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Taking The Pulse: Dudley

Nick Robinson | 13:33 UK time, Wednesday, 10 February 2010

It's Wednesday so it must be Dudley.

On day two of my tour of marginal constituencies to take the pulse of the electorate we are asking voters their views on the question of whether "it's time to cut public spending".

Taking the Pulse logoWe're doing it here because Dudley in the West Midlands - just a few miles away from Birmingham - is home to not one but two marginal constituencies which the Tories need to win to gain a working majority.

This town has been making news recently for the wrong reasons. When the housing market began to crash it was reported to be the town where prices fell fastest. It was highlighted by the TUC as one of the towns where long-term unemployment has soared - they reported the numbers on the dole for more than 12 months increasing by two and a half times.

Unemployment has gone up by more than 3,000 in the past year. After the decline of the mines, the foundries and manufacturing, it is now the council and the hospital which are the biggest employers in the town. With nearby Birmingham council announcing 2,000 job losses today and warnings about a squeeze on NHS budgets whoever's in power, these are not easy times for Dudley.

Economic decline does not, of course mean that Dudley North - 106th on the list of Tory targets - is an easy win for David Cameron. Not least because the local MP - Gordon Brown's former adviser and close ally Ian Austin - is using his job as minister for the West Midlands to highlight the role government can and is playing in ameliorating the worst impacts of the recession. These include the car scrappage scheme and government task forces to examine how the region can become a world-leader in key sectors of the economy such as digital technology, low-carbon technology, advanced manufacturing - such as aircraft components - and medical technology.

Look at the voting figures in recent elections and you see the scale of the mountain David Cameron has to climb. At the last general election the Tories secured more than 3,000 fewer votes than they had in 1997 and they lost vote share too.

Dudley North general election results

As in my last stops Cardiff and Pendle you see that it is other parties who have benefited. Here, it is not the Lib Dems as in those seats but the so-called minor parties. The BNP got almost 10% of the vote at the last election, and once the psephologists crunch the numbers to work out the impact of boundary changes, are treated as starting this election in third place. UKIP topped the European election poll here and got almost 5% of the vote at the last election.

The neighbouring Dudley South seat is an easier target for the Tories. It would fall to them with just over the 4.3% uniform national swing required for them to become the largest party in Parliament. Perhaps its MP Ian Pearson knows something - he recently announced that he was quitting the seat.

The Tories were cheered by the council elections of 2008 when they gained four seats and secured a healthy majority of 17 over Labour.

Party strategists talk of there being four target groups which will determine the outcome in Tory/Labour marginals like this. The Tories need to win over "30-something home-makers concerned about debt" and those "at or near retirement" while Labour need to avoid losing the support of the "unskilled unemployed" and "former manufacturing workers" to the BNP, UKIP or to not voting at all.

In part three of our totally unscientific study of the electorate I speak to a couple who run a small business who disagree about whether cutting now would help or hinder the recovery, as well as others in Dudley whose votes will help shape the nation's future.

Update 11 Feb: Here's my package from Dudley.

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Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Is there a greater example of the BBC's unbelievable fascination in its own importance than this absurd navel gazing excercise?

    Call an election

  • Comment number 2.

    Personally I think that the 2005 results are almost irrelevant. Why? Well, turnout was low and the result was a forgone conclusion. One could also say that for 1997 and 2001!

    With that many boundary changes and a massive demographic change how reliable are previous results?

  • Comment number 3.

    Nick,

    Is it not day 3 of your tour following Monday in Cardiff and Tuesday in Pendle and today being Wednesday?

    Or is this not real time touring?

  • Comment number 4.

    "Ian Austin - is using his job as minister for the West Midlands to highlight the role government can and is playing in ameliorating the worst impacts of the recession."

    Yeah... standing by and watching Rover and LDV go to the wall and Cadbury's being bought out really helped.

    No wonder he's standing down.

  • Comment number 5.

    Too much too soon! The election has not yet been called, the manifestos have not been published and the Parties are rightly ‘keeping their powder dry’ for the big day when it all kicks off. Floating voters will continue to ‘float’ until the ‘meat is on the table’ in the form of manifestos, at the moment we are just on the petit fours!

    The Tory Party are aware that as soon as they make an announcement at the moment, Labour copies the idea if it seems to be popular. Once the manifestos are published this won’t be so easy.

    I just wish Gordon would get on with it and fire the starting pistol!

  • Comment number 6.

    I really can't believe that you have been sent on the wild goose chase around England when so much is happening so close to Downing Street. Are you being lined up for a new job Nick?

  • Comment number 7.

    WHAT a stupid question - no doubt u will get a lot of stupid answers too.

    ANY sane person knows that the answer is YES - SOONER THE BETTER.

  • Comment number 8.

    As both parties sat there and did nothing as the banks gambled away the people's retirements and investments the question for most is: Who will do the least harm rather than who will do the most good. It is apparent to everyone that neither side has a plan to rebuild the economy and that the banks are still in control. It was not enough to allow the banks to diminish retirement accounts in the present the government decided to give them more of your money to be paid in future taxes. I am sure the past will not be discussed in these campaigns but rather a vague claim of future properity that will be revealed after the election. I believe this was once called buying a pig in a poke.

  • Comment number 9.

    Perhaps you could also ask the small business owners whether they trust any of the parties to look after small businesses. This government say that they value small businesses, but everything they do seem to make their life harder.

