Archive for March, 2011


Boundary review of paliamentary seats

by Simon Preston on Tuesday, 08 March 2011 at 08:43

On Friday last week, the boundary commissions for England, Wales Scotland and Northern Ireland, each announced the start of the process of reviewing the boundaries of the Parliamentary constituencies on which we will (probably) fight the next general election.

This review will be conducted in line with the recent Parliamentary voting and constituencies bill, and is the Tories’ reward for agreeing to a referendum on AV.

PREVIOUS  PROCEDURE

Since 1944, independent Parliamentary boundary commissions have conducted periodic reviews of the boundaries of Parliamentary constituencies. The review launched on Friday is the sixth. Each country in the UK has its own boundary commission, which submits a report directly to Parliament, the reviews happening roughly every 10 years and coming into effect at the election after they have been accepted.

The boundary commission would publish provisional recommendations for boundaries, usually on a county or London borough basis. These would be open to public comment and, usually a public enquiry, before the boundary commission published its final proposals. Currently, the boundary commission is required to come up with seats that are roughly equal in electorates (around 68,715 in England ) but is also required to take a number of other factors into account , for example:

  • local government boundaries ;
  • geography
  • community ties

NEW PROCEDURE

The new legislation cuts the number of seats from 650 to 600 with an average electorate of 76,641.2

The maximum deviation, with a couple of exceptions, is 5%, giving a minimum size for a Parliamentary constituency of 72,810 and a maximum size of 80,473. The only exceptions to these minimum figures are the non-labour seats of the Isle of Wight, Orkney and Shetland and na h-eileanan (formerly the Western Isles) where, apparently, electoral equality isn’t so important.

The first report has to go to Parliament by October 2013 and thereafter every 5 years, as opposed to the current ten. This would be just over 18 months before a general election – if the Parliament goes full term.

The boundary commissions have announced that the distribution of seats after the review will be as follows:

Scotland

52 Seats (minus seven)

England

502 Seats (minus 31)

Wales

30 Seats (minus ten)

Northern Ireland

16 Seats (minus two)

The boundary commission for England has said that it will publish proposals for new boundaries on a regional basis with seats allocated as follows:

Eastern

56 Seats, minus 2

East Midlands

46 seats, minus 2

London

68 seats, minus 5

North East

26 Seats, minus 3

North West

68 Seats, minus 7

South East

83 Seats, minus 1

South West

53 seats, minus 2

West Midlands

54 seats, minus 5

Yorks/Humber

50 seats, minus 4

The boundary commission seems strongly committed to using electoral wards as the basic building blocks for its proposals and will only divide wards where it is otherwise impossible to meet the electoral quota.

They aim to publish their provisional recommendations in the autumn and, in a surprise move will “ be visiting areas across all of England to hear views on the re-drawn boundaries”. Everyone will have a chance to see and comment on the proposals.

SO, WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

 – 50 seats disappear – mainly in strong Labour areas.

– Greater frequency of boundary reviews will lead to boundaries changing at every election – meaning greater instability for electors and parties.

– The abolition of public enquiries is a major blow to local democracy – provisional recommendations were often changed as a result of enquiries. It will be interesting to see what the boundary commission “visits” amount to.

– Because recommendations are based on electorates rather than the population of a seat, MPs in inner city seats represent many more people because of higher levels of under-registration in these areas. Though these people may not be on the register they still have problems, giving Labour MPs significantly higher work-loads.

– The Conservatives make much of how we have a far larger legislature than comparable democracies, ignoring two facts:

a) in both Europe and the USA there are a significantly larger number of legislators at a local level: US States, French Mayors;

b) the size of the House of Commons has risen by 4% since the war, the electorate by 40%.

– Crucially for Labour – uncertainty about boundaries makes it difficult for the party to pick candidates in the key marginal seats we need to win and encourages those who would dispense with the members selecting their own candidates.

THE WAY FORWARD

Let’s be clear, these proposals won’t help Labour and will probably lead to a net loss of seats. We can, however, minimise the damage. This was very much the position with the fourth review in the early/mid 1990s – the last time we were in opposition.

The Tories arrogantly  took it for granted that they would gain 20 seats. Instead, Labour got organised, worked hard at drawing up proposals which united the party , public and our elected representatives and then argued for them in a disciplined fashion. The leadership took the process very seriously and the result was that Labour managed to restrict Tory gains to a handful and make them look amateurish in the process.

The key factor in the process was that the party was determined to win and set about doing so in an organised fashion. That’s the spirit we need to re-capture

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Like many Council’s Redditch has its own list of non jobs the full employee titles and salaries can be found here http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/47220/response/120488/attach/html/7/20101013%20Dept%20response%20JOBS%20SCP%20SAL.xls.html

But i thought i would highlight a few so you get the idea of where your cash is going

Climate Change Manager MO0239 £32800

  • Job Evaluation Project Officer SO0234 £28636
  •  
    Cp/greenspace Development Man MO0137 £ 30851
  • Health & Safety Manager MO0241 £ 34549
  • INCOME MAXIMISATION OFFICER SC0627 £22958
  • Fire Risk Officer SO0234 £28636
  • Greenspace & Biodiversity Offi SC0628 £ 23708
  • MEP’s allowed boob jobs, health spas and Viagra – under £3m scheme paid for by the TAXPAYER
    by Simon Preston on Sunday, 06 March 2011
    Abuse: Tory MP Philip Davies said: ‘It is grotesquely outrageous’

    Nearly £3 million of taxpayers’ money will be frittered away on Viagra sex pills and other ‘cosmetic’ treatments to MEPs and their families.

