Sunday, 30 August 2009

Heugh Battery Open Day



Went to the Heugh Battery open day this morning. It always amazes me how far the place has come from those days only a few years ago when it was a derelict site and the only people there were bird watchers and a few kids playing in the gun emplacements. The Chieftain Tank is a great addition to the collection and it will be fantastic to watch it being restored. Anyone with an interest in military history should definitely give the place a visit. After the Battery we went for lunch as the Cosmopolitan. Great Sunday Lunch, very reasonably priced.

Votes for Prisoners

Dostoevsky wrote that "the degree of civilisation in a society can be judged by entering its prisons". If that is right, British civilisation is none too healthy just now. Record numbers of inmates are crammed into the jails. The difficulties of sardine-tin rehabilitation are exacerbated by a doggedly vengeful refusal to reward convicts who mend their ways or show regard for others. Last spring Gordon Brown vetoed an overdue rise in the meagre pay prisoners can earn by spending time productively. This month a tabloid scare story led to certain social events being banned. But the most gratuitous stricture of all predates any red-top campaign. In a report last week a UN committee warned that the voting ban in prisons may be at odds with the international covenant on civil and political rights. The ban dates back to a musty statute from 1870 - a time when the franchise was a privilege, reserved for a minority. Today the vote is everywhere considered a right - except within jail walls. No one believes disfranchisement is a deterrent; nor does it make sense as a punishment: the purpose of prison is to deprive people of their liberty, not their political voice. Sheer lack of thought meant that - until Strasbourg intervened - the ban often effectively applied to remanded prisoners, not convicted of any crime. If inmates were encouraged to take an interest in society, then perhaps fewer than two-thirds would reoffend on release. As it stands, in more than one sense, they are barred citizens. It is time to give them the vote.

(This article was first published on line at www.guardian.co.uk on Monday 22 September 2008. It appeared in the Editorials & reply section of the print edition of the Guardian on Monday 22 September 2008.).

Political Parties and Elections Act 2009

The Political Parties and Elections Act became law in July this year.

It introduces a range of significant changes to how political parties are regulated. However the Act also provides for a process of introducing individual electoral registration in Great Britain from 1 July 2010.

The Act" identifies registration as the bedrock of the democratic process, and it’s important that electoral registers are as complete and accurate as possible – so everyone who is entitled to vote can, and no one is on the register who shouldn’t be. The Act will move the UK from a system of household registration to a system of individual electoral registration which will require the "voluntary" collection of personal identifiers - National Insurance number, signature and date of birth - from electors, to make sure that the conditions are appropriate before any move to compulsory provision of identifiers. The Commission will be working closely with those who maintain registers and run elections across the UK to increase the number of eligible people on the electoral register and to support the successful introduction of individual electoral registration."

Read that carefully.

It's a NATIONAL ELECTION REGISTER, another government data base, this one listing everyone in the country eligible to vote, their personal details, National insurance number, date of birth, even signature. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Tut Tut ! Naughty Liberal Democrats

The Electoral Commission announced today (20th August) that the Liberal Democrats’ Twickenham & Richmond accounting unit has forfeited four impermissible donations totalling £1,328.20.

Under Section 54(1) of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA), registered political parties must not accept a donation from an impermissible donor. Political parties and their accounting units have 30 days to check that a donor is permissible and either accept the donation, or return it if from an impermissible donor.

Four donations of £332.05 were received by Twickenham & Richmond Liberal Democrats on 31 December 2008, 31 January 2009, 28 February 2009 and 31 March 2009 respectively. The donor, Jonathan Kramer, was not registered on a UK electoral register at the time of the donations and therefore the donations were impermissible.

The Twickenham and Richmond Liberal Democrats have voluntarily forfeited the donation, and therefore legal action by the Commission is not necessary.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Moss Missives

I Twitter, I blog and of course I write to the Hartlepool Mail, but today I subscribed to my first "News Feed".


I now subscribe to the "Moss Missives" blog of Richard Moss, the BBC's Political Editor for the North East and Cumbria. He bills his blog as irreverent, but hopefully insightful, northern take on reporting politics for Look North and the Politics Show.

If anyone wants to link to it then click here. It looks pretty good.

Don’t put up council tax!