    As a little example (I run a small business), we were late paying our January instalment of our business rates owing to a little bit of disorganisation in our finance department following some staff changes over the Christmas period. If the machinery of government were sympathetic to the needs of small businesses, perhaps the local council would have sent a reminder? But no. They issued a court summons instead without any warning, and have refused to withdraw it despite the fact we've since paid the overdue instalment. They now want us to pay court fees as well. It's this kind of constant battle against petty bureaucrats that makes running a small business such an uphill slog, even if you ignore what the economy has done to make life so much harder for so many of us.

  • Comment number 10.

    Nick, my roots are in the Midlands and I had occasion to visit Dudley many times. You must not leave without sampling the real ale.

    Please provide us with your views on the relative strengths of the beers you try.

    Perhaps you could also ask if the beer has got stronger or weaker since 1997.

    I know this would be a totally unscientific study but as this appears to be within your remit as "Chief Unscientific Study Officer" you seem to be best placed.

    In the meantime - whose doing the analysis of unimportant things like rendition and torture; and vote gerrymandering via mass planned immigration?

  • Comment number 11.

    Anybody who questions whether public spending should be cut, given the unsustainable and dangerous levels of public debt, must be a congenital idiot. Oh - Brown claims public spending should not be cut? Rather proves my point doesn't it?

  • Comment number 12.

    I love your maths! "At the last general election the Tories secured more than 3,000 fewer votes than they had in 1997 and they lost vote share too."
    They lost 0.3% of the vote (actually 2140 votes) whereas NuLab lost 7% and 6165 votes.
    Please try to be even a little bit more impartial in presenting the facts...

  • Comment number 13.

    I note,yet again and with sadness, that your post focuses 'the scale of the mountain David Cameron has to climb',whilst giving a long list of labour achievements and initiatives.

    Added to this, your (or the BBC's..or both) obsession with your own self importance and that this ridiculous exercise holds any statistical credibility simply shows how out of touch you are.

    Do we really have to pay our licence fee for this display of self justification on behalf of the Government?

  • Comment number 14.

    After today's news about the huge job cuts in Birmingham I think the question is no longer relevant.

    Big cuts are already happening and it's started in local government.

    How any government still has the nerve to say they are investing when thousands of jobs have to go before the end of March beats me.

    Perhaps they will just blame those extravagant councils for not cutting their cloth long ago and not the reckless spending ecouraged by the present government.

    After all nothing is ever the fault of Brown & co.

  • Comment number 15.

    Nick

    Ian Austin - is using his job as minister for the West Midlands to highlight the role government can and is playing in ameliorating the worst impacts of the recession. These include the car scrappage scheme and government task forces to examine how the region can become a world-leader in key sectors of the economy such as digital technology, low-carbon technology, advanced manufacturing - such as aircraft components - and medical technology.

    WOW can I vote for this superman as well?

    Please Please.

    Who are the other candidates I thought you had to mention them as well for balance?

    You remember balance don't you?

    Or did it go the same way as prudence?

    It was the abandonment of prudence that has caused the need for all of this 'ameliorating'

    You really should read this stuff before you press the button.

  • Comment number 16.

    Tory Birmingham to sack 2000 should be an opportunity for Labour to warn of the return of the nasty party - lets hope nobody notices some of the few remaining Labour authorities aare paid up members of that club!

  • Comment number 17.

    Nick can you Email your findings on those slips so I can get a bet on before the bookies lower the prices.!!

  • Comment number 18.

    British Bias Corp - Robinson - Peston - r alive and well. Follow the lead of the Great Defender!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sants - and leave ASAP - I AM FED UP WITH LIEBOUR PROPAGANDA.

  • Comment number 19.

    "while Labour need to avoid losing the support of the "unskilled unemployed" and "former manufacturing workers" to the BNP, UKIP or to not voting at all."

    So Labour are relying on people without jobs, some with skills and some without, to stay in power. God help us.

  • Comment number 20.

    Who would disagree that it is time to cut public spending? All the parties want to do it but they differ on what to cut and how quickly.

    The Tories want to cut quickly and have different ideas on how to do it -giving tax cuts to the richest in society for instance (which isn't a terribly good way of cutting the deficit).

  • Comment number 21.

    Is the roving ballot box questionaire section on the BBC news going to give air space to UKIP and BNP or will the BBC continue it's bias towards the big parties.

  • Comment number 22.

    Wow - lots of mentions for the existing Labour MP's and previous results...what about the new Conservative candidates? Dudley South for example has a new and young, energetic Conversative candidate who will breath fresh life into Parliament, at a time it is most needed. Surely articles like this should be looking into the future at what the new candidates can bring to a region desparate for new fresh ideas. Was Mr Kelly even interviewed, especially as he has worked in the West Midlands his whole life, an MBA graduate who in theory will be full of ideas of how to create jobs in the area - private sector jobs needed to reduce the unemployment problems Dudley faces.

  • Comment number 23.

    Why won't Nick reveal the actual results of the votes cast?

    The problem is not : cutting V not cutting - it is that most of the money in the economy is there as a result of having been created by banks as debt. As the banks are desperate to build up their reserves they are pulling all this money back. This happened in Japan in the 1990s for instance. Economic growth under these circumstances can only occur when the banks issue more money as debt so that people can repay the existing money (+ interest) - this is a pyramid scheme and fails when the banks run out of people to lend money to (in the last days they will lend to anyone - witness home mortgages in America - and when they can't pay the system collapses)

    The solution is to start providing money into the economy backed by valuta - this can't be gold/ silver but could be backed by the wealth of the country - something in which people have confidence.

