Tag Archives: bbc

Dinosaur found at Westminster

The BBC’s Nicholas Watt seems to have been trawling the bars of the Parliamentary Estate looking for dinosaurs. And he struck gold.

Oh.My.Days.

I have a list of suspects, although that grows exponentially if we’re including Lords.

I have been saying for a while that we should paint in primary colours, that we should say what we really feel and not be too subtle.

Our Press Office stepped up to that plate tonight. Do not read on if you are easily offended.

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Now is not the time for the BBC to be cutting back its political programmes

This week the BBC announced changes to its political programming. When I say changes, I mean cuts. BBC Parliament will just cover Parliament and the devolved assemblies when they are sitting and the UK wide Sunday Politics is axed.

The main changes are outlined here:

A new team giving better digital and social coverage – including podcasts – of politics and parliament for audiences who are increasingly getting their news online, especially on mobiles. In an era of concerns about misinformation and ‘echo chambers’ this is designed to bring trusted impartial political coverage to younger audiences

A new daily political programme –

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Layla Moran: Brexit is a mess and we need a People’s Vote

Ahead of this afternoon’s Lib Dem Commons debate on the People’s Vote, Layla Moran has been on Victoria Derbyshire to talk about what a mess Brexit is turning out to be, how people didn’t really know at the time of the referendum exactly what it was going to mean and how we need a People’s Vote on the deal.

See a clip here.

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The secret world of Whitehall – and other BBC Michael Cockerell gems


British Houses of Parliament
If you’ve missed them when they were originally broadcast, YouTube has a wealth of BBC political documentaries for you to watch at leisure.

I missed Michael Cockerell’s “The Secret World of Whitehall” when it was originally broadcast. All three programmes from the series are on YouTube in full:

Episode 1 – The Real Sir Humphrey – This looks at the role of the Cabinet Secretary, chronicling the historic evolution of the role through its various job holders.

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LISTEN: to Layla Moran on Any Questions: We have a foreign secretary who is not fit for purpose

Layla Moran took a trip to Kent on Friday night to appear on the Any Questions panel.

She had invited local party members to help her practice earlier in the week.

She answered questions on Michel Barnier’s deadline, whether Boris should be sacked (even asking the question had the audience cheering and Layla’s answer was “yes, yes, yes”), the case of the young boy whose image is on a police database after he was reported for sexting and the idea of safe spaces

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Swinson: BBC Gender Gap should be a wake up call

We’ll all have seen those BBC pay figures today. How senior executives must have wept into their prosecco when Chris Evans proved to be such a failure on Top Gear.

On one level, you could be appalled at someone getting paid hundreds of thousands of pounds to read the news, or spout childish banalities on the radio. On the other, you can recognise that if they didn’t pay those rates, nobody we’ve ever heard of would be on the BBC – and as soon as we had heard of them, they’d be off.  Given the general high quality of the …

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We have a winner of our quiz!

Many congratulations to Catherine Crosland, who correctly guessed that the box pictured on the right is used by the BBC to create the sound of money/glasses of drinks being placed on the bar of “The Bull” pub in Ambridge during recordings of The Archers in Birmingham.

Catherine’s prize is the title of “2016 Sound effect guru of the year”.

Well done Catherine!

Posted in The Arts | 1 Comment

Test your knowledge and ingenuity – quick quiz about a national institution

As we’re getting relaxed for the holiday season, here’s a quick quiz about a national institution. It’s not politically related but I suspect it’s on a subject dear to many readers’ hearts.

Look at the wooden box on the right. You can see that it’s nondescript, very battered and held together with insulation tape. It’s 35 years old.

It’s used to create the sounds of what could justifiably be called a “national institution”.

Posted in The Arts | 20 Comments

2 very good reasons to complain to the BBC

BBC - Some rights reserved by Tim LoudonIt’s been a pretty sensational week for the Liberal Democrats. You know, the party that was devastated in last year’s general election and written off for good. Sarah Olney’s win in the Richmond Park by-election showed that there is plenty life in us yet.

