Care home closures at Peterborough hustings

11:45 Friday 1st May 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: Is it time we talked about adult social care in a serious way Stewart Jackson? Is it time we looked after our elderly in a better way, and spent more money on it? Surely not the time to be closing care homes, is it?
STEWART JACKSON: Well I’m not going to defend the City Council’s decision on care homes. They’ll have to come on and defend that themselves. My view is that in a sense adult social care and the co-ordination between acute district hospitals, GPs and the City Council is almost an issue above politics. Because none of us can stop the demographic change, the number of over 85’s doubling in the next twenty years.
PAUL STAINTON: And it’s time to do something now isn’t it Lisa Forbes, and everybody get together on this before it’s too late In thirty years time we’re all going to be looking after each other on zimmer frames, aren’t we?
Continue reading “Care home closures at Peterborough hustings”

David Cameron calls for pre-election private sector pay boost

labour_prime_minister09:23 Tuesday 10th February 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: When was the last time you had a payrise? Well never fear, because DC David Cameron is urging business leaders today to give their staff payrises. He will say that economic conditions have not been this good for such a long time. Well with us this morning to discuss what David Cameron has had to say about this is Darren Fower, LibDem Parliamentary candidate for Peterborough. Morning sir.
DARREN FOWER: Good morning Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: We’ve got Daniel Zeichner with us as well. He’s the Labour Parliamentary candidate for Cambridge. Morning Daniel.
PAUL STAINTON: And Vicky Ford, who’s the Conservative MEP for the East of England. Morning Vicky.
VICKY FORD: Morning.
PAUL STAINTON: He’s set the cat among the pigeons hasn’t he, DC this morning? We’re all going to get a payrise. I’m looking forward to it Vicky.
VICKY FORD: Oh well, it is the case that we are now the fastest growing economy in the Western world, and that’s all due to the Long Term Economic Plan working. And I think people would like to see pay rise, and this is the Prime Minister encouraging businesses to realise that the situation is looking better than it’s done for a while. And if they can afford to, let’s put some of that money back in people’s pockets.
PAUL STAINTON: Is he going to lead by example and put pensions up for pensioners,. give them a payrise?
VICKY FORD: This is looking at the private sector, not the public sector.
VICKY FORD: Because of course the public sector, you know, we still need to keep working on this debt and deficit, and correcting that mess that we were left behind by the last Government. So this is saying to the private sector, to businesses, growth is coming. They’ve done a good job. We’ve got two million more new jobs created by businesses. We’ve obviously given people a tax cut. 27 million people have benefited for that tax cut. That’s at the lowest end of pay.
PAUL STAINTON: But if things are so good Vicky, why doesn’t he practice what he preaches?
VICKY FORD: Well he is saying now it’s time for the private sector to also deliver on giving benefits. He has practiced what he’s preaching in that he has put the money through his low taxes into 27 million pockets. So your pay slip is looking better at the bottom line. But he’d like the businesses to start making it look better at the top line.
PAUL STAINTON: Good news Daniel, isn’t it, that the economy is doing so well? Good news that we can all afford as a small business, medium business, to give our employees a payrise apparently.
DANIEL ZEICHNER: Well the hypocrisy is just breathtaking, isn’t it? Cameron is the boss of millions of workers in this country, National Health Service workers for instance. And has he even followed the advice of his own independent pay review body? Not at all. So what he’s doing is he’s ambling out of his champagne reception from last night, wandering along to the Chambers of Commerce, and just basically saying to Britain’s hard working business leaders, you should do it. I’m not prepared to do it. And don’t forget that people are now something like £1600 a year worse off. This is going to be the first time that people have gone into a General Election worse off than at the last election. We’ve got 1.4 million people on zero-hours contracts. Frankly Cameron is not going to deliver on any of this. It’s just a pre-election speech, and I hope people will see through it.
PAUL STAINTON: We’ve spoken to the Chairman of Cambridgeshire’s Chamber of Commerce, John Bridge. He can’t come on this morning because he’s actually at the conference and just taking his seat. But he says he’d “prefer the Government to keep their opinions to themselves and focus on bringing in investment and developing growth. many businesses can’t afford pay rises at this time, so to recommend them isn’t very wise.” Darren Fower, where’s the LibDems? Stop him. I thought that was what you were doing. You were reining him in. Continue reading “David Cameron calls for pre-election private sector pay boost”