“Don’t put up council tax” was the quote from the Deputy Mayor in Friday’s Mail. There must be an election coming because this is the Deputy Mayor who holds the Finance Portfolio and who, to the best of my recollection, has NEVER voted against a Council Tax rise in the entire time Hartlepool has suffered under the Mayoral system. Last year Hartlepool’s two UKIP Councillors, myself and Martyn Aiken, were the ONLY Councillors to vote “NO” at the meeting to formally set Council Tax. A few Independents abstained but every other Councillor voted YES to the Council tax increase. The Labour Group voted en-bloc to put up the Council Tax and their poodles in the Lib-Dems and brown noser Tories dutifully supported the Labour group.

I intend to keep the page from the Hartlepool Mail and should the Deputy Mayor once again propose an inflation busting rise I will point to his remarks and ask him what changed his mind? Many years ago there was a move for a zero based budget for Hartlepool Council, it never happened If anyone asks about it now there are just shrugs. It is down to Councillors to decide what the level of Council Tax increase should be. I will be voting “NO” to any rise next year, as I have voted “NO” every year whilst I have been a Member of Hartlepool Council. Maybe, just maybe there will be more than the lone voices of UKIP speaking out for Council Taxpayers next year?

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Very Proud Dad



According to the UCAS Website Rosie's place to read Law at Kings College has been Confirmed. UCAS don't say what her A Level grade are but as the offer was conditional upon 3 A Grades it isn't too hard to work out what she got? Of course she was sitting 5 A levels so we know 3 are A and one is almost certainly a B (She needed 124 out of 120 in final module for an A in English Language) so its only really General Studies that she has to go into 6th Form College to collect. She'd been asked yesterday to go in early this morning for a photograph with the Hartlepool Mail so we had assumed it was good news but its nice to get confirmation from UCAS. Well done Rosie, very proud Dad!

PS.

Now CONFIRMED Rosie's A level Grades,
English Literature A,
History A,
Sociology A,
General Studies A and
English Language B.

Very Very Very Proud Dad

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Swine Flu Update

If you wake up in the morning looking like this then DON'T GO TO WORK

The Train now standing.............


I am quite a fan of Grand Central trains. The Hartlepool to London Service is a little Gem which we should all support when we can. If Grand Central were able to get approval for a fourth daily train, leaving London about 7.00pm, then the service would be just about perfect. One thing I have noticed however is the increasing frequency with which the train tannoy crackles into life with a barrage of announcements to advise passengers that for their "comfort and safety" they must not smoke or use mobiles in the "quiet carriages" and should take "a minute or two to read the safety information provided".

I actually like to travel in the "quiet coach" when I can. No beeping of mobile phones, no loud conversations from the next seat about who is doing what to who or who is sleeping with who, or even about who is next for eviction from the Big Brother House, the Celebrity Love Island or the Jungle, etc. The provision of WiFi meaning the little Netbook comes out, log on and off I go. Alternatively I read some papers, twitter or even blog. However, the peace of the "quiet Coach" is regularly disturbed by the Train Guard's announcements. If I'd thought about I suppose I'd have assumed it was like the Air Stewardess doing the "put the life jacket over your head and tie the tapes at the side in a double bow. Do not inflate your life jacket until you are outside the aircraft" speech, it has to be done but no-one listens after the first few dozen repetitions.

What I have learned today however is that the train companies are assaulting our ear drums because of European Union Regulation. Yes, the EU is even regulating how often and on what subjects our Train Guards should be communicating with us. Train companies are compelled to bombard us with this useless information by EC Regulation 1371/2007 on "rail passengers' rights and obligations", under the European Commission's "third package" on "further integration of the European rail system".

One of the subjects the Lib/Lab/Con politicians keep quiet about is just how much of what goes on in Britain these days is due to the orders of our real government in Brussels. Unfortunately keeping quiet is not something Train Guards are now allowed to do. So next time you are on a Train and the Tannoy is telling you that "Smoking is not permitted anywhere on this train" and "For your safety and convenience smoke detectors are fitted in the toilets" just remember, its nothing to do with your safety and convenience, its about the EU regulating just one more detail of your life!

Actually I suppose we should be grateful the announcements are only in English! i would think it's only a matter of time before Train Guards need to speak 27 Languages!

Character is what you do when something goes wrong

"anonymous" is leaving comments on my blog about alleged financial irregularities from UKIP MEPs and daring me to publish them. I make it quite clear that I don't publish anonymous comments that I don't agree with, it's my blog, why should I? If "anonymous" would care to put his (or her) name on their comment then I'd be happy to publish them and engage in debate.