Now, there seems to be some weird, perverse rule at the BBC which means that the more newsworthy and relevant the Liberal Democrats are at any moment in time, the less likely they are to be invited on the main political programmes.

On the day we won the Richmond Park by-election, you would have expected us to be represented on Any Questions, wouldn’t you?

Similarly, the sensational result should have merited an interview on Andrew Marr at least. But, no, the by-election was a footnote of the newspaper review.

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+++BREAKING NEWS+++ Time for “slow news”?

BBC1 Newsflash logo from black and white TVThere was a time when news of the death of the King took months to percolate through to all parts of the realm. Some villages heard the news when a random horse rider came through after taking a wrong turning. I like to think that some villagers in some instances didn’t hear about the death of the King until his successor had also died, but perhaps that is fanciful.

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No, Newsnight, it’s not ok to talk about us when we aren’t there to defend ourselves

We had some absolutely cracking press coverage this Conference.

In her speech yesterday, Sal Brinton read out a newspaper editorial which said lots of nice things about us:

This Sunday, one paper’s editorial headline was ‘Lib Dems’ revival is a blow to sorry Labour’,

and it then went on to say:

‘fair play to the Lib Dems.

under Leader Tim Farron the party has risen from the ashes of electoral oblivion to reposition itself as the only effective opposition…

The Lib Dems have not only capitalised on the fallout from the EU Referendum but also the disintegration of the Labour Party…

They are speaking up for ordinary voters on issues that really matter, such as the NHS and education.’

The Observer on Polly Toynbee’s day off?

The Independent?

No, this, my friends, is the Sunday Express!

I’m delighted that Tim is at last getting the recognition that he deserves, and I suspect that phrase ‘the only effective opposition’ might appear in a few leaflets and tabloids over the next few months.

Tim got loads of coverage, from Buzzfeed to the Guardian to the Standard in the run-up to Conference, and there has been positive coverage of his speech yesterday, too. George Eaton in the New Statesman says:

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Pressing questions on the iPlayer tax

The BBC has announced that, from September 1st, the “iPlayer loophole” will be closed and access to the BBC’s iPlayer will require payment of the licence fee. Of course, there was never a loophole; the licence fee is meant to apply only to live television broadcasts.

Of course, the blame cannot be put at the BBC’s feet. The BBC has been forced to make severe budget cuts leading to the scaling back of services that cost relatively little such as Radio 6 and BBC Three – services disproportionately used by people aged 18-34, while at the same time having to shoulder £750 million per year for concessionary licences for over 75s: the biggest cost to the BBC after BBC One. Indeed, TV Licensing emphasises the disproportionate effect on students, who increasingly exclusively use on-demand services.

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LISTEN: Great Lives: Millicent Garrett Fawcett

The BBC has made their programme in the Great Lives series on Millicent Garrett Fawcett available free on iPlayer.

Listen to it here.

Lesley Abdela talks to Matthew Parris on Fawcett’s life and achievements and the way she campaigned, rejecting militancy and building up support for a variety of causes so that it eventually became obvious that women should have the vote.

She talks about how, as a teenager, Millicent, her sister and a friend discussed how they were going to break into male dominated areas like medicine and politics.

There’s also the story of her being robbed and when the thief appeared in court, the property he stole was described as that of Fawcett’s husband.

Matthew Parris was pretty rude to Lesley Abdela, telling her that her name sounded like a council estate named by Ken Livingstone. She dealt with that by saying she’d be very pleased for that to happen.

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Liberal Democrats are being excluded from referendum debate – don’t put up with this

We Liberal Democrats are used to not getting our fair share of media attention. Since last year’s general election, that has got even worse. However, we still aren’t getting anything like the coverage we should have based on our size.

