What can Councils do to promote economic growth

I was asked to talk about this question at a meeting at Conference.

Growth comes from people wishing to do new things, to buy new goods and services, to renovate and improve their homes, to transform their lives and their environments in ways they like and can afford.
All too often Councils are the official bodies who are out to stop them doing this, or out to tax and charge them for daring to try.

Most local businesses depend on the van. Plumbers and loft insulators, new goods deliverers and conservatory builders come by van. Most of us do not live next to the station. We rely on the flexible and ubiquitous van, which may not always be white, to turn up with the goods or the service. Professional and on line services often depend on the car to get the providers to their place of work or to the customer’s home if needed.

Many Councils see the van and the car as an opportunity to raise tax revenues, to charge them and to restrict their use. If Councils really wanted to help the local economy they would see that they need to do much more to allow reasonable vehicle access to potential customers, and to allow potential customers access to shops and other centres of trade. They could:

1. Allocate land for sufficient parking near town centres and residential developments, and provide it free or at low cost.
2.Ensure that all new developments have ample parking at or near people’s homes, to allow trade access as well as taking the residents’ cars off the main highway.
3.Work to create less congestion in existing developments. This includes the need for safer junctions, with sufficient space at the junction to keep pedestrians away from traffic and to separate right turning traffic from the rest.
4.Allowing the delivery of items to the door as long as the road is not blocked for traffic by the drop off
5. Reviewing all their local roads with a view to improving the flow of traffic
6 Making selective junction improvements, increasing the number of bridging points over local railway lines and rivers whicb usually create the main congestion.

Councils also have an important role in promoting or limiting enterprise when it comes to planning. Again many Councils see this as an opportunity to tax and charge people more. Of course the Council has a planning role to prevent inappropriate devlopment which would annoy neighbours or damage the amenity and environment of the locality, but at times and in some places this is extended to a general opposition to change. Councils could

1. Lower their fees for seeking planning permission and Building Regulation approval
2.Speed the decision making process up
3. Require objectors to demonstrate that a proposal would have an adverse impact like more noise or the loss of light
4. Be more relaxed about a change of use where there are not reasonable grounds for objection
5. Ensuring all main settlements have land demarked for extra provision of space in all the main categories
6. Encouraging local plans to come forward for more starter units for businesses

A number of Councils and professional bodies involved with planning and town centres were represented at the meeting. There was a surprising amount of agreement with the proposition that parking and access were vital issues. Some cited examples of better and cheaper parking policies which had helped revive shopping centres.

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  1. David Jarman
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    Yeah, all valid points but which council is going to take any notice? NONE! They ALL spend far too much money protecting their own jobs because there are about three times as many people in councils than you need. It’s all about empire building!

  2. lifelogic
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    What can Councils do to promote economic growth.

    Leave them alone, reduce taxes, fire half their over paid largely pointless staff, make parking cheaper (and less of the mugging activity), get rid of road blocks, speed up the planning system and relax it & reduce fees, get rid of defined benefit pensions for their staff.

    Stop promoting green quackery – there is no point in ever business park having a toy windmill on it. Stop the absurd enforced equality agenda. Reduce transfers to the feckless, sell of all their social housing and other properties.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 6:25 am | Permalink

      Also – Phase traffic lights so as not to obstruct as now but to help, collect the rubbish sensibly (without the green religion guff), get rid of so the called “environmental area” road blocks (that delay and make people drive further), reduce council taxes, charge market rents on all flats/houses or just sell them. A few new overpasses and underpasses to relieve some pinch points.

      In the main leave us alone and get out of the way. If they must run schools at all, then get them to run decent ones that do not indoctrinate as they do now.

    • Disaffected
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      Mr Pickles could reform local authorities be declaring boundary changes to make each council the same size, no more two tiered systems, only unitary authorities. It could clearly set out the role of the authority and what it could or could not tax or ways in which they were allowed to generate income from the local community. It could also genuinely produce local accountability. He could use the review to change the pay of CEOs and senior managers to a sensible pay structure which would also help the pension headache. By so doing it would also help to reduce community charge and place a greater focus on front line delivery rather than the bureaucratic bean counters to satisfy Whitehall on gender/race numbers (and methods to deliberately suppress of speech to help mass immigration) in councils, green quackery, EU nonsense, endless partnership meetings that take so much time and produces very little. It cannot be right that there are more back room staff than front line delivery- the same applies to Whitehall and the rest of the civil service. Once more, the Tories talk more than they achieve. Perhaps it is Osborne’s strategy?

      • Disaffected
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

        Local people realise they need business for jobs and help their standard of living, this appears to escape Whitehall, and that it might be a way to stimulate growth from the bottom up.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      A pathetic speech by Cameron rather like a primary school teacher talking slowly to rather dim children. No policy content what so ever. Silly appeals to irrelevant emotion regarding his son and father.

      The only positive I could find was that he hardly mentioned his earlier idiotic green/religion obsession. Now that no sensible scientists (nor sensible people) actually believe the absurd exaggerations any more. As Joseph Goebbels said.

      “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

      This I assume is why they have even perverted schools and exam system to push this exaggerated drivel.

      Nothing sensible on the EU either.

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

        Cameron made much of “very low interest rates”. He is out of touch, it is hard, currently to borrow at all for most businesses. Even the best are having to pay libor plus 4% plus the huge fees and restrictive terms.

        This is not very low and will surely rise too. Anyway most banks are just pulling loans back in.

      • Disaffected
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

        Good speech from Ann Widdecombe on gay marriage (coalition 4 marriage)- look it up on Youtube. Cameron should be embarrassed to watch. It might serve him well to remember some of the conservative views she expresses. Then compare and contrast to what Clegg and Cameron has said on the subject. Their language, once again, is to disguise the true implications of what they are proposing and it appears to me their language is to disguise, if not deceive, the public. One part of the totalitarian regime the ESSR would like to achieve ie no national identity, culture or religion. As Ann points out by way of example, people have already suffered for expressing reasonably held views.

      • uanime5
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

        According to NASA global warming is real, so it seems the sensible scientists still don’t support your climate change denial delusions.


