Jon Sopel and Richard Moss are here with the top political stories of the week.
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Here... As fares increase for passengers,
what will the future shape of our railways be in the region?
And Newcastle is getting more powers and the chance to vote on an
elected mayor. But will he, or she, have the clout enjoyed by Boris
Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1810 seconds
Hello and a very warm welcome to this special "collector's edition"
of the programme. Coming up... The future of our railways in the
North. As fares go up, will passengers lose out?
First, Newcastle is being offered new powers and the Government
believes they can make it an engine for economic growth. Deputy Prime
Minister Nick Clegg announced the plans this week. He says they'll
give Newcastle greater control over its local transport, business rates
and planning - powers which won't be available to other cities like
Sunderland or Carlisle. The government also wants to see an
elected mayor take charge, with a referendum on the issue due next
Spring. So with the promise of more power, can we expect a Geordie
version of London mayor Boris Johnson? Mark Denten has been
finding out. Christmas shopping in Newcastle.
This week, the Government has confirmed it is giving voters here
a little present - the chance to decide whether they want an elected
mare. Who should be? Alan Shearer. He is strong-minded. He will not
give too much away! Sir John Hall. Why would that be? He has done all
right for the area. Peter Andre! He is kind and I think he would be
nice. But even if Peter Andre is preparing for his leadership bid
right now, it is not so much about who would get the job or how much
power they will have. Up till now, the signs have not been good,
because not all elected mares are equal. This is Stephen Lawrence,
mare of London. He already has a raft of powers -- Boris Johnson. He
can he has power see -- other mares can only dream of. He can do that
over an area covering 32 different London councils, rather than one
council. Unlike other elected mares, the police are accountable to him.
Crime is the key issue here. Even if voters elected Newcastle Meyer,
the winner would not have those powers to tackle crime. Wendy once
a mare with more clout. He should be able to help the police try and
cut the crime. But he has not got any authority to do that, what is
the point of having an? I will vote, but it will be a know. There is
small support here. This restaurant has suffered from the economic
squeeze but with the right parts, an elected official could help.
They need someone to come in and make this region less stagnant. The
elected mare should have control over strategic planning of the city
and control of the housing and economic policies. If it is a
coherent policy for Newcastle and the surrounding areas, it will lead
to huge economic development. Ministers say local people should
decide on the powers. Supporters of the idea already know what they
want. We are demanding and Papas equal to Boris Johnson. We're also
looking at some of the parts that may be available to the first
Minister in Scotland that are available to Boris Johnson. If we
do not get that, we are going to continue to see economic decline.
While a new round of elected mares may be Coalition policy, the
Liberal Democrat leader here is against the idea. There is a
fixation with personality politics. Personality over content. It would
cost more and it seems like a distraction at this time when we
all really have to concentrate on doing her best to provide good
public services are in a time of dwindling resources. This week, the
Deputy Prime Minister announced extra powers for Newcastle,
including more control over business rates. To be have to vote
Yes for a male first? There is no link for our offerer of new powers
to the cities and a vote for Aurora a mare or not. Where the have these
new paths are not, you can vote for him there. There's plenty of time
to digest the idea until May. Well with me now is the Labour MP
for Tynemouth, Alan Campbell and in our Leeds studio, the Conservative
MP for Outer York, Julian Sturdy. Julian, if Nick Clegg says
Newcastle was going to get these powers even if it doesn't vote for
a mare, why bother with the mare? support this policy. It is very
important and it is part of an agenda be want to see rolled out
across the country. All similarly, it will be down to the people of
Newcastle to decide. That is very important. There is no evidence for
a public clamour for a mare in Newcastle or any of the cities.
People could have conditions -- petitioned for years but they did
not. If that is the case, there will be a negative vote. Elected
mares have worked well across the region already. It is important
that the mandate is there. The idea supported and it is part of the
localism agenda, but it is down to the local people to decide. That is
fair enough, isn't it? It was a labourer idea and it could benefit
to Newcastle. I am a fan of the May oral system but not always a fan of
the people who win the mayoral elections. It does give visibility
to a high-profile politician. It is up to the people of Newcastle or
any other area or whether or not they want to go down that route.