Anonymous is raising the old chestnut about a UKIP MEP making fraudulent benefit claims. This is just untrue and I'm fairly sure anonymous knows this but chooses to twist the facts to suit his purpose. A UKIP MEP CANDIDATE, in 2004, did make benefit claims that subsequently turned out to be fraudulent. That is true. However, immediately the facts were known UKIP suspended the candidate and demanded his resignation from UKIP. When the Candidate refused to resign then he was expelled from UKIP. The candidate was NEVER a UKIP MEP. Where the water gets muddy is that UKIP didn't find out about the alleged fraud until after 2004 nominations had closed. The candidate in question was on the published list and so UKIP couldn't remove them. Unfortunately UKIP did well enough in that election that this Candidate's place on the published list was high enough to get him elected and he was therefore legally entitled to take the seat as an independent if he wished to. That is what he did! He never sat as a UKIP MEP and no-one was more angry about his taking the seat than UKIP. UKIP tried for 5 years to get him removed but the European Union Rules didn't allow that to happen. Of course he is no longer an MEP as UKIP took the seat back in 2009!

So the facts are that in 2004 a UKIP CANDIDATE was alleged to be making fraudulent benefit claims. IMMEDIATELY this was know by UKIP the Candidate was asked to resign from the party and step down as a Candidate. The Candidate refused and was expelled from UKIP. Unfortunately under EU Rules as nominations had closed it was not possible for the candidate's name to be removed from the ballot paper. When that candidate was subsequently elected he was entitled to sit as an independent MEP, which is what he did. UKIP tried for 5 years to get him removed but the EU Rules protected him. He lost his seat in the 2009 election when UKIP won it back.

So when faced with a situation of alleged sleaze UKIP acted quickly and firmly and expelled the candidate. There has never been a UKIP MEP convicted of benefit fraud. UKIP also reviewed their selection procedures for 2009 to include Police Background Checks to ensure the situation could never arise again. These checks were not in place in 2004, at that time UKIP had only been in existence 10 years ans so was still fairly naive when it came to things like this. UKIP is considerably more professional and better organised now!

So a test of Character is what you do when something goes wrong. UKIP acted firmly and quickly to sort out the problem and prevent it happening again.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Snouts back in trough

The Daily Telegraph has disclosed that MPs have started a new scheme which allows them to claim a £25 a night subsistence allowance when staying away from their designated main home.

MPs have ignored public anger over their expenses by quietly introducing new rules which allow them to claim up to £9,125 a year without having to produce any receipts.

The payments for MPs have been approved despite widespread anger over MP’sexpense claims following recent disclosures in the Telegraph.

The allowance, which is nearly double the previous £4,800-a-year limit for unreceipted claims, will be paid in addition to expenses for mortgage interest, rent, council tax and utility bills.

The new allowance has been approved without any public announcement or debate in Parliament by a small committee of MPs chaired by John Bercow, the new Speaker, and including Harriet Harman, the Labour Leader of the House and Alan Duncan, the Tory frontbencher at the same time as MPs leave for their summer holidays.

Gordon Brown and David Cameron have both promised to clean up the parliamentary expenses system. Mr Bercow had campaigned to replace Michael Martin by promising reform, and Miss Harman and Mr Duncan had both said that expense claims which were not backed up by receipts would be unacceptable, but the new rules state that no receipts are necessary for the subsistence payments, and that it is “for members to decide” how the money is spent.

MPs will simply have to say how many nights they have spent away from their main home “on parliamentary business” to receive the flat-rate sum, and there is no way for the information to be independently verified.

The Telegraph has featured MPs who spend hardly any time at their designated main home, and who would be ableto claim thousands of pounds a year. Before this, MPs could only claim up to £400 a month without receipts for food when away from their main home.

Under the new system they could theoretically claim £775 if they said that they had stayed away from their main home for an entire month.

An MP who stayed away from their designated main home for an entire year, like Ann and Alan Keen, could claim £9,125 a year on top of mortgage interest payments under the new system.

The fact that such a substantial amount has been agreed by MPs without public debate is certain to anger voters.

The introduction of the new Green Book is one of Mr Bercow’s first acts as Speaker, and may undermine his claims of reforming Parliament.