        • lifelogic
          Posted October 11, 2012 at 6:48 am | Permalink

          Climate has always changes and always will Co2 is one of very many factors that affect climate. The Catastrophic global warming computer projections (even if we burnt all the fossil fuels we have) are nonsense as everyone sensible knows. It is a religious/political movement driven by government. We have seen no significant warming since 1998 despite increasing Co2 concentrations. The increase over the last 100 years is not remotely outside normal variations.

          All the evidence show slightly hotter is better than slightly colder.
          Anyway the solutions proposed wind/wave/PV/carbon capture simply to not work economically nor even in c02 terms. Anyway other countries will just burn the fossil fuels anyway. Even it we ever did have to cool the earth then reducing c02 is clearly not the best way to do it.

          • Disaffected
            Posted October 11, 2012 at 8:52 am | Permalink

            Canada will not entertain the green lobby rubbish. The US had made a U turn for shale gas. How exactly are wind turbines going to produce enough electricity/energy for industry let alone cheap energy to be competitive?

      • Vanessa
        Posted October 11, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

        It is very worrying that so many people happily swallow all the propaganda coming from government on global warming etc. We are not under communism – yet – but you would be hard pressed to believe we are free to live our lives under a small, non-interfering lot of criminals who call themselves politicians. Why don’t people ask themselves questions before swallowing the bait?

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      At least the BAe defence merger is off, for some good news, after Cameron dismal and depressing waffle.

      • Nash Point
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

        And who was pushing for the BAE merger? Cameron of course. I wonder why…

      • Disaffected
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

        Thankfully the share holders stood up for what is right for GB and helped to prevent another step toward the EU defence force. One can only wonder what Cameron was thinking or trying to achieve.

    • James Power
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      In the area of Halifax where I live there is a crossroads with pedestrian crossing buttons on all sides. The North-South road is the main road, with the East-West being two minor roads coming off it. Firstly, I don’t think these lights even need to be there, apart from allowing pedestrians to cross (which could be done via a pelican crossing) but my main complaint is that all of the lights are on red nearly all the time, and they seem to default to a ‘green man’ for the crossings even when no-one has pressed the button! This causes congestion and gridlock, especially at busy times of day, but for no real reason! There was never a problem 5 years ago, before the lights were installed.

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

        Indeed this happens all over the place. The lights are intentionally there to cause congestion one assumes as that is clearly how they have been designed.

        Forcing the cars into the right (also) a turn right lane by having a bus or bike lane in the left lane is another ruse. That way one car turning right hold 50+ car up. Then only one or two cars get through the lights on each change. Then they catch you on a tax camera if you put one wheel in the empty bus lane.

        • zorro
          Posted October 10, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

          Indeed, they rarely try and argue that it is for the benefit of traffic anyway. There has been a clear policy over the years to spam up traffic thus causing more pollution with idling engines and stop/start. At Winnersh triangle, the expensive traffic system continues to hold up traffic for no good reason when a roundabout system would have been perfectly adequate, and would have saved electricity not that the green devotees seem to be that bothered.


      • Bob
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

        First create the problem: Congestion

        Then implement the solution: Congestion Charging

        The Dartford Crossing is a good example.

    • Jerry
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      sell of all their social housing and other properties.

      Of course someone who (it would appear, apologies “lifelogic” if you are not) is a private land lord would wish for that, but other than for possible personal gain what advantage would that have for the general council tax paying citizen, surely all that is needed is for tenants to pay a suitable [1] market rent…

      If rents are to high, due to a rental housing ‘cartel’ effect and thus some people either end up in sub standard (“shedsits” or “outsits”) rental accommodation or worse in Cardboard City sany savings the LA might have made from the sale of their housing stock is more than used by sorting out the resultant mess.

      [1] but not exaggerated, as seems to be the case in some areas these days

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 11, 2012 at 6:56 am | Permalink

        I do own/let some properties but it is not my main business, but what is surely needed it more supply of rental properties. I cannot see any point in the unfair taxpayer subsidised properties just for some selected families. It is clearly unfair competition by the inefficient subsidised state sector. People who need help with rents receive it anyway.

        Most people renting properties, often using borrowed money to buy, are making a loss at the moment as prices have fallen and interest margins risen. If you want more houses to rent they need to be encouraged.

  3. Single Acts
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    “Encouraging local plans to come forward for more starter units for businesses”

    I am starting to wonder if you don’t secretly support the command economy, just get out of the way!

    Reply: On the contrary! We have a planned system in this country for land use and buildings, so Councils have to allow a starter unit type development, as Wokingham has recently done very successfully.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      Live/work units can be good too for certain small businesses trades with living accommodation and attacked work shops – which can have security advantages. But generally relax planning in general. When there is no good reason to prevent something let it happen.

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 8:16 am | Permalink

        “attached” I mean and lived in – so not attacked so often by criminals.

      • Disaffected
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 9:35 am | Permalink

        How about interfering Europe on business? Who will get rid of the burdensome regulations? This is beyond local authority remit. Cameron is a Europhile through and through and surrounded himself with like people. He will only go as far as having an in or in referendum. He will use language disguise the true option to con people from what they are actually voting for.

        Miliband will have a dilemma as well, a committed Europhile. Will his in or in be better than Cameron’s? With the praise from his conference speech and polls in his favour I suspect the race has now begun.

      • Sebastian Weetabix
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink

        Yes, like the old Chinese shophouses you still see in Singapore and Malaysia. I’ve always wondered why we didn’t have them here – they seem such a good idea for small businesses.

  4. Mark W
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    Good ideas on traffic flows and parking, can’t see the Green brigade and council bullies liking it though.

    Right turn lanes are a very good idea as we adopting one traffic rule the USA has. (Reversed to left obviously here), being able to turn left through a red traffic light if clear, like a give way. Possibly sometimes with peak hour restrictions.

    Overtaking on both sides on dual carriageway/motorways. The only real cure for overtaking lane hoggers.

    Turing speed cameras to gather evidence of traffic moving too slow on clear roads. And many cameras can detect a car from a lorry too.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      Indeed on the left turn on red but government in the UK has been trying to cause congestion not reduce it.

      This with red lights, road blocks, one man bus stops that are in the middle of the road, environmental areas, empty bike and bus lanes in coloured tarmac ………….

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 8:19 am | Permalink

        Remember all the green “if we build more roads and reduce congestion people will just drive much much more and just congest them again drivel”.