  • Comment number 24.

    I think that some of the posts on these blog are taking the pulse a bit themselves!

  • Comment number 25.

    16 @watriler
    The Tories have 49 out of 120 council seats in Birmingham and thus run a minority administration (good practice for a hung Parliament perhaps?). If the Lab and Lib Dem members thought the job cuts were a bad idea they could vote against it.

  • Comment number 26.

    APbbforum - you couldn't be more wrong. 20% of our GDP is generated in one square mile of the City of London - look at how much tax revenue is generated there. As a country, we need to be competitive - all Brown is doing is destroying the industry with taxes on bonuses and 50% income tax, and these people will move to New York, Zurich, Singapore and elsewhere...which will dramatically REDUCE tax receipts. Price elasticity works with taxes as well - you reach a point where if you tax the rich more, tax reveues reduce as they stop working or move abroad...I am a good example, I moved to the US last year as I finally became fed up with paying so much tax. In the US for example I can file a joint income tax return with my wife, who is a stay at home Mum. I have tax relief for having children, making it easier for us to live as a good, hard working, family focused unit. The UK can learn a lot from the US and it's competitive tax system that rewards families and people who contribute to society.

  • Comment number 27.

    I am a low paid local civil servant of 36 years not a senior civil servant and certainly not a fat cat.
    Public Spending cuts have been made ever since I've worked in the Dept. with no let up. So there's no meaning in the term "it's time to cut"
    We have not had a pay rise above inflation, and only received 2% when inflation was 17% under Thatcher. We would need a 100% pay rise to catch up with the private sector and MP salaries in particular.
    Last year I received 1% rise and non the previous 2 years.
    The media have a total misconception of civil service pay and pensions for ordinary workers. It's time public servants were not penalised.

  • Comment number 28.

    "watriler wrote:
    Tory Birmingham to sack 2000 should be an opportunity for Labour to warn of the return of the nasty party - lets hope nobody notices some of the few remaining Labour authorities are paid up members of that club!"

    My feeling is that if a council can afford to let 2000 people go then they are seriously overstaffed.

    Apparently 52,000 people work for the council there, I bet the staffing fees lead to a pretty big council tax bill for people in the city!

  • Comment number 29.

    Why has sagamix not taken part in the debate about the Dudley question...?

    'it's time to start cutting public sending?'

    is the debate below him?

    the debate has certainly moved away from him.

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 30.

    Nick,
    I wonder if you told your sample audience that the government was going to borrow an extra lump of cash tens of billions more than the total it gets this year from income tax from the whole country (approx £144Bn). And then next year the same, on top of the current pile. And on and on.

    I think if people understood that the government was adding to borrowing each year at a larger rate than the entire income tax received, the penny might drop!


  • Comment number 31.

    "APbbforum wrote:

    The Tories want to cut quickly and have different ideas on how to do it -giving tax cuts to the richest in society for instance (which isn't a terribly good way of cutting the deficit)."

    The only Tory tax cut for the "richest in society" I can think of is raising the threshold of IHT - which I am sure would be spun as "taking the majority of the population out of IHT altogether" is brought in by Labour.

    The tax cuts aren't just for the richest - it will apply to anybody who has an average detached house in this country (the price of an average detached house is higher than the IHT threshold)

    Personally I don't consider owning a detached house to be an indicator of being amongst the richest in society.

    Of course Labour voters support a party who want to increase taxes on anyone earning more than about £20,000 a year.

  • Comment number 32.

    Day 3 Nick - Monday was Cardiff and Day 1, Tuesday was Pendle and Day 2, and now you are in Dudley on Day 3!

    And they say Maths has got better under Labour!

  • Comment number 33.

    I am glad that Mr Austin and Nick are extolling the virtue of the car scrappage scheme to the Birmingham region car workers. Those workers now know that most of the cars purchased were foreign made and of those that were made in the UK few were made in the West Midlands.

    Typical Labour and supporter own goal.

    I wish them luck with new Carbon Technology.

  • Comment number 34.

    rr7 @ 29

    "Why has sagamix not taken part in the debate about the Dudley question?"

    Sorry, Robin. I'm having to deal with a nasty outbreak of racist propaganda on the other thread. I'll be with you very very soon.

  • Comment number 35.

    #28:

    It reminds me of the old joke:

    Q: "How many people work in the local council?"

    A: "About half of them"

  • Comment number 36.

    9. DisgustedOfMitcham2
    a little bird tells me that the debt recovery depts at the inland revenue since the recession have increased targets for getting in overdue payments. a sort of "when things are tough, we are going to make it harder for you" policy

  • Comment number 37.

    21.
    the beebs policy is air time according to political support, as far as i am aware. so the chances of any smaller party being heard is pretty much the same as with other media. very little or non existant! they of course say that if a smaller party gets more support, their airtime will increase...so catch 22

  • Comment number 38.

    27. At 4:39pm on 10 Feb 2010, RobLyth wrote:
    We have not had a pay rise above inflation, and only received 2% when inflation was 17% under Thatcher. We would need a 100% pay rise to catch up with the private sector and MP salaries in particular.

    Only 2% you say. You weeeerrrrreeeee LUCKY !
    Oh and I'll think you'll find MP's in the umm yep pubic sector.

  • Comment number 39.