Research carried out by the University of Loughborough during the EU referendum campaign shows that we are only being included in 1% of both press and broadcast media. Mind you, the official opposition doesn’t fare that much better, although that has definitely changed in the last few days.

Coverage by party during EU Ref

 

If you were thinking that there was a gross over-representation of right wing men, the study confirms your instincts.

The debate is highly presidential in character, focussing on key individuals. The top six individuals are all right-of-centre and are all men. Despite concern expressed by left-of-centre and female politicians about media coverage it’s still largely a ‘Tory story’ and a male dominated, ‘blue-on-blue’ tale at that.

So who are the main media performers?

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Ming Campbell talks EU democracy, security, sovereignty in BBC Big Debate

Yesterday, I went to Glasgow to take part in Radio Scotland’s Big Debate as part of the Remain contingent. As they did during the election, the BBC invited a delicately balanced audience.

I almost combusted on the spot when I saw that there was to be an all-male panel. Then I looked at the Leave contingent, all but one of whom were men and only men spoke. The Remain contingent, however, were almost perfectly balanced and it was the women who actually spoke the most during the hour.

It still feels strange to hear Ming Campbell introduced as Lord Campbell of Pittenweem. His partner on the remain side was the very able SNP MEP Alyn Smith. Both of them were very good at making the positive case for the EU and busting a lot of Leave myths. The Leave panellists were Tory Brian Monteith, who lives in France and is a former Conservative MEP. George Laird is from Labour Leave.

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The government’s BBC white paper presents reasonably sensible proposals

The government’s white paper on the BBC (“A BBC for the future: a broadcaster of distinction”) is available to read here. For a white paper, it is attractively presented. It puts forward a range of thoughtful and carefully calibrated proposals for the future.

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Is it the BBC’s fault that Bargain Hunt is so popular?

I have a confession to make. I watch BBC’s antiques competition, Bargain Hunt, three times a week. Perversely, I watch it with the volume turned down, reading the sub-titles (I’m on the treadmill in the gym at the time).

It’s a strange programme, because, as my lifelong auctioneer father often says, in exasperation:

They’re going the wrong way!

What he means is, that prices are lower at auctions than flea markets/boot sales. So, if you buy some things at an auction, you can earn good money on them at a boot sale. But if you go the other way, you are often on a hiding to nothing.

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Tim Farron on BBC Question Time tonight

It’s not often that I can bear to watch Question Time these days. I tend to take the view that my life is too short to cope with the likes of Quentin Letts or Melanie Phillips for an hour late on a Thursday night.

However, there is good reason to watch tonight. Here is the panel:

And here is Tim’s own billing:

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Paddy slams Tory plans for the BBC

The Huffington Post reports what it describes as Paddy’s “blazing rant” about the Tories’ plans for the BBC. To be fair, they have probably never witnessed or been on the receiving end of an actual Paddy rant. This is mild in comparison. However, his comments were certainly robust and there is an audio clip of them on the report.

He told audience members at Radio 4’s ‘Any Questions’ that were the Conservatives still in coalition with his party they would “never have gotten away” with changing the BBC’s governance rules that meant they could appoint the new executive’s Chair and deputy.

Ashdown warned that letting the government oversee the two most important positions would risk compromising on the BBC’s impartiality.

To rapturous applause, he argued: “The BBC is listened to with respect all the way round the world because it is known to be impartial, that’s why it has the standing that it does.

“But the BBC should be run independently and not by the government and I can tell you very straightforwardly if we Lib Dems had stayed in they’d have never got away with putting a board in there, many of whom – slightly less than 50% – are going to be appointed by the government.

“I’m with Norman Fowler, the ex-Chairman of the Conservative party, who said none of them should be appointed by the government – they should all be independent…

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: The Tories should leave the BBC alone. We all have a stake in it

The BBC is the subject of Nick Clegg’s regular Standard column this week. He argues strongly against the sort of intervention outlined in the Government’s White Paper and lists the ways in which the Tories have picked fight with the institutions we hold dear.