The Changes to the House of Commons regulations have been decided upon by a small committee of six MPs including Miss Harman and Mr Duncan. Both MPs have publicly stated that it is unacceptable for expense claims to be paid without receipts. Miss Harman said in the spring:

“There would need to be receipts for all claims. I really do think that that is something sensible which we could decide for ourselves now.”

Mr Duncan previously said:

“The second home allowance was often just paid once a month without receipts, which is an unacceptable system in the modern age.”

The subsistence payments are likely to raise concerns that MPs are seeking to limit public exposure of how they spend their allowances.

The House of Commons, Miss Harman and the Tories have all declined to comment.

General Notice of Registrable Interest

FORM OF GENERAL NOTICE
Register of Members’ Interests - 2009/10
General Notice of Registrable Interests


I, Stephen Allison, a member of the Hartlepool Borough Council, give notice that I have set out below under the appropriate headings my interests which I am required to declare in accordance with the Council’s approved Code of Conduct for Councillors and Co-opted Members as set out in Part 5 of the Council’s Constitution.

1) EMPLOYMENT, OFFICE, TRADE, PROFESSION OR VOCATION

a) Every Employment, office, trade, profession or vocation that you declare for income tax purposes;

Project Manager,
Property Developer,
Hartlepool Borough Councillor.

b) Give a short description of the activity concerned: for example “Computer Operator” or “Accountant”

Carrying out work for a range of clients in public and private sector advising on quality systems, operational management issues and undertaking specific projects as instructed. Management of property in the private and commercial rental sector. Representing St.Hilda Ward as an elected Member of Hartlepool Borough Council.

c) Employee should give the name of their employer. If employed by a company, give the name of the company paying your wages or salary, not that of the ultimate holding company;

Self Employed. Registered Office 13 Beaconsfield Square,
Hartlepool TS24 0PA.

d) Where you hold an office give the name of the person or body which appointed you. In the case of a public office this will be the authority that pays you;

NOT APPLICABLE.

e) If you are a partner in a firm, give the name of the firm;

NOT APPLICABLE.

f) If you are a remunerated Director, give the name of the organisation;

NOT APPLICABLE.


2) SPONSORSHIP

You should declare the name of any person who has made any payments to you in the last year towards your expenses as a Councillor or towards your election expenses. You do not need to declare the amounts of any payments: only the name of the person nor body making them.

NONE.


3) CONTRACTS WITH THE AUTHORITY

a) You should describe all contracts, of which you are aware, which are not fully discharged, and which are;

(i) Contracts for the supply of goods, services or works to the authority or on the authority’s behalf, and

NONE.

(ii) Between the authority of which you are a member, and either yourself or a company in which you have a beneficial interest or of which you are a Director;

NONE.

b) You need not say what the financial arrangements are but should say for how long the contract is;

NOT APPLICABLE.


4) LAND IN THE AREA OF THE AUTHORITY

a) You should include any land in the area of the authority in which you have a beneficial interest (that is, in which you have some proprietary interests for your own benefit). You should give the address or a brief description to identify it. If you live in the authority’s area you should include your home under this heading as owner, lessee or tenant.

NOT APPLICABLE.

b) You should include any property from which you receive rent, or of which you are the mortgagee;

1 off 3 Bedroom House, Owton Manor Area.
2 off 1 Bedroom Flats, Murray Street Area.
1 off 3 Bed roomed House, Town Centre Area.
1 off 1 Bedroom Flat, Hart Lane Area.
1 off Commercial Shop Unit, Hart Lane Area .
2 off 1 Bedroom Flats, Town Centre Area.


c) “Land” includes any buildings or parts of buildings;

NOT APPLICABLE.


5) LICENCES TO OCCUPY LAND


a) You should include land in the area of the authority which you have a right to occupy, but neither own nor have a tenancy of. You should give the address or a brief description to identify it.

NOT APPLICABLE.

b) “Land” includes any buildings or parts of buildings.

Parts of a four bed roomed house on Headland which I occupy as a part time resident and use as my full time business address.


6) CORPORATE TENANCIES

You should list any tenancies of a property of which you are aware where the landlord is the authority of which you are a member, and the tenant is a company in which you have a beneficial interests, or of which you are a director.

NONE.