    At 3:13pm on 10 Feb 2010, Fredalo wrote:
    Nick, my roots are in the Midlands and I had occasion to visit Dudley many times. You must not leave without sampling the real ale.

    Please provide us with your views on the relative strengths of the beers you try.

    Perhaps you could also ask if the beer has got stronger or weaker since 1997.

    I know this would be a totally unscientific study but as this appears to be within your remit as "Chief Unscientific Study Officer" you seem to be best placed.

    In the meantime - whose doing the analysis of unimportant things like rendition and torture; and vote gerrymandering via mass planned immigration?


    Fredalo - I thought your comment priceless.

    The BBC has rather let us down on this one. Do you think Nick Robinson is trying to build up his expenses this month? Travelling around all the cities in the UK should bring him in a pretty penny - not that he would disclose that to a member of the public! We pay for these guys to make up these irrelevant questions! Doesn't he have anything better to do?

  • Comment number 40.

    # 12. At 3:18pm on 10 Feb 2010, A Rose wrote:
    I’m with you on this one – summarising the 1997 / 2005 election results for Dudley South as

    “Look at the voting figures in recent elections and you see the scale of the mountain David Cameron has to climb. At the last general election the Tories secured more than 3,000 fewer votes than they had in 1997 and they lost vote share too.”

    is, at best, a bit sloppy.

    David Cameron undoubtedly has a mountain to climb, but if the last sentence read:

    “At the last general election the Conservatives secured 2,140 fewer votes than they had in 1997 and lost 0.3% of vote share. Labour secured 6,165 fewer votes that they had in 1997 and lost 7.0% of vote share.”

    it would at least accurately (and completely) describe the election results… albeit at the cost of making David Cameron’s mountain rather less interesting.

  • Comment number 41.

    Post 29, rockRobin7, it is simple Dudley is north of the Watford Gap and as such from Sagamix's map in sunny Hampstead it clearly doesn't exist!

  • Comment number 42.

    “Look at the voting figures in recent elections and you see the scale of the mountain David Cameron has to climb. At the last general election the Tories secured more than 3,000 fewer votes than they had in 1997 and they lost vote share too.”

    The figures for Dudley South could be summarised as:

    “At the last general election the Conservatives secured 541 fewer votes than they had in 1997 but they gained 5.1% of vote share. Labour secured 9,324 fewer votes than in 1997 and lost 11.3% of vote share.”

  • Comment number 43.

    16: 'Tory Birmingham to sack 2000 should be an opportunity for Labour to warn of the return of the nasty party'

    Until someone asks why the council has to cut costs, and finds it's to do with central government cuts.

  • Comment number 44.

    #26 Frankly the UK economy and tax revenues have become too reliant upon the City. The financial services sector needs to be a smaller part of the UK economy allowing other more socially valuable sectors to thrive instead. So if people like you leave the country then that is no great loss. The reason why the UK has higher taxes than the US is to pay for public services - you might be well off but those Americans left without a social safety net are some of the most abject and deprived people in the western world. And yes I understand all about the Laffer curve (google it) but the top marginal rate of tax would have to be a lot higher than it is at the moment for that to take effect in the UK.

    #31 Most people have mortgages on their houses so they wouldn't be caught by IHT if they died - and I'm not sure where you live but the average detached house round my way does not cost 325 grand. Even the Tories would agree that the IHT tax cut goes to the 3000 richest estates. That is not the average man in the street by any stretch of the imagination.

  • Comment number 45.

    Forget the results of the Euro and local elections Nick! The Tories actually have it all to do in such seats particularly if they keep coming over as Messrs mealy mouthed.
    Almost certainly Labour will lose votes but they will go to third parties. Perhaps a good reason to have AV voting?

  • Comment number 46.

    First of all apologies to bring up a different topic which BBC is IGNORING
    Although I am a admirer of your news coverage however I am surprised that you have not spoken at all about BBC outrageous pay packages and the secrecy around it. When it come to MP expenses correspondents were all over the places however when it comes to them everybody is quiet.
    Fiona Bruce on Half a Million, somebody must be joking. I heard her complaining about salary 3-4 months back. No wonder we are seeing the same news readers for best half of our life and no new talent is getting opportunities which should be BBC priority.
    It’s outrageous to see the TV Licence increase again this year in tough time for families. IF BBC wants to pay this kind of salaries then it should raise its own revenue. Not on taxpayers money.
    BBC Come Clean on salaries. Taxpayers have a right to know how there money is being spent.

  • Comment number 47.

    #36:

    Thanks for that, lefty10. My problem is actually with the local council rather than with HMRC, but it wouldn't surprise me if they are all behaving in a similar manner.

    Either way, it kind of goes against all the rhetoric of wanting to help small businesses through the hard times. They say that in their grand speeches, but when it comes to doing anything, they seem quite keen on screwing us into the ground.

    I'd like to think the Tories will be a bit better, although I must say I don't feel too full of confidence. Still, at least I can take comfort from the certain knowledge that they can't be any worse.

  • Comment number 48.

    If that young lady on BBC News 24 is on £ 90,000 + a year what on earth do you get. Care to tell us?

  • Comment number 49.

    Fredalo wrote:
    Nick, my roots are in the Midlands and I had occasion to visit Dudley many times. You must not leave without sampling the real ale.

    Please provide us with your views on the relative strengths of the beers you try.

    Perhaps you could also ask if the beer has got stronger or weaker since 1997.

