Thursday, 21 February 2013

Redlands By-Election Alert: Benson Off To Essex

Benson: The Only Way Is Out
ews that Lib Dem Daisy Benson is making a huge effort to secure the parliamentary selection in Saffron Walden means that residents in Redlands must surely face a by-election in the near future.

It's one thing for the Lib Dem Group leader not to turn up at council meetings because she is working on a Lib Dem Party phonebank instead, but as the council moves to a committee based form of administration from next May, she will be expected to attend the executive and other committees. Benson already has a reputation for arriving late to the few meetings she is expected to attend now, or even missing them altogether, so we can only expect to see less and less of her in the future.

In any event, if selected, won't the good residents of Saffron Walden expect her to move to the area? It's been clear for some time that Benson will find it hard to hold on to her council seat in 2015, so it will be no surprise if she soon disappears to Essex on a permanent basis.

Labour has already started the process of selecting our next candidate to pick up the last remaining seat in Redlands in 2015. Redlands needs a councillor committed to the ward - not casting around the country to further their own ambitions.

UPDATE: Sadly Cllr Benson didn't get selected: where will she try next?

Friday, 15 February 2013

Can You Help Reading's Food Bank

Readifood, Reading's food bank, is appealing for increased food donations to meet the growing demand for emergency food parcels.

They currently deliver around 70 parcels a week (up from 50 last year) to families and individuals referred to them by Reading Borough Council's Housing and Children's Services, Launchpad (Reading Single Homeless Project), Homestart, Reading Refugee Group and other organisations.

Tinned meats, fish, vegetables and fruits are particularly welcome donations, as well as tea bags, biscuits and toothpaste.

More information and contact details here

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Inheritance Tax: This Is Reading Not Mayfair!

So the Coalition Government has decided to cap the cost of social care charges at £75,000 which they plan to introduce in 2017.

But they tell us, as if to reassure us, that once adjusted for inflation, the figure should be regarded more like £61,000 at 2010 prices – and therefore closer to the “top end” of the £25,000 to £50,000 range suggested by the Dilnot commission.

However, in order to pay for this limited clinical cover (which will not protect the £10,000 a year those in need of care will still have to find to cover the “bed and breakfast” charges) the government has decided to freeze the level at which inheritance tax becomes payable at £325,000 until at least 2019.

Right now £325,000 will buy you a three bed house in Northumerland Avenue, which although an entirely pleasant area to live, is hardly the mansions of Mayfair or the rolling estates of the Ridgeway.
But if we use the same calculation as the government, and add in the effects of property inflation, then by 2017 the real money value level at which inheritance tax will be payable will actually bring in properties which are on sale in Reading today for around £189,000 – which would get you a two bedroom maisonette in Cardigan Road.

Before the last general election the Conservatives pledged to increase the inheritance tax limit to £1 million – with both Osborne and Cameron saying that the right to pass on untaxed assets was a “most basic human instinct” – and that it would again become a levy only faced by the wealthy.
Sadly, this government is now so out of touch with the concerns of ordinary people they seem to think bringing most of the homes in Reading – and the families who live in them – into the clutches of inheritance tax is fair.

So as they give with one hand, they snatch back more and more with the other - perhaps this is what they really meant that we would all be in this together.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Quiz Night For Reading Rape Support Centre

My colleague Rachel Eden is organising a quiz night in support of the Survivor's Trust for services in support of rape and abuse victims in Reading and Berkshire.

Rachel said “We’ve been working and lobbying hard behind the scenes to get funding for better support for those who have been raped or sexually abused. Despite the serious subject this will be a light hearted evening while raising awareness and funds. Monroe’s have been very kind in offering us their support in hosting the event.”

Sinaed Gibson, who has been leading the campaign added “This will be a fun inclusive event that we hope will keep the need for better after rape services in Reading at the front of people’s minds National charity the Survivor’s Trust have been very keen to help and we are going to keep pushing for a centre to support people. ”

Namita Prakesh, Southern Region Development manager from the Survivor’s Trust added: ”The Survivors Trust is convinced of the overwhelming need for counselling and other support services to made available for victims of rape and sexual abuse in Reading and Berkshire. We are thankful to the local campaigners and Rachel Eden for organising this event to support our work. We would use the funds raised to provide local support services for victims.”

The fund-raiser takes place at Monroe's Rock Cafe, 61 St Marys Butts, Reading on Wednesday, 13th February. Doors open at 5.30pm, and the quizing begins at 6pm: £3 per person, everyone welcome to bring a team or join one on the night.

Monroe's Rock Cafe has agreed to host the event and UNISON is a key sponsor.