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Tag Archives: week

MP calls for more police funding to catch ‘vile thugs’ responsible for Wilsden carjacking

SHIPLEY MP Philip Davies has called on the Home Office to give more money to police following a “spate of crimes in a normally quiet village”.

Mr Davies made the call in the House of Commons after being told by local police chiefs funding allocated for police forces was not filtering down.

He said: “There has been a spate of crimes in Wilsden, a normally quiet village in my constituency, culminating in the popular local vet Terry Croud being attacked by a hammer and having his car stolen on Friday last week.

“The Police and Crime Commissioner says the Home Office is getting more money from the Treasury for policing but they are not passing it on to police forces, so can the Home Secretary commit that West Yorkshire Police will get sufficient funding so that West Yorkshire Police can catch these vile thugs and that people in Wilsden can sleep easily at night once again.”

Mr Croud, who is in his 50s, works for the Gatehouse Veterinary Group and was hit over the head with a hammer during the robbery of his Audi RS6, leaving him needing eight stitches.

A man was arrested last night in connection with the robbery and remains in custody today.

Home Office Minister Nick Hurd said: “The Government is determined to make sure the police have the resources they need which is why we are doing the review of funding.

“I have spoken to his police colleagues personally and as I said the decisions about the 2018/19 funding settlement will be put before the House shortly.”

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Micropub plans given go ahead by Council

PLANS to turn a house in Greengates into a micropub, which saw 79 people write to the council in support, have been approved.

Paul Taylor submitted the planning application to change the use of 60 New Line (pictured) from a dwelling to a micropub this summer, and planning officer approved the scheme this week.

There had been five objections to the plans, but almost 80 letters of support, with people saying there was a lack of pubs in the local area and that it would be a “good place to socialise.”

Planning officers said: “The use is very small scale and is not expected to generate significant volumes of traffic or demand for parking.”

The bar area will measure just 44 square metres.

The house is next to a takeaway sandwich shop called Crumbs, but the application said that that business is no longer operating. The micropub plans appear to retain the takeaway business.

Three full time jobs will be created, according to the plans.

Limited options

Philip Hammond in Downing StreetImage copyright Getty Images

The chancellor is known by some around Westminster as “box office Phil”, an ironic nickname for a politician who favours caution and prudence over showmanship and headline-grabbing pyrotechnics. So this should be Philip Hammond‘s sort of Budget.

The government is sticking with its aim of plugging the deficit and balancing the books. Although borrowing has fallen to its lowest level in a decade, the expected slowdown in productivity growth is likely to push future borrowing numbers back up, shrinking Mr Hammond‘s room to spend.

Add in the economic uncertainty around Brexit, and Mr Hammond might be tempted to play safe and avoid any drama.

There are political reasons for caution too. The Tories have a precarious working majority in the Commons with the help of the DUP, which means any remotely controversial votes on tax rises or spending cuts could easily be lost.

Mr Hammond has already been burned from fumbling a Budget measure, when he had to scrap plans to raise National Insurance contributions for the self-employed within a week of announcing the policy in March.

Political chess

The chancellor does not revel in the political chess games enjoyed by his predecessor, George Osborne, who delighted in trying to outfox his opponents with a mischievous surprise. Not always successfully.

Philip Hammond definitely does not need his own “omnishambles” Budget this week, and nor does the government.

Badly wounded by the botched general election in June, hit by the departure of two cabinet ministers in a month, divided on Brexit, for the Tories this is a Budget that must not backfire.

Ironically, it was June’s election that kept Philip Hammond in his job.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption There has been evidence of real tensions between the prime minister and her chancellor

Hardly allowed out in public during the campaign, he was widely expected to be chopped after the expected victory – an impression Theresa May did nothing to dispel at a joint press conference with her chancellor in May.

Tensions between Number 10 and Number 11 were clear and the source of the agro was of course Brexit. A supporter of Remain during the referendum, Mr Hammond has found himself battling the Brexiteers in the cabinet.

‘Brexit negativity’

He wants a two-year post-Brexit transition deal agreed with the EU as soon as possible to stop businesses moving out.

He is resisting calls to set aside billions of pounds now for a no-deal scenario. Mr Hammond wants to protect financial services as much as possible.

In October, the former Tory Chancellor Lord Lawson accused Mr Hammond of acting in a way that was “close to sabotage”, because of his Brexit negativity, and urged Theresa May to sack him.

But the prime minister, an Oxford university contemporary of her chancellor, shows no sign of wanting to move him. She will remember too, the impact Geoffrey Howe’s dismissal from the Treasury in 1990 had on Margaret Thatcher’s premiership.