7) INTERESTS IN COMPANIES AND SECURITIES

a) You should list the names of any companies, industrial anmd provident societies, co-operative societies, or other bodies corporate that (to your knowledge) are active in the authority’s area and in which you have a substantial interests. You need not show the extent of your interest;

NONE.

b) You have a substantial interest if you own shares or other securities in the company with a nominal value of more than £25,000 or more than 1/100th of the issued shares or securities. If there are several classes of shares or securities, the fraction 1/100th applies to any of these classes. These limits also apply to deposits with industrial or provident societies, and co-operative societies;

Zurich Assurance Mixed Investment Bond,
GEC/Marconi Pension Fund,
National Grid Ordinary Share Account,
Sun Life of Canada Pension Fund.

c) A company or body corporate is active in the authority’s area if it has land or a place of business in that area;

Newcastle Building Society Cash ISA,
Darlington Building Society Instant Saver Account,
Northern Rock.

d) The requirement covers shares and securities held in the name of other people in which you have a beneficial interest;

NOT APPLICABLE.


8) OTHER INTERESTS

You should give the names of any bodies of which you are a member, or are in a position of general control or management and are within the following categories;

a) A body to which you are appointed by the authority to be its representative;

Heugh Battery Trust.

b) A public authority or body exercising functions of a public nature;

North East Ambulance Trust,
Hartlepool Sixth Form College.

c) A company, industrial and provident society, charity, or body directed to charitable purposes;

Tall Ships Youth Trust.
Friends of the HMs Trincomalee.

d) A body whose principle purposes include the influence of public opinion or policy, and a trade union or professional association;

Association of Manufacturing Managers,
Better Off Out Campaign,
British Sub-Aqua Club,
Cleveland Bee Keepers Association,
Convocation of the Senate of London University,
Country Landowners Association,
Fellowship of the University of Cranfield,
United Kingdom Independence Party.


I recognise it can be a criminal offense to:

(1) Omit information that aught to be given in this notice;
(2) Provide information that is materially false or misleading;
(3) Fail to give further notices in order to - bring up to date information given in this notice – declare an interest I acquire after the date of this notice and have to declare.

Signed: Stephen Allison

Date: 14th August 2009

Tall Ships will bring £10m to Belfast but £50m to Hartlepool

According to the Belfast Telegraph the Tall Ships will blow £10m into the sails of Belfast's economy. Hartlepool are Estimating £50 Million? Time to check the sums maybe?

The full article in Tuesdays Belfast Telegraph reads.......

The maritime boost will be enough to create an additional 550 jobs in the tourist industry, Naomi Long added.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors are set to descend on Belfast to see the 40 sailing ships on their four-day visit to Northern Ireland.

The festival, which begins on Thursday when the vessels sail up Belfast Lough, is set to be one of the largest public spectacles ever staged in the region.

"This will be the biggest event that Belfast has ever hosted and the single biggest event on this island this year," said Mayor Long.

"We will have visitors from all over the world and they will enjoy the warmth and hospitality for which Belfast people are renowned."

The Tall Ships are calling into Belfast as part of their race across the Atlantic and back, which is staged every eight to 10 years.

They left Halifax, Nova Scotia last month as part of a loop which began in Vigo in Spain and took in Tenerife, Bermuda and Charleston and Boston in the US.

The last race was in 2000 and the last occasion the ships arrived in Belfast was in 1991.

"No-one could have foreseen the dramatic improvements in our city in the intervening years since 1991 and I am delighted that we have managed to retain what was best about our city and marry it with the new, to make Belfast an exciting happening place," said Mrs Long.

Belfast City Council is the biggest single funder of the event, contributing £1.1 million towards the total cost of £2.4 million.

Other funding has been provided by Belfast Harbour Commissioners, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the Stormont's Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and the Department of Social Development.

The Lord Mayor added: "The council has taken the decision to invest heavily in the event because we are aware of the benefits the Tall Ships can bring in terms of revenue. I confidently believe that the city's economy will be boosted to the tune of £10 million.

"Hundreds of thousands of people will visit the city during the four days. Many will be staying over in our hotels and guest houses, eating in the restaurants and I am sure many will take the opportunity to shop in the city when they are here."

The festival will run until Sunday and consists of a range of free activities and entertainment, including fireworks, continental markets, funfairs and concerts, all based around the docks area of the city.

Belfast Tall Ships

According to the Belfast Telegraph The biggest ever international attraction to come to Northern Ireland got under way on Thursday when the majestic Tall Ships sailed into Belfast.

