Housing

The Telegraph leads with “New planning minister suggests Nimbys have had their day

Local communities that once opposed new housing developments now support them because of the Coalition’s controversial planning reforms, the Government’s new planning minister has claimed. In an article for The Telegraph, Brandon Lewis appeared to suggest that Nimbyism was on the wane as he said there had been a “dramatic swing” in public opinion – with almost half of people now in favour of new housing in their area.

He claimed the Government’s reforms, which introduced a presumption in favour of sustainable development, were responsible for this transformation because people now had a greater say in where new housing goes. However the comments risk causing anger in the countryside where the Coalition’s reforms have triggered a huge surge in planning applications for new house building…

Quite!

The Guardian has a different tack on housing with “Poor doors: the segregation of London’s inner-city flat dwellers

Multimillion pound housing developments in London are segregating less well-off tenants from wealthy homebuyers by forcing them to use separate entrances.

A Guardian investigation has discovered a growing trend in the capital’s upmarket apartment blocks – which are required to include affordable homes in order to win planning permission – for the poorer residents to be forced to use alternative access, a phenomenon being dubbed “poor doors”. Even bicycle storage spaces, rubbish disposal facilities and postal deliveries are being separated. The Green party accused developers of showing “contempt for ordinary people” by enforcing such two-tier policies.

The Express has found a group of townies with a different viewpoint: “Allotment holders march on London High Court with home-grown vegetables

ALLOTMENT holders were on the march yesterday, travelling to London’s High Court with the home-grown vegetables they hope will help them win a test case against a council which wants to build on their plots. The group are from the Farm Terrace allotments in Watford, Herts, which the town council says it needs to build 750 homes and commercial buildings to make a £250million health campus scheme viable. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has approved the scheme, despite the High Court last year quashing earlier consent.

Banking

Royal Bank of Scotland rise is £3 billion boost to taxpayer” says the Telegraph

The value of the taxpayers’ stake in the Royal Bank of Scotland has surged by nearly £3.3 billion after the lender surprised the City with bumper profits on the back of the UK’s economic growth. As official figures showed that the economy had expanded beyond the pre-crisis peak, the bank’s shares climbed by nearly 11 per cent.

The Government is moving closer to recovering the £45 billion it sank into the troubled bank, 81 per cent of which is owned by UK taxpayers. However, even after Friday’s rally, RBS shares were worth only 364p, compared with the average price of 500p at the time of the 2008 bail-out.

Economics

In the “Inside Politics” column, Macer Hall of the Express comments that  ”Osborne knows we’re not out of the woods yet

DAVID CAMERON and George Osborne are resisting the temptation to drape a “mission accomplished” banner over the gates of Downing Street. Yesterday’s official figures confirming that Britain’s economy is finally motoring at a faster pace than before the 2008 banking collapse was a significant moment for a Government formed in the depths of financial emergency.

But the Prime Minister and Chancellor are well aware that in politics hubris is almost always fatal to ambition. Tory spokesmen will rigorously stick to the script that there is plenty more hard graft still to do despite the cheering economic climate.

Their public pronouncements will also correctly recognise that it is the sweat, toil, stoicism and entrepreneurial spirit of the country’s workforce that has bred success rather than the tinkering and speechmaking of politicians. Most Tories know that the best thing the Government can do for business is to get out of the way by reducing the burdens of tax and regulation.

Channel 4 and Jon Snow

Alan Johnson, writing in the Telegraph says “Channel 4’s Jon Snow is deluded about Hamas

Channel 4 journalist Jon Snow has tweeted a “deep apology” for presenting photos of injured Syrian as if they were Gazan children. It’s good to correct the record, of course, but careless tweets are not really the problem with his reporting. His broadcasts reflect the anguish of millions who identify with his passion about the “innocent children too broken by battle to survive”. No, the real problem is political; Snow has three disabling illusions about Hamas.

  1. Snow thinks Hamas are a negotiating partner-in-waiting being ignored by Israel, but they aren’t.

  2. Snow thinks Hamas grew as a popular reaction to the blockade, but it didn’t.

  3. Snow thinks the ordinary people he talks to in Gaza can speak freely about Hamas but they can’t.

We’d say that Jon Snow is deluded about most things. Hands up any UKIP supporters that still watch Channel 4 News!

Labour and Miliband

Dan Hodges in the Telegraph reckons that “Ed Miliband’s attack on political cynicism is the most cynical thing I’ve seen in years

Ed Miliband has just done a speech on leadership. Actually, it’s a speech about political cynicism. And when I say “about”, I think it’s meant to be an attack on political cynicism. But in fact it is one of the most breathtakingly cynical and hypocritical speeches I’ve ever seen delivered by a major British politician.

He began by delivering a few words on the crisis in Gaza. That was so he could get his soundbite in for the TV news bulletins. Then he moved on to the substance of the speech. I use the word substance in its loosest sense.

The biggest obstacle to a Labour victory in 2015 wasn’t the Tory party, he said, but public cynicism. “The belief that nobody can make a difference. That all politics is the same.”

We’d say that’s true of LibLabCon, yes. The Guardian reports on the same speech with “Ed Miliband: if you want a PM who looks good in a photo, don’t vote for me

Ed Miliband tried to reframe the unflattering debate about his personal leadership by presenting himself as a man of principle who is liable to lose out to David Cameron at the next election if the campaign is about image rather than ideas.