Peterborough Council resists online access to public meetings.

democracy_live07:07 Thursday 24th July 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[P]AUL STAINTON: So the big question this morning: how do we get you more interested in local politics? Or is it just boring and you feel you’ve got no say and you can never be interested? Well in the last few years we’ve had the fallout from the MPs expenses scandal, Russell Brand urging people to abandon modern-day politics, and an increase in people using local elections to just send a message to Westminster. In some areas of the county like Hampton in Peterborough, only a 24% turnout at the last election. One councillor in Peterborough thinks he’s got the answer to all this. He thinks council meetings should be streamed online. It’s something that Cambridgeshire County Council have just started doing. Well Cllr. Darren Fower put forward the idea at the Full Council meeting last night. Darren, good morning.
DARREN FOWER: Good morning Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: And what was the response?
DARREN FOWER: I suppose the simple response, the term would be negative, narrow-minded, short-sighted. Yes, they didn’t really go with it.
PAUL STAINTON: Oh. Right. So they thought it was a bad idea. Why did they say they didn’t want people wanting council meetings?
DARREN FOWER: It’s not necessarily a new concept. The Liberal Democrats have been putting this forward for at least six or seven years. About five years ago my colleague Cllr. Sandford, he put forward a motion that was actually accepted, to look at a similar sort of set-up. And surprise, surprise, five years later nothing’s happened. We got told that they were thinking about the idea, but the bottom line is the people of Peterborough, they deserve to see how things actually work within the chamber. And my belief is if it was streamed live, you might find that there’s a different result when it comes to local elections.
PAUL STAINTON: You think it might open people’s eyes a little bit as to what goes on and how people behave.
DARREN FOWER: Absolutely. Absolutely. Again last night we had some very narrow-minded views and comments. We know that times are tough, but the bottom-line is they spend so much money on generating bits of paper, and the people of Peterborough should be entitled, or have at least have the opportunity to log on, watch and dare I say even vote on certain things that are being discussed. And then if they decide to leave they can. But yes, I’m afraid I personally think that we’ve still got a city council that doesn’t want people to see the truth, and they prefer to try and control the news that comes out of Town Hall.
PAUL STAINTON: Or is it just the fact that they’re not very photogenic.
DARREN FOWER: (LAUGHS) Well I for one have never been photogenic, so that’s not a factor that I take into account.
PAUL STAINTON: Well I’ll back you up there.
DARREN FOWER: I know you will. But it is one of those things whereby even from the news point of view, from journalists, from the work that you guys do, you’re coming into our county, you need to be able to access. In today’s modern world, it is 2014 after all, and you should be able to go somewhere now, and people who are waking up this morning, getting ready to go to work, should be able to either listen into something, or go somewhere and see actually what really happened. Because unfortunately we have a city council that does generate minutes, but surprise surprise some things are often omitted.
PAUL STAINTON: Would it be interesting though? Wouldn’t people be bored? Some of it’s dull as ditch water, isn’t it?
DARREN FOWER: Yes, and there is that political strategy that does occur whereby techniques are used to either dismiss people that are being discussed .. but the bottom line is the City Council has a very very important job. It’s there to represent the people of Peterborough. And quite simply if the people of Peterborough want to tune in and see what’s being said, as I say, even if it’s just for fifteen, twenty minutes, it doesn’t have to be the three hours, they should be entitled to.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. Richard Taylor is with us as well. He’s an activist. He films and promotes local politics in Cambridge. You’ve tried to film meetings in the past. You’ve got yourself in a bit of hot water from time to time as well, haven’t you?
Continue reading “Peterborough Council resists online access to public meetings.”

