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  • John McDonnell: This budget needs to be an emergency budget for our public services that are in crisis, not a budget desperately designed to save the jobs of a weak Prime Minister and her embattled Chancellor.

    John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, will today (Thursday) give a keynote speech at Church House in London, where he will set out the five main demands that Labour wants to see in next week’s Autumn Budget.

    The Shadow Chancellor will argue that the country needs an ‘emergency Budget’ to save our public services that are in crisis, not a budget desperately designed to save the jobs of a weak Prime Minister and her embattled Chancellor. The Shadow Chancellor will call for a Budget that deals with the growing emergency faced by working families and our vital public services, which have been left in crisis after seven years of Tory austerity.

    He will also make the argument that this Government is not prepared to clamp down on tax avoidance, but instead wants to engage in a race to the bottom in low corporation tax rates.

    John McDonnell will argue that after seven years of Tory economic mismanagement the Chancellor must change course next week, by abandoning his planned tax giveaways to a wealthy few and instead bringing greater fairness into the tax system.

    The Shadow Chancellor will set out five central demands for next week’s Autumn Budget:

    1.      Pause and fix Universal Credit

    2.      Provide new funding to lift the public sector pay cap

    3.      Serious funding for infrastructure across the whole country

    4.      Properly fund our public services including health, education, and local government

    5.      Launch a large-scale public house-building programme

    John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, in his speech today at Church House, is expected to say:

    “In his first year as Chancellor, Philip Hammond has demonstrated that he completely fails to understand how working people are struggling after seven years of Tory austerity.

    “Next week the country needs an ‘emergency Budget’ for our public services that are in crisis, not a budget desperately designed to save the jobs of a weak Prime Minister and her embattled Chancellor.

    “There has to be a genuine and decisive change of course.

    “As the Paradise Papers revealed yet again, the Tories have created an economy in which the rich elite at the top do better than ever, while the rest of us have to live with our vital public services teetering on the brink.

    “While the Tories refuse to properly clamp down on tax avoidance and push ahead with tax giveaways to the corporations and super rich, public sector workers like our nurses are relying on food banks.

    “Our schools’ head teachers have to ask parents for donations to keep them open for our children.

    “Our NHS is so badly underfunded that a quarter of nurses are forced to take a second job.

    “Local councils have had their funding for children’s services slashed to the point that charities now warn the crisis risks turning into a catastrophe.

    “Philip Hammond wants you to believe there is nothing that can be done to end these scandals. And that the millions more children who will grow up in poverty under this government due to their policies, cannot be prevented.

    “He wants you to believe that the housing crisis in our country cannot be fixed in the way that Labour has consistently called for, and even colleagues in his own Cabinet have argued for, by increasing investment to build more housing.

    “He wants to pretend he cannot invest on the scale needed, yet he has already borrowed more in his first year as Chancellor than any of his predecessors in their first year at the Treasury.

    “There is a better way than this. But it needs a complete break with past failures.“

McDonnell sets out Labour’s 5 demands for the Budget

John McDonnell: This budget needs to be an emergency budget for our public services that are in crisis, not a budget desperately designed to save the jobs of a weak Prime...

There has been a series of press releases issued by Cheshire East Council's Communications Team in recent days that paint a very rosy picture of things at the Council at the moment.

However, in the interest of balance it must be pointed out that there are currently no less than FIVE ongoing formal police investigations into matters at Cheshire East Council.

Also, the Council's Chief Executive Officer, the Head of Legal Services and senior officers responsible for air quality monitoring at the Council are all currently suspended.

Cllr Laura Jeuda, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield South said “I am very concerned that it appears the Council's Communications Team is being used to try and distract residents from the chaos in Cheshire East Conservative Group.”

Cllr Dorothy Flude, Labour Councillor for  Crewe  South said; “No amount of window dressing and pretty photographs can hide what is frankly an appalling situation currently at Cheshire East Council, where long-suffering staff continue to deliver public services whilst some in positions of authority are clearly not up to the task of running a large complex organisation.”

Sam Corcoran, Labour Group Leader said, “Conservative controlled Cheshire East Council has been lurching from crisis to crisis since its formation 9 years ago. The Conservative Leader recently denied that the Council was spiralling out of control.

However, there are now FIVE ongoing police investigations spiralling around Conservative controlled Cheshire East Council:

1) CoreFit where contracts were awarded to the former Conservative Leader's personal physiotherapist's company

2) the deliberate and systematic manipulation of air quality data

3) the granting of £70,000 to Berkeley Primary Academy, where (allegedly) a

    Conservative Councillor promised the money to the school despite it not being in accordance with policy

4) land acquisitions

5) Vile and intimidating hate mail received by two Conservative councillors who spoke out against ‘unsafe’ walking routes to school and the Council not complying with National Minimum Wage legislation.

In addition to the police investigations there are clear signs of unpleasant infighting within the Conservatives.  Michael Jones, the former Conservative Leader who stepped down quoting ‘Blue on Blue attacks’ has now left the Conservative group completely.

Cllr David Brown has been ‘stepped down’ as Deputy Leader of the Council and asked at a recent Staffing Committee what help there was for councillors being bullied.

Cllr Peter Groves stepped down as Cabinet Member for Finance to protect his reputation (not to protect the reputation of the Council).

The chief executive, head of legal and head of finance are all suspended from their roles. The temporary Head of Finance alone is costing the Council £10,000 a month. In case any one believes the Conservative claim that all the Council's problems are 'legacy' matters, in September the Council admitted that it was breaching the National Minimum Wage legislation, that about 160 people were affected and would be awarded backpay going back 2 years totalling roughly £200,000. Emails obtained by Labour Councillors show that the Council knew in 2014 that the NMW legislation was being broken.