    I know this would be a totally unscientific study but as this appears to be within your remit as "Chief Unscientific Study Officer" you seem to be best placed.

    In the meantime - whose doing the analysis of unimportant things like rendition and torture; and vote gerrymandering via mass planned immigration?

    =====================================================================


    Hit the nail on the head, well done.

    Loads of important stuff going on and the Political Editor is visiting various parts of the country asking some inane questions. Can't even get the the number of days right!! Its 3 days Nick 3.

    Anybody want to score these articles out of 10 for relevance and 10 for accuracy.

    4 relevance and 3 accuracy

    Good to see Saga will be on soon I like reading the posts, don't agree with them however.

  • Comment number 50.

    To 26. At 4:38pm on 10 Feb 2010, RichardW1977
    As you say, "The UK can learn a lot from the US ....."
    If there is a more punitive tax regime than the UK's, it is the USA's!
    Living in each for 6 months every year, I can say that in respect of life, death AND taxes of all kinds, the only thing that costs less in the USA is petrol.

  • Comment number 51.

    47.
    im sure the council are just as bad.
    for me, after having several employees for several years, im down to just me and the occasional casual. pretty much just referrals keeping me going. prices well down and all other costs up.. the double whammy! stats suggest that after recession businesses (especially small) can continue to suffer for up to 48 months. what worries me is if we are going through a slow recovery at the moment, the conservatives might (even inadvertently) do something to make it a w recession! (no specific policies at the moment it seems to judge anyway!)

  • Comment number 52.

    from pendle... "do the conservatives understand people like you?"

    from dudley... "with their own business and two cars on the drive, you would think that they are tory voters!"

    i thought this series of reports was to test the water on how the public will vote not portray the conservative party as one that looks down its nose at hard working people of pendle or only supports those with their own business and two cars?

    disgraceful BBC!

    tomorrows question is going to be, "is there any point in voting?" - which will be apt, as according to a prospective labour party candidate, (and the BBC?) tomorrow is the day the gun is fired and the general election is called, 12 weeks until the may 6th general election!

    then the chilcott enquiry will be suspended until after the election, all very handy for gordon brown who was due to sit before it and give evidence.

  • Comment number 53.


    #47
    Still, at least I can take comfort from the certain knowledge that they can't be any worse.

    I'm sure that the Tories will accept the challenge.

  • Comment number 54.

    #51:

    I feel your pain, lefty10. 2009 was a pretty disastrous year for me as well. Still finalising the accounts, but I'm fairly sure we'll have made a loss for the year, which is the first time that's ever happened since I set up the business in 1999. Let's hope things pick up this year.

    Still, isn't it nice to know that the government are doing everything in their power to look after us? As for me, I've never been to court before, so it will be an exciting new experience. Aren't I lucky!

  • Comment number 55.

    54. thats uncanny. because its seems i may be going there for the first time ever aswell. trouble is, no-one really likes to talk about it. when you walk down the street and someone says hi how are you, your not going to say, im up to my neck in it. so it can feel very lonely. rest assured though and take some comfort....theres an awfull lot of people in the same boat and a hell of alot more in worse :-)

  • Comment number 56.

    51 - Just a thought. A business tip if you like (part of my job at work).

    Maybe if you spent less time on here and on eating pies and more time on your business, it might pick up?

  • Comment number 57.

    there you go greatHayemaker. 56. i rest my case, and as i said before..if the cap fits... :-)

  • Comment number 58.

    9 Disgusted of Mitcham

    check this out from Business link, Government body, as you said no reminder sent, it states a reminder must be sent.

    "If you miss a payment without agreeing it with the council, they will send you a reminder giving you seven days to pay. If you miss this deadline or another payment, you will have to pay the whole outstanding balance for the year. If you still do not pay, the council may take action in court to recover the debt."

    http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg/action/detail?type=RESOURCES&itemId=1073792392

  • Comment number 59.

    Where are you off to tomorrow Nick?

  • Comment number 60.

    57. and 219 on pendle

  • Comment number 61.

    The comments made by some contributors are beyond belief and amount in a number of cases to personal attacks on your impartiatly - I certainly have no problem with your objective reporting posing the questions for the British public to consider. It is hoped that as the election nears that comments will be about facts/policies and not fantasyland which some seem to live in.I am off to Cardiff at the weekend so I will take the pulse to see whether there is a vote for Nick Robinson movement.

  • Comment number 62.

    Mind you it is not all good news on business rates for the coming year the new Business Rate Supplement comes in, could add to your rates woe, if you are a small business struggling. look at the 2010 letters link.

    http://www.communities.gov.uk/localgovernment/localgovernmentfinance/businessrates/busratesinformationletters/

  • Comment number 63.

    Nick's travels show one thing. If politicians repeat a slogan often enough across the media, a large % of the public will take it as gospel.

  • Comment number 64.

    By Local Authorities cutting back on Public Services, does that mean then that if a Council removes support for any Public Services then we the Public can demand that we receive a Council Tax Rebate for those Services that are stopped, or reduced under the removal of Cash reduced Allowances for that Service?

    Get out those Rebate Forms...

  • Comment number 65.

    64.

    63. should add, politicians... and broadcasters repeat a slogan...

  • Comment number 66.

    62 - It still defies belief that there are some on here who think Labour are good for the economy. National Insurance on the rise, business rates on the rise, the rate of CT for big companies goes DOWN (from 30% to 28% in the last few years) while that for small companies goes UP (from 19 to 21% with a further 1% in the offing).

