Archive | Farcical Regulations

Big Brother Britain goes mobile in Manchester

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Big Brother Britain goes mobile in Manchester

Not satisfied with 4.2m CCTV cameras, speed cameras and ANPR, the Greater Manchester Casualty Reduction Partnership has now introduced (as a pilot) a Smart Car complete with high level CCTV camera. The aim is to catch errant motorists that speed, use a mobile phone, park illegally or commit any other form of motoring offence. Drivers can then expect to receive, in the post, a fine and/or penalty notice which could carry 3 points.

At a time when the public struggle to get the police to act when they are the victim of a burglary, anti-social behaviour, fraud or criminal damage, the police have decided to continue persecuting drivers, simply because they are an easy target and the police can claim to have detected, investigated and prosecuted another crime. Great for their clear up rates! However, this type of prosecution (or persecution) lacks any interaction with the public, therefore it is likely to create even more resentment between the police and the public at a time when they need all the support they can get.

Of course, this type of system will only be able to trace and prosecute people that are, for the most part, law abiding. This is because these types of cameras rely entirely on the registration number and as we all know, there are over 1m vehicles on the road where the drivers have no insurance and/or bogus registered keeper details. So the serious criminals will be simply get away with it. I am not defending law breaking, instead I am advocating a programme where the police treat all crime seriously, rather than placing so much resource behind a single section of the community, because is is easier to secure a ‘hands up’ prosecution.

At a time of economic mayhem, increased cases of serious crime and terrorist threats, the police, presumably supported by politicians, make clear where their primary focus will remain. Targeting easy crime. Of course these cameras won’t just take pictures of errant motorists, operating constantly, they cannot discriminate between an errant motorist and someone going about their normal business. So must we all acccept that, if extended, we must allow ourselves to be monitored by 4.2m CCTV cameras, as well as mobile cameras?

Big Brother Britain is getting out of hand. Everything we do and say is being monitored and stored, this does not feel like a free and democratic country, instead is seems like we are in a police state. Civil liberty campaigners are often derided, as are those that claim we are moving to a police state, but take my word for it, in a few years time, the people of this country will realise that far from being reactionary, these people were visionary…and unlike our politicians, they have been speaking the truth.

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Farcical Regulations, General, Labour | Comments (5)

Geoff Hoon: Another snout in the trough

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Geoff Hoon: Another snout in the trough

Has anyone noticed how politicians are becoming more and more cocky when their expense claims are made public? The latest Labour Minister to get caught with his trousers down, metaphorically speaking, is Geoff Hoon. But he doesn’t even have the decency to be embarrassed.

He has reportedly been claiming a second home allowance for his Derbyshire home, whilst renting out his London property and living in a taxpayer funded ‘grace and favour’ property. Hoon, uses the same excuse as his other cabinet colleagues, stating that it is allowed to do this according to the rules governing parliamentary expenses. He then pours scorn on his detractors by claiming he doesn’t believe that he has profited out of the arrangement. Does he really take us all for being so stupid that we would believe such a ludicrous statement?

It is not the politicians that are corrupt, because, as so many have lectured us, it is all within the rules governing expenses. But I defy any of them to state that the system itself is not corrupt and who votes on MP’s salaries, benefits and pensions? Yes, exactly, you don’t have to be corrupt to fleece the public, so long as the system is corrupt and the rules obeyed. When David Cameron says “we are all implicated and we must all find a solution“, you just know they are all at it. Little wonder that the public believe our Members of Parliament are self-serving, inward looking chancers who seek to maximise their personal finances at the expense of (no pun intended) the taxpayer and in their usual contemptuous and arrogant manner.

