East Anglian devolution process questions arising

08:07 Friday 20th May 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

DOTTY MCLEOD: A deadline of next Friday has been set to reach an agreement on East Anglian devolution involving Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. This timescale was revealed in yesterday’s BBC devolution debate, organised by BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Radio Norfolk and Radio Suffolk. In the meantime a former civil servant has told me he also believes that unnamed local partners suggested Cambridgeshire joins the devolution arrangement, not the Government. Antony Carpen says he reached this conclusion after submitting Freedom of Information requests to the Government.
ANTONY CARPEN: Well I asked whether there was any formal commission or any request to Cambridgeshire, and the answer was again no commission from Ministers or private office exists. I’ve asked them. They’ve stated local partners put forward the proposals. I’ve asked them further who were those local partners, where is the transparency in this? And as we heard in your debate earlier, many people are complaining about lack of transparency.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So the reason that could be significant is because we’ve always been told before that it was the Government who suggested adding Cambridgeshire to a Norfolk and Suffolk devolution plan. The Government saying in these answers to Freedom of Information requests that actually that’s not the case. Who are these ‘local partners’ who stepped forward and suggested Cambridgeshire join in? Lots of unanswered questions then, and just seven days to reach an agreement on this. Our Political Reporter Hannah Olsson has spoken to the head of the East Anglian Devolution Leaders’ Board Andy Wood.
ANDY WOOD: The timescales as they stand, we really ought to be going back to Government next Friday with a good bit of the deal done. Of course after that there are a number of processes that kick in that lead through the summer and then into the autumn. And if we do finally get a deal done, to mayoral elections in May ’17. But as you can see from the discussions today, we are some way away from that. But we are making progress.
HANNAH OLSSON: So what’s happening at the moment in the next couple of weeks? Lots of meetings I imagine.
ANDY WOOD: Yes there are a number of meetings. Of course there are lots of people behind the scenes, employed by county councils and district councils, who are doing lots of work. So there’s lots of stuff going on, in the anticipation that we probably will get a deal. So there will be a number of meetings in that timescale as well of course, because I have no decision making powers in this. This is for local leaders, leaders of their places, to ultimately reach agreement and carry forward to Government. And I’m happy to carry that forward to Government for them.
HANNAH OLSSON: You have got people that are from all sorts of different areas, trying to bring those together to find a bit of common ground. Difficult job?
ANDY WOOD: Well there is. There’s a clearly a sort of county county county council boundaries.(sic) So there’s Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk. That’s one dimension. There’s an urban rural dimension. So there’s much of East Anglia is rural. But we’ve got Cambridge, we’ve got Norwich, we’ve got Peterborough, we’ve got Ipswich. We’ve got towns like Bury St Edmunds. They have a different feel to them. And then of course there’s a different political complexion. So there’s quite a bit of complexity in all of that. But actually overall leaders are focusing on can they get the best deal for their place, and can they get the best deal for East Anglia.
HANNAH OLSSON: So what will you be taking back to leaders from today’s discussion?
ANDY WOOD: Well I suspect a number of them heard it live. I suspect a number have followed it on Twitter. So they probably know anyway, but of course I’ll be talking to them. The big message I think has been the lack of transparency and the lack of communication around this. Now you can’t carry out a negotiation in public of course, and that may have been the reason why there has been a bit of radio silence. But actually we need to step up the communication. There’s no doubt about that. And that’s a big message from today.
DOTTY MCLEOD: That’s our Political Reporter Hannah Olsson talking with the head of East Anglian Devolution Leaders’ Board Andy Wood, who is also the CEO of the Suffolk brewery Adnams. Now Clare King who lives in Cambridge raised several concerns on Twitter while listening to our three county debate yesterday. Morning Clare.
CLARE KING: Morning.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So certain aspects of the way these devolution plans are working out really trouble you. What in particular has made you angry?
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Hospital merger proposal decried

“This document that came out today talks about savings in the region of £9 million. Well Peterborough has got a deficit of over £40 million. So there has to be more than that.”

j_djanogly17:11 Wednesday 18th May 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

CHRIS MANN: A merger between Hinchingbrooke and Peterborough City hospitals is looking ever more likely after senior bosses at both hospitals backed plans for a full merger between the two Trusts. An outline business case has been published recommending the merger. From April 2017 four options are being explored by the two Trusts. They say integrating services could save money. Option one would be to do nothing; two would see back offices merged; three the same but with just one executive team; option four would see a full integration into just one organisation. So they’re talking about saving money, but will it improve health care? A really key question, one we want to put now to the MP for Huntingdon, Jonathan Djanogly, who joins me now. Afternoon.
JONATHAN DJANOGLY: Good afternoon.
CHRIS MANN: Four options. Which one would you press?
JONATHAN DJANOGLY: We would go for no merger, but we accept that where savings can be made, they should be made. And where there’s joint working to be had, that should be encouraged. But in terms of the merger, it’s absolutely the vast majority position in my constituency that that would not be welcome.
CHRIS MANN: OK. So which of the options, one, two, three or four are you going for then?
JONATHAN DJANOGLY: Well they have gone for option four, which is a full merger. Although I think it’s very important to say that this is not their fixed outcome. This is basically their proposals, and now they sit down and go through the figures, and go through how the services would be split between the hospitals and so forth. So it’s actually at a vital stage over the next few months, and we will want to keep up the pressure then.
CHRIS MANN: So saving money is what appears to be top of the managers’ agenda. But improving health care is what the patients are worried about.
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Rebellion in the Tory ranks – keeping order on Peterborough City Council

