26/06/2011 The Politics Show South West


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In the South West, chair of the Transport Select Committee tells us


some white plans to cut cost card cover are seriously flawed.


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2512 seconds


And the remorseless spread of Welcome to the politics short in


the South West. -- the Politics Show. The Government plans to


revamp the coastguard service received a major blow this week


will stop the transport select committee concluded changes would


put lives at risk. They were not confident the coastguard service


would be as good as it is no, let alone more effective, as the


Government claims. -- as it is now. Last December, here in Westminster,


the Government organised radical plans to change it the coastguard


service. Under the plans, the number of coastguard stations would


be reduced by half and the number of staff by almost as much. And the


South West, that would mean the closure of two stations. The


ministers insist these cuts along with the deployment of modern


technology would provide a better, more resilient servers, but that


has been hotly contested. -- more resilient service. The Transport


Select Committee was in Falmouth last month collecting evidence for


its own inquiry into the Government's plans. Ministers say


they are prepared to amend them, but Wally up to a point. We will


not deviate from the objective. -- but only up to a point back.


We will try to work effectively with coastguards to deliver an


effective 24-hour coastguard service, and I am sure the


proposals we come forward with with the result of this consultation


will fit with the 21st century. A meanwhile, Conservative


backbenchers are fighting individual closures in their


constituencies. This one has gone much further in demanding the


Government abandoned it -- its plans altogether. I hope the


Minister will take this message and realise this is his worst moment.


The public, the users of the sea, the small vote sailors, the


commercial fishermen, the people who bought in the front line, the


coastguards and lifeboat men, and some Royal Naval Personnel, even up


to the rank of Vice-Admiral, have all said to me that this


consultation is wrong. With the consultation closed and


Parliament's summer recess and beckoning, a decision is expected


soon. In the meantime, the Transport Select Committee has


given ministers plenty to think about. The committee says that no


station should operate without night cover, and that is just for


starters. It risks lives. It is a drastic reduction in the number of


coastguard stations reducing 18 to just three, and it risks losing


local knowledge and expertise come affecting the volunteer coastguard


rescuers as well as the centres themselves. There are question


marks about the new technology the Government is talking about and


these proposals should be withdrawn. The Government argues that the new


technology is crucial in making things more effective, but it also


claims that, at the moment, some centres are under-used, and others


are overworked, which suggests something needs to be changed.


There is a case for change, and there is a need for new technology,


but these proposals are drastic. They will not bring the right kind


of change. The committee is also concerned about a related issue -


the Government's decision to remove funding from emergency tug votes.


We are concerned about plans to withdraw funding from these. They


are important to stop major pollution incidents, and we are


concerned the Government wants to withdraw funding before finding an


alternative. The Government has also decided to remove funding from


the national body which co- ordinates rescues. Our concern is


that the Government wants to withdraw funding from coastguard


centres, withdraw funding from the tugboats, and from the Specialist


Fire Service. Combined with all of that, it will put lives at risk,


and increase the likelihood of major pollution events.


It has been said that this is literally inviting disaster.


Withdrawing funding from those emergency towing vessels is


inviting disaster. There is no evidence this can be done.


expressed concern during the inquiry that the Minister prevented


coastguards from giving evidence to the committee. The Minister said,


the rules stop civil servants giving this kind of evidence, they


are civil servants. The rule about civil servants is normally invoked


for senior civil servants, and the Minister assured Parliament that


serving coastguards could give evidence to the select committee, p


yet when we wanted to call them in front of the committee they were


told they could not come. We did find a way of talking to coastguard


officers, some came to us and their union capacity and where -- we were


able to visit coastguard centres. We were very upset because the


Minister changed his mind. The Secretary of State has made it


clear he will come back with different proposals, he will listen


to alternative ideas and to amend his original proposals, but you


seem to be suggesting he should tear up the original plan


altogether for. We wanted to concentrate on saving lives. We


agree that nationalisation can take place, but not the plans put


forward at present. The Minister has told us consistently he is


listing, and if he is listening properly he will withdraw those


proposals. Thank you very much.


