September 2012 Archives
Labour will on Monday urge new Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to speed up plans for a new high speed rail line running from London to Birmingham, Leeds and Newcastle.
Ministers plan to introduce legislation enabling the first phase, from the south to the West Midlands, before the next election.
Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls will deliver an uncompromising message to Labour activists on Monday, as he insists the party cannot promise to reverse a single specific spending cut.
Mr Balls is likely to anger unions with a blunt warning that Labour must not promise to undo spending cuts or tax rises imposed by the Coalition Government because it doesn't know what state the economy and public finances will be in after the next election.
Instead, he will confirm that Labour plans to hold a "zero-based" spending review - which means that every bit of existing spending will be examined, and could potentially be cut.
The theme of Labour's annual conference in Manchester is "rebuilding Britain" and party leader Ed Miliband will deliver his keynote speech on Tuesday.
But union leaders clashed with the Labour leadership over its refusal to promise pay rises for public sector workers.
Len McCluskey, general secretary of Labour's biggest union donor Unite, warned that his members were "furious" with the Labour leadership's "crazy" policy of supporting pay restraint
And Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said Labour was "losing ground with core supporters by continuing to ignore the fact that millions of people are suffering".
In an interview yesterday, Mr Miliband conceded Labour still had "a huge mountain to climb".
The first day of Labour conference is just about done and a pattern is emerging - almost every speech mentions Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell one way or another.
For example, Jon Cruddas, the Labour MP leading the party's policy review, claimed Mr Mitchell's row with police officers revealed "what lies beneath" the Tory party's veneer of compassionate conservatism.
Labour has no intention of "drawing a line" under the affair, as Tories hope.
Birmingham MP Andrew Mitchell, the Chief Whip, has failed to put an end to speculation about his future despite a fresh apology for swearing in a confrontation with a police officer.
In a fresh apology, the MP for Sutton Coldfield said: "Good morning, I want first of all to reiterate the apology I made last week after the incident on Wednesday night in Downing Street. It had been the end of a long and extremely frustrating day - not that that is any excuse at all for what happened.
What have Wikipedia editors done to upset Denis MacShane?
The Labour MP hit out at the website, calling it "an absolute disgrace" and a haven for racists, in the House of Commons.
Three experts in the built and natural environment at Birmingham School of the Built Environment write openly to the government asking for a policy pause to halt the ill-thought out direction of recent planning reforms.
Barely is the ink dry on the long awaited planning reforms of the Coalition government with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), when this week the Chancellor instigated further changes in order to boost economic growth. Supported by Cameron and Clegg et al., we also witnessed a concerted attack on the planning profession with, seemingly, a renewed appetite to make planners the scapegoat for the economy's woes. At Birmingham School of the Built Environment at Birmingham City University we pride ourselves on training the next generation of built and natural environment professionals, equipping them with the skills to mediate between the competing demands of people, place and environment. One module I manage is called Policies and Plans. This uses theory and practice to identify what constitutes a 'good' plan or policy. The recent package of anti-planning reforms announced this week provide an interesting example for this blog
Last week I took the government's advice and had a holiday in the UK. It was a week away on the Pembrokeshire Coast doing a combination of coastal walking, swimming and wildlife watching. Wearing my tourist hat it has always amazed me how tourism as an industry has such a poor profile as an agent of economic growth, yet ironically it is one of the world's biggest industries and is vital for UK PLC. In the UK we have a truly amazing range of environmental assets that bring people from all over the world to explore our magical Isles. It may also surprise you to know we also have high quality assets on our own West Midland doorstep.
The papers are alive with the sound of a beleaguered Chancellor scrambling for quick fixes to stimulate the economy, boost growth and declining popularity ratings. Top of this agenda is the reform of the planning system (again!), the so called 'enemy of enterprise' where the Green Belt has been singled out for special attention. Here speculation is rife that Green Belt zoning will be relaxed with major housing developments becoming national infrastructure developments thus taking the decision away from local authorities in favour of national government. In a huge sop against localism it signals the government's true intent and political posturing over allowing local people a real chance to influence their futures.