Bournemouth Council supporting the ‘sell off’ of public services

At a time when local authorities’ budgets are being savagely cut by central govt leading to the loss of public sector jobs and services; it seems reasonable to expect that our local councils would be doing everything in their power to use all their available resources to support and retain public services. However that does not seem to be the case with Bournemouth Borough Council.

An event is being advertised on the website of Business Events in Dorset under the heading “Winning Public Sector Business – an introduction to bid writing/tendering”. It has the full backing of the Bournemouth Borough Council and similar events have been held for several years which were presumably funded by them.

The half day free workshop session is aimed at small & medium sized enterprises “looking for any Public Sector Contract” and encourages them to “book NOW on a ‘Winning public sector business’ workshop so you can avoid the typical mistakes and pick up tips and best practice when completing a PQQ, ITT or tender document” to give them the best chance of winning. The workshop is described as a “mixture of presentation, case study, group work and most importantly for you working on a tender that you could bid for.”

Even if we put aside the fact it is highly questionable whether the council should be tendering out our public services to the highest bidder; what mandate do they have to use local taxpayer’s money to encourage and support businesses in that very act?

Locally Bournemouth Council is shedding hundreds of jobs through ‘efficiency savings’ – yes that means cuts – and many employees who were employed by the council are being transferred to private sector employers. This very often leads to the employees having to take a cut in pay, changes to shift allowances and lose out on annual leave and sick pay entitlement.

It could be said that the jury is out whether these private sector companies will provide the same level of service to the public. However, most will already have heard stories in the media where it is simply not the case and when a service is moved from the non-profit public sector to a profit making private company, it would seem blindingly obvious that the amount of money made available for the quality of the service offered will severely diminish.

It is also unclear whether services that were constantly audited within the public sector have these rigid checks maintained within the private sector; and it is also unclear who monitors the quality of services being offered. Private companies are also not liable to release information under Freedom of Information requests even though they are providing a public service. Added to this, there is the question of accountability whereby several changes of service providers may lead to any faults / complaints being passed between them whilst they argue who is liable to correct the situation.

Serious questions need to be asked of Bournemouth Borough Council why they make such radical decisions to not only sell off our public’s services but also pay for the training of private companies to assist them in ‘winning’ the contracts.<

The list of contact details for Bournemouth Councillors can be found by clicking here

The battle of the bedroom tax: A summary for beginners

Reblogged from CMS Home – Social Housing and Policy

The bedroom tax is big news – you can’t have missed it. You’ve probably already chosen sides. But it’s complicated too. When Cameron muddled the details in Parliament, even Miliband didn’t notice. Read on, if you want to find out what’s really going on.

A massive cut in housing benefit – thinly disguised as an attempt to rationalise the use of scarce resources – is about to have a huge impact on 660,000 of the poorest households in the country.[1] It will also have a lasting effect on their social landlords.

From 1 April 2013, social housing tenants of working age who are ‘under-occupying’ their homes will see their housing benefit cut by:

  • 14% of their full rent for one bedroom ‘too many’, or
  • 25% of their full rent for two or more bedrooms ‘too many’.

For some people this means they will no longer receive housing benefit at all.

Answering the myths

Myth 1:
It’s only fair to cut subsidies for rooms that aren’t being used

The largest group of genuine under-occupiers – especially in the South – are elderly people, who are not affected by this change.[2] In the North, where social housing landlords tend to provide larger properties than in the South, many households are allocated social rented homes with more bedrooms than they need – because it’s all that’s available.

The Government accepts that most people will not be able to move, because there aren’t enough smaller homes to move to. And that’s not just in the social housing sector. Private landlords have always been reluctant to rent their properties to people on benefits, but an increasing number of mortgage lenders are actually prohibiting their buy-to-let landlords from doing so.

So, most people will be forced to stay put and pay more. Social landlords know this is a ticking time bomb. An Ipsos Mori survey for the National Housing Federation reported in January that around 84% of housing associations expect their rent arrears to increase – by an average of 51%. Shockingly, more than half reported that their tenants knew little or nothing about what to expect.