Supermarkets have been spreading their tentacles far and wide


throughout the region over recent years, bringing tempers to the boil


in some places. One of Devon's MPs has lent his support to campaigners


in Ashburton on the edge of Dartmoor, who are fighting plans to


build a large Co-op. MP Mel Stride is backing those who think the shop


will damage the town's town centre. There are those who think there is


room for big shops to exist happily alongside small trainers. Our


correspondent reports on the South West's latest supermarket row.


The tone of Ashburton on the edge of Dartmoor has built up a


reputation for its thriving independent sector, but some fear


what would happen if and out of town supermarket is given the go-


ahead. Like the owner of this shop. I am devastated. This town has been


founded by a group of individuals like myself who have put everything


they have worked for into creating this bespoke little place full of


individual shops. The owner of the off-licence is not


happy, either. People will head there to do their groceries, and I


cannot see them making a second trip to come down into town when


they can get everything under one roof. The Co-op already has a store


in that Ashburton town centre, but it wants to open an additional one


here, near the A38 Linhay Exit. The Co-op says this will create jobs


and will not impact of the traders in the town centre. It will be


around the size of a football pitch and have around 20 football --


parking spaces. The call puts it -- the co-operative group is the


fifth-largest food retailer in the country. It is looking to expand


its business in the a rare -- in the area.


Our store is top-up shopping for people who have forgotten a few


items when they are cooking dinner. We do not compete with the stores


in the town, and I do not Frank that people come to visit Ashburton


because there is a quarter in the middle. -- There is at Co-op in the


middle. People come to visit because of the shops. Some shoppers


have mixed views. The would you use the Co-op? No.


all choppier, we all that, and I think it will spoil the town. -- we


all shop here. I steered clear of the big supermarkets and do all my


shopping locally. Supermarket growth is spreading in


the South West. Tesco has the strongest presence in the region


out of the big four. Recent figures show retailers have their it -- the


biggest retailer has made twice the number of planning applications


than Sainsbury's, and nearly five times more than Morrison's. The big


four supermarkets have given a our local authorities more than �5


billion in the last few years to put towards community projects and


infrastructure. East and the Devon received around �2.5 million each,


and Torridge received around �250,000 for schemes in the area.


Residents wrote this letter opposing plans for a Tesco store.


And it, they warned it would severely undermine the vitality of


the High Street, where most food shops used locally sourced food. I


have come to find out what they think the impact has been. It is


more vibrant than it has been for the decade I have been here.


Dmitri runs a business from the high street and to six on the chair


of the Chamber of Commerce. -- and sits on the chair. I do not think


it is vibrant because Tesco has opened up. For some shopkeepers, it


has been a big negative on their trading, but for others they have


thrived for other reasons. Just this week, plans for a Tesco and


Dawlish were rejected. Councillors have already given the go-ahead to


a Sainsbury's, which will open later in the summer, and they felt


another big store would be too much. Earlier this year, councillors in


Cornwall throughout applications from Morrisons and Sainsbury's who


wanted to build stores in Weybridge. They felt the stores would have an


unacceptable impact on the town. Dartmoor National Park authorities


say they will make a decision on the Co-op proposals in August.


I asked Mel Stride earlier why he was sore against the plans for a


supermarket in Ashburton. -- why he was so why against fulls of a


Ashburton is a vibrant town in Dartmoor, and part of that success


has been built upon the strength of its local retailers on the high


street. There are a whole variety of shops


there, specialist bakers, fishmongers, butchers, and the fear


it is that, with a large supermarket appealing on the


outskirts of Ashburton, that will take trade away and some of those


traders will suffer. We may see a situation in the to -- in the


future where the 10 said it was into decline, as I am determined to


fight against that. It is true that it would offer more


choice to people, with perhaps a cheaper selection of food. If you


are a family in these times on a budget, it would be very useful.


They are very important points, and I do not see any increase in choice.


Independent retailers already provide a very high-quality service.


