13/11/2011 The Politics Show South East


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The local autonomy or financial disaster. Changes to the way


business taxes distributed could make councils worse off. To bid to


succeed? Criticism of the body set up to help economic growth in the


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1874 seconds


Business tax revenue is an important source of funding for


councils. Could councils and small businesses suffer? It will help you


and it will destroy the deprived areas. Why the body set up to bring


prosperity to the region is accused of being to bid to succeed. And is


it possible to keep politics out of policing? Business tax revenue is


an important source of funding for councils. Under the present system,


local authorities collect the rates, but it's the Treasury that hands


out the money to councils according to need. From 2013, changes in the


way business rates are allocated will allow councils to keep more of


the money they raise and even borrow against future business tax


income. But will these radical plans benefit all areas or create a


bigger gap between the haves and have-nots? Helen Drew has this


report. Business rates might not sound like they affect us all but


they do. They pay for all sorts of things that councils do, from


providing children series's to street cleaning. But changes to the


way this money is allocated could mean that councils already


struggling end up even worse off. Currently business rates are


collected by councils and then sent to the Treasury to be reallocated


back to local councils, based on need. The areas that rate in high


business rates have to share with the areas that cover less. The


government plans to change this or that Cava -- councils roughly keep


what they collect. Most councils in Sussex looked to be worst-off --


worse-off, a simple analysis because they get more from


government and a connecting business rate. The government says


this will collect -- it encourage economic development. They were not


let us set business rate levels. We will all be competing. Overseas,


when such schemes are brought in, you often have the ability to vary


business rates. We could see London boroughs chasing the same business


round and round. That will not benefit anyone. Over the border in


Kent, there are concerns that changes will widen the existing gap


between thriving towns and struggling ones. Across Kent, it is


very patchy. There are areas that are going to do well. We have


designated growth areas for instance. We have seen a lot of


growth in Ashford. There will be a lot more planned growth in the


Thames Gateway area but we have got other parts of Kent that actually


are not doing quite as well. And they could actually be worse off in


this situation. The one thing that we have to be aware of is that if


councils do not work together, what we could have his those towns that


are already doing very well continuing to grow and receiving


more investment and moving forward a lot quicker and those that


currently are not seeing growth are going to see -- suffer even further.


Another potential problem is that in an area where the council has


retired -- reliant on business rates from one big employer, it


leaves him vulnerable to circumstance. This is our biggest


single employer in this district. If these rates were to come in,


this new scheme coming in today, then of course it would be


devastating for this district. It connects �3.7 million every year


from this company. All of a sudden, they are gone and that �3.7 million


is no longer an income. What that means under this scheme is that the


government are going to give us less because this idea of business


rates, the way it stands is going to be fantastic for the field but


in such areas as Dover, Folkestone, Ramsgate, these are all going to be


deprived areas which will suffer under these plans of the Tory lead


government. There are also concerns that the changes to be this race


will favour things like out-of-town shopping centres and not


entrepreneurs -- to business rates. It will have perverse incentives.


It will encourage councils to build big industrial sites. It will


encourage things like steel works and airport, which are not


necessarily what we as a city are looking to do. Business rates are


paid for by large premises. But things like New Media, cultural


enterprises and so on, they are small and often working from home,


they will attract no business rates, very low ones. We are very keen to


keep supporting those things they are industries of the future. He


would see no benefit under these proposals. These changes are


planned for 2013. The government says that for the first year,


public money will be available to help those councils that do not


collect a lot in business rates will stop it from talking to local


councils in Kent and Sussex, it is the long-term incentives that are


the biggest concerns. And whilst the government is claiming to give


councils more autonomy, and they sat revising the incentives for


councils to help develop small businesses. Helen Drew reporting.