In the absence of a clear plan, and unchallenged by any meaningful opposition, they have indulged their own prejudices: picking fights with the BBC, junior doctors, headteachers, refugees, low-paid workers, housing association tenants and each other on Europe. No wonder they bounce from one ill-judged initiative to the next. As each announcement disintegrates on contact with political daylight, they are forced into a series of humiliating U-turns, from enforced academisation of schools to disability benefit cuts. So nursing their own bias against the BBC is a symptom, rather than a cause, of the underlying problem: unchallenged power without a sense of purpose.

The BBC isn’t perfect, he argues, but it’s still one of this country’s proudest achievements:

Some argue that the Tories are simply echoing the views of their backers in the Murdoch press and the Daily Mail. Others say many Conservatives seem to view the BBC as a political enemy, run by a cabal of Guardian-reading academics and latte-sipping metropolitan Lefties with an axe to grind.

I have no idea whether these allegations are true — though the idea that the BBC is biased against the Conservatives is patently ludicrous. In fact, if unwittingly, the BBC provided a huge boost to the Conservatives last year by obsessing about the prospect of a Labour-minority Government, so amplifying the Conservatives’ central campaign message. Given that every political party at some point seems to think the BBC is against them — from red-faced SNP supporters during the Scottish independence referendum to the revolting sexist bilge directed at political editor Laura Kuenssberg by angry Corbynistas last week — it suggests that it is probably in the right place. God knows I have had my own grumbles about Lib-Dem representation, or lack of it, on BBC programmes in the past

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Lord Anthony Lester writes…We will march in the streets for the BBC

Tomorrow the government will publish a white paper setting out its plans for the future of the BBC. At the BAFTA awards on Sunday the director Peter Kosminsky rightly received a standing ovation. He used his acceptance speech to voice his fear that the White Paper will compromise our precious, independent, world-renowned organisation. He cautioned that the BBC was on a path to evisceration that would leave the broadcasting landscape bereft – and the output of television and radio determined solely by what lines the pockets of shareholders.

Those fears are not fanciful. The BBC has retained its reputation for world-class programming over the last decade despite increasingly painful cuts. As Lord Patten pointed out in a major lecture at the Reuter’s institute last week, the BBC’s real income has fallen over the past decade by more than 15%. In the past five years alone BSkyB’s revenues went up by more than 16% and ITV’s increased by 21%.

Being effective as a public services broadcaster depends on having a guaranteed source of revenue. That is and has been the licence fee. It must be owned by the BBC, not by the government. It must not be sliced off to feed commercial rivals. The government has no business raiding it, like when it dumped the cost of free licences for the over 75s on the BBC rather than taxpayers. That undermined morale within the BBC as well as public trust and confidence. The BBC is not an arm of government that sets welfare policy and it would cause public outrage if it were forced to become one. The BBC must stand independent from government, free to call it to account.

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Willie Rennie’s most embarrassing moments – and his favourite films

In London, they have the taxi thing, but in Scotland, the BBC are doing a Leaders’ Lift Challenge. As they travel up the lift in what I presume is their Glasgow HQ, people get on and ask random questions.

Here’s Willie Rennie’s. The answer to “Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?” is very sweet. And we find out about the transgressions in his past. Stealing apples, indeed.

This comes out as a BMG opinion poll had two bits of potential good news. First of all, 51% backed the idea of a penny on tax for education, which is the party’s key policy in this election. On hearing this, Willie said:

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How the Scottish Liberal Democrats are winning this campaign

This morning I headed into Edinburgh at the crack of dawn to take part in a panel on Radio Scotland show Good Morning Scotland.

I got a bit of a shock at the station as there was hardly anywhere to park, which I hadn’t expected for that hour. The reason became clear when I got to the platform and saw lots of people in running gear, heading into town for the Great Edinburgh Run.

