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Issue:- 24 January 2013

Cameron speech undermines North West interests

FOLLOWING David Cameron's speech on Europe on Wednesday, 23 January 2012, North West Labour Euro MP Arlene McCarthy said:-  "Cameron's speech was not about advancing Britain's interests in Europe or speaking to the nation. Cameron has only succeeded in kicking the referendum into the long grass for 4 more years. His speech was riddled with 'ifs' and 'buts' - if he is re-elected and if he can negotiate a "new settlement" with Europe; it's hard to know exactly what the British people are being offered. Only 3 months ago Cameron flatly rejected the idea of an in/out referendum. This speech is a deception and a con designed to placate Eurosceptics in his own party. In 2012, the North West's exports reached its highest ever level. Germany, France and Ireland are among our 5 biggest customers, despite the Eurozone crisis and exports to the Netherlands and Belgium are growing. In 3 months alone we exported goods worth 3.42 billion pounds to the EU; more than any other country. Outside London and the South East we are the biggest exporter region in the UK. Companies wanting to invest in the North West are none the wiser after this non-speech. On the contrary, the uncertainty of this government's commitment to Europe and our economic future persists. It is an unnecessary gamble and risks jobs and investment at a time when people want jobs and growth to be the top priority. My priority as a Euro MP is to continue to encourage the EU to invest and trade with the North West."

Arlene pledged to continue to work with business to ensure the North West gets the benefits of EU membership. She added:- "So far Cameron's actions have failed to impress any of our EU partners and he has no chance of getting reform with this attitude. We will get on with our quiet diplomacy, working towards a flexible, adaptable and open EU and speaking up for North West people and business' interests."

France responded quickly to Cameron's speech and offered to "roll out the red carpet" for Britain if it chooses to leave the EU. France stands to gain hugely from the relocation of businesses seeking to remain in the internal market if Cameron is preparing Britain's exit.


THE use of "settlement agreements" with no pre-existing dispute, sends a signal to employers that it is acceptable to sack employees for any arbitrary reason says GMB.  The union commented on the package of measures to stop workplace disputes ending up at Employment Tribunal that was set out on Thursday, 17 January 2013, by Employment Relations Minister. See notes to editors for press statement from BIS.

Maria Ludkin, GMB National Officer for legal and corporate affairs, said:- "The measures announced by the Employment Relations Minister today on resolving workplace disputes, are more 'slash and burn' of employee rights at work. Where is the evidence that any of this will create jobs or growth?"

Employees who have been unfairly dismissed should receive compensation that reflects their losses. This arbitrary 12 month cap on the compensatory award fails to do that, particularly in the current difficult environment. It will disadvantage vulnerable groups such as older workers who are more likely to have accrued higher pension rights and who find it more difficult to find new employment.

The use of "settlement agreements"; whereby an employer can offer an employee a sum of money and a settlement agreement in return for leaving their employment even though there is no pre-existing dispute; sends a clear signal to employers that it is acceptable to sack employees for any arbitrary reason.

Theoretically employees may be able to refuse an offer, but they will know that if they remain in work they will be victimised and bullied. The lack of clarity over the meaning of "improper behaviour" proposed in the Code continues and will result in more confusion and litigation.

The Government has already slashed employee rights. The introduction of fees for employment tribunals later this year and extending the qualifying period for bringing an unfair dismissal claim to 2 years will make it much harder for employees to pursue claims in any event.

Cutting back on employee protection by watering down TUPE is a disgrace. TUPE protects employees who transfer from one employer to another after the acquisition of a business. Removing service provision changes; which often arise in public to private transfers; from the scope of TUPE will encourage unscrupulous employers to cut terms and conditions. The inclusion of service provision changes in TUPE by the previous Government had created certainty in an area which had previously been fraught with litigation over when TUPE applied. This litigation will return."

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"THIS is about resilience, protecting the frontline and planning for the future." That's the message from the Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire.

Clive Grunshaw has been speaking after unveiling his first Budget, which will be presented to the Police and Crime Panel on Tuesday, 29 January 2013. The Commissioner is asking residents to pay 5 pence extra per week for Policing in next year's Council Tax payments.*

Some of the additional revenue will be used to fund an extra 50 Police officers.