He never actually resigned. Let’s make that absolutely clear.

inspection17:11 Friday 15th May 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PETER SWAN: Let’s focus on this evolving situation as regards Peterborough City Council. Now they say a week’s a long time in politics, and just seven days ago the Tories in Peterborough were opening the champagne after narrowly regaining control of the City Council. The Prime Minister even paid a visit to mark the occasion. But today it’s been a nail-biting few hours, as one of their number has been talking of resigning from the party to become an Independent. Sara who’s reading the news for you this afternoon and also producing is here to explain a little bit more about what’s been going on. Sara.
SARA VAREY: Well Peter as you say it all looked to be going so well. Here’s David Cameron in Peterborough just last week.
DAVID CAMERON: The people in Peterborough who worked so hard , who’ve done so well representing the people of this great city, that are seeing jobs being created, seeing businesses come to Peterborough, seeing great regeneration happening in Peterborough, homes being built in Peterborough, you won because you worked hard and you deserve to win. So have a celebration today, have a celebration over the weekend, and the work starts on Monday. I’ve got a small majority. John’s got a small majority. But I’m sure with the commitment and with the dedication you’ve all shown, you’re going to do great things for this great city. Thank you very much indeed.
SARA VAREY: Well the empties have barely been taken to the bottle bank and there’s trouble brewing. Tory councillor Gul Nawaz announced this morning he was thinking fo leaving the Tories.
PETER SWAN: OK. So just a few days. What’s he been thinking about?
SARA VAREY: Well summit meetings have been in progress all day. Peterborough’s MP Stewart Jackson said that he’d been in talks with Gul along with the Council Leader John Holdich.
PETER SWAN: So how then would this defection upset the balance? Clearly it’s very important.
SARA VAREY: It could be. The Tories has a majority of just one seat. They had 31 in a chamber of 60. That changed from 57, because this year they introduced new boundaries, and 3 extra councillors were elected, which makes a total of 60. Right? Are you following this?
PETER SWAN: Yes.
SARA VAREY: So if it was tied, it would be 30 all. 30 all. OK?
PETER SWAN: Yes.
SARA VAREY: With Labour .. because the Labour councillors hold 14 seats, so there’s no other big majority or bigger majority.
PETER SWAN: OK. So what is the mechanism therefore if it does end up tied?
SARA VAREY: The Mayor has the casting vote. And the way the Mayor is chosen has also changed.
PETER SWAN: OK. Right. So tell us more about that.
SARA VAREY: Under the new system, the longest-serving councillor gets the job, and the man who holds that title is David Sanders, who’s a Tory, which means there could still be a happy if somewhat precarious outcome.
PETER SWAN: Ok so that’s the mechanism of it all. Are we at an end now?
SARA VAREY: Well almost. Half an hour ago we heard that Gul had now decided to stay. He didn’t want to come on, but John Holdich has agreed to come on and he can fill us in.
PETER SWAN: Well I’ll tell you what we’ll do. We’ll head over and get the latest from the roads, and then we’ll speak to John and see if we can unpick all of this. Because certainly a lot to take on board.

TRAVEL

PETER SWAN: It’s been a very busy day in terms of Peterborough politics. The balance of power potentially looking like it may change, but now it looks as though it’s all going to stay the same. Let’s get a word then with the current Tory Leader of Peterborough City Council, John Holdich, who joins us now. Evening to you John.
JOHN HOLDICH: Good evening.
PETER SWAN: So you’ve had a busy few hours.
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PECT action on litter

bang_tidy10:23 Thursday 12th May 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: Litter a hot topic with you guys this morning. It really is. This from Trev in Manea who says:“We have a dedicated group. We get together once a month or so and tidy up in different parts of the village.” Great respect for them. Dale in Eye says:”Paul what an absolute disgrace and an awful introduction to England the link road is from Stansted Airport to the M11. It’s covered in litter and multiple potholes. It’s absolutely unbelievable.” Yes. And you know you could say well they should clear it up, they should clean it up. But should people have to clear up after people? And why? Why do some people in society think it’s acceptable to litter the countryside and just make it look a mess. Does it drive you mad? Just what goes on in the mind of someone who throws crisp packets out the car windows? Campaigners have found 20 year old crisp packets in the Forest of Dean. And we’ve found some old coke cans and all sorts this morning. And we’ve just had a little look. We haven’t even done it scientifically. Well let’s speak to Jen Orrell who’s on the Communities Team at Peterborough Environment City Trust, who try and look after Peterborough anyway. Jen, morning.
JENNIFER ORRELL: Good morning Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: What would you like to do with people who litter the countryside? Can we broadcast it?
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Rogue marker threatens SATs tests

molesworth17:42 Tuesday 10th May 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