Spokespeople from the Department of Work and Pensions have suggested that people will just need to work an hour or two more to pay the extra – but this is not true, as means testing would claw back most of any extra earned.[3]

Myth 2:
Similar rules already apply to local housing allowance (The name for rent benefits paid to people renting privately)
People renting privately have a cap on how much they can claim, depending on the size of their household and the area they live in. They aren’t specifically penalised because of the number of bedrooms they have. However, since tighter rules were introduced, many privately renting tenants have had to move to smaller homes in cheaper areas. Some have had to uproot their families, leaving behind schools, family support and local connections.

But the bedroom tax targets the number of bedrooms a tenant has, regardless of the actual cost, and it ‘fines’ people who are deemed to have too many. It is up to landlords to define how many bedrooms there are in each property. In practice, social landlords are more likely than a private landlord to call a box room or small second living room a bedroom. One reason is that housing associations have to satisfy their lenders by keeping the value of their assets high and getting the most rent possible.

And there are other, more important, differences. Social housing, by definition, tends to house a high proportion of vulnerable people. Households with disabled members, who make up at least two-thirds of the people affected by the bedroom tax (see below) are twice as likely to be social housing tenants as non-disabled people.

Myth 3:
A bedroom is a bedroom is a bedroom

There are several statutory definitions for the minimum size for a bedroom – and they differ. For the purposes of the bedroom tax, if your social housing tenancy agreement says you have three bedrooms, you pay a three-bedroom rent, whatever the size of the smallest room. The National Housing Federation has explained this more fully here.

Some tenants may find they are expected to put two children into a tiny box room, or even an adult child and their partner. Housing lawyers are expecting some challenges on this point as arrears cases start to come to court.

Myth 4:
Every under-occupier actually has empty rooms

Not true. Under the rules, you are only allowed a bedroom for:

  • a couple
  • a single person aged 16+
  • two same-sex children under 16
  • any two children under 10
  • another child
  • a carer for a disabled person who sometimes stays over.

For the time being, you can keep a room for a student studying away from home – providing they spend at least a week at home each year. (The rule is set to change to six months in the future.)

However, it took until 12 March 2013 for the Government to agree that foster children could be counted (providing the tenant has fostered, or started fostering, within the past year). They conceded this after lots of adverse publicity and a letter from 11 charities, who warned that this could stop some people from fostering. Unfortunately, within 24 hours, it emerged that only one bedroom would be allowed – regardless of the number of children being fostered. This will hit people wanting to foster siblings.

Also on 12 March, the Government finally conceded that someone on a tour of duty with the armed forces could have a room to come back to. Almost immediately, military charities were expressing doubts as to whether this would include someone away on training exercises.

You are still not allowed extra bedrooms because you share childcare with your ex-partner or are a disabled person living in an adapted property – even if it was adapted especially for you. You are not automatically allowed a room for a child who needs to sleep away from siblings, even if that child is disabled (more on this below).

A phone survey carried out for three housing associations found that 72% of ‘under-occupying’ households included a disabled member, with 20% of under-occupiers living in specially adapted homes. Some 9% reported storing essential medical equipment in a spare room. Many had disabled children who needed a room of their own. Speaking in the ‘under-occupation’ parliamentary debate on 27 February 2013, SNP MP Stewart Hosie reported that 80% of those affected in Scotland are disabled.

The housing association phone survey also identified that 15% of couples did not share a bedroom, 13% regularly shared parenting and 4% slept separately as they worked shifts. Half of the families used their ‘spare room’ to give a child their own bedroom.

Myth 5:
Well the rules are fair enough, people will just have to live with them

The Government has been facing a series of human rights challenges on its rules about who should be allowed to have a bedroom and who should be forced to share.

In 2012, the Government lost three relevant cases on appeal, involving the Article 14 human rights of private sector disabled tenants. [4] The Government gave way on the first two cases (which established the need for a bedroom for overnight carers), but it intended to take a third case (around the need for a separate bedroom for some disabled children) all the way to the Supreme Court. The Government finally backed down on 12 March, adding this to the day’s list of concessions. However, in this case, they made the concession discretionary. In future, tenants in this situation – whether renting privately or from a social sector landlord – will be able to apply to their local authority for a discretionary exemption from the bedroom tax. [* Thank you to Sue for clarification on this point – see comments.]