I have to say it is much easier to be discussing your election campaign when your leader is on the form of your life and when voters are repeating your campaign messages back to you on the doorsteps and you are winning the campaign with fantastic events involving seals, planes, canoes and happy children in a soft play area. You can listen to what I had to say here from about 1 hour 41 minutes in.

People like the optimism, boldness and fun of our campaign. They like the penny on tax for education, investing from nursery to college. They like the investment in mental health that we’d bring. They like Willie Rennie. He had people in Alloa, not the most ardent Lib Dem stronghold, come up to him yesterday and tell him they were voting for us for the first time. It feels better out there than it has for a long time. I’m not going to make any wild predications, but I think it is reasonable to think that it is possible for us to send a bigger contingent to Holyrood than we currently have. We need to build on the early success of the campaign over the next three weeks.

I wanted to concentrate on us and the good things about our campaign, but if I had had the chance to talk about the others, I’d have taken the SNP to task on their utter timidity. They have been going on about getting more powers for Scotland forever. Now they have them, they are barely using them. It’s like giving them a Ferrari that they won’t ever get out of second gear. 

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Must-see TV series: Inside Obama’s White House

While I was on holiday, BBC 2 sneaked out the first episode of a fantastic series: Inside Obama’s White House. You can currently watch the first three episodes of the series here on BBC iPlayer.

This is a brilliant series produced by Brook Lapping for the BBC. They’ve got some truly sensational behind-the-scenes footage. So, as they tell the story of Obama’s presidency, they are able to show specific video of that event behind-the-scenes – advisers emerging from a crunch meeting or whatever. And they have a remarkable parade of players giving their retrospective view on events: from Rahm Emmanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, to John Kerry, Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner and chief adviser David Axelrod.

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Belinda Brooks-Gordon on Today talking about making sex work safer

Belinda BG at BBCDr Belinda Brooks-Gordon, who led on the development of our policy on sex work, was on the Today programme this morning debating whether managed zones for sex workers are effective. She cited huge amounts of evidence which suggests that they are. The retired police officer was pretty aggressive in the way he made his points and was really patronising to Belinda who has done so much academic research in this field.

The police officer said that we should be looking to eliminate rather than enable sex work. Belinda cited how this makes life much more difficult and dangerous for sex workers with actual examples. The occupant of the blue Police Box would have given a much more sensible answer, I’m sure.

You can listen to the debate here at about 2:31 in.

Belinda referred to a paper she had given at the British Psychological Society about the effects of the then Government’s action to crack down on sex work. You can read that paper by clicking here

You can read a letter signed by Belinda and other academics,arguing against the so-called Nordic Model, which

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Lib Dem peer takes part in World War Three

Kishwer Falkner has taken part in a gripping and chillingly realistic BBC Two TV programme.

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Is there a chance that the new Top Gear will be very entertaining but not (borderline) offensive?

The list of past Top Gear controversies is long. There have been allegations of homophobia and criticism of the mockery of Argentines, Mexicans, Germans and Romanians.

I have great respect for Jeremy Clarkson as a motoring and general writer. But he presents a persona to the public which teeters on the brink of controversy and often falls over the edge.

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Sal Brinton on Question Time tonight – will she confront Farage over UKIP’s awful broadcast?

So much for my early night tonight. I have to get up before the Cool Kids have gone to bed to get a flight to Cardiff to go to Welsh Liberal Democrat Conference. I can’t miss Sal Brinton on Question Time (BBC1, 10:45pm), though. Especially as there may be a bit of an awkward moment for Nigel Farage. He’s on the programme yet again on the day that Tim Farron and Meral Ece have complained to the BBC and Ofcom about UKIPs Party Political Broadcast last night. They say that it incited religious and racial hatred.

