“White Elephant” Scheme Comes Under Fire in Bristol
Aug 2014 28

Bristol residents are angry at a £200m “white elephant” bus scheme that won narrow approval at a council meeting. Residents gathered from the north of the city to protest outside Bristol City Hall holding white elephant placards to protest at the huge, largely unwanted expenditure of taxpayers’ money. The scheme, which involves building a bridge cutting into much-loved Stoke Park, is profoundly unpopular locally.

“We have got to take this city into the 21st century,” said a local transport campaigner at a packed Council meeting. But during the decision-making session, protestors felt the real reason for Bristol City Council wanting to proceed with the expensive project was revealed. If they didn’t approve the application, the route would lose its allocation of Government – taxpayer – funding. The protesters believe this is frequently used as an excuse for bouncing councillors into making unpopular decisions because they just can’t resist any opportunity to spend lots of our money. Continue Reading

“Unusual” decisions at Salford Council under the spotlight
Aug 2014 27

This morning saw Salford Council’s Audit Committee meet to discuss the findings of an internal report into the exact circumstances of a £164,000 taxpayer-funded “bailout” paid to the local rugby league club, Salford Red Devils, in 2013.

Journalists at the Manchester Evening News as well as other local writers have covered this story with aplomb. In particular, they have revealed that the council official – Martin Vickers – who signed off the bailout very soon left after the decision, taking up a position months later at the very same Salford Red Devils rugby club.

It appears from newspaper reports that not only was the bailout agreed without proper record-keeping, but that it was agreed by Mr. Vickers, the Mayor Ian Stewart and his deputy David Lancaster without the knowledge of Council Chief Executive Barbara Spicer, against Council procedure.

Even more remarkably, reports go on to say that Mr. Vickers soon after requested voluntary redundancy and, again without the Chief Executive’s knowledge, three days later a £79,000 “golden goodbye” was paid. This package, stunningly, included a Volkswagen Golf and an iPad.

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The tax on holidays
Aug 2014 22
NEW RESEARCH: The taxman chases you all the way to the departure gate
Aug 2014 22
New research from the TaxPayers’ Alliance shows that punishingly high taxes on holiday items, insurance and flights have forced up the cost of a holiday abroad by £50 to every holidaymaker in Britain.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance has collated the cost of VAT on “holiday goods” such as sun tan lotion and a hair cut, the Insurance Premium Tax, and Air Passenger Duty – the highest tax on flying anywhere in the world. Due to increases in VAT and Air Passenger Duty,the overall figure has increased from our 2008 estimate of nearly £1.5 billion to nearly £1.9 billion this year.

At the extreme end, a family of four travelling to Florida this summer will have faced an average tax bill of £364 on their flights and holiday purchases in the UK, an increase of £164 since 2008. A family of six travelling to Spain will have been hit by an average tax bill of £195 just for going on holiday.

Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

“It’s wrong that a week in the sun comes with such a huge tax bill, as the taxman chases holidaymakers all the way to the departure gate. These taxes are not only too high but hit those on lower incomes the hardest, making it more difficult for hard-working people to get away for a well-deserved break.

“Too many of the taxes we pay are hidden. Who knew that there is a tax on travel insurance?

“These stealth taxes are unfair and must be abolished. It’s time for the Chancellor to give families a break.”

War on Waste hits Southend-on-Sea
Aug 2014 21

TPA activists visited Southend-on-Sea yesterday as part of our national War on Waste campaign. Having set up camp in the High Street, our team handed out leaflets and books to local residents, finding out from some of them what the real problems were in this sunny part of Essex.

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