In early March 2013, new legal challenges were launched against the bedroom tax on behalf of a disabled couple and five families with disabled children. The challenges were due to argue that the under-occupation rules break Article 14 of the Human Rights Act and Article 28 of the UN Convention, by ignoring their needs as disabled people. Despite the u-turn on the earlier case (which makes some of the new cases relating to children academic), the adults and some of the children are likely to go ahead with their challenges. The first judicial review case is to be heard in May 2013.

On 21 March, Liberty, the civil rights charity, announced that it was launching a judicial review on the issue of parents sharing custody of children. It will argue that the rights of three parents, who will lose benefit because they are not their children’s primary carers (defined for the bedroom tax as being the person who claims child benefit) are being denied. The appeal will use Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to a private and family life) and Article 14 (which outlaws discrimination) to challenge the legality of these rules.

Myth 6:
Discretionary Housing Payments will sort out the worst anomalies

Local authorities have been given additional funding to help out families caught in the worst circumstances. Adverse press and lobbying led the Government to concede another £25m to this pot for disabled wheelchair users in significantly adapted properties. But this cannot help every disabled person affected, because fewer than one in 10 disabled people uses a wheelchair. [5] Since the u-turn on 12 March, the funding will also have to cover disabled children who cannot share a bedroom.

An additional £5m set aside for foster carers has been taken back since the decision to allow them to have one extra bedroom.

These discretionary payments are designed to avoid the Government having to change the bedroom rules. They offer a concession as a nod to the legal challenges. The Government is hoping that most disabled people and foster carers will simply come up with the extra money.

Myth 7:<
The bedroom tax will save money

Many in the housing sector doubt this. See also the National Housing Federation Report of 28 March 2013 (p3). Tenants who manage to move to privately rented homes will actually cost more in benefits, because rents are higher in the private sector. Also, tenants with children who are evicted for rent arrears by their social housing landlord may end up registered with their council as homeless – with all the associated costs of providing them with temporary housing.

Social landlords are preparing to spend large sums on extra rent collection staff and welfare and debt advice – very probably at the expense of their community work. Housing lawyers are expecting a stream of possession cases against people who have, up until the bedroom tax, been good payers. Unlike poor payers in the past, who could offer to pay their arrears off gradually, these will be people who really cannot pay their rent, let alone a bit extra. This is a new twist and likely to lead to more defences that challenge the application of the rules.

One housing association has decided to reclassify the size of 500 of its homes, which will let some of their tenants off the bedroom tax hook, but at a cost to the organisation of £250k in lower rents. A housing consultancy recently blogged advising landlords to reconsider collecting the bedroom tax – they say landlords should do the maths, because they might even lose less this way. To take this step, housing associations would first have to check whether their lenders or covenants allow them this flexibility.

However, as the article points out, there are wider economic implications. Durham County Council has estimated the impact of welfare reform as a whole on its local economy in 2013 as £150m. Lowering rents, especially in the North, could put more money in tenants’ pockets – with a knock-on effect for the whole area.

Of course, the bottom line is that, if the housing benefit bill drops because landlords are charging lower rents, the Government will, in effect, have achieved a saving by passing on the cost of housing support to social housing landlords.

Myth 8:
The bedroom tax will help solve overcrowding

In its report issued on 28 March (see p2), the National Housing Federation points out that in the North under-occupiers in the social and private rented sectors outnumber overcrowded households by 3:1. It arrives at this figure using the Government’s own data.

By contrast, in the South, there are many families living in overcrowded conditions. In theory, the bedroom tax is supposed to encourage under-occupying tenants to move elsewhere, freeing up larger homes. However, in practice, the shortage of smaller homes means this cannot happen on any real scale – unless literally thousands of people are moved between the North and South. The massively reduced amount of state funding for building social housing (it dropped by 63% in 2010) and the harsh climate for social housing landlords seeking loans – makes building out of the crisis a non-starter.

