can natural climate, is there really any choice? -- in the

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current economic climate. With me now to talk about that is

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the Conservative Euro MP for Yorkshire, Timothy Kirkhope, who

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has a keen interest in local broadcasting. Also with me,

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Labour's Joyce McCarty, the deputy leader of Newcastle Council whose

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cabinet this week discussed the BBC cuts.

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Timothy Kirkhope, the Government appears, if you listened to Ed

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Vaizey this week, to back the cuts. Is the BBC doing the right thing?

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It is not right to said the government are backing these cuts.

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P indicated the possibility of certain cuts in certain areas.

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There is currently a consultation going on in the BBC to which I know

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we have all contributed, I have contributed by her own views as to

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how the BBC might economise, might keep within its budget that it has

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now, and I am very much hoping that the regional and local side of the

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BBC's output will be as affected as little as possible. But Ed Vaizey

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went on to say, the director general has broadcasting at his

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heart. The kind of defended the BBC. I suspect ultimately isn't that

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because the licence fee freeze, the burdens based on the BBC, were put

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there by the government to. Don't they share the blame in the cuts?

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The alternative was to increase the licence fee for consumers in

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difficult economic situations at the moment, so I think it is quite

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right that the BBC should be required to examine its budget and

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should be able to come up with savings and economies, but I think

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it is a question of where does fall, and I and a lot of my colleagues,

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and I speak also as a Euro MP, I don't want to see, for instance,

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projected cuts in coverage of the European Parliament and wider world

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right issues, we have our own priorities, I'm sure my colleague

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has her priorities, I have mine, but local and regional television

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and radio seemed to be now to be more important than ever,

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particularly with the demise of local and regional coverage from

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ITV and the pressures now on the commercial radio broadcasters

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themselves. Joyce McCarty, I am sure you will not vastly disagree

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with that, but the BBC is where it is what the money it has got, but

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it is trying to protect the programmes that are most important,

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even news programmes like Look North are protected. Is that the

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right approach? It is party the right approach. I think we also

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should be doing our best to protect local radio because local radio has

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a major impact in this region and getting my colleagues and I have

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huge concerns about losing some aspects of that and as the report

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showed, the investigative journalism aspects. What the BBC

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says is, if you have got a limited amount of money, you invest in the

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programmes people listen to, breakfast, drive time mid-morning.

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The afternoon programmes are less important. If they have to make

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cuts, that is where they should make them? I guess we would have

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some sympathy with that because it has to be based on audience figures,

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but I think the key concern for us would be the loss of local jobs as

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well and there are a number of jobs going in Newcastle based on these

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proposals and clearly that race is concerned. In a way, what you said

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was almost certain the BBC an impossible task. You want to

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protect local services, one to protect world news. Other Net

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website radios 2, 5 Live, taking similar hits to local radio. The

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Conservatives wanted a smaller BBC, you can't man about it? I don't

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think the Conservatives wanted a smaller BBC. I think a lot of

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Conservatives do. I am not talking for all Conservatives, we value the

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BBC, but we want it to economise in the same way as everybody else is

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having to at the moment. What I would say if it is interesting

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talking about having syndicated material during parts of the day

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for different radio stations. I must admit I am nervous about that

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one if it takes the character of the radio station away. I remember

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when BBC Radio Durham came in. The first radio station the BBC set-up,

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no longer there now, but the key point of the BBC radio stations has

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been a character and localism of what they do and I hope the BBC

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will consider that when they come to their decision. Joyce, you run a

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council which has had to go through this process and I am sure he will

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say the council is not a worse council. I am sure the BBC can do

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the same? They have to consider all of the options and that big in the

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consultation, when we respond to that, we will do as much as that to

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protect local radio -- we will do as much as we can. We like to hear

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from local residents in phone-in programmes, opportunities for us to

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listen directly to residents which are important and indeed the Inside

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Out programme, the investigative work around races and in Sunderland,

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the Southern Cross issues, they are important -- around or races and in

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Sunderland. Thank you Deri much.

