Following on from our report exposing the councils in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire who ban the public recording, blogging, and tweeting at council meetings, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has announced that these rights will now be enshrined in legislation. The news laws will be part of the Local Audit and Accountability Bill, which is set to be debated by MPs in the House of Commons on Monday, having completed its Lords stages.
The DCLG press release goes to cite our report as a reason for changing the law:
A recent report from the Tax Payers’ Alliance revealed an alarming number of councils in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire who were still keeping democracy behind closed doors. Some councils had even banned local residents from recording, blogging and tweeting at council meetings. Ministers believe these councils are clinging to outdated analogue ideals in the face of a digital age.
Could Stamp Duty be contributing to unemployment rates? That was the question posed by the Head of Residential Research, Adam Challis, of property group Jones Lang LaSalle in response to a presentation at Chatham House by Professor Andrew Oswald of Warwick University about the correlation he found between levels of owner-occupancy and unemployment.
These are substantial sums of money… Stamp Duty must add substantial levels of immobility and immobility is associated with higher levels of unemployment. Nobody has looked at the effects of that on unemployment.
In 2010 WalesOnline highlighted the issue of councils publishing free-sheets containing everything from local events and bus timetables to the cronyism of egoistical politicians. Never do these publications provide a critical view of local authorities, such as questioning cases of overspending on nonsensical projects or the negative performance of departments within the authority. WalesOnline revealed that that Welsh Councils spent more than £800,000 on the regular publication of propaganda rags. Unfortunately, it seems the council printing presses are just as busy. Continue Reading
Yesterday the “independent” growth taskforce (hint: it’s anything but independent) urged cities across the UK that they needed to be “HS2 ready”. This announcement by the taskforce was accompanied by a glossy document talking of a “once in a generation chance” and full of soundbites and spin, but not much else. Alas, there was no mention of the soaring bill for the project, the opportunity cost of spending £80 billion on it or the worse service that vast swathes of the country would receive through the existing rail network if HS2 goes ahead. It’s no surprise that HS2’s cheerleaders are trying to generate some good headlines, however, since the project really has failed to stand up to scrutiny after a few days in the media spotlight. Continue Reading
Cornish councillors have voted against a call for an eye-watering Council Tax increase of 6 per cent. They rejected it by 79 votes to 33, with two abstentions. ‘I don’t think it’s right to ask people in Cornwall to pay more than they have to,’ said Alex Folkes, cabinet member for finance and resources. ‘A 6 per cent hike in the bill would be a wrong one.’
The councillor who suggested the massive hike was ‘surprised at how few of the councillors were prepared to think about a more significant rise in Council Tax.’ But that’s not the pain over for Cornish taxpayers. Cornwall Council will now debate a 1.97 per cent increase in November. Of course, having won plaudits for rejecting such a massive increase, many councillors will now see the just below 2 per cent increase as a more reasonable request—and hope taxpayers will do too. Call me cynical, but maybe that was the plan all along—first frighten the taxpayers and then slip in a lower increase, one that is just below the threshold for a public referendum. Continue Reading