Councillors in Cahoots

image09:35 Thursday 17th April 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[A]NDIE HARPER: The Liberal Democrats in Peterborough caused a stir last night after walking out of the City Council meeting. They were protesting against a decision to give five senior officers in the Council pay rises ranging from £10,000 to £30,000 a year. Councillor Darren Fower told the Bigger Breakfast Show why he led the walkout.
DARREN FOWER: I made the point that the whole thing had reached a new level in PottyBorough. I think the phrase I used was obfuscation personified, as far as I’m concerned. Luckily my colleagues supported me. And the only thing we could do at the end of the day was to protest by walking out, and showing our dissatisfaction with what we considered to be a truly truly out of touch, insane idea.
ANDIE HARPER: Darren Fower talking earlier. But is walking out of a meeting the best way of making a political statement? The Liberal Democrat group leader for Peterborough is Nick Sandford, and I’m delighted to say he joins me now. Nick, good morning to you.
NICK SANDFORD: Morning Andie.
ANDIE HARPER: Was much thought given to how you would register your protest? Or was this something which just happened off the cuff, almost?
Continue reading “Councillors in Cahoots”

Scarce Funds Squandered On Vain Posturing

dandies08:20 Wednesday 24th April 2013
Bigger Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[P]AUL STAINTON: Creating the UK’s Environment Capital. (MUSIC: THIS IS A SIGN OF THE TIMES) That’s the claim made by Peterborough City Council. A series of new signs that are popping up around the city’s boundaries. The Council are spending three thousand pounds replacing the Welcome signs and posts. The current ones have apparently reached the end of their natural. But are they wasting a stack of cash, and is the slogan just a little bit premature? Well Councillor Darren Fower is the LibDem councillor for South Werrington and North Gunthorpe. Morning.
DARREN FOWER: Morning sir.
PAUL STAINTON: Would you like a nice three thousand pound sign on your front lawn?
DARREN FOWER: Oh yes. What a great idea this one is. The latest one out of the Council machine. Continue reading “Scarce Funds Squandered On Vain Posturing”

Winter Draws On

08:10 Tuesday 9th October 2012
Bigger Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: Both city councils in the county need to up their game when it comes to green issues. That’s what we’ve been hearing this morning on the show. The comments come ahead of a meeting tonight, where a new five year green strategy for Cambridge will be approved. The main target is to cut carbon emissions, something the city council’s failed to do in the past, much to the annoyance of local environmental campaigner Tony Juniper. Continue reading “Winter Draws On”

Your Job – To Take The Blame When Things Go Wrong

07:20 Wednesday 23rd May 2012
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: A new department has been created by Peterborough City Council to liaise with the organisation responsible for the services that we’ve outsourced. I know it’s confusing, but we’ll sort it out in a minute. Four new positions have been advertised, but they could cost you about 140 grand a year. Do we need another layer of bureaucracy? Or is it necessary for all the city’s services to run like a well-oiled machine, that we need to emply people to put the oil on? Let’s get the opinion of Liberal Democrat councillor Darren Fower. .. So, as I understand it, we’re creating a department for services that we don’t run anymore.
DARREN FOWER: That’s basically it, isn’t it? I think this is a massive indicator to show that the decision by this administration in regards to flogging off the important services to the private organisations isn’t working out. And this is going to be a massive kick in the teeth to the hundreds of council workers who’ve lost their jobs in recent years, and also to some of those who’ve been transferred to these organisations who I understand are having a bit of a torrid time.
PAUL STAINTON: I’m pleased to say that with me in the studio is councillor Matthew Dalton, the Cabinet Member for Communications. .. We’re creating a department to look after things that we don’t run any more. You can understand why some people might be a bit taken aback by that.
MATTHEW DALTON: Well I can understand why Darren thinks that this is an easy hit on the administration. It sound something nice, you can come on the radio ..
PAUL STAINTON: No. I’m confused. Me too. Continue reading “Your Job – To Take The Blame When Things Go Wrong”

Peterborough LibDems Absent From Crucial Vote on Housing Expansion

08:26 Thursday 19th May 2012
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: Sounds like an interesting meeting last night. What was it like?
DARREN FOWER: Well I wasn’t there, so I’m afraid I can’t ..
PAUL STAINTON: You weren’t there?
DARREN FOWER: I wasn’t there. I was out in the ward I’m afraid. I was doing ward work.
PAUL STAINTON: Shouldn’t you be at Full Council meetings? Continue reading “Peterborough LibDems Absent From Crucial Vote on Housing Expansion”