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5 Myths about the UK economy – Myth 1

With acknowledgement to Stephen Tall who is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice we reproduce his analysis of the UK economy over the next 5 days.

The economy is the big issue: it was at the last general election, it has dominated and will dominate this parliament, and it will be the big issue at the 2015 general election. Yet trying to get behind the political rhetoric to discover the economic reality is surprisingly tricky. The purpose of this post is to look at what I see as the top five myths currently being perpetuated about the economy, and to explain why I think our current debate is misleading the public and diverting us from finding proper answers.

Myth 1: UK public spending is reducing

So keen has been the Coalition and Labour (for their own different reasons) to talk up the extent of the Government’s spending cuts that the reality has been forgotten. Public spending is going up year-on-year under the Coalition, rising from £690bn in 2010-11 to £744bn (+8%) by 2014-15. If we allow for inflation, there will be a modest reduction: from £690bn to £668bn (-3%) by 2014-15.
That figure of £668bn public spending in the final year of this parliament will be higher than in every single year of the last Labour Government’s 13 years in office, bar its final one. Indeed, Coalition spending in 2014-15 would be higher even than that final Labour year (2009-10) if it were not for the increased cost in servicing the national debt.

(Graph from Burning our Money blog; data from Tullett Prebon economic and fiscal database.)

Vulnerable people in York

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The Council is to consider next week a report on the number of cases of abuse of vulnerable people in the City.

The highest number of alerts and referrals continue to be received regarding people over 85. Of the 690 alerts 242 (35%) concerned people over 85.

The number of alerts and referrals continues to grow within the City, but with lower referrals than the England average. Family members are making increasing numbers of safeguarding referrals.

The Council continues to receive relatively low numbers of alerts from the wider community including education, training, workplace, friends and neighbours. No referrals have been received again this year in respect of people with substance misuse related needs, and this is now subject to joint consideration with the Council’s Drug and Alcohol commissioners.

A full copy of the report can be found here:

Stadium and shops plan given green light

York Liberal Democrats have welcomed the news that the decision to approve a new Community Stadium at Monks Cross will not be called-in by central government.

The 6,000-seat stadium for York City FC and York City Knights, as well as new John Lewis and Marks & Spencer stores, will now be built after Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles ruled that City of York Council’s decision to approve the scheme should stand. The stadium is expected to be ready for the 2014/15 football and rugby league seasons.

Carol Runciman, Liberal Democrat Group Leader on City of York Council, commented:

“The Liberal Democrat Group is very pleased that the scheme has not been called in and the decision of local representatives will stand. The development will significantly contribute to the economic development of York. It will bring much-needed jobs to the City and offer local residents and sport clubs improved facilities and choice We now need to move forward with the application and ensure that developers work closely with local residents to make certain that the new development works for everyone and concerns such as traffic are properly resolved.”

Residents cuts hate list

Residents in the Westfield and Dringhouses wards have given their views on recent cuts in public service standards.

They gave their views in response to a “Focus” survey.

The top 10 least popular cuts (least popular first) are:

1. Stopping, or charging for, green waste wheelie bins emptying – 97% opposed

2. Reduction in highways maintenance budget 94%

3. Reductions in drainage gulley cleansing frequencies 93%

4. Reduction in snow and ice clearing budget 84%

5. Recent increase in Council Tax level 82%

6. Reduction in Ward Committee budget 81%

6. Closure of Beckfield Lane recycling centre 81%

8. Stopping Community Ranger security patrols 78%

9. Increased car parking charges 71%

10. Closure of Council’s Acomb Office – 54%

Yorkshire Ambulance Service Complaints

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The Yorkshire Ambulance Service is reporting to the Councils Health Scrutiny committee next week.

Included in the report is a list of complaints received.

• The Emergency Service received 695 complaints/concerns during 2011/12 which equates to 0.1% of the activity for this service.

• The Patient Transport Service (PTS) received 941 concerns/complaints during 2011/12 which equates to 0.1% of the activity for this service.

