Reading supporters fight energy swindle
Nov 2013 05

Local supporters gathered on a bright but cold lunchtime in the centre of Reading’s shopping district to protest at the government’s green taxes on energy and sky-high gas and electric bills. They handed out leaflets in support of our ‘Stop the Energy Swindle’ campaign.

If you too are fed-up with ever-rising energy bills, go to www.energyswindle.org and send a letter to your local MP. Every one counts as our campaign seems to be having an impact on the Chancellor. The newspapers report that he is considering lopping off £75-worth of green taxes on the average energy bill, we need your help to make sure this happens and more. Continue Reading

Nov 2013 04

The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) has today challenged Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, not to waste a penny of taxpayers’ money establishing a “Recognition Panel” to which a self-governing press regulator is extremely unlikely ever to submit itself. The campaign group has also demanded to know whether any taxpayers’ money has already been spent setting up a body that even Mrs Miller herself seems to admit would be entirely redundant.

Mrs Miller indicated to Andrew Marr on television yesterday that nothing else would need to happen if the press’s own proposed regulator (IPSO) works, yet a Royal Charter has now been approved which dictates that both the infrastructure surrounding, and process of establishing, a so-called “Recognition Panel” must begin regardless. Yet with IPSO not expected to seek recognition and Mrs Miller herself talking about the importance of a “self-regulatory approach”, there is a danger that hard-earned taxpayers’ money is going to be – and may already have been – wasted setting up a totally unnecessary piece of bureaucracy.

Jonathan Isaby, Political Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, has written to Mrs Miller asking the following questions:

Can you tell us:

  • Has any taxpayers’ money yet been spent with regard to the establishment of the Recognition Panel and, if so, can you provide details of how much and on what?
  • If not (and even if so), has further money been budgeted for the purpose of setting up the Recognition Panel? If so, can you provide: i) a figure for that budget; ii) a breakdown of what that budget comprises; and iii) an explanation of when you expect that cash to be spent.
  • The estimate of the costs of establishing the Recognition Panel to the Public Appointments Commissioner.

Mr Isaby added:

“Far too often we see politicians and bureaucrats wasting hard-earned taxpayers’ cash, either by getting bad value for money on necessary expenditure or by spending it when they needn’t be doing so at all.

“Leaving aside our very serious opposition to government and politicians being involved in the regulation of newspapers, our fear in this case is that the DCMS could be about to waste taxpayers’ money setting up what may well already be an entirely redundant body. I hope that the Secretary of State can set our minds at rest and guarantee that she will not allow such unacceptable waste to occur.”

Hull City Council spends £67,000 on a wheelchair ramp
Nov 2013 04

I know from those times I pushed my late father around in a wheelchair how important disabled access is. I also know how great everyone is when they see you trying to manoeuvre your way through. Without exception, everyone would offer a helping hand.

There is currently a wheelchair ramp outside the Guildhall in Hull. It isn’t the prettiest ramp you have seen, however it does its job, although apparently it was erected as a temporary measure. Now Hull City Council wants to put something permanent in its place, even though there is disabled access through one of the side doors. The bill for building this new ramp comes in at an eye-watering £67,000! Continue Reading

Exeter students campaign for cut in cider tax
Oct 2013 30

Students from the University of Exeter gathered to support our Cut Cider Tax campaign. Inside the atrium of its impressive new Forum centre, they collected over 260 signatures for our petition calling on a cut in the Cider Duty Escalator, which automatically adds duty of 2% above inflation to a pint of cider.

‘Cutting cider tax will be a great boost to both the local economy in Devon and nationwide,’ says Exeter student Harry Chamberlain. ‘From a student’s perspective it will cut costs for many on a weekly basis, as well as boosting the sales of smaller businesses at a crucial time where many are struggling. It allows people who wish to drink responsibly to support local brands rather than paying for cheaper commercial cider that tends to be associated with irresponsible and problem drinking.’ Continue Reading

Taxpayers are forking out £120,000 a year on an empty healthcare centre
Oct 2013 30

The Ongar War Memorial Medical Centre has stood empty for nearly two years because doctors at a nearby surgery cannot agree on the lease terms with NHS England, due to the absence of a crucial IT system.

NHS England spends £10,000 every month on the building, which cost £5.7 million to build. With the exception of some minor services, it has stood unoccupied for nearly two years. Some services like community blood-taking are likely to open in November, however the Bansons Lane practice – the building’s largest occupants – are unlikely to move in until February 2014. Continue Reading

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