Tag Archives: eric pickles

David Laws on Marr: I want to expose how NHS chief was leant on to encourage debate on NHS funding

It’s the second week of David Laws’ coalition revelations serialised in the Mail on Sunday. This week we have him telling us that:

To take them in turn:

You have to wonder why we bought and publicised the £8bn figure, too. It’s all very well for David Laws to tell Andrew Marr today that Norman Lamb was always sceptical about it, but I seem to recalls making a massive thing about how we were the only party who was going to meet the £8bn request in full. If we knew that the figure was nonsense then, why on earth did we not say loudly and lay out the choices that the nation faced in a much more realistic way?

On Marr, David Laws emphasised how the Lib Dems helped IDS veto Treasury requests for further welfare cuts, confirming that Osborne saw it as a cash cow.There are problems with this analysis, though.  Danny Alexander seemed to be hand in glove with Osborne on a lot of this stuff, at one point calling people affected by the Bedroom Tax “bedroom blockers.” Also, a lot of the really awful ideas, from the rape clause to the capping at two children were IDS’s idea.

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In praise of Eric Pickles

We bet you never thought you’d see that title on Liberal Democrat Voice, eh?

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Opinion: The myth of the council war on motorists

Despite being nominally committed to localism, this government, with Eric Pickles as secretary of state, has been unable to resist trying to micromanage councils’ local policies, whether on bin collections, or imminent legislation on car parking enforcement.

Even leaving aside the argument that such things are better decided locally, is there any truth to Pickles’ belief that councils are ‘waging war on the motorist’? In my experience, no. Councillors of all parties and council officers alike are all too aware of people’s frustration about finding parking spaces or receiving parking tickets.

If there has been any kind of war it has come from central government. From the 1990s, when John Gummer was secretary of state, governments reversed their previous policies that had encouraged out of town shopping, while making it unviable to regenerate town centres. Instead they introduced new planning rules to restrict out-of-town development and enhance town centres.

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“Lib Dems veto Pickles’ Council Tax cuts”

From the FT:

One of the government’s main tax-cutting drives has been to encourage councils to keep tax rises to a minimum. Ministers have done this in two ways: firstly, by giving councils a cash incentive to freeze council tax; and secondly, by forcing any council that wants to raise tax by 2 per cent or more to put it to a local referendum.

Of course, any self-respecting council is going to set a rate that’s just below the threshold. Eric Pickles was not chuffed and wanted to lower that threshold to 1.5%.

He did not get his way, thanks to the …

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Has Eric Pickles destroyed the government’s role in communities?

Pickles Hot AirEric is clearly bored out of his mind. He’s been raging around about parking, yellow lines, even about bin collections in Wales – but then he likes to bash the Welsh. In my mind, he is truly the minister of hot air and no substance.

In recent months he has taken meddling in applications for really rather small gypsy and traveller sites. Now he has somewhat imperiously declared that he will call in planning appeals for small renewable energy projects for his own decision (£). When he first came to office, Pickles said he would only use this right occasionally. Now, it seems, such call ins are becoming his hobby.

I can only guess Pickles is doing this because he is bored. He claims he is doing so because he wants:

To give particular scrutiny to planning appeals involving renewable energy developments so that I can consider the extent to which the new practice guidance is meeting the government’s intentions.

Nonsense.

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EU birth certificates myth swallowed whole by the anti-European press

It may be the silly season, but the latest Euromyth to ruffle right-wing feathers takes silliness to a whole new level. The Express, Mail, Sun and Telegraph unanimously announced at the weekend that Brussels wants to remove the royal crest from British birth certificates and replace it with the hated EU flag. The Mail declared Brits would be “stamped with the EU flag from the cradle to the grave” while the Sun led with the rather lame “B-EU-rths ‘n deaths”.

They gave generous space to Eric Pickles, who fumed:

This imposed Euro-law is part of an

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Opinion: Pickles pensions off councillors

The winning Kendal Town CouncillorsSome of you may have heard this brief anecdote before.

Some years ago a civil servant appeared in St Albans attempting to sell some ‘new’ ideas from the Government of the day about local government. He stood up before various district and county councillors in Hertfordshire and announced that ‘in future the Government wanted councillors to represent the people to the town hall rather than the other way round.’

He said it without malice or irony and as a result was not lynched – turning up some years later to dismantle the Audit Commission.

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