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-- thank you very much. And there is more on the BBC cuts

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on my blog. The address in on the screen now.

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There is little doubt what next week's big story will be. It is the

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strike action being planned by around 2 million public sector

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workers on Wednesday. The level of disruption is likely to be high.

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Many schools have already announced they are closing. The Tyne and Wear

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Metro will be suspended, while most council services will also be

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affected. In a moment, I will be asking my guests whether such

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action is justified. But first our Cumbria reporter Emily Unia has

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been talking to two people about their pensions, the issue right at

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the heart of this dispute. Next Wednesday, Liz Walsh will not

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be going to work. She will be on the picket line like thousands of

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public sector workers across Cumbria and the north-east. She has

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been a nurse for 20 years, attracted back to the NHS from the

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private sector by better pay and prospects. But government proposals

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to change public sector pensions will leave her significantly worse

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off. I feel very angry that something that was agreed, to me a

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contract, it stands in law, that ministers feel they can just take

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that away from the and change that, and I feel sad that things that I

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had planned for my retirement are not likely to happen, and I am sad

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that I have got to keep on working when physically I may no longer be

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up to the job. Liz Burns �34,000 a year. Government changes means she

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needs to pay �1,000 more each year into her pension scheme and will

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also have to work longer, retiring at 66 instead of 60. This is an

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agreement that was made that they are trying to turn around, and

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instead of a strapping our standards we should all be working

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together to increase the standards for the people who work in the

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private sector -- in the public sector. Strike action is the last

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port of call, and investigations are ongoing and we hope they will

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be successful but we feel we have been backed into a corner by the

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ministers and this is the only way of getting our voices heard. But,

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for many, refusing to work for a day is not an option. Emma Barnes

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runs a cake-making company from her home in Carlisle. It seems a little

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unfair that they have that power to hold us to ransom and strike and

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cause a disruption when there is nothing more that we can do. It

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affects me on a personal level because my children will now be off

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school, that means a day off work for me. I don't know whether I

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would have a bit more sympathy if it wasn't affecting in that way. It

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is a difficult situation. I can appreciate what they are striking

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for but I am not sure whether the strikes are going to have the

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effect that they are hoping. As a self-employed worker, Emir should

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be planning for the future, saving money each month into a private

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pension. She isn't. My personal circumstances don't allow me to put

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anything away. I was on a really good salary, recession hit, it was

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cut drastically, and then I had to look for a job, which was half the

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salary I was on before. I have still got the same financial

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commitments that everybody else has, I have set up working from home, I

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barely make a salary from the products that I sell because people

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are just not able to spend that amount of money, but, as I say, I

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cannot hold anybody to ransom. We just have to get on with it and

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hope that the economy picks up. there is no sign of that happening

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any time soon. The pensions issue divides opinion, and so will next

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week's strikes. But with more than 20 union set to walk out, it will

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be hard to avoid the destruction. - - disruption.

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Thousands of council workers your employee will be on strike next

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Wednesday. Do you support their cause? That is a difficult question.

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The leadership of the city council will not condone industrial action

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because we want to be responsible employers, but we also have

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sympathy with the issues that the staff of the city council are

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raised in. Do you think they are wrong to go on strike? It is their

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right as workers, the rules allowed them to take industrial action.

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They have been offered an improved deal, are they wrong to go on

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strike? They have been offered pensions that are still better than

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many peoples and the private sector. The public sector-private sector

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issue is tricky, because we should not be saying public sector workers

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get, as the government have called them, gold-plated pensions. The

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average pension for most workers is 3,500 to �4,000, that is not gold

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plated. Some people in the private sector will get more than that.

