£30 to change a council light bulb
Jun 2013 06

How much does it cost to change a light bulb in a public toilet in Devon? Apparently, £30 is the answer. A report on cost-cutting by North Devon Council has revealed that 69 bulbs were replaced last year at a total cost of £2070. This year, 14 bulbs were changed at a cost of £420.

The lower number is being heralded as a success as the toilet bulbs are being steadily replaced by longer-lasting LED lights. When asked to explain the cost of changing light bulbs, the council’s executive member for the environment said ‘Putting them in is not the question, it is the purchasing and driving to and fro. You could be travelling 49 miles to replace some of them. North Devon is a very widespread area.’ Continue Reading

Fighting parking charges in Colchester
Jun 2013 05

Shopkeepers in Colchester are fed up with rising taxes and council parking charges—but they are doing something about it themselves by offering to pay for shoppers’ parking fees!

Crouch Street in Colchester is well known for its many small independent shops and is clearly thriving despite the economic downturn of the last few years, but even here local retailers have been feeling the pinch. I visited two independent local shops there to find out what they thought could be done to make life less difficult for their businesses. One of their main complaints was that local council car parking is too expensive. An employee at Ambiance on Crouch Street told me that ‘Colchester’s high street is being killed by the high price of car parking.’ Continue Reading

The Government’s terrible recall bill must be rejected
Jun 2013 05

The Coalition has waded into the long grass this week to retrieve the recall proposals it kicked there after it came to power. However, Nick Clegg’s now revived proposals aren’t a proper right of recall and he knows it. In response to Zac Goldsmith (someone who knows what real recall is and has fought valiantly to promote it) the Deputy Prime Minister called the Government’s proposed scheme a “back stop reassurance”. But we deserve and require more than a back stop. Continue Reading

Patrick Mercer case raises need for voters to have proper recall mechanism
May 2013 31

Commenting on the decision by Patrick Mercer MP to resign the Conservative whip today, Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

“MPs must be absolutely transparent about declaring all outside income and obey the appropriate Commons rules.  Any failure to do so is a very serious matter. “Details of the precise allegations against Mr Mercer are yet to emerge, but Newark residents will be intrigued as to why their MP has resigned from his party but not from Parliament. “Mr Mercer’s constituents should have the right to hold him to account for his actions if they feel he has let them down, but they cannot do so because the Government has failed to introduce the recall mechanism it promised in the Coalition Agreement. “Without a proper right of recall, MPs remain able to sit out a full five-year term, regardless of their conduct.

Click here to read We need a proper recall system, not a Westminster stitch-up 


Foodbanks on the rise: benefits aren’t always the answer
May 2013 31

Some of this yesterday’s papers were difficult to read. “Hungry Britain” screamed the Independent in its front page splash. Page two of the Guardian declared that “Welfare cuts have caused hunger and destitution”. Both articles are drawn from a new report Walking the Breadline by Church Action on Poverty and Oxfam. It examines the rise in foodbanks and food poverty in the UK and attributes much of this to changes in the welfare system The number of families turning to foodbanks is shocking and should act as wake up call to everyone,but is the rise in the use of food banks really a simple result of “the cuts”? Continue Reading

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