Stockton Council’s expensive property grab
Jul 2014 24

Stockton Borough Council has been buying up large, high end houses at above market rates, with seemingly little concern for getting good value for taxpayers’ money. The Council is working with a private contractor, Spark of Genius, with the aim of bringing 20 looked after children back into the community, and claim this will save between £400,000 and £500,000 a year. Though certainly a laudable aim, there have been a number of questions raised about how they are actually going about it. Continue Reading

Bristol’s unwanted parking zones come under attack
Jul 2014 23

Local residents and traders opposed to elected Bristol Mayor George Ferguson’s costly Residents’ Parking Zones (RPZ) gathered outside City Hall on College Green—and they brought along a WW2 Sherman tank to make their point!

On the same day, Bristol City Council debated a petition of ‘No Confidence’ in Mayor Ferguson’s efforts to severely restrict the use of cars in Bristol with his parking zones.

“RPZ are forcing businesses to close already from lack of customers, companies to relocate because they are unable to get their staff into work and communities are isolated from lack of visitors,” says campaigner Robert Duxbury, Chair of Ashley Ward RPZ action group. “Even Blue Badge holders are being prevented from parking close to their intended destinations because Bristol’s RPZ prohibits their free unrestricted use of resident only parking bays.”

“Mayor Ferguson has said “I’m not going to react to any demonstration – I will react to normal discussion.” But when a normal discussion involving a Cross Party Working Group of Councillors, with input from residents and traders, submitted their recommendations on RPZ he completely ignored them,” says Duxbury.

The ‘No Confidence’ petition has attracted over 5,000 signatures and is the sixth most popular out of 428 petitions submitted to Bristol City Council’s website. In the last year, two anti-RPZ petitions gathered more than 11,000 signatures and hundreds of residents have demonstrated on Bristol streets. Mayor Ferguson has ignored them all.

“That’s the problem,” said one protestor outside City Hall, “the Mayor has too much power and can just dismiss our petitions without properly considering them—the councillors around him seem toothless.”

As I discovered in Islington, when I contested that council’s Controlled Parking Zones, residents’ parking schemes can initially seem appealing but end up being a tax on visiting family and friends and discourage passers-by from popping into local shopping streets, with a subsequent loss in trade for independent shops and restaurants. Of course, councils love the extra revenue from parking permits and fines, but is it really any good for the community?

Could a Mansion Tax make our housing markets even more dysfunctional?
Jul 2014 15

In today’s Daily Telegraph Jeremy Warner makes two very interesting points on the UK’s housing market dysfunctions and some commentators’ hopes that a Mansion Tax will do anything to fix them:

Britain already has the highest property taxes in the OECD (see chart), mostly in the form of council tax. Some claim a higher purpose to property taxes than merely soaking the supposed rich – that of putting a lid on property prices. If that’s the hope, then it is equally misplaced, for such taxes plainly haven’t done much good so far.

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Our War on Waste roadshow closes after 9 days, 29 stops, and over 1,300 miles
Jul 2014 15

We started out 11 days ago, heading north from London, stopping off in Harlow, Ipswich, and Peterborough on our first day, and continuing up through Leicester, Nottingham, Sheffield, Doncaster, Hull, York, Yarm near Stockton and Newcastle – all in just three days!

Yarm (154)

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Victory for Bath’s Independent Shops
Jul 2014 11

With over 1,400 local business people and residents signing a petition calling on Bath & North East Somerset (B&NES) Council to cut parking charges, the lead petitioners finally got their time before a full council meeting in Bath’s Guildhall — and the result they wanted.

As co-lead petitioner, South West TaxPayers’ Alliance grassroots co-ordinator Tim Newark presented the Independent Shops of Bath petition against the recent rise in parking fees in central Bath. Continue Reading

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