        Who wants to spend all their lives driving and who can afford it?

  5. Pete the Bike
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    Councils can do more for business by cutting expenditure, reducing interference and just doing less than by any amount of schemes, initiatives or hot air. The private sector is the only driver of growth and it needs freedom. Local or central government cannot encourage or create growth so the best thing they can do is stay out of our way.

  6. Electro-Kevin
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    The expansion in supermarkets has had an impact on farming – BOGOF funded by bullied farmers in effect.

    Perhaps councils could look into this policy before granting development.

    “More money in the pockets of customers to circulate in the wider economy”

    Not really.

    The nation just gets fatter and are told there is not enough landfill to cope.

  7. alan jutson
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    Scrap section 106 agreements, it is simply blackmail to get planning permission.

    As others have said, get traffic obstructions out of the way. remove speed humps, chicanes, silly traffic lights (local example, Winnersh roundabout lights on feed to M4) Phase other traffic lights.

    More, and less expensive parking. Indeed free time of 2 hours may help regenerate town centres.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      Indeed 106 agreements are yet another “bribe” tax.

    • uanime5
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

      The 2 hours free parking in Bracknell is why I go there, rather than Reading where 2 hours parking costs £3 to £3.60. Though there’s always free parking if you know where to go.

  8. stred
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    This government and the last does not seem to realise or care that allowing LAs to create licensing or additional charges will almost always result in them doing so. For example, charging full council on empty properties under improvement or licensing ‘problem’ areas for housing with more than 2 unrelated tenants, or raising residents parking charges in areas with no parking problems. More money, more staff and more allowances for the parasites employed at our expense.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      Indeed it has happened almost everywhere. Endless parasitic jobs destroying real ones.

  9. davidb
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Licensing. People should be licensed if you accept the need for licensing at all. It should be a single one off charge, like a driving license, and only ever reapplied for if the “rules” are broken and a court removes the license. Presently it is a cash cow. Every year and a great expense everyone has to apply for their license over again.

    In Scotland traveling showmen have to apply for separate licenses to move from one field to another, and at every different event. Why?

    I believe I heard on the BBC ( when I used to listen to it ), that in France a person applies to sell alcohol and gets a cheap permit for life.

    Whenever I hear about the need to license any activity I dont think good – local elected official monitoring: I think – huh, another money generating excuse to manipulate people going about their business.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      You are quite right a money making scam in general.

    • stred
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      We now have to apply for and pay for a licence to put a scaffolding pole a few inches onto the back of a footpath. This is never refused but always charged. What a nice job, and a good pension too.

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        Indeed charged quite heavily too sometimes another tax. Fines for putting old rubbish in the road for 2 mins while you bring the car round to shift it too in London.

    • Sebastian Weetabix
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      I was astonished to learn how little council income comes from community charge and how much comes from licensing and other charges. It isn’t good for democracy.

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

        It certainly isn’t good for real jobs and any growth.

    • Martyn
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      Entirely agree that licensing and the mad rules requiring a small parish society to apply each month for its social event to pay for a ‘Temporary Entertainment Licence (TEN). Unecessary, unfair and benefits no one other than the jobsworths in place at the District Council. .

      When the no-smoking law came into being the District Council advertised for enforcement officers to advise pubs etc on the new rules. I suggested to the DC that they employ a couple of people on temporary contract because the system would quickly become self-policing, which in fact is what happened. No said the DC, we need permanent enforcement officers and so grew the workforce to no long-term benefit at great expense and yet more pension contributions being lifted from council tax payers. They are still there with little to do…

      The bottom line is that no one in puplic office has the slightest incentive to care for their customers who pay them, who are often seen as being is little more than a nuisance and forever wanting things to get better. A minority of in public office do try to do a good job but too often handicapped by the PC-brigade and uselss vaious ‘rights advisers’ that proliferate at huge public expense across all areas of government.

      Yesterday John commented on budget issues and alleged cuts and savings. Mr Hague on TV claimed that 400,000 civil service jobs had been cut. How does this work – total salary spending ratcheted up despite a 400,000 cut in jobs – can anyone make sense of this?

      Reply: I cannot get to 400,000 – there are fewer jobs, with higher pay and redundancy payments ending up with no overall cash savings as yet.

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

        How may redundancies and how much are they having pay them off with on average.

      • zorro
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

        Don’t forget that they re-employ people that they expensively paid off because they got rid of the wrong jobs in the first place….400,000 cut in jobs…LOL


    • David John Wilson
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      I totally agree about licensing. Almost everything that is called a licence should be examined to see if a huge amount of red tape and costs could not be removed by either removing it or incorporating it in another existing form of charging e.g.
      television licence – make it part of council tax.
      road fund licence – get rid of it and collect the revenue through fuel tax.

      • Bob
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

        @DJ Wilson

        Collecting TV License fees is a £300 million pound a year business.
        That would put a lot of people out of a job.

        Not that it would bother me, I’d prefer it if the TV Licence were scrapped completely. We don’t need the BBC any more, it’s just a vile cesspit to paraphrase Lord Patten.

        As far as the road fund or tax disc is concerned, I think government are keeping this up their sleeve as a bargaining chip to be traded off against satellite based vehicle tracking, which is their long term goal (when the time is right).

  10. James Reade
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    “Allocate land for sufficient parking near town centres and residential developments, and provide it free or at low cost.”

    So we should subsidise the driver inner city, then? Because there isn’t enough motor vehicles in town and city centres at the moment, I presume? Not much congestion in every city up and down the land, from 8am to 8pm?

    Councils most certainly ought to promote growth, but I do not see how increasing congestion and pollution in city centre areas does that.

    Reply Try spending just a little of the massive amounts of tax and charges colected from motorists on motorists.

    • forthurst
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

      The operative word is ‘near’. There are very severe problems with the built environment in this country in very many respects. There is ugliness, soullessness, inconvenience, danger, representing a total inability to plan adequately. Yet, one only has to go back in time, one or two hundred years to find for reasons, possibly not unconnected with the fact that stupid and corrupt people did not have access to the granting of permissions or of allocating resources, that builders and entrepreneurs managed to create, without supervision, grade 2 listed buildings with shops and adeqate parking for 1-4 hp transportation all within easy walking distance. On a good day they might produce grade 1 listed buildings and the occasional world heritage site. The modern equivalent would be blocks of council flats that only immigrants are prepared to live in, often needing to be demolished after thirty years, with no parking facilities, no proper shops within walking distance or, alternatively, acres of private housing, each house a microcosmic rendering of a grand house and garden, to escape from which, only motorised vehicles are suitable.