I don’t normally go out of my way to watch UKIP broadcasts. Life is just too short. However, I steeled myself to look at this one and, sure enough, my skin was soon crawling. It was basically a brash and ugly attempt to create division and distrust and gives a very false impression of Turkey and its people. It made me feel very uncomfortable. The premise was that Turkey was just about to join the European Union and this was a bad thing. It’s not as if that’s likely to happen any time soon, but they made it sound like it was going to take place next week.

UKIP are using exactly the same tactics as they did in 2013 over Romanians and Bulgarians. It’s truly horrible. I remember people in Eastleigh telling me on the phone that 40 million Romanians and Bulgarians were going to come to Britain – a massive proportion of the populations of those two countries – because UKIP leaflets were full of it. In fact, this time last year, there were 172,000. Those figures estimated that there were 1.9 people here from other European countries. There are 2 million British people elsewhere in the EU. Freedom of movement works both ways.

Tim explained why they had reported the ad to OFCOM:

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They ask tough questions and they’re supposed to

laura kuenssberg

Following Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday and the on air resignation of Shadow Foreign Minister Stephen Doughty, renewed accusations are doing the rounds claiming BBC bias. One of the most shared blogs I’ve seen regarding this accusation uses a now deleted post by Andrew Alexander to illustrate how the Daily Politics was ‘not reporting news, it’s making it’. But this is once again people misunderstanding, and showing contempt for, the role political journalism has in a healthy democracy.

The role of political journalism has been developing and changing for years and it’s only a recent development that we have constant access and cover of government and parliament. What has never changed however is the political establishment’s contempt for the media’s access to their business and the reporting of it. As Nick Robinson described his role back in 2012:

This may sound as if, for me, political journalism is about catching out, tripping up or embarrassing a politician. It is not. It is, however, about exposing publicly what many know to exist privately: tension between colleagues, policy contradictions or a failure to have thought through a policy clearly. The job I did then and to a large extent still do now, is to identify these problems and seek to bring them to light.

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Former BBC Director General: Liberal Democrats secured better settlement for BBC

Former BBC Director General Mark Thompson has told how the Liberal Democrats in coalition government secured a “different and better” settlement for the BBC. Now that the Conservatives are unmoderated, things are not so good for what many feel is the highest quality public service broadcaster in the world.

The Guardian reports:

Giving his his first interview about the BBC since he left in 2012, after eight years at the helm, Thompson said the broadcaster was having to pay for government policy. “It’s welfare … It’s totally inappropriate to use BBC to support social transfer in this country.”

When George Osborne tried to impose the same cost on the BBC during negotiations in 2010, Thompson started writing his resignation letter, along with several BBC Trustees. This July the current director general, Tony Hall, agreed to shoulder the burden in return for relief from other costs.

“In 2015 the political circumstances are very different and it is much tougher for the BBC. In 2010 it was the coalition government and the Liberal Democrats … played a very big part in securing a different and better settlement. That recourse has not been available to the BBC this year.”

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarChristian de Vartavan 22nd Sep - 10:16pm
    A consultation of the people was made in 2016. Who can swear that it is still valid in 2018?
  • User AvatarChristian de Vartavan 22nd Sep - 9:31pm
    ' May must now recall Parliament to explain how she got the country into this terrible mess, what her plan is to get us out...
  • User AvatarJack Graham 22nd Sep - 8:21pm
    @Roland Why have I to convince myself of anything, we voted to leave in 2016, and in less than 200 days we will be leaving....
  • User AvatarJoseph Bourke 22nd Sep - 8:12pm
    Congestion and air pollution is a massive problem across London. When the congestion charge was first introduced it was £5. Traffic reduced by 15% and...
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    I suggest you look at radical proposals that will annoy the Daily Mail, to tackle pollution and congestion. I have just returned from four days...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 22nd Sep - 7:24pm
    @ Michael BG. Since you think Tim should have written a piece pointing out that our policies on jobs, welfare, wages, housing and generally reversing...