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What the Government's issue should be is to help people in the private

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sector to improve their pensions. The nurse we saw in the film does

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not want to strike but feels she has a commitment, a contract on her

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pension, that the government is Rene Dean Mumm. I don't think that

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is true, -- that the government is backing out on. Having listened to

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the recommendations of a considerable number of people

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including trades unions representatives... People will not

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take a situation lying down to pay �1,000 extra a year and were it

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gets to six years when they cannot plan for it. The truth is we are

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all missing longer and will have to work longer because of bad -- we

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are all living longer. We would be very envious of the public sector

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situation, I am concerned we will have a dispute which is going to

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cost the economy, we cannot afford it at the moment, another half a

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billion pounds for one day. Only a quarter of the member of the unions

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who bothered to turn out in ballot in favour of having a strike, and

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the people of this country should be very concerned about that. We

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simply cannot afford it. But in the middle of negotiations we are going

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to have this incredibly disruptive strike. That is not right. We saw

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Emma, she might be justifiably furious about this, she was quite

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calm, but it will cause disruption to people who have to keep their

:51:11.:51:17.

children off school. We accept that, but it is the right of the workers

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to take that action, and the workers tell us they are soaked

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frustrated about negotiations that there is nothing new on the table,

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the negotiations we are hearing this week is that nothing more will

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be offered. That does not sound like continuing Nick associations,

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it sounds like we are not negotiation and of -- not

:51:40.:51:44.

negotiating enough. We have predicted people within 10 years of

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retirement, people in lower pay, the people we should be most

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concerned about, the lower paid workers will not have a

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deterioration, they will have an improvement in their pension. The

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things that have come out should be more than enough to make the union

:52:00.:52:03.

leaders think again, they should think again and there should not be

:52:03.:52:07.

a strong. Is it fair that people like Emma, in the film, when they

:52:07.:52:11.

pay taxes will be effectively subsidising people who have

:52:11.:52:17.

perfected the God Pensions when she has not got a pension herself?

:52:17.:52:23.

who have effectively got pensions. We are doing a lot of support

:52:23.:52:28.

people in am a's position to get a pension. It costs �100,000 to

:52:28.:52:33.

secure a pension of around three and a half �1,000. And it costs

:52:33.:52:36.

Emma Moore to get her pension because in terms of age people now

:52:36.:52:42.

live longer. The government's focus seems to be on undermining public

:52:42.:52:46.

sector pensions. Should and the focus be helping people like Emma

:52:46.:52:50.

get their own pensions? government is responsible for

:52:50.:52:55.

public sector pensions, not for private sector pensions.

:52:55.:52:58.

Individuals are, small business people are. The Government should

:52:58.:53:01.

help those people who have to get their own pensions but they have a

:53:01.:53:04.

duty to look at the nature of pensions for the people for whom

:53:04.:53:09.

they are responsible. What is being done for someone like Emma? We have

:53:09.:53:13.

to look at the tax system to see if we can help people who invest in

:53:13.:53:17.

their own pensions. The situation is clear, she cannot afford it.

:53:17.:53:22.

Everybody is having a problem. The economy has been in difficulty for

:53:22.:53:25.

a while, we want to get it going again, that is the main priority,

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and it will help them and everybody else. But the public sector is the

:53:30.:53:34.

direct responsibility of government and the government cannot afford to

:53:34.:53:36.

give in to the sorts of demands which the unions are demanding at

:53:36.:53:42.

the moment. Joyce, Ed Miliband has been warm about this, saying they

:53:42.:53:47.

should be striking in the middle of negotiations. -- they should not be

:53:47.:53:53.

striking. Should and Labour be supporting this? We are taking a

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motion to city council in November in support of the discussions to

:53:58.:54:00.

encourage the government to continue those discussions and work

:54:00.:54:05.

with trade unions to ensure this issue is sorted. We have to leave

:54:05.:54:13.

in there. Thank you very much. And if you would like to have your

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say about the industrial action, my colleague Mark Denten will be

:54:16.:54:20.

getting views in Durham next week. All you need to do is turn up at

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Market Place from 10am on Wednesday morning, that is the day of the

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strikes, and you can put your question face-to-face to the trade

:54:26.:54:29.

unions and the politicians who will be in the hot seat. You never know,

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they might even answer them. Watch Look North that night to see what

:54:33.:54:35.

happens. Before that, of course, it is the

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Chancellor's autumn statement on Tuesday. You can follow it all in a

:54:38.:54:41.

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