Isn't it more about the poll worse than the individual? The debate
thankfully now it is about the parlous and the powers Boris
Johnson has in London and the powers the mare of North Tyneside
has. There is a considerable difference. You can't seriously
think you could give the mare of North Tyneside Para for the police
- but would work. Even parts of the transporter are her problematic
when it is a small council area in a big transport terrier. A city
like Newcastle and, we were saying very similar things about the kind
of powers that we wanted to see divorce two cities. You have hit on
a real bone of contention, which is the fact that Boris Johnson is the
chair of the Met Police Authority. He is also in charge of the
Transport for London. He can do something about anti-social
behaviour on buses or the underground. Whereas on the very
same day as Newcastle might be getting an elected mare next
November, we will be electing police commissioners if they choose
to do that. There is a confusion at the heart of Government policy.
Some of the par so very unclear. That is a difficult sell to people.
I think Nick Clegg's a month and yesterday was very good for us. We
have to make sure we bridge this really important divides -- divide.
We have to do all we can as a Government under Coalition
Government to do that. By giving these new powers to eight new
cities, it has to be a good thing. We will see how it rolls out and
whether more powers will follow him more cities. My city of York is not
one of those eight, but it could be. Isn't that the question? Isn't this
-- of this it is good idea, why not a liar all councils to have these
kind of powers? That might well,. Why not now? We have to look at
this as positive. If these are the first 2008-2009 and 2009-2010
cities, it might be rolled out further. Let's see how it pans out
for the first eight cities. This is about local people taking control
of their areas. There are limited powers, though. They will not have
powers over policing. As you rightly say, we're not talking
about the same parts that have been rolled out in London. This is a
slightly watered-down version of what is happening in London. But
this has got to be seen as a good measure for our cities. We're going
to have more devolved power, which I support. That is part of the
local has an agenda. But ultimately, it is up to the people in Newcastle
and the local people and each individual area to decide. We do
except that this is the first the tenth for decades to really hand
serious power back to councils? it is not. We introduced mares, for
example. We also introduced single pot fondling and total place
funding. There is a continuing that is taking place here. But let's not
be under any illusions. Bears are still facing enormous difficulties.
You can devolve the power of the localisation of is the straight,
but you cannot hide from the fact that North Tyneside will lose �90
million by that going ahead. Only if they don't correct the system.
They will only corrected for the first 12 months. What is happening
here is not just the devolution of power, but the devolution of who
makes the bad news. Thank you. Now, travelling by train is going
to be more expensive in the new year. Despite some extra cash
offered up by the Chancellor, the planned rise in fares will still be
around six per cent on many tickets. And there could be even bigger and
more controversial changes to come. Ministers plan to set out the
direction of travel for our railways in the new year. Unions
fear it will amount to cuts to services and staff. But others hope
communities will get a greater say over their local rail services.
Fergus Hewison reports. Relics from the region's pride past
as a pioneer of rail travel. But if the future of the railway is
worrying some people. Who should fund them and to should ensure that
they run with the best interests of the travelling public in mind?
Central Station, Newcastle. What is on the West list for passengers
here? It should be cheaper. Better quality. Better food. And a better
ride. I have been to Glasgow quite recently and everything was
excellent. It was more or less on time. There is an issue about
pricing. It is very expensive. I think privatisation of rail travel
has been a general disaster. changes could be on the cards for
railways, including use for fares. There are due to increase by 6% for
regulated fares in January next year. They were due to go up by 8%
until George Osborne capped this Fry's aim his autumn statement last
month. Government proposals are also due out in the early part of
next year. There are likely to incorporate recommendations made in
the review of the rail system earlier this year. These included
giving local transport bodies and councils more power over rely
funding and high fares are set. Controversially, the review also
said that the running cost of our railways could be 30% less than
they are now, partly by closing ticket offices and reducing the
number of staff on trains. Mike Parker used to run the Tyne and
Wear Metro system. He thinks handing some powers to local bodies
would work if money channelled to rail firms through them. It is who
determines what the services are going to be and who will monitor
the performance. Passenger transport executives are no very
good position to monitor bus services, local railway services
that they procurer. But to much of the entire northern franchise,
there are no very good position to do that. But proposals like this
alarm railway unions. The McInulty report identified key problems
about the lack of integration and the transport network SVRs. But it
then comes up with the wrong prescription to resolve that. It
says we should have more fragmentation, more splits and more
fragmentation of the industry. That is nonsense. You cannot actually
come up with the right diagnosis and then give the wrong
prescription. Railway operators say they have no plans to close to good
offices and are waiting to see what the Government will save.