Joining me now from Dover is Damian Collins, the MP for Folkestone and


Hythe. Won't these changes encourage struggling Councils to


chase big business instead of helping small ones? I do not agree


with that at all. The first thing about giving councils income based


on the business rate is that it gives them an incentive to be pro-


business development, to support local businesses and encourage


business investment. At the moment, that does not exist at all. Any


initiative that the council might pursue to try and bring business


investment or support local businesses would come out of the


council tax. They would have no way of recouping that. This is a


significant change. If you look at the town centre economy, maybe if


there is no big landlord, no big private investor, what you might


need is a local authority to say, let's put some investment into


crates and Business incubation space. -- create. Maybe introducing


a scheme where innate deprived area that is really struggling, finding


it a Zero business rate in those premises for the first year. --


funding. Councils will be able to look at all these sorts of options.


They will be able to recoup that investment from the uplift in


business activity over the coming years. Are you going to give them


that autonomy? The important thing is that for local authorities, they


will know, they will have a formula, they know how much they are getting.


They will have a form enough. They know that on top of that, if they


can pursue initiatives that will increase business activity and they


get more money from their accounts -- for their communities. That is


such an important change. They want you to give them that autonomy so


they can set the rates locally. That will be effective in Margate,


for example. Why not go a bit further? Councils do have a


discretion the powers. I would like to see him go further. I think


councils can look at the powers. There is a power that the


government is consulting on called tax incremental financing. Many


will be recouped through the business rates they invest over a


number of years. -- money. That is there. I think this is a very first


-- important first step. It gives councils a real stake in the


business community and when you talk to businesses and is as


investors, that is something they had been looking for a long time.


What a lot counsel that cannot raise a lot of money? What are you


going to be doing with them -- what about the council's? Folkestone was


cited as being a deprived community that would lose out under the


scheme. On the contrary, I think it gives the council a chance to


attract businesses. What if they cannot? A lot of them will not be


able to do it. This financing does not happen in isolation. There are


other areas of local government support. In east Kent, we have the


�40 million investment that will come from the regional growth fund.


There will always be things that central government can do if it


thinks an area is struggling. be put the council tax up? That is


unfair on residents? I think most local government financing comes


from central government, not local government. We are talking about a


significant change that will give councils a real stake in supporting


the business community. Thanks, Mr Collins. We'll be speaking to you


again in a moment. Staying with an economic theme,


it's been a year since the South East Local Enterprise Partnership


was created to boost prosperity in the region with a more efficient


and streamlined approach than previous bodies. But, in spite of


some successes, such as getting the go ahead for an enterprise zone in


Kent, the organisation has been criticised for being too large to


be effective. It covers East Sussex, Kent and Essex and is the second


biggest in the country. So will the size of the LEP and its 43 strong


board slow down regional growth in the coming years? Damian Collins is


still with us in Dover, and joining us from our Brighton studio is the


Labour peer Lord Bassam. You are not particularly happy with these


new enterprises. Second -- this spreads across the Thames estuary


with Essex involved, Kent and East Sussex. It lacks the coherence that


I think it needs. I cannot see as yet any project being funded in


East Sussex will stop East Sussex has centres of great need. We had


money going into Hastings in the past. That covered a huge area and


wasted an awful lot of taxpayers' money. There is no doubt about that.