Affinity Sutton has pointed to an unintended possible consequence of the bedroom tax. Older people who really need to move somewhere smaller, and who may genuinely have a larger home to free up, are going to find it harder, because they will have to compete with demand from people needing to downsize because of the bedroom tax.

And in case you assumed all claimants are unemployed…

In fact, 28% of housing benefit claimants are over pension age. Amongst those of working age, 24% are actually in work (a figure that has grown by 10% since the start of the crisis in 2008). [6] The size of the housing benefit bill is not just about unemployment. It is also about low wages and pensions, and the high cost of housing – especially now that as much as a third of former council housing may be owned by private landlords.

[1] See page 10 of the Government’s own Impact Assessment.

[2] However, blogger Joe Halewood points out that the new rules may hit many couples where only one is a pensioner.

[3] Affinity Sutton have calculated that someone working 16 hours at the minimum wage will need to work 32 more hours to pay a £14 a week increase. See here.

[4] Burnip v Birmingham CC, Trengove v Walsall MBC, and Gorry v Wiltshire C [2012] See analysis.

[5] The National Housing Federation has calculated a shortfall of £100m for disabled people. See here.

[6] See the TUC blog.

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Francesca Martinez on cuts and austerity at the People’s Assembly launch

Click here for more information about The People’s Assembly being held on Saturday 22 June 2013, 9:30am – 5pm at Central Hall Westminster, Storey’s Gate, London, Westminster, London SW1H 9NH.

Click here to sign the War on Welfare petition.

Click here to view Francesca’s full article “Hands off our Public Services” at Huffington Post UK.

Telling Truth About Universal Credit Would Be ‘Mental’ Admits DWP Chief

thevoidReblogged from The Void

universal-credit-shambles

Iain Duncan Smith’s bodged welfare reforms could be falling apart at the seams according to Whitehall insiders. The Independent today reveals that Universal Credit is now a year behind schedule, £100 million over budget and that senior figures involved in the new benefit roll out have quit.

A government adviser on information technology is reported to have said: “IDS, like other ministers before him, has been hypnotised by promises of what an online system can deliver. Warnings were given to him more than a year ago. They were ignored.”

Universal Credit is dependent on a colossal database and IT system being created which is far more ambitious than has ever been attempted by any country previously. The new benefit regime will be digital by default, meaning millions of people, many of whom don’t have and can’t afford internet connections at home, will only be able to access benefits from Jobcentres and libraries.

Whilst Iain Duncan Smith has claimed that Universal Credit will simplify the benefits system and ensure that being in work always pays it seems that neither of these objectives are likely to be met. Increasingly there have been warnings that many working people could be worse off under the new regime.

Already the new benefit is mired in complexity, as the reality of throwing away 50 years of steady development in welfare administration is thrown away to be replaced by Iain Duncan Smith’s increasingly crazed schemes.

Iain Duncan Smith and Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Fraud have repeatedly announced policy off the cuff, with little thought as to whether the new systems can be made to work in reality. Bodged proposals to deal with everything from how rent payments to supported housing such as Women’s Refuges will be administered or how free school meals will be managed have been invented on the spur of the moment with barely a thought for the practicalities.

Research which recently suggested that just under half of social housing tenants are expected to fall into budgeting difficulties and be unable to pay rent has even been presented by Lord Fraud as somehow representing good news.

The social costs when the new system is implemented are chilling. Part time workers could be bullied by Jobcentre staff to give up their jobs in favour of temporary full time work. Single parents with young children could be compelled to work from dawn to dusk with reduced childcare support or face sanctions which mean they are unable to feed their kids. Sick or disabled claimants will face unprecedented harassment and brutal benefit sanctions if they are not judged to be trying hard enough to find non-existent jobs. A combination of the new payment system and benefit caps have meant that many private landlords are saying they will no longer let to benefit claimants due to the complexity of the new plans.

Astonishingly Universal Credit won’t even save any money and is likely to cost far more to administrate than the current system.

Today’s revelations reveals that behind the scenes the implementation of Universal Credit is equally shambolic.

Whilst the new benefit system was intended to be rolled out in just next April it now seems that these will just be small pilot projects in Chesire and Manchester. With just six months to go, The Independent claims a complete reorganisation of the complex IT system is now taking place which could add another half a billion to the cost by next Spring.