    Leaked documents have revealed that the Brussels gravy train allows Eurocrats to claim for breast reductions, anti-ageing products and slimming treatments.

    Taxpayers are also expected to fund at least two-thirds of the cost of trips to health spas under the lax medical expenses regime. In some cases MEPs can claim back the entire costs of treatment.

    The details were revealed in a leaked copy of the Practical Guide to the Reimbursement of Medical Expenses.

    The £2.9m budget for Euro MPs’ medical expenses also covers alternative therapies and new age treatments, including lymphatic drainage – a form of massage that advocates claim helps the body eliminate toxins.

    The husbands and sons of female MEPs can also claim for private treatment to resolve problems with impotence. Viagra is available if the condition is the result of a serious illness. 

    Critics condemned the cost of the scheme at a time of financial austerity, which have risen by a staggering 36 per cent since last year, when the programme cost £2.2m.

    The lavish system of perks available for MEPs is even more generous than the controversial system of payments for MPs in Westminster.

    While British MPs have successfully claimed the cost of some medical procedures under their expenses regime, they do not have a dedicated private health scheme.

    It is also better than that available to most ordinary voters. While most NHS Trusts in the UK will only fund three cycles of IVF treatment MEPs are entitled to five.

    Tory MP Philip Davies said: ‘You couldn’t make it up. It is grotesquely outrageous. How on earth they think this can be justified just beggars belief.

    ‘It sums up the grotesque waste of money that is the European Union. It is a prime example of how Brussels wastes our money on a daily basis. It’s about time we drew it to an end.’

    Tory MP Douglas Carswell said: ‘Until we have an in-out referendum Europe is going to keep on costing us more in ever higher perks for MEPs and Eurocrats.

    ‘We managed to end the extreme nonsense of the expenses system in Westminster because we were able to sack the MPs concerned. Until we get the chance to sack the Eucroracts, Brussels is going to keep taking us to the cleaners.’ 

    Brussels: The lavish system of perks available for MEPs is even more generous than the controversial system of payments for MPs in Westminster

    Nikki Sinclaire, independent MEP for the West Midlands, said: ‘This is a huge amount of money and every penny comes from the taxpayer.

    ‘Most families are tightening their belts, and many people are concerned for their financial futures. But the allowances in Brussels keep going up and up. It’s yet more taxpayers’ money you don’t hear about.

    ‘The system in Europe remains ripe for abuse and that needs to go.’

    The European Parliament has defended the rise in costs by arguing that MEPs spend most of their week working outside their home country and therefore cannot benefit from their domestic health services.

    Read more:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1363557/Eurocrats-allowed-boob-jobs-health-spas-Viagra–3m-scheme-paid-TAXPAYER.html#ixzz1FrGrV

    Meanwhie in Westminster MP’s

    • Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper face probe after claiming more than £14,000 travel expenses for their children and Bill Wiggin faces an anti sleeze probe in to invoices submitted for “room hire”

     

    LEDBURY’S MP Bill Wiggin could be facing another investigation by the government sleaze watchdog after a complaint that he claimed £5,000 of taxpayers’ cash for his local Tory club.Mr Wiggin is facing questions over an invoice that claimed …he paid the money to the North Herefordshire Conservative Association for “room hire” between April 2006 – March 2007.Constituent Jim Miller, from Leominster, is demanding an inquiry and has referred the case to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner John Lyon.

    The Conservative Association says the sum paid covered other parliamentary services, as its secretary was acting as Mr Wiggin’s constituency secretary during that time.

    “This meant that she dealt with parliamentary business as well as surgeries,” it said in a statement. “Thus the invoice of £5,000 authorised and paid by the Parliamentary Fees Office in May 2007 covered the whole cost to the Association of parliamentary business as well as organising surgeries for Mr Wiggin during that 12 months. This covered the secretary’s time, telephone, postage, printing and related costs not just room hire for the various venues.

    “Surgeries took place approximately every fortnight in various venues around the constituency which included Tenbury Wells, Ledbury, Bromyard, Kington and villages as well as Leominster itself.”

    However Mr Miller said: “As far as I am concerned that statement only makes things worse. To me it is an admission of fraud. He said the £5,000 was for room hire and now he is saying it was for something else altogether.”

    Mr Miller says that he will be reporting the matter to the police at 3pm today if Mr Wiggin remains MP.

    It is not the first time Mr Wiggins’ expense claims have been called into question. He was forced to repay more than £4,000 last October after the watchdog found he claimed expenses he had not incurred.

    That inquiry found Mr Wiggin had overclaimed £285 for council tax during the financial year 2005-6 and claimed £4,009 from Parliamentary costs which he did not actually incur between 2004 and 2006.

    The Standards and Privileges Committee branded Mr Wiggin’s approach to claiming expenses as “chaotic”.

    The MP was also ordered to apologise to the House of Commons for his “muddled failure” to designate his main home correctly for 23 consecutive months.

    Mr Wiggin failed to respond to emails and phone calls from the Ledbury Reporter.

    Since i wrote this Jim Miller  (now an elected  Councillor for Leominster Town Council)  has started a bloghttp://anexpensesaccount.blogspot.com/   that will keep you updated on events of Bill Wiggin MP.http://anexpensesaccount.blogspot.com/ Is a complete guide of events as they happen including the Police Harassment Bill Wiggin has used to stop Jim Miller telling the truth.

     

    Having read an article in the Redditch Standard claiming it would cost only £60,000 and would save Redditch Borough Council £14,000.

     I  took a closer look at the proposals and found that the real cost would be well over a million pounds and would take the Council over 1oo years before they would start to save anything.

    The Council have also employed consultant’s for the work.

    A Council officer has also  been  employed on a salary of over £32,000 per year.

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