      The car is here to stay, so councils and planners need to ensure that they are responsible for built environments which cater for it adequately, not so that people do not have to walk, but that such ambulations are not overly protracted and are safe. However, as we are now far more overcrowded than of yore, we should perhaps build to a greater density of housing, taxed by the overall land area occupied, with proper provision for adjacent parking and with consideration for the total needs of a community, rather than simply oversized dormitories.

      • forthurst
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

        “area occupied” by land value

      • James Reade
        Posted October 11, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

        There’s little doubt we probably agree on much of what is written here. If John does indeed mean near town centres, then perhaps I’m a little less disinclined towards what he says.

        But from his reply, he seems dead set on reducing taxation, hence subsidising motorists relative to the current status quo.

        Now I’m not against that – I pay through the nose on a regular basis to operate my car. But I don’t think that encouraging more travel into the city centre is the appropriate way to go about this, and I think will be highly counter productive.

        As for our ability to build crap buildings, I can only agree. But I suspect corrupt and stupid people also existed all those years ago too, and that (the former at any rate) might explain how they got so much money in the first place in order to build the majestic buildings we now enjoy!

        reply There is no danger of subsidising car drivers. We pay many times more in tax than they pay on roads and related facilities.

        • James Reade
          Posted October 12, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink

          Yes, and every time I sit in endless traffic I remember that the tax burden on motorists isn’t steep enough to encourage a better use of alternative means of transport. Your proposals John go nowhere towards resolving the congestion endemic in our cities.

          Reply: Given your views I would have thought you would go by train or cycle. I note you want to tax the poor off the roads.

          • James Reade
            Posted October 15, 2012 at 7:09 am | Permalink

            Wow, nice bit of mud slinging – when did I say I want to tax the poor off the road, exactly? And if I supposedly said that, I think you’ll note it was agreeing at something you previous said. Which, by implication, must mean you want to tax the poor off the road.

            And you haven’t even begun to answer my question – how on earth would you proposal do anything about congestion other than increase it??? Typical politician.

            Reply: We differ fundamentally on this point. You want higher taxes on motorists to reduce congestion. I do not. Higher taxes means taxing the poor off the road, as the rich will be able to pay the taxes. I argued for road charging to replace VED so there was no overall increase in motoring taxes. This would also have meant the rich paid more relatively, and the poor less, as the rich use the roads more.
            I have also set out a series of detailed proposals for dealing with congestion – they are about increasing transport capacity.

          • James Reade
            Posted October 15, 2012 at 7:10 am | Permalink

            Oh, and since you ask, funnily enough I do cycle and get the train to work 9 times out of 10, thank you very much.

          • James Reade
            Posted October 16, 2012 at 8:20 am | Permalink

            The most significant reply ever to one of my posts.

            First of all, at which point have I advocated increasing the taxes on motorists? Why this politician’s urge to create a straw man to knock down?

            You clearly have forgotten our agreement in the past on the principle of privatising the roads – again, the peril of setting up a straw man is it tends to bear little resemblance to reality.

            Second, where is the empirical evidence regarding the greater use of the roads by the rich relative to the poor?

            Third, on “increasing capacity”, could you explain how, for example, this might be done in central Oxford? How would you expand the size of the main arterial routes into the centre exactly? You would simply advocate based on what you’ve written here that the Westgate Car park should reduce its charges drastically so that even more people can sit for hours and hours on the Abingdon Road.

            Reply: You have argued for more tax on motorists. If you now agree with me that motorists are overtaxed then I am delighted we agree.

            The very poor cannot afford cars so by definition they lose the roads less, and those on low incomes with cars do not drive as far owing to the price of petrol and different lifestyles from travelling high earners. Department of TRansport figures confirms this pattern.
            Why do you always have to be so aggressive in your contributions?
            I have explained many times how you can improve flows and capacity without widening the road space in urban areas where the buildings prevent you.

          • James Reade
            Posted October 17, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

            I didn’t argue for more tax on motorists. I pointed out that reducing the disincentives for traffic in city centres is likely not a good thing. I didn’t stake out a position for increasing that disincentive.

            You accuse me of aggression, yet you accuse me of many things (usually falsely) in your replies – to many that would count as aggressive. I’m well aware my arguing style is far from perfect and can antagonise – unlike politicians, I’m happy admitting my weaknesses. If you feel offended (which I doubt anyhow), I do apologise. My aim is simply creating constructive discourse, however unlike that it may seem!

            I don’t doubt you’ve made many proposals that you believe will improve traffic flow, but this one is spectacularly bad, that’s all.

    • zorro
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply….If only!!


      • James Reade
        Posted October 11, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Permalink


    • James Reade
      Posted October 11, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      I see – you don’t believe there should be any redistribution away from what is a decision which has large consequences for all those around us? The privately optimal amount of driving (i.e. for each individual thinking only of themselves) is way higher than the socially optimal level of driving.

      One way to close that gap is taxation or subsidy. We tax drivers, and given congestion remains, clearly govt isn’t doing a good enough job. Ideas like those you’ve mooted on here in the past John, such as privatising roads, would go some way towards that since pricing would become more flexible. Choosing instead to keep govt in the way, and reduce the subsidy will not have any positive benefits whatsoever.

      A better suggestion would be that some of those taxes go on more frequently repairing roads that are in a mess.

  11. Bob
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    “What can Councils do to promote economic growth”

    Reduce council tax, and get the interfering busybodies off of our backs.

  12. IanH
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Councils do not care about anything other than their salaries, and stuffing more money into their pension scheme fullstop.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      That and perhaps not being blamed for too many appalling, baby p type of Haringey disasters on the news. Even then do they really care?

  13. Atlas
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    I think the imagination problem described comes about because councils are populated with 2nd rate politicians, often dullards and bores. Why do they get elected? It is because councils are seen now as just being agents of central government – and you can thank Mrs Thatcher for that – so why bother voting.