I do not think so. I think it was effective. They estimated they were


leverage in in a ratio of 5 or 6-1. They had created over the ten-year


period many hundreds of thousands of jobs. The south-east region is


the 7th most prosperous region in Europe. It is a motor of the


British economy. We cannot afford to consistently under invest in the


south-east because the rest of the country is very dependent on its


economic success to make sure that the economy grows. This is the


wrong time to be cutting money going to regions when we have got


escalating unemployment, particularly among young people and


women and I think it is extremely important that we have more money


released till our part of the south-east which has many areas of


a high level of preparation. I am not impressed by what the


government has done. -- a high level of deprivation. The


Government have made a big error in this part of England. In terms of


the coherence of the region, the south-east region, you had


supposedly one organisation carrying it -- covering an area


from Milton Keynes to Dover. That is not part of the same economic


region. Something more locally focused is far more important. I


think that having Essex and Kent working together is an important


idea. The new Thames crossing is seen as an important part of


infrastructure. If you look at the priorities of the area, Kent and


Essex working together, it gives Thames Gateway such an important --


importance, and in Folkestone, I think to have the coastal towns


from Hastings through Folkestone, Margate, Dover and including some


of the towns on the Essex coast, working together, I think that is


very important and this is a much more coherent body. Let's move on


from the area they cover to watch the partnership has actually


achieved. -- What the partnership. We have got to get these things


right. If you look at Kent in particular, we have the Enterprise


Zone, the regional growth fund, so I think there is good progress


being made but I think this is the right model and it is important to


get that right. We are in an economic crisis. What do they


actually doing? What have they achieved? Look at government


support for the area and the way that it is delivering in that. I


think the 40 million-pound grant is very important, as is the


enterprise zone and the site in Margate as well. These are


important steps forward. Important steps forward? I do not think so.


We are still do have stuttering -- with a sort of stuttering, the


money is slowing being released. The whole programme was successful,


it was strategic, it was making links across the various counties


and it was creating real jobs in our communities. Where would you


suggest that we go from here? What do these new organisations need to


do at this point in our economic history? I think they need to focus


on the key weaknesses in our local economy and put money into areas of


strength. I would like to see more investment in creative industries.


I would like to see more bowled around educational centres of


excellence. Wraps medical science, sports science, those sorts of


things -- Perhaps. I would like to see more money put in. I would like


to see more money in areas like Hastings, which is very deprived. I


would also like to see more money going in along the Thames estuary.


We need a much broader strategy. We cannot rely on investment in one


part of the area. We are running out of time. Very briefly, in


agreement? We need investment but let's not pretend that for the last


decade, investment has poured out of the South of England and into


the North. We need strategic focus to get that right. Getting it right


is not about where the money is spent. Thank you very much. In a


year's time, we'll all be voting to elect new Police Commissioners


who'll be responsible for every aspect of policing in their area.


Lewes MP Norman Baker has urged parties to reject political


candidates in favour of more suitably experienced people.


Meanwhile, Iraq War veteran Colonel Tim Collins has put himself forward


as a Conservative candidate for the Kent force. Professor Tim Luckhurst,


Professor of Journalism at Kent University, joins me now to discuss


this issue. Can you separate politics from policing? No, I think


Mr Baker is being profoundly naive and deliberately trunk --


troublesome. The aim is to replace local bureaucratic control with


democratic accountability and the way in which British people are


accustomed to understanding democratic accountability is


according to party labels. They would expect candidate to stand


under party labels. And also someone who is experienced in


elections would be better equipped to stand for election? I think that


is right. In an index -- an election that is unlikely to


generate a great deal of interest, it will take political experience


to run a campaign that will excite people and make them understand


what it is all about. Norman Baker is suggesting that politicians


would be stepping away from policing. -- should be. He is


making left-of-centre argument. It is a profoundly political stance.


The Conservative Party has already proposed for reforms to the health


service. It is doing the same thing in schools. Now it is trying to do


what with policing. Mr Baker is suggesting that it should be with


technocrats. I suppose you have a mixture. Yes, but running the army


is not the same as running the police. He might think it is.


Whether he wears a Conservative candidate -- rosette or not,


everyone will know that Colonel Collins is a conservative. It is


the sort of thing that makes people feel better but it is not


definitely an attack on real crime. You mentioned technocrats. It is a


word being used a lot at the moment in European politics. A lot of


undemocratic -- unelected people are being put in place. We have


currently got in Greece, a prime as that has not been elected. We have


in Italy, a prime minister that have not been attracted a -- has


not been elected by the Italian people. The conservative part of


the coalition is saying, the people may want more police on the street,


they may want it to feel safer, but this works in America, where


politicians are elected from the police in the United States,


elected sheriffs, they make populist promises to reduce visible


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