The Commissioner said:- "I want to ensure that Lancashire Constabulary remains resilient in the current financial climate and to enable an additional 50 Police officers to be recruited to maintain frontline Policing numbers. My proposed budget for 2013/14 is realistic and prudent and that approach combined with the efficiency programme is designed to help the Constabulary maintain the impressive level of service provided to our local communities."

Clive Grunshaw will present his proposed Budget report to the Police and Crime Panel on 29 January 2013. The Panel will be asked to review and make a report on the proposed increase in the Policing element of Council Tax by an extra £3 per year for a Band D property, equivalent to just over 5 pence extra per week.

"Protecting the frontline…"

The Commissioner added:- "I pledged to protect the frontline and this budget allows me to do that by recruiting an extra 50 frontline Police officers to ensure resilience. I committed to keep the Policing precept as low as possible and while I recognise that this will cost households a few pounds extra, I know from recent consultations that Lancashire residents will support this modest increase."

"Planning for the future…"

In proposing this increase, the Commissioner rejected the offer of a one-off 1% government grant for freezing the Policing precept:- "I am disappointed that the Government has not reflected the particular circumstances and pressures facing Lancashire by providing a higher threshold for referendums as it did in 2012/13. We have the 6th lowest precept of any Shire area and our funding problems remain acute. I believe that acceptance of the Government grant would hurt the service in the long term by storing up greater financial pressures onto what is already a difficult budget and could potentially result in future reductions in the Police service. This Government fought to introduce locally elected Police and Crime Commissioners and is at the same time trying to stop them from doing what local people want."

Consultation across Lancashire on the budget showed that 82%, of respondents were willing to pay more than the required £3.75 needed to maintain current service levels and that continued delivery of high quality, visible Policing services were a priority.

To date (Dec 2012) £31 million has been saved through a series of organisational reviews and Constabulary has sought to use its resources as effectively as possible.

This proposed budget for 2013/14 will see a further £6 million saved and plans are already in place for a further £3 million saving. A further £20 million saving is required over the next 3 financial years.

The Commissioner continued:- "The continued drive to realise further savings from the Police budget, above that already taken out is extremely challenging. While there can be no doubt that the financial prospects over the next 2 years remain daunting, it is my responsibility to ensure a stable resource base over the coming year, so that the Constabulary has the resources needed to continue to deliver high quality services."

* This figure relates to a Band D property. Band D Council Tax will increase from £149.93 in 12/13 to £152.93 in 13/14.

Have a fling on Burns Night

SCOTTISH people and non-Scots alike are being invited to join in Liverpool's newest Burns Night celebration. St George's Hall is holding a ceilidh on Friday, 25 January 2013, the first time a Burn Night celebration has been staged in the hall. The night marks the birthday of Scottish national poet, Robert 'Rabbie' Burns and is celebrated throughout the world with music, food and dance. Merseyside Band Gallimaufry will be performing, and guiding everyone through the dance steps at the ceilildh, an evening of Scottish/Celtic dancing. Everyone is taught the dance by the band's caller, and dances are performed in large mixed groups. You don't have to be a dancer to take part, just willing to have fun. As well as the dancing and music there is also a traditional Scottish buffet of Haggis; with a vegetarian variety; neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes) and a bar where wee drams of whisky will be plentiful. Deputy Lord Mayor and trustee of St George's Hall, Councillor Gary Millar, said:- "In the words of the Scots Bard,,, 'Don't be a wee sleekit cowerin' tim'rous beastie.' No, you don't have to be Scottish to enjoy Burns Night, everybody is welcome; it's going to be a lot of fun and we hope it is the start of a tradition at St George's Hall." Doors open at:- 7.30pm and entrance is via the North entrance (opposite Walker Art Gallery). Tickets are:- £10 per person (includes buffet) and can be purchased in advance from:- St George's Hall Heritage Centre, St Johns Lane on:- 0151 225 6909 or 0151 225 6903.

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