    • stred
      Posted October 11, 2012 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      Councillors are elected by a very small proportion of the population. They don’t vote because it makes little difference which party is in control. The system is run by the bureacrats, who carry out the instructions of the Civil Service, as in traffic slowing and parking charging. Councillors are paid more in allowances than many people earn in full time work. They have no interest in slimming the instition down or finding waste, corruption or over regulation. If any councillor starts to get out of line and create problems, they can be dealt with under the local government act and suspended.

  14. Mike Stallard
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Here in Cairns, Qu, Australia there are a lot less people per square mile at the moment. It is lovely. Things work. You can drive around. Roundabouts work well. Roads flow. There is free parking right by the Council Swimming Pool in the centre of town with vacant spaces.
    In Singapore, where I was last week, there are a huge number of people every square mile and this is efficiently dealt with by a superb bus system backed by a well ordered train service. The Taxis fill in the gaps. A lot of people use the cycle routes too. Private cars are for the very rich. I must admit I did not see many white vans or lorries. I do not know how things are delivered.
    So which system do we have in UK with our very very high ratio of people per square mile?

    • Bob
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      The UK system relies on the public transport system being so inadequate that people are forced to use the roads and pay dearly for the privilege. The money raidsed from the motorists and hauliers is not all used to maintain and improve the roads, or even to provide better public transport, but mostly to fund a social welfare system that was originally intended to act as a safety net, but has morphed into a comfy mattress.

      The welfare system extends to countries that are not part of the UK.

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

        That’s why we have a very high ratio of people to square mile, Bob.

        • Electro-Kevin
          Posted October 10, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

          53.4% of households taking more in benefits than they pay in tax.

          Then there are those employed directly by the state but not taking benefits because they are paid well enough. They are paid from taxation nonetheless.

          Now work out how many of the ‘independent’ private sector businesses rely on state pay and benefits (paid to others) to keep going.

          This is simply unsustainable.

  15. Simon George
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    You say you want “to create less congestion in existing developments” but at the same time wish to allocate more land for parking. More parking means more cars. To reduce congestion we need priority for bicycle infrastructure which will lead to more cycling journeys instead of unnecessary journeys by car, 66% of which are less than 5 miles.

    Reply: More parking means fewer cars on the highway. You do not stop cars by rationing car parks, you just increase congestion.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      Exactly and bikes cause congestion too. Holding up all the cars as they slowly pedal up the hills, not to mention that in London they are 30 times more dangerous for the user per mile.

      • Simon George
        Posted October 11, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

        Bicycles take up less space than cars. Obviously cyclists are vulnerable to being injured by motorists which is why I am arguing for segregated infrastructure for cyclists as is found in Holland and Copenhagen.

        • lifelogic
          Posted October 12, 2012 at 1:52 am | Permalink

          Who is to pay for the bike segregated routes and where are they to go? Not the cyclists is seems who pay nothing.

          There is little point in motorists driving round and round looking to park. They are least far over pay for what little is provided.

          • HJ
            Posted October 16, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

            They seem to answer your questions very nicely in the Netherlands where 25% of journeys are by bike (compared to 2% here).

            Cycling infrastructure lowers congestion for everyone as it takes cars off the roads – and is far cheaper than additional infrastructure for cars. Cars are what cause the congestion, not cyclists. Motoring taxes do not pay to buy exclusive use of the roads – they are in common ownership ,yet cars always get priority and effectively force non-motorised forms of transport off those commonly-owned roads in towns and cities.

    • Simon George
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      It is pointless to try to solve traffic congestion by making provision for more cars because that is what you get. Have you visited places where priority has been given to cycling? Why do you always dismiss the benefits of that approach?

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 11, 2012 at 7:05 am | Permalink

        Not true really if you reduce congestion people will drive for less time to get where they want to. They will be on the roads less. If they need to be deterred use charges not congestion – that is an absurd method wasting time and fuel and not raising funds to reinvest.

        Bikes are fine but do not work for families, long journeys, large luggage, passengers, speed, and they are dangerous about 30 times more in London per mile.

        • HJ
          Posted October 11, 2012 at 8:31 am | Permalink

          But we are not trying to encourage long journeys through Wokingham, are we? We’re talking about local businesses and shops.

          Bikes work just fine for families as anyone who has ever been to the Netherlands can confirm. You see whole families on bikes including parents with two children in bike carriers.

          As for bikes being more dangerous – that is because there is no safe provision as cars are prioritised. Why?

          Reply Wokingham serves a much wider area than just the town, making bikes unsuitable for many people and journeys.

          • HJ
            Posted October 11, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

            John Redwood: ” Wokingham serves a much wider area than just the town, making bikes unsuitable for many people and journeys.”

            John, why don’t you go to the Netherlands and see how they do it there? Of course some people will come from further away in cars but the point is that less provision would be needed for them if other people were encouraged to walk or cycle. I have experienced this myself in many towns in the Netherlands which aren’t so different from Wokingham. It makes life more pleasant for everyone, car drivers included.

            Unfortunately, we have become so physically idle (and overweight) as a nation that many people don’t seem to have the imagination to see beyond prioritising more car use.

    • wab
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

      “unnecessary journeys”

      Who is it for you to decide what is and is not “necessary”? If you want to cycle then cycle, and be glad you don’t have to pay extortionate taxes to do so. But we don’t need puritanical middle class control freaks deciding what is and is not “necessary” in life (which just happens to coincide with their narrow partisan view of the world).

      • Simon George
        Posted October 11, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink

        The point is that few people cycle now because the roads prioritise motorists so cycling is unnecessarily dangerous. Ghent’s (Belgium) beautiful medieval centre was still filled with cars in the 1990s, and their original bicycle plan met stiff resistance. Yet a sustained and long-term vision allowed them to plan for cyclists and pedestrians. Today it’s the countries No. 1 cycling city.

    • HJ
      Posted October 11, 2012 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      John Redwood: “More parking means fewer cars on the highway. You do not stop cars by rationing car parks, you just increase congestion.”

      You’ve never been to the Netherlands then, John?