• There was an increase in the number of complaints/concerns from 2010/11 to 2011/12 of 2.0%.

Essential resurfacing works on the A1079 (Hull Road)

City of York Council is advising residents and commuters that essential resurfacing works will be taking place on the A1079 between Common Road and Holme Lea Farm, Dunnington, this month.

The resurfacing works will be carried out in two phases. The first phase of works is programmed to commence on Friday 22 June and will last for approximately one day, subject to weather conditions, working from 9.30am and 4pm. Continue reading

Planning on line

Despite some occasional glitches, the ability to look at planning applications submitted to local Councils “on line” has been one of the significant improvements introduced over the last 5 years.

Residents are able to set up alerts which tell them about any applications affecting their area.

There have been occasional problems with keeping the York Council web site up to date, but generally it has proved to be a useful facility.

Over 40% of planning applications to City of York Council are now received electronically

In times of economic austerity, it seems strange therefore that the Council continues to produce hard copy of the documentation. In the main these are for the benefit of statutory consultees like Parish Councils. Local “Planning Panels” – essentially Quangos made up of self appointed local experts – are also offered the papers in printed form.

One wonders whether these consultees are really an essential part of the process any more? Most of York doesn’t have Parish Councils and there is little evidence, that issues in non parished areas, are not given detailed consideration by officials and planning committees.

Most importantly, now that every resident is able to have their say on applications simply by accessing the web, why is an extra consultation step needed at all?

The Council has now been asked to set up a time consuming “scrutiny panel” to look into the need for paper copies of documents. When the Council moves to its new offices in Toft Green very little paper will be stored anyway with correspondence being scanned for storage purposes.

Many will believe that it is time to make the switch to paperless systems.

Residents can find the York Planning “portal” at this web address:

North Yorkshire Police mobile safety (speed) camera routes 20 – 26 June 2012

North Yorkshire Police will be carrying out mobile safety camera enforcement on the following roads between Wednesday 20 and Tuesday 26 June.

•A64 Malton by-pass Malton east and west-bound
•A64 Seamer by-pass Scarborough
•A64 Seamer Road, Scarborough
•A64 Between Whitwell Hill and Barton Hill
•A64 Between Barton-le-Willows and Jinnah
•A64 Between Barton Hill and Whitwell Hill Continue reading

The missing bins

Bins still supposed to be in Westfield. click to enlarge

Residents have been first mystified and then angry about the way in which the Council has used the excitement surrounding the arrival of the Olympic torch as a smokescreen to spirit away over 33% of the City’s litter and poop scoop bins.

You’d have to be a pretty enthusiastic reader of this web site to have had any advanced notice of their removal.

Across the City 349 bins are being removed from residential areas. In addition, others have been removed from the City centre, although there 1 in 10 are being replaced by larger “big belly” models.

A total of 1024 litter and “poop scoop” bins currently remain on our streets. In the Westfield Ward their locations can be found in the list on the right.

We believe that the Council should provide a comprehensive list of retentions and removals on their web site.

The bins have been removed just before the Olympic torch enters the City. The intense on the street activity associated with this event could, of course, mean much more litter generation.

No doubt some Labour Councillors thought that now was a great time to take their controvertial action, believing that the Torch publicity would leave little space for protests about yet another assault on street level public service standards.

81% of residents in Foxwood oppose city wide 20 mph speed limit

Early results from our latest Focus survey reveal an overwhelming level of opposition to Labours proposed 20 mph speed limit.

81% are opposed to the proposal, with 6% in favour and 13% undecided.

A petition is now available on the Council’s web site which can be “signed” by those opposed to a City-wide 20 mph speed limit. 12 residnets ahve so far “signed” this petition.

The new limit was agreed by Labour Cabinet member Dave Merrett at a recent meeting. Initially it is to be rolled out across the west of the city.

The Liberal Democrat Council Group produced a critique of the plans which can be found here