Tuesday 30 April 2013

Labour's new line up

Reading’s Labour Twittersphere has broadcast nominations for the Lead Councillor roles in advance of Mayor making on 22 May.   

Three are out: Marian Livingstone, Mike Orton and Bet Tickner 

The three new are: Richard Davies, Graham Hoskin and Liz Terry 

Everybody, except Jo Lovelock, is having some change to the scope of their role

Community Involvement & Service Improvement has been ditched.  Perhaps the disgraceful prioritisation of IT equipment for councillors over decent IT equipment for the social worker team has something to do with this decision: Or maybe the Labour administration has realised (belatedly) that their “justification” was baseless rubbish.

Graham Hoskin is back on the front bench having served out his punishment for his unsuccessful leadership bid a couple of years ago.  Having had Culture & Sport before, now he has been handed Health.

Tony Jones will be Deputy Mayor again (previously having had the role in 2000), whilst his wife Liz Terry, who was elected just a year ago and hasn’t risen much in Council to speak in that time, is to cover Neighbourhoods.  Previously this had gone together with Housing but Labour has decided to split the two giving Housing to another 2012 intake, Richard Davies.

John Ennis’ role is being reduced to solely Education with Jan Gavin taking on Children’s Services & Families.

Rachel Eden has been moved to Adult Social Care replacing Mike Orton who, though his shoes are big ones to fill, his recent attendance record has not been great.

With Marian Livingstone stepping into the role as Mayor [I’m against Labour’s flouting of the traditional year as deputy before stepping up to the role of Mayor] her current lead role of Culture & Sport is being given as part of Paul Gittings’ new role of Culture & Sport & Consumer Services.  Interesting to note Labour has dropped Climate Change!

Tony Page remains as deputy leader, whilst his lead role will also cover the Environment, so will be Strategic Planning, Environment & Transport

In summary Labour's new roles & line up are as follows:

Leader of the Council (chair)                                  Jo Lovelock

Adult Social Care                                                     Rachel Eden
Children’s Services & Families                              Jan Gavin
Culture & Sport & Consumer Services                Paul Gittings
Education                                                                  John Ennis
Health                                                                       Graham Hoskin
Housing                                                                    Richard Davies
Neighbourhoods                                                      Liz Terry
Strategic Planning, Environment & Transport   Tony Page

Mayor of Reading                                                    Marian Livingstone
Deputy Mayor                                                          Tony Jones

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Welfare State's Part in Philpott's Heinous Crime

In Guido's excellent post, to which the following tweet refers, there is a must read comment which I copy below:

Guido Fawkes (@GuidoFawkes)
Welfare State Was Evil Philpott’s Accomplice

Stuart says:
Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to £100…
If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this…

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay £1.
The sixth would pay £3.
The seventh would pay £7..
The eighth would pay £12.
The ninth would pay £18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay £59.

So, that’s what they decided to do..
The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve ball.
“Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by £20″. Drinks for the ten men would now cost just £80.
The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes.
So the first four men were unaffected.
They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men?
The paying customers?

How could they divide the £20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?
They realised that £20 divided by six is £3.33. But if they
subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by a higher percentage the poorer he was, to follow the principle of the tax system they had been using, and he proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should now pay.
And so the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% saving).
The sixth now paid £2 instead of £3 (33% saving).
The seventh now paid £5 instead of £7 (28% saving).
The eighth now paid £9 instead of £12 (25% saving).

The ninth now paid £14 instead of £18 (22% saving).
The tenth now paid £49 instead of £59 (16% saving).
Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings.
“I only got a pound out of the £20 saving,” declared the sixth man.
He pointed to the tenth man,”but he got £10!”
“Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a pound too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!”
“That’s true!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get £10 back, when I got only £2? The wealthy get all the breaks!”
“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison, “we didn’t get anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor!”
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.
The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had their beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!
And that, boys and girls, journalists and government ministers, is how our tax system works.
The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the most benefit from a tax reduction.
Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore.
In fact, they might start drinking overseas, where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.
David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics.

For those who understand, no explanation is needed.
For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible

Re-posted from Pete Ross

A Spurious Argument by Labour

Reading’s Labour administration is stopping the automatic forwarding of emails from the council email account of each councillor to their personal email account. They are justifying this on the shaky grounds that this puts Reading Council at risk of fines by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

During February’s full council meeting Labour’s Lead for Service Improvement Cllr Jan Gavin produced a list of ICO fines to the Conservative Group which she claimed proved that local authorities were being fined for insecure councillor emails.

However when I worked through Cllr Gavin’s list looking carefully at each example not one supported her claim!  Some had nothing whatsoever to do with local authorities.  However those cases relating to authorities substantiated my argument: that the highly confidential papers dealt with by the social worker teams must be protected.

The London Borough of Lewisham was on Labour’s list.  Lewisham was fined £70,000 as a result of a social worker leaving highly confidential documents on a train in a carrier bag.  If only that social worker had instead held the sensitive information in a secure council net-book computer nobody could have easily read the information. 

As the public knows, social workers have a crucial front-line role protecting our town’s most vulnerable children.  They deal with highly confidential information and the pressure on them to keep looked after children safe is colossal.  It is absolutely essential they have secure, up-to-date mobiles and a net-book computer to minimise the risk of information getting mislaid.

In contrast councillors’ emails are nowhere near as confidential.  The majority of emails contain information publically available.  Confidential papers are not generally sent by email; they are couriered to each councillor.  Any emails of a confidential nature omit names, referring instead to initials, for example to “Mrs B” to prevent identification. 

Reading’s Labour Group has failed to come up with a single example of an authority being fined because of a councillor’s email going astray.

During 26th March council meeting, my colleague Cllr Andrew Cumpsty asked the Leader of the Council if she could confirm what percentage of IT kit was recycled.  Cllr Lovelock admitted that only 30% of laptops and netbooks were pre-used equipment.  This was interesting as at February’s meeting she had stated that the equipment was mostly (70%) recycled!

Instead of an apology for having misled Council, Labour’s Leader attacked Cllr Cumpsty for “putting his own convenience above the need to protect sensitive data.”  She continued that “this has gone on for long enough and he needs to understand that there has to be a date by which any insecure method of sending e-mails to Councillors will be stopped – quite simply Cllr Cumpsty will very soon be unable to access Council e-mails unless he takes up one of the solutions on offer.  He will be cut off by his own stubborn adherence to his own convenience.  I would advise him to think about how to avoid that.

Labour’s vicious attack on an opposition councillor is nothing new.  When their group loses an argument they regularly resort to this tactic.  Whenever members of the public witness such behaviour they are shocked to the core.

We opposition councillors nurse our “wounds” consoling ourselves that these are evidence of voicing the winning argument against Labour.   However the lack of respect and dignity the Labour Group shows to opposition councillors is detrimental to democratic debate and hinders the service to Reading’s residents for which we were all elected.  

I struggle to understand why Labour prioritise the provision of IT equipment for councillors over giving social workers up-to-date IT equipment. The £10,653 expenditure on IT equipment for councillors would have been much better spent on IT equipment for social workers, or even towards mending some of Reading’s pothole ridden roads.

Delaying councillors accessing emails by stopping automatic forwarding will obviously impede our ability to help residents quickly and efficiently.

It will all be down to Labour’s phoney argument.