Over 400,000 people, including tens of thousands of tourists, are expected here during the next four days for the Belfast Maritime Festival. After seven years in the planning the eyes of the world will be on Belfast when the Tall Ships arrive later this morning.

Video: Tall Ships arrive

Around 40 magnificent vessels will sail up Belfast Lough as part of the largest public spectacle ever staged in the province.

The festival, which will run until Sunday, consists of a range of free activities and entertainment, including fireworks, continental markets, funfairs and concerts — all based around the docks area of the city.

The massive event is expected to generate up to £10m for the local economy.

Writing in today’s Belfast Telegraph, Lord Mayor Naomi Long said it is “Belfast’s moment to shine”.

Chair of Belfast's Tall Ships board Dr Gerard O'Hare said: “What people can look forward to is the biggest show in the country, the biggest event ever to be held in Ireland in maritime terms.”

==================================================================================

Did anyone note the visitor estimate? Over 400,000 people, including tens of thousands of tourists! Hartlepool are expecting over twice that number! Time to look again at the sums?

New Dayton Business Journal Reader's Poll Shows Daytonians Want Real Leadership

New Dayton Business Journal Reader's Poll Shows Daytonians Want Real Leadership

DAYTON--Today the Dayton Business Journal published the results of its most recent Business Pulse survey where it asked its readers: "Who do you think should be the next mayor of Dayton?"

Independent mayoral candidate Gary Leitzell claimed victory in the poll by a wide margin, winning 51% of the vote, with incumbent Rhine McLin earning only 44% (five percent of voters chose 'other').

Comments left by readers at the Dayton Business Journal website indicate that Dayton residents are tired of the "politics as usual" games that have led to Dayton's faltering economy.

Today, Mr. Leitzell released the following statement:

"This new poll clearly shows that the people of this city are hungry for real leadership from a true Independent, who will focus on creating a new, business-friendly Dayton. The future of our city hangs in the balance and it is time we stop playing politics and start playing economic hardball--creating and retaining jobs and attracting new businesses."

Mr. Leitzell is available for further comment at 937-253-1359


Jason Webber
Press Secretary -- Gary Leitzell for Mayor
Cell: 734-731-1114

Monday, 10 August 2009

Its a damp and miserable Monday Morning

Just got back from dropping son and heir at Brinkburn Youth Center, he's off for a bonding session with the Hartlepool Grant Givers Group and I'm looking at my diary for the next few days.

Sandra is well on the mend now so my nursing duties are less onerous. After dropping Son and heir we went to B&Q and bought new side and end panels for the downstairs bathroom and so fitting them is on my list, along with finishing the end panels, plinths and cornices in the kitchen. These are good "indoor jobs" since its raining today. Going to McIvers for working dog mix has been delegated to daughter and light of my life so that's one job crossed off.

Tuesday is looking busy. Ward Walk abouts at 10.00am on Central Estate and 2.00pm on the Headland. (No "attendance points" for these of course). Taking Sandra for pre-operative evaluation at 12.50pm and there is a Blood Donor appointment for 4.00pm so that looks like a busy day.

Wednesday is planning committee, always fun and the register is taken for these meetings so important to be there! Then a meeting with a constituent about some problems they are having (no attendance points). Also trying to find out about Housing Hartlepool and their apparent 53 week year when it comes to rents? Not sure what that's about but no attendance points here either. Meeting at 3.00pm to discuss General Election planing for Stockton North and South. Son and heir back Thursday and Friday I'm working in Ferryhill, some real work for which I get paid! Its always a problem fitting this in but I do try to earn some money whenever I can, it helps to pay the bills.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

"Selective Licencing" for Landlords

Hartlepool Council is bringing in "Selective Licencing" for Landlords in certain parts of the town. On the face of it it's hard to see how anyone can disagree with the scheme. However if you look at the requirements most of them are already law and none of them address problems caused by tenants. Once again the scheme seems to start from the premise that all private landlords are exploitative scum who need to be controlled. All tenants of course are wonderful people who need to be protected and Housing Associations can do no wrong.

Just look at the "Selective Licencing" requirements.

1) That a current gas safety record is provided to the authority. This is already the law for all rental properties and has been for years.

2) That electrical appliances and furniture are kept in a safe condition and a declaration is provided to the authority on demand as to the safety of such items. Once again, Health and safety legislation applies already.