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Media captionWatch extracts of Geoffrey Howe’s 1990 resignation speech, widely considered pivotal in Margaret Thatcher’s downfall

If you haven’t seen it, his quietly deadly resignation speech is worth a few minutes of your time.

So considering the constraints, what are Tory MPs hoping for from Wednesday’s budget?

“Nobody is expecting much,” one veteran of the Conservative back benches told me. While no fan of Philip Hammond, “we don’t want a bloodbath”, they said.

‘Sunnier message’

“We don’t want him to screw it up,” said another senior Tory, who is hoping for a sunnier message from the sometimes doleful Chancellor.

The Tory MP Nigel Evans also says he wants a bit of cheer from Mr Hammond.

“If he comes to the despatch box and starts hand-wringing, and saying, ‘We’ve got no money,’ but at the same time we know they are prepared to up the amount of money they don’t necessarily have to give the EU, then we’ll all think, ‘What the heck’s going on?'”

The consistent view among Leave-supporting Tories is that they want him to sound upbeat about the possibilities of Brexit.

But the chancellor has strong admirers on the Tory benches too, relieved he is in the Treasury’s driving seat while the government argues about the final destination of Brexit.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has demanded “an emergency Budget for our public services”, which he says are in crisis

The MP for Chelmsford, Vicky Ford, is a fan. “I want a chancellor who’s as boring as anything, but really understands the numbers and the finances. I think Philip Hammond’s been doing an incredibly good, detailed analysis and that’s exactly what we need at this time.”

Tory MPs agree it is a very difficult Budget for Philip Hammond to pitch. It needs to try to prove the government has a purpose other than Brexit, while having very little cash to splash. Maybe the chancellor will surprise us.

The former schoolboy disco entrepreneur turned wealthy businessman took career risks long before he entered politics. But Wednesday will be one of his toughest challenges yet.

Man arrested over robbery of car from popular vet

A MAN has been arrested in connection with a carjacking in Wilsden last week.

A popular vet in the village was attacked with a hammer and had his Audi RS6 taken in the robbery.

Police arrested a 30-year-old man last night in connection with the robbery, and he remains in custody today as inquiries continue.

The vehicle has also been recovered for further examination.

The vehicle, which belonged to Terry Croud, who is in his fifties, was taken on Friday and was found abandoned in the Rhodesway area of Allerton late on Saturday.

Anyone with further information is asked to contact police on 101 quoting crime reference number 13170538835, or anonymously to independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Council land pulled from auction after planning permission setback

COUNCIL-owned green fields in Cleckheaton have been pulled out of an auction due to difficulties in gaining outline planning permission for the site.

Kirklees Council took the decision to withdraw the 1.68 hectare site off Kenmore Drive from the auction last week, after a planning committee failed to reach a decision on its plans.

The controversial plan to build 55 homes had attracted more than 100 letters of objection, with many of the concerns around an unsuitable access route due to on street parking.

The authority’s highways department had concerns about extending the cul-de-sac as existing on-street parking could create issues with highway safety.

In response the Council submitted amended plans to try and address the highways issues, with two points of access to a new housing estate – on Kenmore Drive and Kenmore View – rather than one.

As a result the plans were recommended for approval at a meeting earlier this month. The land was also scheduled to be sold at auction last week with a guide price of £1.25 million.

But at the Heavy Woollen planning sub-committee meeting, members deferred a decision calling for the authority to provide further information on some issues.

Now it has confirmed that a decision is expected next month and following that options for the site will be reviewed.

Councillor Kath Pinnock (Lib Dem, Cleckheaton) told the Telegraph & Argus: “The big issue for me is that it’s a Council-owned site and the Council knows there is a big shortage in the area for extra care homes, offering independent living for the elderly.

“The Council could use the site to fill that gap and at the same time it would mean fewer car movements, particularly at peak times, than the proposals.

“I think people would be more accepting of something that is of social value.”

A Council spokesman said: “The Council withdrew the site at Kenmore Drive from auction as further information was requested by the planning committee meeting which was considering the planning application for the site.

“This information will be provided to the December planning committee meeting.

“Once the planning position has been determined, options for the site will be reconsidered.”

The land has been owned by the Council for a number of years and had at one point been earmarked for a new school.

For the last two decades it has been allocated for housing.

Following the amendments, a planner’s report stated: “Following concerns being raised relating to matters of access and highways safety, the application was revised from single point of access to show two points of access via Kenmore Drive and Kenmore View.

“The revised details were accompanied by an additional highway statement with responses to concerns raised.”

Puzzling problem

An engineer welding metalImage copyright Getty Images

At this Wednesday’s Budget, the man whose pronouncements will be most carefully watched may not, for once, be the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond.

Instead it will be the former journalist, economist and now director of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), Robert Chote.