This is further evidence, if any more was needed, that MP’s are completely removed from reality. We have Jacqui Smith claiming for two washing machines, whilst everyone else has to make do with one and now, Geoff Hoon benefiting from two taxpayer funded properties, whilst many people are losing their homes as a consequence of this governments poor handling of the economy. If they (Labour Ministers) are too inept to see that this is wrong, then why the hell are they still in Government? No wonder this country is in such a mess with the majority of MP’s more interested in their own purse than the public purse. I am very, very angry and so should everyone else be. It is high time that the public made clear that they cannot and will not tolerate such contempt from the very people that are supposed to be serving and representing us. This Government has introduced more laws than any other administration, restricting our freedoms and liberties and criminalising what had previously be acceptable, whilst at the same time, exempting themselves from the same standards and laws.

You don’t need the ‘Committee on Standards in Public Life’ to determine that this current expense system for MP’s is a rogues charter and corrupt. By referring this issue to the committee, Gordon Brown has merely delayed the outcome. Moreover, it is a virtual certainty, that he and his fellow ministers want the committee to look at the entire rewards system, doubtless so they can propose a phasing out of the current expense system to be replaced by higher salaries. NO WAY! MP’s cannot reward themselves with higher salaries based on the fact that they will be losing money because they are no longer in receipt of benefits received by way of a corrupt system. If MP’s are to be provided with ANY increase, it must be based on results, not rhetoric and empty promises, that way we, the public, can be absolutely certain that they have no chance of getting the extra money, because not one of them has ever delivered what they said they would. Smith, Hoon and McNulty must be required to repay every single penny of their second home allowance back immediately if the public are to retain any confidence in its MP’s. Further, if anyone else has claimed a second home allowance, regardless of party, in similar circumstances, they must also be ordered to reimburse the taxpayer. In addition, MP’s must give up the right to determine their own salaries, pensions and benefits, they have proven that they are not fit to do so, this responsibility must be passed to a committee of elected members of the public.

Posted in Conservatives, Farcical Regulations, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (6)

Gordon Brown needs to Get a Grip on MP’s Expenses

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Gordon Brown needs to Get a Grip on MP’s Expenses

Hazel Blears has suggested that Labour MP’s should “get a grip” in relation to gossip about those seeking to take on the top job when Gordon Brown steps down. Like that is going to happy any time soon!

However, in my view it is Gordon Brown that must get a grip, of MP’s expenses. At a time when everyone is tightening their belts to ride the storm that for the most part has been created by this government, its policies and Gordon Brown’s mis-management, many MP’s are filling their pockets with tax free expenses. These expenses are funded by the hard pressed taxpayers of this country. I am not suggesting that MP’s are not following the letter of the rules, but they are quite clearly not following the spirit and that in my view this is an abuse. To make matters worse, people right at the centre of government are also abusing a set of rules that were introduced to assist MP’s in their out of pocket expenses, not enrich their lifestyles.

Take Jacqui Smith for example. She claims that the decision to call her sisters home her main residence is within the current interpretation of the rules and that may even be the case. But this woman is the Home Secretary, surely someone that sits at the top of the food chain in terms of law and order should act strictly within the rules, not simply in the spirit of them? She, with her fellow cabinet ministers, must set good examples, not simply sit with their noses in the trough. Members of Parliament are in the unique and privileged position of bring able to claim expenses quite freely that those in the private sector could only dream of.

It is estimated that Ms Smith has been able to claim as much as £116,000 tax free as a result of this interpretation of the rules. If an ordinary member of the public were to be asked how they would determine someone’s principle place of residence, they are likely to state that it would be where the rest of their family reside, where the kids go to school, where all the household accounts are held, where your banks and credit card statements go to etc. So why is it, that MP’s are given so much latitude? Simply this, that instead of MP’s expenses being a method of reimbursing out of pocket expenses, it has become a ‘perk’ of the job and that is completely and utterly unacceptable. The Jacqui Smith debacle follows, of course, directly on the heels of the uproar over Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper’s interpretation of the rules that allowed them to elect which property was their primary residence (subsequently upheld by the watchdog). The bottom line is MP’s cannot and should not be trusted to vote on and determine their own allowances or expenses.