3) That smoke alarms are installed in the house and are kept in a proper working order. A declaration must be provided to the Council on demand as to the condition and positioning of alarms. Try getting buildings insurance without this?

4) That a written statement of terms (such as a tenancy agreement) is provided to the occupier of the property. Once again the Law already covers this.

5) That references are demanded from any prospective occupants. (We will be strongly recommending that landlords make use of the Council's Good Tenant Scheme when deciding on a prospective tenant's suitability). Not worth the paper they are written on!

What about use of the Certified Bond Scheme, also the law now, how about some form of protection for landlords when Housing benefit is now paid direct to the tenant who is under no legal obligation to pass it on? What about some form of protection for Landlords who have received housing benefit from their tenants who are subsequently found not to be entitled, its the landlord that is made to pay it back, not the tenant who made the false claim.

It is fashionable and expedient to blame the ills of the rental sector om scum private landlords. The selective licensing is just another stick to hit landlords with while ignoring the fact that many of the problems are caused by scum tenants who know the system inside out and play the system for their own advantage. The responsible Landlords will comply and absorb the extra costs and bureaucracy. The irresponsible landlords will ignore it. If the existing laws were enforced then this scheme would not be necessary. Its another example of adding more laws to those already being flaunted. Responsible car drivers for example (those with road tax, MOTs, insurance, legal tires, working exhausts, obey the sped limits, etc) are well aware that the irresponsible drivers get away with murder, but do the law put their efforts into catching the irresponsible ones or do they chase the mainly compliant driver since they know they are a softer touch? Enforce the existing laws on the bad landlords before bring in more laws to punish the good landlords! Fewer laws more strictly enforced. That's the answer! We don't need yet another set of Local Authority Busy Bodies throwing their weight around!

Friday, 7 August 2009

The Admiral Alan William John West, Baron West of Spithead, of Seaview in the County of Isle of Wight.

The Home Office has given the aristocracy a concession on the names they have printed on their ID cards.

Whilst commoners will face a restraint on space if they have a long name, those with titles before and after their names will be allowed to print the full name.

The peer Earl Ferrers wrote to the Home Office minister Lord West calling for this safeguard to be put in place. Earl Ferrers was concerned that, although his real name is Robert Shirley, if he is asked his name he would naturally say Ferrers. If his card then said Shirley, it could cause confusion. The Home Office then decided to guarantee anyone with a title will get their full name printed.

As an example, Lord West's ID card would read: the Admiral Alan William John West, Baron West of Spithead, of Seaview in the County of Isle of Wight. However, any commoner who has a word like Baron, Lord or Prince in their name would have a clarification on the card, explaining they do not hold an official title.

The concession will not only apply to all members of the House of Lords but also their wives and families as well as holders of knighthoods and baronetcies and their wives, as well as dames.

http://www.publicservice.co.uk/news_story.asp?id=10349

Teesside PCT Swine flu update

Period Covered Thursday 30 July – Wednesday 5 August

Number of antivirals authorised by the National Pandemic Flu Service - 2233

Number of confirmed swine flu related deaths - 0

Number of people currently in hospital with swine flu symptoms - 10

Attendance Figures

The official attendance figures for the Hartlepool Council Municipal Year May 2008 to May 2009 show that I attended 55.4% of Full Council, Committees, Forums or Panels of which I was a member. This placed me =31st out of 46.

The top attendance by any Councilor was 84.4% and the bottom was 23.3%.

Add into the calculation Members Seminars, Miscellaneous and training events and my overall attendance drops to 46.9% which dropped me overall to 32nd out of 46. The top overall attendance dips to 82.8% (although top attending Councillor overall is not the same Councillor as the top attender at Committees, Forums and panels). The worst attendance overall is the Councillor with only 23.3% of Committees, Forums and panels and his attendance overall is 16.1%

I had both the best overall attendance and the best Council, Committee, Forum and panel attendance of the three St.Hilda Ward Councilors. The other two being 37th and 43rd out of 46.

Figures for Councilors Johnston and Kaiser were included in the released information. Unfortunately both of these Councilors have now passed away.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Teesside PCT Swine flu update

Period Covered - Saturday 25 July to Wednesday 29 July

Number of antivirals authorised by the National Pandemic Flu Service - 2262

Number of confirmed swine flu related deaths - 0

Number of deaths being investigated where swine flu is a possible cause - 0

Number of people currently in hospital with swine flu symptoms - 19