The Universal Credit programme director Malcolm Whitehouse, and the DWP’s head of IT, Steve Dover, are both reported to have left the DWP last week. Other key staff are also claimed to have left whilst the civil servant in charge is on extended sick leave.

The small pilots which have taken place to test the IT system are reported to have reported errors in dates and payments, with one trial involving just 400 claimants being described as ‘chaotic’.

None of this is likely to stop Iain Duncan Smith whose defiant charge into political oblivion may yet drag half the country with him. It will not just be benefit claimants who suffer as rents go unpaid, debts are defaulted on and household bills are unpaid. With 18 million people likely to be affected by the change to Universal Credit, a bungled roll out could send the economy into meltdown.

And bungling is what Iain Duncan Smith does best as he attempts to steamroll through the welfare reforms he designed on the back of an envelope after watching an episode of Shameless. The end result could be a shambles that dwarfs anything we’ve seen so far from this toff Government.

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DWP’s culture of sanctions, denials and bad policy

The government has been forced to launch an inquiry after it was forced to admit that jobcentres have been setting targets and league tables to sanction benefit claimants despite recent assurances to parliament that no such targets were being set. The Employment Minister, Mark Hoban, had told MPs that decisions on sanctioning claimants “need to be based on whether people have breached the agreements they have set out with the jobcentre, and there are no targets in place”.

However a leaked email (click here to view original) shows staff being warned by managers that they will be disciplined unless they increase the number of claimants referred to a tougher benefit regime. In the email the Jobcentre manager sets out ways jobcentre staff can catch out claimants, saying: “You should consider every doubt – if you are unsure then please conference with me.”

The advice includes: “Do not accept the same job search every week, do not accept ‘I dropped off CV to shops like Asda or Sainsbury’s’, listen for telltale phrases ‘I pick up the kids’, ‘I look after my neighbours children/my grandchildren’ or just ‘I am busy’ – all of which suggest that the customer may not be fully available for work, even cases where a parent shares custody can be considered.” The Jobcentre manager also said someone can be deemed not to be actively seeking employment, and therefore subject to sanction “if someone is going away from home, but is not willing to return to take up employment, not willing to leave details of how they can be contacted should a job become available or not looking for work whilst away”.

Faced with the email, the DWP said: “We are urgently investigating what happened in this case. If a manager has set a local target for applying sanctions this is against DWP policy and we will be taking steps to ensure these targets are removed immediately.”

The recent denials of Mark Hoban, Iain Duncan Smith and the DWP seem to fly in the face of honesty when as long ago as April 2011 the govt admitted Jobcentre staff around the country have been involved in a drive to kick people off benefits amid pressure to meet welfare targets set by their managers. And even back then the govt initially dismissed revelations made by another whistleblower who said staff at his jobcentre was given targets of three people a week to refer for sanctions, where benefits are removed for up to six months.

He said it was part of a “culture change” since last summer that had led to competition between advisers, teams and regional offices. “Suddenly you’re not helping somebody into sustainable employment, which is what you’re employed to do,” he said. “You’re looking for ways to trick your customers into ‘not looking for work’. You come up with many ways. I’ve seen dyslexic customers given written job searches, and when they don’t produce them – what a surprise – they’re sanctioned. The only target that anyone seems to care about is stopping people’s money. Saving the public purse’ is the catchphrase that is used in our office … It is drummed home all the time – you’re saving the public purse. Feel good about stopping someone’s money, you’ve just saved your own pocket. It’s a joke.”

The Guardian also spoke to several Jobcentre staff who, speaking anonymously, claim that targets and pressure to stop people’s benefits still existed in their office, and that vulnerable clients are often affected. One employee claimed the practice had been going on at his office since they joined in July 2009.

These revelations are very disturbing considering that from 22 October 2012, a new level of sanctions was introduced which meant people could have their benefit stopped for up to 3 years. How exactly people are meant to survive without any form of income is bewildering and the fact that a decision may be reached to meet a set target should be a concern for everyone.