MP’s expenses must be further simplified, instead of a second home allowance, they should be provided with a ‘fixed’ overnight allowance. That is to say, if they elect to stay in a hotel then the maximum allowance is, for example, £120 with a receipt, if they stay ‘with a friend’ etc., then this would be reduced to £50 per night, for which no receipt would be required. All other second-home allowances must cease, they are an unnecessary expense. In terms of travel expenses, MP’s should follow similar rules to most private companies, flights under 4 hours, they must travel economy class, using the cheapest possible airline. Another very generous allowance is vehicle mileage, instead of MP’s maximising the benefits of this perk, the reimbursement should be limited to what the cost of a standard fare train ticket would cost for the same journey. In other words, if it costs £100 for a return ticket from Nottingham to London and the mileage allowance for using a car pays £260, the MP can only claim £100.

Unless or until members of parliament start to live and operate to the same standards that everyone else does, the public will continue to view  them with mistrust and scepticism. That is not in the interest of our democracy, nor is it in the longer term interests of our MP’s. Gordon Brown needs to stop protecting his cabinet colleagues and instead, start to ensure that they operate to the same rules and standard as ordinary members of the public. Because, in my view at least, there is little difference between failed bankers of publicly owned banks paying themselves bonuses out of public coffers and MP’s who have failed to protect the interests of the electorate claiming massive expense allowances, especially.  In all of these cases, the final bill is paid for by hard-pressed taxpayers. Gordon Brown needs to understand, that at a time, for example, when he is going to fail to meet his reduction in child poverty targets, his MP’s are filling their own pockets with the same money. How does he expect the general public to view such duplicity?

Posted in Farcical Regulations, General, Labour | Comments (0)

New UK planning laws attempt to prevent noise complaints

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New UK planning laws attempt to prevent noise complaints

As part of the process to speed up big developments, the government is attempting to introduce a bill which will provide developers a “blanket exemption” from complaints about smoke, odour, noise and light. The bill has already passed its House of Commons stages and is now with the House of Lords.

Within the bill is a new amendment which states that criminal or civil proceedings cannot be brought for nuisance over works “authorised by an order granting development consent”. The net effect, if passed in its current form, is this amendment will prevent local authorities acting on behalf of residents with legitimate concerns and amounts to the government, once again, attempting to run roughshod over the public interest.

Light and noise polution is a very serious issue and can have a severe effect on local residents quality of life. Their rights should not be removed in this way and it demonstrates how big business has so much more influence over government policy that the voting public. It would appear that the only time any form of lip service is paid to the concerns of the publice is when they are rebranded the “electorate” and are effectively sold to for the election!

Anyone that has ever lived and worked overseas will have a much better idea of what Quality of Life actually means. Here in the UK, we are forced to travel conjested roads, or use dirty public transport to go to work. Then we will be obliged to work the longest hours in Europe, doubtless to fund the workshy, then after a long day, return to our small homes(by international standards), adjacent to some large development, 24 hour garage or supermarket. The vast majority of the public simply haven’t got a clue what quality of life is, only a very small minority of people have and they don’t have to worry about the affects of local planning laws. Plainly the government would like to keep it this way.

I am personally sick to the back teeth of this government stamping all over the legitimate rights and concerns of the public, simply in order to appease big business. Little wonder that so many ex-ministers and MP’s get such cushy little number when they are removed from office. We should all strive for a decent quality of life, standards that many people in other first world countries actually take for granted. Little by little, this Labour government is taking away our rights to complain, to raise our legitimate concerns and our entitlement to a reasonable quality of life. Yet we stand by and let it happen, we must fight back, we must remind these ministers that they are supposed to represent our interests, they are placed in a position of trust and they are abusing it. We should not be sending this message once every 5 years, but everyday, we should fill the post bag of our local MP’s, send letters to the minister in charge and write to the prime minister. No longer can we accept this draconian law setting by ministers ignoring the long held rights of the public.

Should the government remove our established rights to complain about noise or light polution?

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Should the government remove our established rights to complain about noise or light polution?

  • No (97%, 113 Votes)
  • Yes (3%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 117


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Posted in Farcical Regulations, General | Comments (0)

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