    These are facts and if the only defence Labour apologists have is to bleat "what would the Tories do" it just shows that they can't defend Labour.

    With most businesses, if you were to add their net profit to the wages of the proprietor and then look at who gets more, the Government in tax & NIC or the businessman, I bet in most cases, the Government gets very nearly HALF if not more.

    This means that half the time you are slaving away, you're not doing it for yourself, you're doing it for Gordon.

  • Comment number 67.

    Today's question is to simplistic. I believe some things should be cut, but not others.
    For example cut spending on defence, MP's pay and expenses, the civil list. But not on education, NHS or pensions.

  • Comment number 68.

    Talking to a family in Dudley who have a Mercedes and a BMW parked on the drive is hardly going to give any objective answer. Come on up here to North Oxfordshire and we will tell you why Labour needs to go...forever! Not that we are for the Conservatives either,or necessarily Lib dems. The overwhelming response seems to be to NOT vote for a sitting MP. That is how you get rid of corruption with the ballot. So ,maybe UKIP looms and the Greens but NOT Lab/Con/Libdem or BNP.Around here Browns name and Labour are used as epithets followed by a good spit.

  • Comment number 69.

    I agree wholeheartedly with the last comments. After watching the first two nights I have quickly come to the conclusion that this is pure and utter rubbish and a waste of money. At the end of each night I found it impossible to understand what had been achieved and finally decided that it was a nice jolly for Mr. Robinson at the tax payers expense.

  • Comment number 70.

    "With most businesses, if you were to add their net profit to the wages of the proprietor and then look at who gets more, the Government in tax & NIC or the businessman, I bet in most cases, the Government gets very nearly HALF if not more".
    ....
    i did laugh. i guess you dont do many sole traders books. net wages against the wages of the proprietor. seen the stats lately for sole traders....
    tell us then.. oh great over inflated one. what EXACT policies will the conservatives bring in specifically regarding tax and ni. how will it be reduced. specifics... specifics... come on... give us a reason to vote conservative in exact relation to the point you have made?

  • Comment number 71.

    44. At 5:41pm on 10 Feb 2010, APbbforum wrote:
    #26 Frankly the UK economy and tax revenues have become too reliant upon the City.

    You assume incorrectly that I work in Financial Services - I do not. However we should allow market forces to allocate resources into areas where they maximise and generate the most output for the country - just look at the Soviet Union, we know planned economies do not work.

    Also your remark on inheritence tax - think it through before making stupid comments. The majority of people in this country die in their 70's or later, when their mortgages have been cleared.

  • Comment number 72.

    #70

    You have the wrong approach. It is difficult to find a reason to vote Tory, but very easy to find a reason NOT to vote Labour.

  • Comment number 73.

    #58:

    Thanks for that. The council claim that they did send a reminder, although I never received one. They may well be telling the truth, as the post round these parts is hideously unreliable.

    I wonder how the law interprets things in such cases? Is it OK for the council to send a reminder and assume that their legal obligations are fulfilled in the absence of any evidence that the reminder was delivered? Or would there be an obligation to send something by recorded delivery before starting court action?

  • Comment number 74.

    OurNorfy @ 72: "You have the wrong approach. It is difficult to find a reason to vote Tory, but very easy to find a reason NOT to vote Labour."
    At first reading I thought you were addressing our "esteemed sponsor" but then I realised your comment was pointed at a previous comment @ 70. However, can I borrow the concept and refer it to Nick; rather than asking voters if they have any reason to vote Conservative, could you please ask a few if there is any conceivable reason why they might vote Labour?
    I know you are regularly accused of pro - Labour bias but to my mind the slant is becoming cringe - making. If I were DC & Co (and I am more than a little relieved that I am not, despite being basically conservative with a deliberately small c) I might just consider a formal complaint that you were dressing up comment and opinion as news, and (worse still) getting unsuspecting voters to do it for you.

  • Comment number 75.

    #71 So market forces have determined the size of the City have they? When the Govt props up the financial system with taxpayers' money? When there is almost no competition on fees between City institutions? When City people get huge bonuses just because the market has gone up (the billions awarded this year only exist because taxpayers saved the banks)? I don't think so. One could almost call the assertion stupid.

    And of course I realise that people only pay inheritance tax when they die but I was responding to the comment that the Tory plans would benefit "anyone with a detached house". It wouldn't. It would benefit only the wealthiest people in society. What sort of priority is that with the public finances in the state they are?

  • Comment number 76.

    I note that on the 10 o'clock news that Nick's election investigation always assumes a 2 horse race, with no mention of Lib Dems, or the minor parties. All the questions are would you vote for Brown or Cameron? - this is giving viewers a polarised view.

    #9 & 47 DisgustedofMitcham2 - I believe your local council is conservative, assuming you're in the borough of Merton?

  • Comment number 77.

    75. At 9:21pm on 10 Feb 2010,

    APbbforum - you are viewing financial services as being a one dimensional bank that just lends money, but ultimately I couldn't agree more with you - Gordon Brown should not have interfered with market forces, he should have let HBOS go under rather than set up the deal with Lloyds, and should have let RBS go under. I couldn't disagree more with nationalisation and government interference with market forces.

    Regarding public finances, we need to get our of the terrible cycle of borrowing or increasing taxes to get out of the position the Labour government has got us into - they have DOUBLED the size of government and public spending since entering Downing Street in 1997, and we need to dramatically decrease the size of the public sector, rather than keep increasing taxes and borrowing.