CHRIS MANN: The Department of Education says it’s urgently investigating the online leak of a SATs test which has been taken today by 600,000 children aged ten and eleven in England. A source at the Department suggested to the BBC that primary school tests are being sabotaged by opponents of the Government’s reforms. The source blamed a rogue marker for the latest leak. Julie McCulloch is from the Association of School and College Leaders.
JULIE MCCULLOCH: We think it’s absolutely crucial that children are assessed, and that schools are held to account. We have serious concerns about the way that the SATs have changed this year. They have become significantly harder. Also what they’re actually assessing has changed, and that we think is probably the crucial thing to look at. Are they actually assessing the skills and the knowledge that children most need to succeed at secondary school and in their lives beyond, and we’re not convinced that they are.
CHRIS MANN: This is the second time in three weeks that a test paper has been published online. The answers to a spelling punctuation and grammar test had been mistakenly uploaded by the test supplier Pearson onto a password-protected website for test markers. The Schools Minister Nick Gibb told MPs an individual with access to the site then tried to leak them to a journalist, but it appeared they had not become public.
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Nationwide willing to lend money to pensioners

It tends to be the older people in society who’ve got a bit of cash. And the mortgage lenders just want some of that.

17:43 Monday 9th May 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

pensionersCHRIS MANN: At what age are you too old to be in debt? One of the UK’s biggest lenders says it will lend mortgages to people until they are would you believe eighty five. But is that sensible, and what difficulties might it create? Kevin Peachey is the BBC’s Personal Finance Reporter and he joined me a little earlier.
KEVIN PEACHEY: Well lenders general wanted people to pay off their mortgages by retirement, so they ensure that all of those repayments were made while people had a working wage. But now Nationwide, one of the biggest lenders in the country, says that from July it will allow some existing customers to have their mortgage until they’re eighty five. So that means a sixty year old taking out a twenty five year mortgage. And this move comes after their competitor Halifax raised its age limit from seventy five to eighty. So people in their eighties will still be paying off mortgages.
CHRIS MANN: I suppose it all reflects the changing demographic, and quite simply people are living longer anyway. Can everyone get such a loan?
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EU referendum – PM plays the patriot card

waterloo08:48 Monday 9th May 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

DOTTY MCLEOD: David Cameron is warning that peace in Europe could be put at risk if Britain votes to leave the EU in next month’s referendum. He’s going to be making a speech this morning. He’ll be warning that whenever the UK turns its back on its allies it always regrets it. Paul Rowley Political Correspondent is with me. How important is this speech Paul?
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Equal access to democracy

ac107:18 Friday 6th May 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

DOTTY MCLEOD: And just to go quickly to Anthony Carpen once more, who’s a political blogger and community activist in the Cambridge area. I haven’t been canvassed once in the run-up to this local election, which is a source of some disappointment, because I like to play a game where they knock on my door, and then I open it and try and guess the name of the councillor before they tell me their name. I know. The long evenings really do fly by in my household. Do you feel that canvassing has been at fever pitch?
ANTONY CARPEN: Certainly in some of the wards it has been. For example, Market and Romsey had the doors canvassed the hell out of.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Knocked on heavily.
ANTONY CARPEN: Whereas in other wards, Cherry Hinton for example, there were complaints from various people that they hadn’t received any election literature whatsoever. Now I think there are a couple of things to say about this. One is that there’s obviously a negative impact of political parties just targeting a small number of wards. But also for me democracy is not a spectator sport, and one of the things for me that goes with being a citizen is that isn’t there a responsibility for us as citizens to be proactive and find out who is standing in which areas. It’s one of the reasons why I created over fifty short YouTube videos featuring a number of candidates from all of the political parties standing either in the elections for local councils or for the Police and Crime Commissioner elections.
DOTTY MCLEOD: And Daniel, Anthony mentioning there Cherry Hinton ward, where I believe Rob Dryden who’s the Mayor of Cambridge, very very well known local figure, was standing and re-elected for Labour. Do you think there are some wards within the city where your party Labour has become complacent?
DANIEL ZEICHNER: I don’t think complacent, but I think all organisations work the system they’ve got. So you concentrate your resources. I think actually Labour does make a consistent attempt to make sure that everyone gets election literature. I’ve (something) Liberal Democrats have almost withdrawn completely from whole areas of the city, and just contest very hard these very marginal areas. So it does mean that everyone else gets left out, which is why I and others think a change to our electoral system would actually be good for our local democracy.

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