In a confessional speech about the general election, Miliband said: “If you want the politician from central casting, it’s not me, it’s the other guy. If you want a politician who thinks that a good photo is the most important thing, then don’t vote for me.”

Russia and Putin

The Guardian reports that “EU expands Russian oligarch sanctions blacklist in wake of MH17 crash

The European Union has expanded its blacklist of Russians subject to sanctions and broad economic measures against Moscow are looking increasingly likely following the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 despite deep divisions among the 28 EU member states.

Such measures would represent a rift between Russia and the rest of Europe of a depth not seen for over 20 years. While analysts balk at describing the looming standoff as a new cold war, pointing out Russia is a much less formidable power than the Soviet Union, they say the new east-west tensions could intensify and prove very hard to reverse.

So far, with no sign of an end to Russian military support for separatists in eastern Ukraine and reports of direct artillery fire from inside Russia against Ukrainian positions, Vladimir Putin appears to be responding to the threat of more sanctions by raising the stakes on the battlefield.

The Independent tries to understand where Putin is coming from with “A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth

The President wakes late and eats shortly after noon. He begins with the simplest of breakfasts. There is always cottage cheese. His cooked portion is always substantial; omelette or occasionally porridge. He likes quails’ eggs. He drinks fruit juice. The food is forever fresh: baskets of his favourites dispatched regularly from the farmland estates of the Patriarch Kirill, Russia’s religious leader.

He is then served coffee. His courtiers have been summoned but these first two hours are taken up with swimming. The President enjoys this solitary time in the water. This is where the political assistants suggest he gets much of Russia’s thinking done.

Cameron and The “Big Society”

The Independent reveals that Cameron’s Big Society is in tatters as charity watchdog launches investigation into claims of Government funding misuse.

David Cameron’s flagship Big Society Network is being investigated by the Charity Commission over allegations that it misused government funding and made inappropriate payments to its directors – including a Tory donor. The organisation, which was launched by the Prime Minister in 2010, was given at least £2.5 million of National Lottery funding and public-sector grants despite having no record of charitable activity.

The Independent has learnt that it has now been wound up, having used much of the money on projects that came nowhere near delivering on their promised objectives. Two senior figures on government grant awarding bodies have also made allegations that they were pressured into handing over money to the Big Society Network despite severe reservations about the viability of the projects they were being asked to support.

Motoring

The Daily Mail reports that “Police to seize mobiles in EVERY car crash: Crackdown on calls and texting at the wheel in bid to cut deaths by distracted drivers

Every driver in a crash will have their mobile seized in a bid to cut deaths caused by phoning and texting at the wheel. Police have been ordered to check if motorists broke the law by using their phones in the moments before any accident. The move is likely to see mobiles being taken away by officers as evidence in prosecutions.

Police chiefs believe it is necessary to combat the growing numbers killed or seriously injured because drivers are distracted. The move was welcomed last night by charities and pressure groups who have accused police and politicians of failing to make road safety a priority.

Mali Crash

The Mail asks “Was Mali plane crash a terror attack? French president refuses to rule out prospect that Air Algeria jet was brought down as it is revealed a Briton was among the 116 victims

French president Francois Hollande has refused to rule out that an Air Algeria plane, which crashed in Mali yesterday killing 116 people was caused by terrorism. Mr Hollande has said that France will spare no efforts to uncover the cause of the crash as almost half of the passengers were French.  It comes as the Foreign Office confirmed that a British man was on board the flight and was one of the victims of the crash.

Air navigation services lost track of the plane around 50 minutes after it took off from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso en route to the Algerian capital Algiers. Mr Hollande said: ‘There are hypotheses, notably weather-related, but we don’t rule out anything because we want to know what happened. What we know is that the debris is concentrated in a limited space, but it is too soon to draw conclusions.’

While Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve added: ‘Terrorist groups are in the zone. … We know these groups are hostile to Western interests.’

Conservative Astrology

The Daily Mail has a weird report on “Tory MP says astrology could help to heal the sick saying it has a ‘proven track record’ in helping people recover from illness

The sick should turn to astrology for answers, a Tory MP has declared.  David Tredinnick said astrology had a ‘proven track record’ at helping people recover from illness and should be incorporated into standard medical treatments.  The MP for Bosworth in Leicestershire also admitted he had prepared astrological charts for fellow MPs – but refused to say who.

‘I am absolutely convinced that those who look at the map of the sky for the day that they were born and receive some professional guidance will find out a lot about themselves and it will make their lives easier,’ he told MPs. Speaking to the BBC this week he added: ‘I think it’s something that people should be aware of as an option they have if they are confused about themselves.’  However, he stopped short of suggesting that the NHS should provide astrological readings.

Which party contains fruitcakes, we have to ask?

Elderly Care

The Mirror advises readers “How to claim a refund on NHS care home fees as research shows 100,000 Brits have wrongly paid out

If you’ve had to sell your home to pay for extortionate care home fees, you could be entitled to a refund through NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding. Hundreds of UK families are owed thousands of pounds, after being forced to sell their homes, in order to pay for care home fees when they should have been entitled to free funding through the NHS.

Over 100,000 people are currently paying out for care home treatment when they should be receiving it free, according to Farley Dwek – a law firm specialising in care home refunds. Residential care home fees cost on average £738 a week and as many two million elderly people have had to use their savings to cover care fees over the last five years.

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