Jobcentre sanctions: Your money is stopped; you go into freefall

All this comes at a time when the government have pushed through emergency legislation to reverse the outcome of a court of appeal decision and “protect the national economy” from a £130m payout to jobseekers deemed to have been unlawfully punished.

Tessa Gregory from Public Interest Lawyers, who successfully represented Reilly and Wilson at the court of appeal, said the legislation smacked of desperation.

“The emergency bill is a repugnant attempt by the secretary of state for work and pensions to avoid his legal obligation to repay the thousands of jobseekers, who like my client Jamieson Wilson, have been unlawfully and unfairly stripped of their subsistence benefits.

“The use of retrospective legislation, which is being fast-tracked through parliament, smacks of desperation. It undermines the rule of law and means that Iain Duncan Smith is once again seeking to avoid proper parliamentary scrutiny of his actions.

“It is time for his department to admit that maladministration and injustice costs. In light of the bill we are considering what further legal action we can take on behalf of our clients.”

The govt’s precarious stance on all this is nothing new. A constant theme with their ‘back to work schemes’ and implementation of sanctions seems to be one of ill thought out rushed through policies based on ‘their’ ideologies rather getting people back into work or indeed factual evidence. Someone looking in from the outside could quite easily come to the conclusion that a vast section of the population is being persecuted simply because they are unable to find work through no fault of their own.

Around one in 10 of those who are assigned to the Work Programme, an £5 billion initiative which uses private-sector providers to train the long-term unemployed and get them into work, end up losing their benefits for failing to “play by the rules.” From the start of the scheme in June 2011 up to April 2012, more than 73,000 claimants were “sanctioned” out of a total of 734,000 referred to the programme.

The Work Programme isn’t working. It’s a £5 billion pound failure. Not one of the 18 contractors reached the target set by the government of getting 5.5% of clients a job for at least six months. Only 3.5% of people referred to work programme found jobs lasting six months.

But that’s not even the whole story. Workfare industry lobbyists the CESI have calculated that the real figure of people getting any kind of employment on the scheme in its first 12 months is in fact just 2.1%. The government’s target for minimum performance by providers is 5.5%. Even these pro-workfare industry lobbyists have now stated “this suggests that the Work Programme as a whole is underperforming against contractual expectations, even when accounting for changes in the economy.”

Sources:
Jobcentre was set targets for benefit sanctions – Guardian
DWP seeks law change to avoid benefit repayments after Poundland ruling – Guardian
Government admits Jobcentres set targets to take away benefits – Guardian
Jobcentres ‘tricking’ people out of benefits to cut costs, says whistleblower – Guardian
Jobless stripped of benefits in Government scheme – Telegraph
Boycott Workfare: Week of Action 18th – 24th March: Local events
Important changes to Jobseeker’s Allowance Sanctions from Monday 22 October 2012

Report of public meeting about proposed windfarms

A public meeting organised by Bournemouth Conservative councillors was held on 23rd March at The Royal Bath Hotel about the proposed offshore windfarms which would be situated 12 miles off Bournemouth beach. The following is a report of this meeting by local activist Stewart MacArthur

I attended the talk in Bournemouth yesterday. I think the session was introduced by Cllr Mike Green?

First in was Cllr Beesley who said Navitus/Eneco has not been transparent, open and treating people like children. The usual concerns that it’s a World Heritage Site and Tourism affected and that Eneco would only confirm the final design of turbines – post consent.

Andrew Langley from Challenge Navitus
Highlighted that area is a national asset already and the project deserves close scrutiny. Gave some stats…
Navitus is now on round 3 of the public consultation.
Britain’s big wind farm areas are in the North Sea and Irish Sea and are located outside a 12 mile Nautical Mile zone. Bournemouth (zone 7) proposed site is within the 12 Nautical Miles. He highlighted the size of Navitus windfarm area. If transposed onto a land map, the site stretches from Sandbanks Peninsula to Ringwood, to Verwood, to Wimborne back to Sandbanks.
Is half the size of the I.O.W.
Anything between 138 to 218 wind turbines.
Durlston has the most affected views.
Turbines are 2 and a half times the height of I.O.W.
Highlighted we live in World Heritage site. Eneco the Dutch state owned corp. all there 100MW turbines in Dutch seas are 12 miles off shore and all smaller than Navitus proposed site and show considerable less impact visually than Navitus Bay.