Putting them out of business would not increase choice. The second


point go you raise, there are supermarkets not far away, and


there is free transport to take people from Ashburton to those


shops. I do not feel that either of those points are pertinent.


Back in April, Labour put forward an amendment to the Localism Bill


which would require local planning authorities to adopt retail


diversity schemes, they say, that would protect local shops and


provide diversity. You voted against that. Was that a mistake,


with hindsight? Not at all. The Labour Government abolished the


means test, which the Conservative Government brought in, which placed


a strong test for planning authorities to apply to to make


sure these supermarkets do not damage traders in this situation.


This Government has said they will look at that again, and I will


support reintroducing that. The second thing is, the major push


here in the localism agenda through Parliament, which will empower


local communities... What about jobs, will?


This supermarket will provide 15 jobs.


A There is a big supermarket in Exeter, Sainsbury's, that is 450


jobs, supermarkets bring jobs and people need jobs. In the case of


Ashburton, the planet state and put forward by the Co-op has suggested


there will be 15 jobs created. My question would become a 15 jobs


would be good and welcome, but what about the jobs that will be lost in


the middle of town? In that piece, we saw that Crediton


has a supermarket and jobs have not been lost, shops have thrived. It


does not mean that the two cannot co-exist, does it? A not at all.


As a Conservative, my very being feels that competition is important,


but not unrestrained where it has these social consequences. You


mentioned Crediton, and speeding two traders there, there are many


traders who believe it has had an effect on their business.


The Government is calling for mortgage lenders to back a self-


build revolution by lending more to people who want to build their own


homes. The Government's community right to build proposal is part of


the Localism Bill, but will it have a solid financial foundation? Our


correspondent has been visiting one success story in Cornwall.


I looked out the window the other day come at the average price now


is 900,000. That is three times your income. This, as you know,


will save me. It is a nice little place to start. 25-year-old David


has lived in Rock all his life, he is a carpenter by his -- by trade


and is building his own home. He is taking advantage of a community


scheme which enables people to build a home for around �95,000.


It is as -- it is a self build. I think if you were building them --


if they were built and you were buying them, I think they would be


fine. But they did not know what was going to go on, when getting a


mortgage. This is the second House to be


built by the St Minver Community Land Trust. 12 Houses were built in


-- since 2008. The value of builders' Labour was taken on, but


now it is no longer valued by mortgage providers.


There is only two companies that have been providing that, one is


the Halifax and the other is Ecology. There is very little on


self-build. With conventional mortgages, a lump sum is


transferred by the lender at the point of sale. With most self build


mortgages, the lender transfers to to the borrower in blocks as


different stages of the buildings are completed, providing they are


happy with an inspection. Some lenders may be put off by the


planning restrictions associated with affordable homes. For instance,


the Houses at St Minver can only be sold to buyers with a certain


criteria. For others not involved in community projects, there are


options out there. Many plots tied builders into two hears so they are


unable to switch to a cheaper rate which building is complete.


I think the Government could be doing more, and lenders could be


doing more come up to come up with the forms of mortgage that will


make sure we create a flourishing sector across the country, in the


way the scheme in Rock has done for that community. This is all about


sustaining village life, maintaining the numbers in school


and keeping local organisations going. That is what is so important.


One of the first to move into the new estate was Charlie. He believes


other could -- others could benefit from similar schemes.


This works. It is a blueprint for other projects to happen. It is all


very well to come up with different ideas, we could do this, we could


do that, you do not need to. This works, it can get people into


Houses now. But, if the self build revolution


is to start here, some say greater investment is needed to get


projects like this off the ground. What we need is a couple of million


pounds floating around the county for two schemes to be running in


parallel and in the 12 months the money gets paid back, then it can


move onto the next parish that wants to build a dozen Houses. I


honestly think we would get of the Houses we needed. If it worked in


this country, I cannot see why it would not worked in every county in


England. The price of land is still a major


barrier to many self builds. If the farmer had not sold his land at a


knock-down price, then crops would be flourishing, instead of a local


community. That is all we have time for today,


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