Why? Because it’s down to him to arrive at a new, much more realistic view of a long, drawn-out economic calamity whose impact the government is only now accepting in full: a decade of flat productivity.

Until 10 years ago, productivity was the motor that drove economic growth. Its definition is nothing more complicated than the amount we produce per worker (or per hour).

If you’re a coffee shop worker, it’s the amount of coffees, tea and food each worker sells. On a pie-making production line, it’s how many pies you turn out. If you’re a lorry driver, it’s how much you deliver.

Now think of that lorry driver stuck in a traffic jam. With too little investment in new roads and too many cars and lorries using them, his trips are slower. However hard he works, he can’t keep delivering more than before. His productivity stalls.

That flat productivity has knock-on effects. The driver’s employer used to get a little more output from each worker each yearso they each made the company a bit more revenue. That made it possible to afford pay rises above inflation each year.

In turn that meant the driver could afford to buy more, boosting spending, and therefore growth, in the rest of the economy. And the chancellor of exchequer also benefited when the driver was paid, collecting higher income tax and national insurance, and when the driver spent money, because more VAT came in.

Until very recently the OBR was assuming that happy state of affairs would return. The 2008 crash had done its damage. But all being well the economy would recover – and with it the tax revenues that would enable the chancellor to close the gap between his income and his spending (also known as the Budget deficit).

Now have a look at the chart. The OBR’s been assuming at each Budget for years that output per worker would get back to its pre-crisis rate of growth – where we each produce about 2.1% more each year.

Instead, the typical rate of growth in the past five years has been 0.2%. As Robert Chote said last month: “Our assumption that productivity growth would return to a more normal rate within a few years reflected a judgement that whatever factors were depressing it in the wake of the financial crisis would fade as it receded further into the past.

“But as the period of weak performance gets longer, the explanations that people pointed to immediately after the crisis look less convincing and others seem more plausible.”

Hope of a recovery has been replaced by acceptance of weaker productivity growth – itself a large part of the reason why wages too are no higher in real terms than they were 11 years ago.

On Wednesday Mr Chote will publish his revised, more realistic assumption, accepting that something profound has changed. Accepting weaker productivity growth in the years to come means accepting lower tax revenue for the chancellor, which in turn means less scope for spending more, cutting taxes or reducing the deficit.

But hold on: it’s not as if we’ve been in recession all that time. Haven’t we had economic growth?

The answer is – yes. But not the sort we used to have. From one angle, an economy is simply people and their economic activity. If you add hundreds of thousands of people to the workforce each year, through people working into retirement and through immigration, then the economy will grow larger.

But GDP per capita – the amount we produce per person – has grown far more slowly.

It’s not just the UK that has suffered from weak productivity growth, it’s across all advanced countries. But in the UK, the weakness is worse. A period of weak productivity and weak wages this long hasn’t happened since the 1860s.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The words of the OBR’s Robert Chote may be significant on Budget day

One reason is weak business investment. A company trying to meet an expanding order book can try one of two methods: hire a few more people, or make its existing workforce more productive by investing in new, more efficient technology. As long as its cheaper and less risky to hire cheap labour, the business may hold off investment.

But weaker private investment – and private investment has in any case been growing recently – can’t account for the whole effect.

Another attempted explanation is weak training and poor infrastructure, another is weak spending on research and development – all of which play a role but none of which can explain in full the breakdown of what is normally the engine of economic growth.

The government hopes to address some of those weaknesses in a new industrial strategy, originally due to be published before the Budget but now postponed until next week.

Michael Jacobs, former Downing Street economic adviser and now director of the Institute for Public Policy Research, says the real problem isn’t the obvious industries, such as engineering or pharmaceuticals, where growth relies on big investment and high skills.

“The UK’s productivity problem lies in the vast majority of ordinary firms, in sectors such as retail, light manufacturing, tourism, hospitality and social care,” he says.

“Unless the White Paper includes a plan to raise productivity in these sectors, it will still not be addressing the real issue.”

Michael Owen takes on jockey challenge

Former England footballer Michael Owen is training to become a jockey and preparing for his first race.

The 37-year-old got in the saddle earlier this year and has since lost over a stone in weight.

Owen, who established himself as a successful racehorse breeder and owner after retiring from football, will compete in a charity race at Ascot later this week.

Egypt drugs case: Briton Laura Plummer’s sister issues apology

Laura PlummerImage copyright Plummer family
Image caption Laura Plummer is in police custody in the resort of Hurghada

The sister of a British woman facing drug smuggling charges in Egypt has apologised to the country’s officials.

Laura Plummer, 33, faces a trial accused of entering the country with 300 Tramadol tablets, a painkiller legal in the UK but not in Egypt.

She is in police custody in Hurghada awaiting a hearing date.

