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Steve Parish

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Everything posted by Steve Parish

  1. The latest report to Parliament on Referendums is at www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN05682.pdf I like this quote: Professors George Jones and John Stewart wrote as follows to the Local Government Chronicle: The local budget is the result of a process of balancing expenditure priorities, which cannot be expressed in a simple yes/no question. It damages representative democracy since it destroys the whole point of local elections, if elected councillors see their judgments based on their electoral promises overturned in a referendum called by a minister. If we could have a referendum where we individualised the effects of a higher Council tax - e.g. you get more home help, you pay lower car park charges, you keep Sunday evening bus services, you get weekl bin collections - then it's easier to quantify the effects, but it's not like that. As Russ says, no referendum on increasing VAT was there?
  2. Westminster has a bigger population than Warrington. You should get out more - or google before sounding off.
  3. £827.12 - Band E Council Tax in Westminster Council area http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/tax/10988691/Council-tax-how-does-your-bill-compare.html
  4. I do like to keep you abreast of all the transport expenditure in London. Here's the latest madcap scheme. http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/dec/19/london-garden-bridge-thames-playground-private-fantasies
  5. It will need lime mortar. https://www.waterways.org.uk/wrg/volunteer/building_bridges/repointing_a_canal_bridge There is a road sign (official) in Shropshire off the A442 to a ferry over the Severn that says "Pedestrian Ferry only - SatNav error"
  6. The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 allows (without planning consent) "The erection, construction, maintenance, improvement or alteration of a gate, fence, wall or other means of enclosure" (up to 2m, or 1m "adjacent to a highway"). In Selby, the local authority took enforcement action, based on harm to rural amenity, against the use of bunds up to 2 metres high and made of compressed tyre casings to enclose agricultural fields traditionally bounded by hedgerows. However, on appeal, despite the unconventional materials used, these bales were considered to be a means of enclosure falling within Part 2 permitted development and no action could be taken. Selby council didn't take the inspector to judicial review (would you want us to run a six-figure bill to test it in the courts?) so the government did a consultation on possible changes (to a whole host of things in the GPDO), one of which was, "to limit the types of the materials used for ‘means of enclosure’ to ‘conventional/traditional materials’...; interpretation should specifically exclude waste and certain types of materials such as old car tyres and define what conventional/traditional excludes or includes". I've not yet discovered (11 years later) why the change was not made. Frankly it's a legal nonsense. I don't want to give Mr Moran any ideas, but: https://bobmang.wordpress.com/2011/05/25/cycling-day-5-of-yak-dung-walls-yak-bling-and-interesting-people/
  7. Apparently the Government consulted in 2003 on whether the general permitted right to erect a fence below 1m (next to a highway) should be amended to exclude enclosures made of waste material - such as used tyres. No amendments were made (no idea why not) so it's legal (I suppose the courts could still say it isn't but we'd be gambling with the possible costs in finding out). He's appealing against the costs order, which should add to his costs....
  8. Now of course if we had the transport funding London gets... http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-30546501 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/11255083/Bounce-to-work-on-the-worlds-longest-open-air-trampoline.html
  9. The National Health Service is in crisis. Why? Because people are living so long. Why are we all living so long? Because of the National Health Service.
  10. Car parking deficit down to £108,000 this year. Break-even the aim.
  11. The law may sometimes be an ass but I have rather better hopes of the judiciary.
  12. Simple, really. Taking money from the poor to give to the rich is bad for the economy. Everything the poor get goes into the economy, while the rich hoard it (or buy luxury goods from overseas, or spend it overseas). Extracts from "The Culture of Contentment", John Kenneth Galbraith, First Published 1992 ISBN 0-395-57228-2 (after Reaganomics and Thatcher's trust in Milton Friedman's theories) "The long years of high budget deficits when they were not needed made it seemingly impossible to initiate stimulating public expenditures when they were now needed. The celebrated tax reductions for the upper-income brackets and the accompanying economies in welfare distribution had substituted the discretionary spending of the rich for the wholly reliable spending of the poor. A reasonably equitable distribution of income is thought by individuals of liberal disposition to be politically virtuous; in fact, it is economically highly functional."
  13. Sounds like standard procedure with someone who is unwilling to cut the hedge unless forced to,with the Council trying to avoid taking legal action.... https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/9411/highhedgescomplaining.pdf When we do take legal action, it's out of our control. The tyre wall court case was not heard last week because of another case which overran - adjourned until 6th February.
  14. Gas main repairs northbound after the Tesco lights, all week. Inside lane closed. From Orford Lane, inside lane is only for Tesco itself. As the two-lane section resumes after the old St Ann's (now the climbing centre) it may not be that bad if people get in the right lane (or the left lane!) as appropriate.
  15. Crown Court hearing on 21st November (his appeal against the magistrates' decision to uphold the notice to remove it).
  16. http://www.localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=16122%3Adistrict-council-gives-housing-association-p15m-loan-to-boost-building&catid=62%3Aprojects-articles&Itemid=30 http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/Plymouth-housing-boom-planned-50million-cash/story-20016973-detail/story.html http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/lending-a-hand/6527513.article Page 8 col 2: http://www.local.gov.uk/documents/10180/5854661/L14-74_09.pdf/7ead0af5-3c45-43ef-af58-7b41930963d6
  17. If the housing associations default, then like any mortgagor we take the asset (though more likely another housing association would step in and take over over the debt). Even just the £90m to Helena at a net interest rate of 1.25% would bring in over a million pounds (though we only lend as the houses are being built, it's not all up front). I think the eventual expectation is over £3m a year, which will help stave off more cuts. As I can't distinguish between genuine concern and mischief-making, I'm not spending any more time on this. Feel free to write in to the Council and ask.