      That’s exactly what they do there and it results in much lower traffic congestion in towns – the difference is quite remarkable. However, the other part of the solution is to make towns accessible by other means – foot and cycling, something that is almost completely ignored in Wokingham. If you prioritise car access and then restrict parking, you may be right, but the solution is not to prioritise car access in the first place. Town centres where people have to dodge traffic deter people, they don’t attract them.

    • HJ
      Posted October 17, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      John Redwood: “More parking means fewer cars on the highway. You do not stop cars by rationing car parks, you just increase congestion.”

      John, what is your evidence for this assertion? Many cities in Europe (and some in the UK) have reduced congestion by rationing car parking and making motorists pay the full cost. Remember, car parks generally use expensive real estate and motorists should pay the full cost.

      Go to many Flemish (Belgian/Dutch) cities and you will find few cars visible in the centre. In fact, there is quite a bit of provision, but not provision that allows cars to be parked in the way of everyone else – often car parks are constructed UNDER the central square – but, of course, motorists are expected to pay the cost of such constructions.

  16. Mike Wilson
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I quite deliberately never visit Wokingham town centre. I will not pay the parking charges and I hate the fact that the council just seem determined to catch me out and fine me some obscene amount of money if I return to my car 5 minutes late.

    Councils seem to have cast themselves in the role of Big Brother Enforcers – and I won’t give them the chance to bully me.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Just muggers in effect, someone has to pay those golden pensions.

    • stred
      Posted October 11, 2012 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      I feel the same way in Brighton. I recently had to move my car twice during a wedding reception as maximum times applied. This cost £6. When I tried to pick up a relation from church, a warden was waiting for the service to end in order to ticket cars stopping for a moment at an unused bus stop. They are paid according to the number of fines and get to know where motorists are confused by different conditions applying on the same streets.

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 12, 2012 at 1:55 am | Permalink

        Indeed often the parking confusion is intentional design too.

  17. HJ
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    I am a bit astonished by John Redwood’s piece. He seems to imply that we should prioritise motor vehicles above other considerations and he seems to think that this will encourage economic growth.

    Having recently spent some time in the Netherlands in towns with similar populations to Wokingham, I can tell you that they are much more pleasant places to live because they take the opposite approach to the one he advocates. Cycle lanes and pedestrians are prioritised there. This cuts down traffic and makes it unnecessary to use a car much of the time – therefore also making it more pleasant for car drivers when they do need to use cars. Cycling or walking into Wokingham town centre is a distinctly unpleasant experience at the moment – I am more-or-less forced to use a car when I would usually rather not because there is almost no safe provision for other modes of transport.

    By the way, the towns and cities in the Netherlands don;t seem to have been any less successful in encouraging economic growth – but they have done it at the same time as becoming more pleasant places to live.

    • alan jutson
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Permalink


      Wokingham unsafe ?

      How about the cycle lane on the A329 painted green !

      Many traffic light pedestrian crossings in and out of Town.

      Knobbled paving slabs for the blind at pedestrian crossing points.

      John is not trying to prioritise cars, he is simply trying to be sensible and stop the war against motorists.
      Given you can park for free at out of town stores, why go into Town and be fleeced ?
      The Town Dies without customers.!

    • wab
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

      In the Netherlands they have an integrated transport policy. In the UK we have an anti-car transport policy.

      One reason cycling works so well in the Netherlands is because it is compact and especially because it is flat. The Netherlands is not the UK.

      • HJ
        Posted October 11, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

        The population density in the Netherlands and in the South East of England is very similar.

        On the contrary, in the UK we prioritise car use.

        Neither is it exactly hilly around Wokingham.

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 12, 2012 at 2:05 am | Permalink

        Ah the old “an integrated transport policy”

        I do not think many want a “disintegrated transport policy” but this is just a vacuous phrase meaning no more than “good”. Bikes simply do not work for many journeys needed due to distance, luggage, the elderly, a large shops, safety, the time taken, safety, weather, or similar.

        Oh and they do not save CO2 either should you believe in all those nonsense BBC CO2 exaggerations.

  18. David John Wilson
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    If one looks at traffic flow in the town of Wokingham, huge improvements could be achieved by some simple adjustments to traffic lights.
    In particular the pedestrian crossings in the centre of town need to have a minimum period between the red parts of their cycle. At times like Saturdays and weekday lunch periods they can reach the stage where only three or four cars manage to proceed before they turn red again.
    There are other places in town where a left turn during the red period would help considerably particularly in the rush hour. The traffic lights in London Road by St Crispins are one instance.
    We also need police action to stop parking in cycle lanes or across them at junctions. These are particular problems between Wokingham and Reading.

  19. Mark W
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    For traffic congestion the governement should intervene and have a charge to local authorities for installing roadwords with traffic lights and road closures.

    Road Closures should have eye watering costs to stop these lazy authorities having them on a whim.

    Temporary traffic lights should have enforced manual control at all times. Then the imbeciles that stop work at 2pm and start working at 9am might be more inclined to remove them overnight. They would then miss out on their hobby of drinking tea at 730am watching massive queues on their lights and laughing.

  20. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    WHY do both national government and local government look upon the van and the car as sources of revenue? Because of the insatiable public sector expenditure monster, which must be fed and fed and fed. We simply can’t afford to feed it. If you’re spending too much, spend less.

  21. Alte Fritz
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    In relation to traffic, there are obvious issues such as the construction of obstructions ostensibly to shelter parking areas but in effect to narrow roads and create nasty obstacles in poor visibility or snow. traffic lights are increasingly phased to release one of four roads at a time thus doubling time taken to negotiate the lights.

    Also, a regional example of evident loathing of motorists is work done on the A6 on the west side of Manchester city centre last year. A one mile stretch of the main west artery into the city has effectively been reduced to one lane each way with traffic lights every 300 yards or so with speed bumps to match. No exaggeration here, just huge frustration and delay for anyone using the road.

  22. Rebecca Hanson
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    I agree with all this, however I have some points to add.

    Most towns are growing and as they grow pressures on parking increase.

    It’s okay to say ‘the council should provide land’ but this is very expensive. Where is the money to come from.

    Growing urban areas need infrastructure – in particular road infrastructure. But getting trunk road infrastructure is beyond the aspirations of most local councillors as it’s so long term, difficult to do and doesn’t get them elected.

    The issues and challenges need to be very carefully thought through so that we can overcome them more effectively.