  • Comment number 78.

    Andy @ 56

    That's a bit below the belt, Andy. And anyway, most jobs you can do while eating pies at the same time so they needn't hinder productivity. With a few obvious exceptions - opera singer, deep sea diver … As it happens, my tax adviser regularly fill his face with whatever I offer him whenever he comes round, like he has an insatiable hunger. Very odd. I suspect it's psychosomatic.

  • Comment number 79.

    Regarding last night's programme studying Pendle. Perhaps Mr. Robinson, and the BBC for that matter, could tell us why they insist on showing the very worst aspects of this area whenever they broadcast from here? Yes there are a lot of terraced properties, there are also a lot very large houses. We are close to fields, open countryside, Pendle Hill etc. The nearby Ribble Valley is acknowledged as one of the most beautiful parts of the Country. Your broadcast last night was so biased as to be laughable - the only thing missing from your dreadful stereotypes of 'Northern workers' (as envisaged by Southerners), was a whippet and a couple of pigeons!!

    Also what on earth is the point of you spending licence payer's money on these trips and surveys if you are not going to give us the results??

  • Comment number 80.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 81.

    68 Nick Nicholls

    Like yourself I was disappointed with Nick's Dudley broadcast. The fairly well to do couple were not representative.

    Perhaps Nick tried the "real" Dudley people but was given advice about mike insertion.I could believe that. They take no prisoners in Dudlay. Yo cor goo there an tek the p wi saft questions wot mek no sense.Yam askin for trouble if youm do.

  • Comment number 82.

    Nick , when youngo to Redditch please ask how the locals feel about Jaqui getting off with claiming a bedroom at her sisters was her main home and getting tens of thousands of pounds as a result, none of which she was required to repay and was only required to apologise' which she did with very bad grace.

    Unless there is some under the counter fall guy arrangement bet the four up before the Courts feel a bit miffed.

  • Comment number 83.

    Nick, it is quite strange that lots of people are criticiing you for your reporting based on anecdotal evidence. You are accused of not seeing the 'real' Dudley, Pendle, Cardiff etc. Another way I know of getting a 'real' view is by statistics and surveys and the faith many of the bloggers put in those is well documented. The only other way I can think of getting a view is to obtain specs with special lenses. These will filter out anything you don't want to see - they cleverly affect the ears as well.

    One of the greatest successes of the much maligned National Curriculum was teaching children to identify the difference between fact (supported by all the evidence) and opinion (supported, if at all, by selected evidence). Lots of people did not need this and can spot illogically supported views anyway. Some would simply say that the populus has become more cynical.

    Under the present voting system it does appear to be a two horse race (even if one of the horses needs a push from another horse to help it get over the line). The trouble is that (I believe using evidence from blogs, media etc)there is not much trust placed in either leader. Cameron is more disappointing than Brown, because we look to him to take over and lead and yet he appears muddled and unconvincing (in an absolute sense, but not in comparison to Brown).

    If we are to look for evidence of 'broken Britain', it isn't perceived violence, benefit culture etc etc, but a lack of poltical leadership. Any team knows that if the captain is weak infighting soon starts. That is why Britain is broken. And in broken Britain people only see what they want to see, making the job of a reporter (even if they are trying to achieve balance (an opinion based concept)) totally impossible. Totally measured reporting would be so long winded that few would listen. Perhaps reporters have given up trying as they seem to refer to their media vehicles as 'the show' implying more entertainment than in depth analysis. In which case we shouldn't take their utterances too seriously.

  • Comment number 84.

    78. Ginsters spicy chicken slice are super tasty. (blame must be spying on me).
    Anyway.... a key quote from brown at yestersdays priministers questions

    “The Conservative party cannot talk about new politics and transparency unless they answer the central question: the tax status of their chief fundraiser, Lord Ashcroft. And the information commissioner has already said they been evasive and obfuscatory. That's the Conservative party, about the Ashcroft scandal. They have questions they have to answer”.

    what sort of message does this refusal to answer important questions send out?
    is this the start of things to come from the tories...same old same old? no specific concrete policies. Out of the frying pan and into the fire? Strong possibility me thinks....!

  • Comment number 85.

    If it's not time now to cut public spending when will it be? We cannot carry on with this irresponsible "spend, spend, spend" attitude. We have to face up to reality and realise that you can't carry spending money you simply haven't got.

    The crisis this Government is in is mirrored by thousands of families up and down the country - living beyond it's means. Austerity measures should have been introduced well before now. I know it's a bitter pill to swallow but think of it like that horrid medicene we took as kids which invariably made us better.

  • Comment number 86.

    "Under the present voting system it does appear to be a two horse race (even if one of the horses needs a push from another horse to help it get over the line)."

    Aint that the truth Bill... it almost feels as if the favourite is having to be dragged whinnying and bucking across the finish line... Cant possibly imagine why....

    Maybe the poisoned nosebag waiting in the winners enclosure has something to do with it....

  • Comment number 87.

    This goverment dosn't know the meaning of saving money.

    For example we will be paying 6.5 MILLION a year to check and manage MP's expenses.

    IE £10,000 PER MP just how much paper work and time does it take to chech an MP's expenses.

    The london based company im doing consultancy for at the moment, has 9 HR staff, they are paid between 24k and 50k and in addition to normal HR role, they manage payroll and expenses for around a 2 thousand full time staff, a thousand part time staff and at the moment 200 or so consultants / contractors. There total HR department budget including there central london office space is just over half a million.

