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Louise Stewart, Political editor, South East

Louise Stewart Political editor, South East

This is where you can find updates on all things political from Westminster to Whitstable, and my thoughts on how they affect you

Budget 2014: Chancellor's plan aims to change 'more ebb than fleet' housing

19 March 2014
George Osborne

George Osborne had largely managed to keep this year's budget under his hat after last year's debacle when the Evening Standard ran most of its contents in advance.

The silence led most political journalists to assume that meant the chancellor was going to pull a big rabbit out of the hat - a giveaway no one was expecting.

Early on in his speech he alluded to this when he said: "If you're a maker, a doer or a saver, this budget is for you." More of that later.

The biggest announcement for the South East was one he'd already made on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday when he pledged to build the first new garden city in almost 100 years in Ebbsfleet, in Kent.

Mr Osborne told MPs that the government was going to build new homes in the South East - where the pressure was the greatest - at Barking Riverside, regenerate Brent Cross, and construct the first new garden city since Welwyn Garden City was built in 1920.

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Pitfalls of UKIP's 'major party status'

5 March 2014
Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage will take part in a televised debate about Europe with Nick Clegg in April

It's been a pretty good week for UKIP and Nigel Farage.

The broadcast regulator Ofcom ruled the party must be given the same coverage as the Tories, Labour and the Liberal Democrats in the run up to the European elections.

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Brighton and Hove council tax rise 'unlikely to be backed'

19 February 2014
Brighton Pavilion
Brighton and Hove City Council could become the first local authority to trigger a referendum over council tax

Brighton and Hove City Council could be about to make history.

A meeting of the full council to vote on next year's budget doesn't normally hit the headlines, but next Thursday the council could become the first local authority in the country to trigger a referendum over its council tax.

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Aviation in South East: 'Uncertainty remains'

17 December 2013
Aircraft near Heathrow Airport
Expansion at Heathrow or Gatwick airports are the main proposals being considered by the commission

The Davies Commission report has been much anticipated.

Many hoped it would draw a line under the political arguments over how to increase aviation capacity in the South East and give business and the communities potentially affected some certainty.

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Chancellor outlines support for fracking in Autumn Statement

5 December 2013
Anti-fracking protests in Balcombe
The fear of fracking sparked protests at Caudrilla's site in Balcombe, West Sussex, in the summer

For the first time in some years George Osborne enjoyed positive economic figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) and was able to tell MPs that the economy was growing faster than expected.

That said, his messages was that "this government will fix the roof while the sun is shining" - an obvious dig at the last Labour government, who he said should have done more to tackle the deficit while the economy was growing.

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Miliband focuses on apprenticeships in Crawley visit

3 December 2013
Ed Miliband in Crawley
Ed Miliband visited Caterpillars pre-school to talk about young people's futures

While the prime minister was in China with a trade delegation the Labour leader Ed Miliband was much closer to home.

He went to Caterpillars pre-school nursery in Crawley to highlight the importance of apprenticeship schemes in helping to build a strong economy.

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Fresh blow for beleaguered Thanet District Council

22 November 2013
Webcast footage of Thanet District Council meeting
A recent report said attendance at council meetings was seen as "entertainment"

If Thanet District Council thought the independent report into behaviour at the council would draw a line under the recent difficulties the council has experienced it seems they were wrong.

Instead, at a meeting on Thursday night to discuss the report's recommendations the four independent members of the council's standards committee, including chairman Robin Hills, quit.

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PCCs in the South East still have points to prove

14 November 2013
Paris Brown and Ann Barnes
Paris Brown resigned just days into the post of youth crime commissioner

The election of US-style police and crime commissioners (PCC) was billed as the most radical reform of policing in 50 years.

But, despite some high-profile candidates - such as ex-Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott - turnout was the lowest in peacetime Britain.

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Louise added analysis to:

Kent County Council budget set to bring job losses

8 November 2013

Kent County Council is consulting on plans to increase council tax by 1.99% - just below the 2% rise which would require a referendum.

They're not alone - new research shows that almost a third of all English councils plan to increase council tax next year despite government incentives to continue to freeze the tax.

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Energy bosses questioned by Lords Economic Affairs Committee

6 November 2013
Cuadrilla drill site in Balcombe
Cuadrilla carried out exploratory drilling at Balcombe during the summer

The four bosses of companies hoping to develop shale gas and oil drilling in the UK have given evidence to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee.

Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, IGas Energy CEO Andrew Austin, Tom Crotty, director of INEO, and INEOS gas procurement manager Andrew Mackenzie were questioned on the scope for commercial shale gas extraction by peers on Tuesday.

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More Correspondents

  • Peter Henley, Political editor, South of England Peter Henley Political editor, South of England

    Analysis and thoughts on politics in the south of England


  • Deborah McGurran, Political editor, East of England Deborah McGurran Political editor, East of England

    Analysis and updates on politics in the East of England


  • Andrew Neil, Presenter, The Daily Politics and Sunday Politics Andrew Neil Daily and Sunday Politics

    People and policies that make Westminster tick


About Louise

Louise joined the BBC as a news trainee when she graduated and has held a variety of roles from TV reporter to radio and television presenter in Scotland, political reporter based at Westminster and most recently - since September 2010 - political editor for BBC South East.

Louise's career highlight was covering the last general election at Westminster.

She was the late reporter the night Gordon Brown came out of 10 Downing Street and announced he was stepping down, and when David Cameron and his wife Samantha arrived. She also covered the coalition agreement, emergency budget and has been following the spending cuts.

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