    • Bob
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Permalink


      The government only spend a fraction of the money raised from motorists on the roads.

      They should cut back on welfare payments, and spend some money on infrastructure. It would create jobs for those who are dissatisfied with the reduction in welfare handouts. Win/win.

      • uanime5
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

        Given that many who get welfare (housing benefit, child benefit, tax credits) are already in work creating jobs for other people isn’t win/win for them. It also won’t benefit those who are too ill or disabled to work.

        • Bob
          Posted October 11, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Permalink


          Yes, it would be win/win for most people, lower tax rates, more people in work, fewer clogging up doctors surgeries suffering from depression so doctors appointments will be easier to obtain and they will have more time to spend with patients. The country’s infrastructure will improve and the economy will become a sustainable one, unlike at present.

          Education could improve too if discipline were to be introduced into state schools.

      • Rebecca Hanson
        Posted October 11, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

        Absolutely Bob,

        Here in Cockermouth we don’t have a road connection on the east side of town (east of the Cocker), so all cars have to come through the town centre. The routes have been well beyond capacity for years but nobody can find a way of getting the investment we need to have a road connection from that side of town to the westbound A66. Suggestions welcome! (It’s a trunk road by the way which complicates things as it’s not run by the county and it protected against having new junctions, so there’s need to be a vastly expensive bridge of the Cocker to bring the connection in to an existing junction….).

        • Bob
          Posted October 11, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Permalink


          Two possible solutions come to mind:

          1) Per my previous comment, using some of the billions of pounds collected from road and fuel taxes we build you a new bypass, and in the process create jobs for thousands of people and improve the quality of life for people in the town.

          2) Implement a congestion charge, so that you won’t need a by-pass because the motorists will have to find an alternative route to avoid paying the charge, and the money raised could support a few more people on welfare.

          Which would you prefer?
          Which do you think the government would prefer?

          • Rebecca Hanson
            Posted October 12, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

            Thanks for your suggestions Bob, but I’m really interested in solutions or part solutions which don’t involve changing the world. There must surely be ways of getting key infrastructure built?

  23. merlin
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    I can only speak from personal experience , the only council service that I use is to have my bins emptied which for what I am forced to pay is an absolute disgrace, it would cost me virtually nothing to do it myself. To me council tax is yet another tax on top of all the other taxes we pay and it does not give value for money, but probably wastes money very effectively. On a number of occasions such as christmas and easter I have actually gone down to the local tip myself, to empty my own bins, because of the local council holiday arrangements. Another repetitive theme, tax is legalised theft, and does not benefit anybody apart from Government, including local councellors. To illustate our lack of freedom, if I asked the local council for a discount to empty my own bins, they would refuse to offer it and if I deducted the amount they charge me for emptying my own bins and I refused to pay I would end up in jail.

  24. merlin
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    I can only speak from personal experience , the only council service that I use is to have my bins emptied which for what I am forced to pay is an absolute disgrace, it would cost me virtually nothing to do it myself. To me council tax is yet another tax on top of all the other taxes we pay and it does not give value for money, but probably wastes money very effectively. On a number of occasions such as christmas and easter I have actually gone down to the local tip myself, to empty my own bins, because of the local council holiday arrangements. Another repetitive theme, tax is legalised theft, and does not benefit anybody apart from Government, including local councellors. To illustate our lack of freedom, if I asked the local council for a discount to empty my own bins, they would refuse to offer it and if I deducted the amount they charge me for emptying my own bins and I refused to pay I would end up in jail.

  25. Julian
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Re 2nd point 6 councils need to provide indoor markets with small units (like the one in Bath and other towns) which are low rent/rates to incubate small retail or craft based businesses. They could also provide subsidised small serviced office space for service/internet startups. Rent can increase over time.

    They also need to limit the expansion of chains which stifle local businesses. (Starbucks, Tesco Express, Nandos etc).

  26. Bernard Juby
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Fair enough but with the Government with its Quantitive Easing and the Bank’s dismally low interest rates, the purchasing power of retired people is currently zilch. Councils can bend over backwards to help but without any money to buy goods and services they may as well piss into the wind!

  27. James Power
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Right as always John. Unfortunately my experience of local government generally is that it’s run by a bunch of car-hating lefties. Instead of helping local business grow, they impose traffic restrictions, build pedestrianised town centres, charge exorbitant amounts for parking, and cause traffic jams through poorly-planned traffic systems.
    I have written to my local council suggesting schemes for reducing traffic jams simply through re-phasing or, ideally, switching off traffic lights, but wasn’t so much as treated to a reply.
    Councils are run for councillors and for the council staff. Many are not much more than the equivalent of ‘rotten boroughs’. I would love to be given free rein over my local council and I would guarantee these things – far lower council tax, better traffic flow, and deregulation for local businesses.
    Oh for some common sense in government (local in particular).

    • Bob
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      @James Power

      Up to one third of your council tax bill could be going to pay for unfunded public sector pensions that most people could only dream of.

    • Big John
      Posted October 11, 2012 at 3:00 am | Permalink

      The guy in charge of traffic in Wokingham goes to work on the train.
      Should we not have people, who also have to use roads, in charge.

  28. Bert Young
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Very good observations in your discussion . Local Councils breed bureaucracy and inhibit enterprise often in the belief it is necessary to protect and preserve the surroundings . Please tell me why it is necessary for DC’s to employ a tree expert ? So far I have not experienced one example of their value .

  29. Ashley
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Coming from a family run business I can tell you that the biggest step the councils could take would be to lower their absurdly high rates that make it just about impossible to make a decent profit and put something back into the business. The cost of maintaining a business premises in this country is outrageous.

    We were charged over £20K last year in business rates and that is in Cornwall… for that they don’t even take away the rubbish but they’ll gladly send around some officious council inspector at the drop of a hat with a long list of requirements.

  30. The PrangWizard
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    There is one thing that we as individuals can do to help ‘the white van delivery man’, and that is to ensure our houses at all times of the year have clearly visible numbers or names. And similarly the Councils must ensure that all streets and roads have clearly visible names.