  • Comment number 88.

    83#

    Incidentally, that last paragraph Bill... well put. Like it.

  • Comment number 89.

    75#

    You plainly have no knowledge of the Financial sector beyond the end of your nose. Not even NL are that ignorant. Just another rabble rousing sloganeering class warrior.


    Move along, nothing to see here.

  • Comment number 90.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 91.

    The real question the BBC should be asking as everyone should be asking themselves is this:

    Do you want the UK to be a third world country?

    That is what we have turned into with these levels of debt, taxation and public services that seem to believe they have a god given right to ever more money.

    We have become by our own actions a country propped up by government bailout. Incapable of life outside the comforting arms of mother state. You can see it in the interviews the BBC has done with the general population; people have become numbed by the enormous scale of the problems inflicted upon them by a government they had genuinely believed was a force for the good. And thye don't have a clue what to do about it just like the stupid political parties that purport to represent our interests. Conviction politician? Haven't seen one of those for twenty years.

    Call an ambulance.

  • Comment number 92.

    tony benn is still knocking around. widely respected by all parties

    "And thye don't have a clue what to do about it just like the stupid political parties that purport to represent our interests. Conviction politician? Haven't seen one of those for twenty years".
    ............
    but no suggestion for change?. low voting turnout+general uninterest in politics+ little faith or trust in main two parties.....
    is there nothing in law that allows for a complete overhaul of the system and how would this come about? why so much apathy and no strong movement for radical upheaval of our current political system?

  • Comment number 93.

  • Comment number 94.

    Not surprising if Nick doesn't know what day it is, nor that he admits his survey isn't scientific. The Dudley recording was done on Monday and probably Tuesday. As requested by the production team, a church congregation was assembled, and included the widest possible range of ages, education, background, jobs, incomes, etc. (Dudley voters don't all, by any means, speak in residual Anglo-Saxon). Nick interviewed only the bellringers (whose practice night it happened to be), and the two whose contributions made it to air don't attend church services. The card vote would at least give a reasonable reflection of the congregation's views, but otherwise, I question the value of the week's exercise. It seems to be badly designed, over-hastily executed, and superficial. The country's problems are complex, any any solutions massively difficult. Sound-bites offer little new illumination, and don't help greatly in voters' decision-making.

    The exercise might have some value if it makes people realize that every vote will count in the upcoming election, in many places, therefore there is a point in exercising their democratic right.

  • Comment number 95.

    Nick I greatly value your comments on current political news but this dumbing down by travelling over the country with a fake ballot box, cannot by it's very nature be even handed and is frankly doing your reputation no good at all. Please give it up.

  • Comment number 96.

    "87. At 08:29am on 11 Feb 2010, icewombat wrote:
    This goverment dosn't know the meaning of saving money.

    For example we will be paying 6.5 MILLION a year to check and manage MP's expenses."

    I was astonished to hear this on the radio. 80 staff. EIGHTY!. To look after 650 MPs. That's little more than 8 MPs per staff member. My colleagues at work handle somewhere between 60 and 80 personal tax clients each. That's all tax matters that arise during the year AND preparing their personal tax return. Of course, we're in the private sector.

    And Labour supporters still say you can't start making immediate cuts? I'd take on the role of auditing MPs expense for £3m. There, that's £3m saved easy. And I'd be confident of making a huge profit AND doing the job better than whichever civil servants it is they hire.

  • Comment number 97.

    When people switch on the news, that's what they want to see news, not this drivel.

  • Comment number 98.

    Those selfive people in the Merc and BMW , there total self interest.

    yeah are BMW and MERC made in the Uk , say like toyota and others than have come here.

    Selfish casue they want there buisness to me support by a unstainable spend spend spend policy

    try selling the BMW and merc and down size to what your buisness can sustain in a sustainable ecomonic environement where future generation are not going to have to pay for your excess then.

    at some time this will go pop, hopefully on the watch of those that created it and failed to take the correct action there after. It a sham that we will have to set a little more or GB and ZANU_Liebour first.

    would not want to be DC and then it happens within 6 months of coming to power with not a big enough majority to take the correct actions

  • Comment number 99.

    "70. lefty10 wrote:
    "With most businesses, if you were to add their net profit to the wages of the proprietor and then look at who gets more, the Government in tax & NIC or the businessman, I bet in most cases, the Government gets very nearly HALF if not more".
    ....
    i did laugh. i guess you dont do many sole traders books. net wages against the wages of the proprietor. seen the stats lately for sole traders...."

    Sorry, don't do many "all my records are in this carrier bag" type businesses. It is mainly companies I deal with. And the sole traders I dal with tend to be HNW individuals so I expect their tax affairs are very differnt fromyours.I expect most people worked that out. Still, if it gave you a laugh I suppose that's something.

    Here are the conservative policies. Why not have a read of them instead of droning on like a stuck record about how the Conservatives don't have any policies. Drag yourself away from this site for a while and have a read.

    http://www.conservatives.com/policy.aspx

  • Comment number 100.

    "78. At 11:13pm on 10 Feb 2010, pdavies65 wrote:
    Andy @ 56

    That's a bit below the belt, Andy."

    I agree, that's the problem. Too much below the belt.

    I do like the idea of an opera singer tucking into a flaky pasty pastie as she sings....quite a sight, I'd have thought.

 

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