Our response to the updated economic case for HS2
Oct 2013 29

Responding to the publication today of The Strategic Case For HS2, Jonathan Isaby, Political Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

“This is yet another attempt by the Government to make the numbers behind HS2 stack up, but yet again they have been found wanting. Those in charge of HS2 have consistently overestimated the benefits of the new line and underestimated the burgeoning bill for the project.

“With today’s Department for Transport figures showing another deterioration in the cost-benefit ratio for the scheme, the case for HS2 is now flimsier than ever.

“No amount of spin or re-hashing of the figures will change the fact that HS2 would be a huge white elephant, costing every family in the UK a fortune and failing to deliver the investment which the UK transport network really needs.”

Research published by the TaxPayers’ Alliance earlier in October demonstrated how the already weak case for HS2 has continued to unravel and specifically challenged the argument that HS2 is required to provide extra capacity on West Coast Main Line (WCML). It can be read here.

Earlier TPA research which questioned the basis on which HS2 includes High Speed RailHS2 Capacity Analysis  and The hidden costs of HS2 /

Colchester Council considers Council Tax hike – but still wastes our money
Oct 2013 28

Colchester Borough Council is considering hiking Council Tax next year, despite wasting millions of pound of taxpayers’ money on expensive vanity projects and empty warehouses. Paul Smith, councillor for business and resources said that a rise in Council Tax could be necessary in the face of reductions in the central government grant. The grant will be cut by 16% in 2014 and 15% in 2015. Council Tax has been frozen for 3 years in the face of spending reductions.

Unpopular decisions have been taken, like the closure of the £76,000 Abbots Activity Centre, furiously opposed by elderly residents, local activists and the opposition on the council. But Colchester Borough Council has also been castigated by local residents for wasting money on a massively late and over-budget arts centre, a bus station that is far too small, a self-service website that doesn’t work and an unpopular car ban in the town centre. Continue Reading

New laws to give you the right to record, blog, and tweet at council meetings
Oct 2013 25

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.

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Stamp Duty, unemployment and a glimmer of hope for the Autumn Statement
Oct 2013 25

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.

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It’s time top scrap welsh council propaganda rags
Oct 2013 25

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

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