  18. This is the problem; even in this there's misrepresentation - I did not threaten to sue (as I wasn't defamed) but said I would not contribute further (to the Forum at all) unless the defamatory posts alleging corruption (with no evidence whatsoever) were removed. As they have been, I will simply iterate the basics: the council borrows from the Public Works Loan Board, and lends at a higher interest rate to housing associations to build houses (not all in Warrington). There's "due dilgence" done and risk assessments, but "commercial privilege" (see the links below) means not all the details are revealed (I'll check whether there's anything more now in the public domain). Houses are built, that's good for the economy, we get a few million pounds a year in net interest, a government minister says what a good idea, and the external auditors are OK with it. It may not be entirely risk-free, but neither is leaving money in a bank.... http://www.socialhousing.co.uk/warrington-council-lends-90m-to-helena/7001973.article http://www.room151.co.uk/funding/warrington-lends-90m-of-pwlb-borrowing-to-housing-association/ The Scottish Government has actually issued guidance to councils on how to do it http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0045/00451078.pdf and Edinburgh has an application form online for landlords to apply! http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/info/20059/area_regeneration/358/loans_for_rsls_to_build_homes
  19. What, like David Mowat said about the funds recently secured toward various local improvements schemes, and a new bridge across the Mersey from Chester Road avoiding Bridge Foot? "I would like to congratulate the councillors and officers who worked with me to lobby for this money which I hope will help our town continue to grow and prosper." I'm still trying to get my head round who's fixing the Mersey Gateway tolls - the government is underwriting any shortfall from tolls toward Halton BC's share of the costs but not sure whether Halton still gets to decide the toll prices.
  20. Do you want us to sabotage the bridge?
  21. It's more complicated than that. Rather like firms paying low wages with a taxpayer subsidy (e.g/ by tax credits) a "commercial" bus company can play the system and boost profits. From a Parliamentary report in 2006: "We had evidence that, under the current system, operators are abandoning unprofitable routes which are nevertheless used and are necessary links for communities to work, social and leisure facilities. This forces local authorities to take the routes over and to issue a tender for their operation. Often, an operator who cannot make a commercial success of such a route will apply for the subsidised, tendered route. This practice can be particularly frustrating for a local authority when routes are being abandoned when they are simply less profitable, rather than unprofitable. Services are withdrawn in order to maximise profits for the operator by shrinking their network and concentrating on the highest revenue-raising routes, at the expense of the travelling public."
  22. The original route planned was the "direct line" (straight from Sankey Junction to Padgate Junction) with a station at Winwick Road but they realised it was too far out of the town centre so diverted the line to swing south to the town centre with a station (Central), opened in 1873. (Possibly also to get to the town centre works like Rylands) Then (mainly for freight that didn't need to call at Warrington) the "avoiding line" (the original straight route) opened on 13th August 1883, and closed March 1969. http://www.8dassociation.btck.co.uk/SignalBoxes/TheCheshireLinesCommittee Map and pics of bridges (Lovely Lane/Folly Lane) and (?) Jockey Bridge (Winwick Road) at http://dartslf.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=675
  23. Cheap shot? Out of nowhere the Chamber of Commerce decries "the anti-motorist theme of the thinking and actions of highway planners and presumably councillors". We're pro walking, we're pro cycling, we're pro public transport, and we're not going to rip up the town to build new roads. Is the best the Chamber can do to help is say we've got too many road signs? There's a new set of lights on the A49 and I'm sure the businesses on Alban Park are highly delighted (avoiding the 2-hour delays to get out of there when the M6 is closed). Of course street furniture "clutter" is an issue but some would say more signs would help - I could cite plenty of towns where a stranger gets to a junction and wonders where the sign is for the next bit of the journey. The survey was a limited sample of businesses (and the committee recognised its statistical limitations). There were a couple of questions about the Chamber of Commerce on attracting inward investment and supporting local business - more disagreed that the Chamber plays a valuable role than agreed, but a third were ambivalent (3 on a 1-5 scale) or a third were "don't know". Admittedly there was no direct equivalent question about perceptions of the Council but only a couple of respondents cited "lack of support from the Council" as a disadvantage to being in Warrington. Traffic congestion, and lack of parking, and other transport issues were disadvantages - but top advantage for being in Warrington was "access to tranport links". Three times as many sought business advice from the Council as from the Chamber of Commerce but both were some way behind accountants, government websites, other business associates, banks, colleges and Job Centre Plus... I'll probably not respond further.
  24. I'm sure Cllr Axcell knows the funding for this is capital from the Local Transport allocations so couldn't be spent on revenue stuff like potholes and grass-cutting and recycling centres. It's hard enough explaining capital v. revenue to electors without councillors mixing it up, by ignorance or design. And Cllr Axcell was on the scrutiny committee that recommended the roll-out of 20mph limits on all residential roads. No doubt Rod King of 20s Plenty would have wanted the feeder roads included, which would have avoided the costs of signing each cul-de-sac, but councillors didn't want that. I don't know about political correctness; political opportunism maybe. As to the original post, I wonder if this is to do with businesses’ indifferent perception of the Chamber of Commerce, revealed in a business survey, that led the Supporting the Local Economy Policy Committee to "acknowledge the findings of the Business Survey 2013 and propose that Warrington & Co establish a new business support organisation for Warrington".
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