Another recent example of problems at the Council is an employee putting a knife to his own throat at work earlier this year, shouting 'Is this what you want...'. Despite widespread concerns about bullying being raised at the staffing committee, the Conservative Chair of the staffing committee didn't even tell his own committee about the incident. Then to compound his errors he abused his position as chair to make a personal statement, trying to vindicate himself, during a staffing committee meeting and publicly stated the office in which the knife incident had occurred, thereby increasing the risk of identifying the staff members affected.

There have been calls for Cheshire East Council to be put into Special Measures. Even Conservative MP for Tatton Esther McVey has written to the Secretary of State asking him to look at the Council. A Sandbach resident has started a petition about Cheshire East Council https://www.change.org/p/sajid-javid-launch-an-independent-enquiry-into-air-quality-data-falsification-by-cheshire-east-council

In fact the only local MP to have come out in support of the beleaguered Council is Fiona Bruce MP for Congleton who praised the ‘principled and professional manner’ in which the Conservative Council Leader ‘has addressed and planned to resolve past problems’.

The Labour Group does not believe that the local Conservatives have the competence to solve the problems at the Council and has been calling since March for an external investigation into the culture at the Council and the allegations of bullying. Conservative controlled Cheshire East Council has now finally agreed to a review by the Local Government Association.

The Labour councillors on Cheshire East Council have been active in putting forward positive proposals as well as highlighting Conservative failings. Here is a sample of the issues we have been working on:

 

  • Pressing for stronger controls on Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) – reporting HMO’s and issues around rented properties. Pressing for a compulsory landlord registration scheme.
  • Working with the Save Our Buses Campaign following Conservative proposals to reduce bus subsidies by 40%
  • Retaining Children’s Centres and Mental Health Facilities in the Borough - Working with Community Groups on relevant campaigns.
  • Fly tipping and litter
  • Parking in urban areas on grass verges – funding for the pilot projects to be extended to other areas.
  • Highways Maintenance and Repair – Question how funding is allocated and grants sought for road upgrades and repair.
  • Air Quality – Checking the progress of suggested Air Quality Management Areas and Air Quality Action Plans as well as following the unfolding saga of who manipulated the figures.
  • Social/Council Housing – monitor the provision of Social Housing.
  • School Parking – Campaigning for providing schools with drop off points on a rolling programme. Other measures to lessen the number of parents who use cars to take children to school as outlined in the working group report.
  • Social Care- Keep a check on the quality of care by checking reports to Committees. Reporting on the stream of private care homes being judged as ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’.“

Are the Tories on Cheshire East wearing rose-tinted glasses?

There has been a series of press releases issued by Cheshire East Council's Communications Team in recent days that paint a very rosy picture of things at the Council at...

At the Cheshire East Council meeting on 23rd February this year, Labour Councilors proposed “That during 2017/18 the council consult on a compulsory residential landlord licensing scheme for all privately let residential accommodation situated within Cheshire East, including all houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). The administration of the scheme will be cost neutral, with its set-up and running costs to be covered by income from licence and inspection fees within the forthcoming three year budget cycle.”

The Council Leader, Councillor Rachel Bailey and the portfolio holder for housing, Cllr Ainsley Arnold gave an undertaking to investigate and pursue the issue.

Yet, over six months later nothing has happened, with the Council procrastinating, saying that it is waiting for the Government to issue new regulations on the registration and management of HMOs.

Meanwhile new HMO’s are springing-up on a weekly basis in the inner areas of the Borough’s major towns , and especially in Crewe, where residents are complaining that the concentration of HMO’s has now reached saturation point.

Yet some councils are not waiting, with many up and down the country currently working on introducing new HMO registration schemes, or strengthening and extending their existing HMO registration schemes, Changes include imposing restrictions on new HMO’s in areas already having high concentrations, and pursuing prosecutions against rogue landlords and agents far more vigorously.

Brian Roberts, Labour Councillor for Crewe West said; ‘Over the last few years I have witnessed most of my neighbours move away. Where once over 90% of my neighbourhood was made-up of owner occupiers or long term tenants, it has now fallen to around 20%, with the majority of houses and flats let on short term insecure tenancies.

As a result, neighbourhood cohesion is non-existent, fuelled by the ongoing ‘churn’ of residents that stay for only six months, or less. Also, the housing stock is becoming increasingly dilapidated as is the public realm because of continued lack of any long-term investment by Cheshire East Council on infrastructure.

The minority of rogue landlords are being let off the hook and private renters, especially in HMO’s, face a “postcode lottery” when it comes to having their rights upheld, with Cheshire East currently having the lightest of light touch registration schemes.

 

Steve Hogben, Crewe South Labour Councillor, added, “In my ward and many others in Crewe the consequence of uncontrolled HMO development is that many of our communities and neighbourhoods are at saturation point with HMOs and we risk them being ‘hollowed out’ as families give up and move away. 

We desperately need a policy that limits the density of HMOs in any given area, to prevent the ‘doughnut effect’ that occurs in some inner cities. I have raised the need for such a policy a number of times at planning committees and so far the official response has been to ignore it.  I am not prepared to tolerate that any longer. 

We need action by Cheshire East Council NOW, before it is too late!”

Nick Mannion, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield West & Ivy, said, “For many of our most vulnerable residents, renting from a private landlord is currently the only option available to them. Therefore, we have a duty to ensure that such accommodation is safe and well-managed. Good landlords have nothing to fear from a robust registration scheme, but it will help the Council quickly identify and clamp-down on the minority of incompetent and rogue landlords and agents.”

Labour calls for urgent action to control growth in Housing In Multiple Occupation (‘HMO’s’)

At the Cheshire East Council meeting on 23rd February this year, Labour Councilors proposed “That during 2017/18 the council consult on a compulsory residential landlord licensing scheme for all privately let...

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