Ray Pointer from Poole & Christchurch Bay Association (PCBA)
Phase 3 of Navitus ends 5th April.
Phase 4. Autumn 2013
Planning application: Feb/March 2014
The Secretary of State’s decision will be in 2015.
Listed the concerns, visual impact, environment, sailing and navigation.
Highlighted on Navitus’s consultation brochure page25. That their turbine diagram was inaccurate. The stem of turbine was accurate but the wings of the turbines were not, and are in fact much bigger.
Stated that all European companies and wind farms do not allow farms inside of 12 miles.
Eneco may only create 100+ jobs.
And put forward the thoughts of existing views on visitors to Bournemouth, that a main draw to the resort was the unspoilt beautiful views, and comparing to what may be the view by 2023.
Various diagrams showing scale of turbines against known landmarks such as The Gherkin London, Salisbury Cathedral. Imax. Bus, and sail boat.

Mark Smith Director of Tourism Bournemouth
Tourism brings half a Billion to the area.
Creates 18,000 jobs.
Scotland has the most existing wind farms and therefore the most research stats.
1 in 9 people are put off by going to an area with windfarms.
18% actively avoid going to an area with windfarm.
Holland & Germany have fixed exclusion zones on their windfarms.
Windfarms affect business and property prices.
Dutch beach goers have uninterrupted views due to their exclusion zones.
Navitus have not provided the facts and took up to 15 months to receive info and when info was received, Navitus then only allowed 4 and a half days to evaluate.
People want an extension to the consultation programme, and do not want big business to dominate and steamrolled approach when proposing this site on the beauty of Bournemouth & area.
Then some concerns/questions were voiced by the public/Bournemouth residents
Navitus were asked for visualisations of the Night time view of the windfarm but have failed to produce but have pledged this by the next public consultation in Sept. 2013.
There was no proper debate. One single view from a consistent panel. That the South West Tourism figures show no real impact on the environment and there needs to be a general debate.
Concern about the noise
There is airborne noise & underwater noise, but no data at the moment. These issues never seem to be known in advance and should press for the data.
Drew comparisons with the size of the Imax and that the Dutch windfarms are on 10% the size of Navitus proposed site and turbines are half the size and further out.

Dorset Friends of the Earth
No balance to the discussion.
What about the Bournemouth & Poole Renewables incentive, to make 15% of energy from renewables by 2020?
Cllr Beesley: Are following Government guidelines, is getting updates this afternoon and we are not ignoring those concerns.
We must encourage renewables, but also must respect the local environment.

Terrorist Threat
Will we in 55 years time realise that the only safe alternative for Dorset is Nuclear Power.

Night Views
Eneco don’t seem to think night views were important, hotels worried that night views over bay, the assets of these views will be compromised.

Connor Burns and Robert Syms and Richard Drax have been active in Westminster concerning Navitus.
They have asked Eneco a simple question…
How many, where, how tall, what do they look like?
We are none the wiser and no better informed.
The decision is down to the Secretary of State and will be the biggest decision facing Bournemouth in 25 years.
Get involved, respond to MPs and Navitus.

Approx 380 people attended.

My opinion: Complete propaganda and gave NO voice to opposition, the only voice was from a public question from A local Greenpeace rep. (Andrea?) and one young man who got an irate response from Connor Burns. No depth to anything the councillors said, just listing off words, like “environmental concerns” but not willing to address in any depth what those concerns are. The biggest applause came to a public statement that in “55 years we will look back and wonder why we didn’t propose nuclear…unless we come to our senses.”…which was somewhat worrying. I also had fun by staring intently and menacingly at Beesley, Burns, Kelsey from the stairway like DeNiro in Taxi Driver ….but that’s just personal.

Turning Anger into Activism

Some thoughts from a local activist, Kim Elkin, Bournemouth Uncut, reproduced with kind permission

So I’ve been protesting for the last three days, and people have wanted to know how they can get involved and fight the cuts. So if you’re sat there quietly coming up to the boil, and want to do something, there are many ways you can help.