    • M.A.N
      Posted October 11, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      Agree re the above point of houses and streets being properly marked. I would have a system whereby any council with defective street signs have a set amount taken from the salary of the fifteen highest earners in that council. It is time to use the stick. On a separate note jon, is the workplace levy eu in origin, who signed it off?. Interesting topic, on the news today nottingham is Europes third most congested city, rabidly anti car, a local council stooge was wheeled on, she blathered about congestion and public transport, she never once mentioned local businesses. Head in the clouds.

  31. Steven Whitfield
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    The short answer is they could stick to providing essential services only like they used to do – refuse disposal, education, meals on wheels services etc. and stop creating and maintaining empires for the benefit of the employees only.

  32. peter davies
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    I’ve said this before on previous comments, and say this as someone who has worked as a supplier to the public sector – all councils need to lean towards being contract/service managers rather than the provider.

    For examples all infrastructure, waste collection, vehicle fleet management, roads maintenance, buildings management, back office work and anything else you can think of apart from the established professions such as teachers, social workers, police, fire service etc.

    This way as long as contracts are managed properly you automatically take a huge army of workers out of the public sector thus saving future pensions costs and ensuring VFM in services carried out because companies by default must do what they are contracted to do, on time and within parameters set .

    To stay on topic you are stimulating businesses so they can grow and hopefully expand into other areas of business.

    This approach would not sit well in most councils due to vested interests of many and the fact that in most cases, particularly in back office work one would get the same done with half the number of people.

    To me, this would be a very Tory thing to do, I’m sure it could be done with some sort of central govt enticement – Are there any plans by Mr Pickles to look at this?

  33. merlin
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases:

    If it moves tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

  34. acorn
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Local government has very little money to do anything that is not mandated by Whitehall. The Localism Act promised all sorts of powers but alas Whitehall made sure that LG had no money to do anything.

  35. Conrad Jones (Cheam)
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    I totally agree. Coucils should improve Parking instead of restricting access to Town Centres. Especially small Towns where they seem to delight in spending money to slow the traffic down and punish people for wishing to shop in their local Towns and Villages.

    I have written to my Council asking them to reverse the roadworks that they carried out a number of years ago which increased paving area (for no good reason) while removing parking spaces which were directly outside Shops and Businesses.

    My letter was not for myself – but it was to point out to the Council; that if they provided Parking Spaces for Disabled Drivers – directly outside Shops and Businesses, then elderly and disabled Dirvers (who have moeny to spend), would be encouraged to spend in their local Communities instead of being forced to the Hyper Supermarket Complexes – where no Parking Restrictions are in place and their are plenty of Disabled Parking Bays, but helps drive the smaller businesses into the dirt becasue they have no convenient parking spaces thanks to the Council.

    I wrote to my local MP about this but he said it was nothing to do with him. He obviously does not care about local businesses in his local Community. Rather an odd attitude for a leading Conservative Government Minister.

  36. David John Wilson
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    The costs of waste collection could be reduced considerably if we adopted the system used in Canada. Each street is provided with large on the street bins for each of the various types of waste, rather like our bottle banks. Everyone then takes their own waste to these bins whch are replaced by empty bins once or twice a week. This hugely reduces the cost of waste collection as not only is it quicker but can also can be carried out by a single operator.

  37. uanime5
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    While parking in council owned car parks is expensive parking in private car parks isn’t much cheaper. The only places with cheap car parks are car parks owned by supermarkets and large stores because they’ve realised that free parking equals more customer. Unless the local shops own the car parks you won’t see prices designed to attract people to the local shops.

    Posted October 11, 2012 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Part of the price of being visionary and radical and all those other jolly things is, of course, that one may be misunderstood and even hindered by persons who are rigid in their thinking, or who have a vested interest in the status quo!

    Doubtless this explains why an enterprising application to introduce a novel, zero- carbon mode of short journey transport was thwarted by Tameside Council.

    Notwithstanding offering to employ 35 unqualified ‘long-tern unemployed people immediately, the council, who despite widely advocating their wish to adhere to ‘green’ issues and announcing that eco-friendly initiatives were areas where priory spending to create new jobs was being targeted, the council resorted to reach back into ancient case law and quoted arcane laws, and bureaucratic rules that were passed to control Horse-drawn carriages or Hansom Cabs!
    They justified their objection by quoting the power under the Town Police Clauses Act 1847!

    The problem is that while the full council (a meeting of all members of the council) is theoretically responsible for all the decisions made – in practice most of the work is delegated to smaller groups of councillors or council officers (paid employees) who tend to override and bully scrutiny panels.

    How this represents local democracy is baffling.

    Until these clowns get out of the way, local enterprise will be stiffled.

  39. David Langley
    Posted October 11, 2012 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Having read all the above comments, it seems we are trying to get water to flow up hill. The situation we are faced with is too many people. The results are our poor old villages and towns are trying desperately to manage an impossible situation. When looking at the problem with a blank sheet of paper you would have to recognise the new out of town shopping areas with brand new access routes served by public transport and massive parking facilities both covered and uncovered are a success story. Local planning in my area has come up with a new town plan which is a stone age solution and been so far rejected. We must make our towns and villages places of inspiration where we gain confidence and pleasure from each other. New theatres and new architecture and social and community structures that will enhance our pleasure in our environment. The corner shop and struggling butchers are now giving way at last to the sordid charity shops and debased banks. Shopping canyons are dead and soulless, and business failures blight the pavements and alleyways. Dodging cars and buses and slipping on fast food litter and crumbling pavements just adds to the dubious shopping pleasure one enjoys in most of our community shopping areas today.

  40. David Langley
    Posted October 11, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    By the way John is this post about taking our minds off the last excruciating days of the Tory conference. The list of topics that have spun off the Conservative Agenda as half truths and downright porkers is tremendous and I had a great laugh at Camerons attempts to ‘big up’ the aspirational ideas. What a shame and what an opportunity to take hold of the big issues and deal with them. You know what we want, and the EADS deal encapsulates what is wrong with this government in one.

  41. Terry
    Posted October 12, 2012 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    As usual, sound ideas and sound argument, John. Common sense answers to particular problems that would be solved with little capital outlay.
    However, the real problem is not you nor your ideas it’s that you are sat too far back on the Government benches for Dave to hear you.

    Move you to the front? Now, that would be a great idea and Dave would certainly gain from the expertise but are you too Right for him and his current policies?

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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