Are UNISON still in charge in Hull?
Sep 2013 25

It was revealed yesterday that the unions have emphatically rejected changes to their terms and conditions at Hull City Council. This has been a long running saga and something I have written about on many occasions. When Labour took control of the Guildhall in May 2011 from the Liberal Democrats, they said they would look at overtime rates and mileage allowances.

I can’t say I am surprised that proposals to change staff terms and conditions have been rejected. Negotiations (or the threat of them) have been going on for more than two years. Paying the HMRC recommended mileage rate of 45p per mile instead of the 65p  rate the council currently pay is fair, but the rhetoric coming from union leaders has more than implied they are up for a fight.  Continue Reading

COMMENT: Energy price fixing and tax hikes would quickly see economic reality bite
Sep 2013 25

Writing in City A.M., Matthew Sinclair argues Labour’s policy announcements on Corporation Tax and energy prices would be economically damaging for Britain.

ED MILIBAND made two big new pledges in his speech yesterday: lower business rates for small businesses, paid for by higher corporation tax on larger firms; and a freeze in energy prices for 20 months from the date of the next election. Economic reality would quickly bite for any government that tried to introduce either policy.

There is nothing wrong with cutting business rates. Lower rates would be a relief for many – particularly small firms and retailers. They often effectively pay half as much again on top of rent. But higher corporation tax rates for larger firms would not raise government revenue, except maybe in the short term. Just as firms in competitive markets cannot increase profits by charging higher prices, governments cannot just hike taxes and expect more revenue in return. Higher corporation tax will drive away investment and mean fewer jobs, lower wages and – in short order – less revenue for the state.

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COMMENT: Ed Miliband’s energy announcement may be nonsense, but it could become popular
Sep 2013 24

Writing for The Spectator’s Coffee House, Matthew Sinclair argues that under Labour’s new energy plans, politicians will effectively renationalise the energy sector.

First politicians banned cheap energy. They are creating an affordability crisis by insisting on the rapid deployment of expensive technologies like offshore wind and by imposing endless green taxes. It is simply illegal to generate electricity at an affordable price with a modern, efficient coal and gas power plant, without bearing all of those other costs. Ed Miliband was one of the people who imposed those high costs on consumers, as the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in the last government. Now his plan is to fix the situation by banning expensive energy too.

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Former Hull Council Chief Executive gets a quarter of a million pounds pay-off
Sep 2013 24

Nicola Yates abruptly left her post as Chief Executive of Hull City Council fourteen months ago. The speed of her departure was breathtaking, and for a council that likes to think it is open and transparent, we still don’t know the reason why she was shown the door. There were rumours that the relationship between her and council leader, Steve Brady, had broken down so much that they were not returning each other’s calls and e-mails; but that’s all they were – rumours. At the time the council also refused to reveal how much she received as compensation for loss of office, even though ultimately it would have to be revealed in the 2012-13 accounts. Yesterday, we found out.

Ms Yates was paid £160,000 a year, and received a pay-off of £242,677 - the equivalent of more than eighteen months salary. It is hardly surprising the council were so secretive at the time. Not that this is an excuse. Council taxpayers in Hull have a right to know how their money is spent. Just because revealing the size of a pay-off may be politically embarrassing doesn’t mean they shouldn’t find out immediately rather than fourteen months down the line. Continue Reading

Is Ceredigion Council helping to create a property bubble?
Sep 2013 23

Houses prices in Ceredigion have seen huge monthly increases, in  fact the area was ranked in the top ten for August’s increases nationally. Potential buyers in Ceredigion faced a rise only 0.2% smaller than those in London for the same period.  Ceredigion Council hasn’t missed out on an opportunity though to bolster its bureaucratic army, and has appointed Sian Davies to the new post of Rural Housing Enabler. Continue Reading

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