Some of them are: Write a blog, maybe you have a useful skill such as media? Maybe you understand twitter, many of us activists just can’t get our heads around it! Tweet and Facebook your discontent.

Maybe your good at writing press releases, or taking photo’s or video’s of local demos? Write to your MP. Write to David Cameron or any of his laccys. Paint a banner for a local action or make a sign if your arty.

Make up a protest song if you’re musical. Hand out some leaflets with some very friendly activists.

Talk to your friends. Join your local anti cuts coalition/group or UK Uncut action. Sign a petition. Come to the Peoples’ Assembly. Anything but keep calm and carry on!

No one likes being shafted by a bunch of parasitic toffs. If you’re feeling the rage too then get involved. Much as we need people on the streets, if that’s really not for you then we also have a multitude of ways you can help… and it’s very therapeutic!

Week of Action against Workfare

Over 3 days of events, hundreds of leaflets were handed out to people. Day 1 consisted of protestors outside Abilities in Poole (a provider of the govt’s Work Programme), then Poole Jobcentre, the High Street and later in the afternoon Prospects (another provider of the Work programme. On day 2 the protests moved to Bournemouth outside another Prospects office and then the Jobcentre. The 3rd and final (rainy) day was held outside The College in Poole due to their close association with Working Links a major national provider of the Work Programme which uses unpaid work placements. See also “anti workfare activists target Bournemouth and Poole College – Demotix” During the 3 days of action, a few songs were sung and hopefully a lot of awareness was raised with moments of humour especially a senior College official demanding “get of my land”!!!

A massive thank-you to all who helped and supported these events

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The action continues… via Boycott Workfare

Earlier this week Superdrug announced they would be pulling out of workfare schemes and the promise of demos taking place across the UK this Saturday must have helped! Unfortunately other high street chains are still profiting from unpaid work. What we are doing works! We are winning so let’s keep it up and let more businesses know workfare is wrong! Please contact the following companies today. If you’d like to use a standard letter, there’s one here. For more details about high street retailers using workfare – click here

Retailers like to claim these schemes are voluntary. One thing needs to be clear: the Work Experience scheme they refer to is not free of sanctions. It is workfare. Bullying and pressure from the Job Centre often coerces us into supposedly “voluntary” actions. We are rarely told that we have a right to choose whether to attend. Now that sanctions can escalate to three years, getting it wrong is not a risk many of us can afford to take.

Soon after the changes last year, the Guardian exposed that people who refused Work Experience were being sent on Mandatory Work Activity for standing up for their rights. Work Experience is only “voluntary” until you refuse.

Five things the government won’t tell you about Workfare via Left Foot Forward

1) Mandatory Work Activity doesn’t improve job outcomes but it does increase disability claims. According to a study published last June, it has no impact on employment and may even lead to those on the programme moving from Jobseekers’ Allowance to Employment and Support Allowance instead.

2) The Work Programme actively reduces the chances of people finding a job. Figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) showed that just 3.6 per cent of people on the work programme had found work on the work programme, below the contractual minimum of 5.5 per cent.

3) The Community Action Programme has no impact on how many people find work. Under this six month workfare placement, just 15-18 per cent of people found work – roughly the same percentage as those receiving standard JobCentre Plus support.

4) The rate of people on the Work Experience Scheme leaving benefits is the same as it is for people not on the scheme (see graph below). To quote the Center For Economic and Social Inclusion: “This [graph] appears to show that the youth work experience scheme has had no additional impact on the speed at which young people leave benefit, and may have actually led to them spending longer on benefit than they would have done. However, these figures require some caution – the stated intent of the Department has been to target work experience at those with the biggest barriers to work, who would likely have had rates below the average for all claimants.”
work programme graph

5) Workfare schemes haven’t helped people into work when the schemes have been tried in other countries. As the DWP noted in 2008: “There is little evidence that workfare increases the likelihood of finding work. It can even reduce employment chances by limiting the time available for job search and by failing to provide the skills and experience valued by employers.”

end unpaid single stick no border temp