Her sister Rachel told officials she had “unintentionally done wrong” and apologised for “bringing such trouble to your country”.

It is not clear whether the apology has been seen by the authorities, who have not commented.

But in response to the apology, Ms Plummer’s MP Karl Turner, described her as a “decent, law-abiding” citizen who had “done something really silly”.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Laura Plummer said the prescription pills were for her partner Omar Caboo

Ms Plummer, a shop assistant from Hull, claims she was carrying the pills for her Egyptian partner, Omar Caboo, who suffers from back pain.

She has been held in a cell, which she has to share with 25 other women.

Image copyright Rachel Plummer
Image caption Rachel Plummer said her sister had carried out “a totally innocent action”

In a statement, Rachel said she “would like to place on record our gratitude for the fairness and just manner the Egyptian justice system has shown towards Laura”.

“We realise Laura has unintentionally done wrong in the eyes of the Egyptian authorities; a totally innocent action that has resulted in her being held in custody by the police in Hurghada,” she said.

“Laura, along with all of us, loves Egypt and upon visits to see Laura we have been happy with the professional and fair way the police officers have been with Laura and we would like to apologise for bringing such trouble to your country.”

Ms Plummer’s father Neville and her other sister, Jane, said the statement was not issued on their behalf and have made no further comment.

Image copyright Rachel Plummer
Image caption Laura Plummer said she had “no idea” the painkillers she was carrying were banned in the country

He said he met Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson last week and was reassured “the government is doing all it can” to support Laura and her family. The UK Foreign Office has not publicly commented.

Ms Plummer said earlier this month she had “no idea” the painkillers she was carrying were banned in the country.

But local police said ignorance of the law was no excuse.

Tramadol is the most abused drug in Egypt, according to Ghada Wali, the country’s Minister of Social Solidarity.

Drug smuggling can carry the death sentence in Egypt.

Pop star helps college mark anti bullying week

AN up-and-coming popstar has shared his experience of bullying with students at Bradford College.

Sam Ashby, who performs as Smashby, gave a talk and sang at the college to mark anti-bullying week.

The Bradford singer-songwriter spoke about the issues he faced during his school and college life, the friends he has and the friends he lost whilst coming out as gay and how to overcome negativity from others.

After the performance he Tweeted: “I had the best time performing and giving a talk for #antibullyingweek. Thank you so much for having me.”

He is a keen supporter of anti-bullying campaigns having last year released a cover version of True Colors by Zedd and Kesha.

His visit was among a host of activities arranged by the college to promote the week, including Bradford-based organisation, Empowering Minds delivering a bullying and harassment conference.

Man, 42, jailed for leading police on high-speed chase through housing estate

A CRACK cocaine user who was involved in a high-speed pursuit around a housing estate only nine days after being given police bail has been jailed for 22 months.

In August, 42-year-old Craig Stanley breached a restraining order by assaulting his partner at her Shipley home, but just over a week later he sped away from police after he being spotted driving a Vauxhall Meriva without insurance and without a licence.

Prosecutor Patrick Palmer told Bradford Crown Court on Monday that during the pursuit, which started shortly before 11pm on a Saturday, Stanley drove at up to 70mph in 30mph zones and went through a red light on the wrong side of the road.

Mr Palmer said Stanley was effectively doing “circuits” of the Holme Wood estate before he eventually crashed into a parked van.

“The defendant still managed to keep driving for a short distance before he stopped and attempted to run off,” said Mr Palmer.

The court heard that Stanley already had more than 30 convictions for nearly 70 offences on his record although he had no previous offences of dangerous driving.

At a hearing earlier this month Stanley, of Hall Street, Shipley, admitted breaching the restraining order and assaulting his partner and yesterday he was sentenced for those matters together with the dangerous driving, driving without a licence and without insurance.

Solicitor advocate Andrew Walker, for Stanley, conceded that his client had problems with Class A drugs, but he said the defendant had tried to address the addiction with a degree of success following his release from a previous jail sentence in May.

Mr Walker said Stanley’s use of crack cocaine was the catalyst for the domestic violence offences, but his partner was still standing by him.

He urged Judge Jonathan Rose to consider suspending the inevitable prison sentences saying that Stanley was now at a crossroads in his life.

But the judge said Stanley had an unenviable record and the restraining order imposed by the court appeared to have had no impact on him whatsoever.

Judge Rose said the dangerous driving offence committed while on bail indicated that Stanley did not care one jot for the law.

He ordered the forfeiture of the Vauxhall car used by Stanley in the incident and jailed him for 14 months on the dangerous driving.

But the judge added a further eight months to the sentence for the assault matters and breaching the restraining order.

Stanley was also banned from driving for three years and he must take and pass an extended driving test at the end of the disqualification period.