Supporters of greater local control think that this could mean we get a
greater slice of the nation's transport budget. We have always
been aware that we do not get quite a fair a cut of that national
investment package as we should do. For example, London gets more than
double what we get. That is something that could be addressed
in any localisation of decision- making on transport. It is expected
the Government's proposals will appear in the New Year and everyone
seems to have something on the wish-list already.
Well, let's talk about the future of the railways now with me guests.
They spotted a problem with that and they have put money into it.
is a very small limitation. 6% is an enormous amount of money in the
year and it is going to rise. This was a system that we inherited in
the botched privatisation, in which private companies ran section of
the railway are without any way of making sure that they provided
value for money. And the two things that happened there was that the
taxpayer be done money through subsidy, which is unsustainable. Or
secondly, that fares went up. That is unsustainable. The Government
has to come forward with the right paper in referring to what McNulty
has said and tell us what it is going to do about it. What you
think the Government should be doing about this? I can't imagine
their pay rises will fill people with festive cheer? I agree about
the right paper. As a member of the Transport Select Committee, and all
parties will welcome that when it comes forward. Obviously, no one
wants to see fares go up. It is difficult. But it was going to go
up by 3% plus inflation. Now it is going up by 1% plus inflation. All
the indicators are that inflation will fall over the next year.
will not help passengers in January when they face 6% rises. I agree.
Nobody likes to see fares go up. I think our rail services are in
really good heart. They have been prioritised by the Government and
sue the Department of Transport. They're getting investment in
infrastructure within the transport. There has been a number of
announcements within the Chancellor's Budget statement. That
is good news. On a number of announcements for the North. We
have not had a fair deal and transport in the North.
Government is doing all these things. He had 13 years the sort
this out? In the autumn Statement, they announced money for the metro
system which we had put him and they had already taken out once. I
wouldn't think the Government is doing very much for the North. High
speed to is not coming to Newcastle. We are going to be left high and
dry by that of we're not careful. I think the Government has a
difficult task here, but it should not go down the route of thinking
that fare rises other way forward, nor would passengers want to see a
cut in frontline staff under do not want there to get Thomases close.
600 taken of the closing is unacceptable. What you're saying
cost a lot of money. Because of the mess you Government left, there is
not a much money. The Government is right to look at how to save money.
McNulty said there are savings to be made of the industry works
better and there are better incentives the number system that
existed as a result of privatisation. McNulty also said
abandon the inflation cap on fares. That is unacceptable, as is pouring
in taxpayer's money year after year. The problem is that private
companies have not had to look for value for money. They're going to
have to find that and that should not mean higher fares. It should
not mean cutting ticket offices. That is the concern here, that the
Government is about cost cutting. That this is going to be taking
staff of trains, cutting ticket offices and making a poorer service
for people. That is not what the paper should deliver. It is going
to deliver a more efficient service. That has to happen. We have to
deliver that in a way that is fair to passengers, delivers the right
kind of system but we need and we have to have a better connected
systems. The connectivity within our transport is an issue. We have
to make sure that is delivered and that the North plays a key role
than that. But there is real good news for the North. We're getting
improvements and the Trans Pennine Express. It will be a great boost
to the northern region. I am pushing for it to go from Leeds to
York. It is great news. We have improvements on the East coast main
line, and Ford. There is real good news. Ultimately, which will have
to look at this paper closely. Should renationalise? I think it
might be popular but where would you get the money from?
Now, hankies at the ready, but today is the very last Politics
Show ever. It was eight years ago in this very studio that my
colleague Mary Askew launched the show in suitably dramatic fashion.
Stay with us to find out if this should be banned. It is just a toy,
but our police officers are definitely not amused.
Well, with Mary safely locked away on firearms offences, it was up to
yours truly to take on the job. The producer couldn't afford to buy me
a tie, but at least we spared no expense - and I mean no expense -
on the set. I wonder happened to those trendy TVs? Or my good looks
for that matter? Well, all good things come to an
end. But don't despair. We'll all be back in the new year with a
brand new show called Sunday Politics. I'll still be asking
politicians the difficult questions - I might even get the odd answer -
but there'll be a new look and more stories from across the region.
And you know what? I might even wear a tie! Worth watching just for
that. For now though, we're off on our
seasonal break. But if you're into seasonal break. But if you're into
seasonal break. But if you're into Twitter, I'll be tweeting like a
robin throughout the festive period. And there's always my blog at
bbc.co.uk/richardmoss - what better gift for your loved one?