Deal or No Deal with council cash

Deal or No Deal Image copyright Channel 4
Image caption Councils are having to decide what deal to take in the face of tough budget decisions

The annual sharing out of cash for local services is always fraught, and never seen as fair.

The mandarins in Whitehall call it The Settlement - as if funds were being bestowed by some aged aunt on her poor country cousins.

Of course, in the town halls they see it the other way around - business rates collected in the shires of England on behalf of the squire, who might deign to pass some back to help education or the care of the poor.

This year devolution has rocketed the process into the modern world.

Councils are asking for flexibility and the ability to plan ahead.

Read full article Deal or No Deal with council cash

Are new Clean Air Zones voluntary?

Plans to tax diesel lorries for entering city centres have been thrown into confusion after one of the cities ordered to bring in the charge have insisted it should be "voluntary".

Last year the government ordered a clean air zone be imposed by five cities in the UK where pollution was highest.

Read full article Are new Clean Air Zones voluntary?

Portsmouth theatres in the spotlight

Outside of New Theatre Royal Image copyright New Theatre Royal
Image caption The New Theatre Royal reopened last year after a £4.5m revamp

They're national treasures. Not just the actress Sheila Hancock, but the theatre where she began her work in the 1950s - the Kings Theatre in Southsea and the New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth.

Both got a mention from MP Will Quince as he brought the curtain up on a new season of Westminster Hall debates in Parliament.

Read full article Portsmouth theatres in the spotlight

A shaky launch for Euro campaigns

  • 11 December 2015
  • From the section Oxford

With hindsight, perhaps the choice of venue was the big mistake that the Labour campaign to stay "IN" Europe made.

Security is tight at the Culham Science Centre. It's the research centre where they help to develop nuclear fusion.

Read full article A shaky launch for Euro campaigns

The sound of the Syria air strikes vote

Media captionProtesters kept up their chanting as MPs voted

It's the sounds of the Syria air strikes vote that will stay with me.

All night protesters in Parliament Square keeping up a chant to match the stark message on their signs - "don't bomb Syria, don't bomb Syria".

Read full article The sound of the Syria air strikes vote

Is Hampshire devolution doomed?

  • 27 November 2015
  • From the section UK

It all seemed to be going so well. Hampshire and Isle of Wight's bid for devolution was seen as a southern front-runner. An economy close to the scale of Wales bidding for control of its own destiny.

The architect of the plan, Hampshire leader Roy Perry, was singled out to speak at the Conservative Party conference in September and the Secretary of State Greg Clark seemed keen.

Read full article Is Hampshire devolution doomed?

We've reached the big four-oh

They are gold-plated, copper-bottomed, cast-iron guarantees of statistical certainty.

The folk in Fareham toil long and hard over their numbers.

Read full article We've reached the big four-oh

Would citizens' assemblies work?

assembly south

Take 35 strangers off the street, put them in a room for the weekend and ask them to devise a new form of government.

It sounds like madness, but then is the current system much saner?

Read full article Would citizens' assemblies work?

Who speaks for England?

John Redwood MP

"A lively debate" it certainly was.

MPs kept pointing out they had no time, or need, for the interventions that are supposed to add life when debate drags in the House of Commons.

Read full article Who speaks for England?

Has Corbyn got southern momentum?

  • 19 October 2015
  • From the section England
Peter Henley interviewing Jeremy Corbyn

When I interviewed Jeremy Corbyn recently he was gently chiding about my suggestion that the south of England was a tough nut for Labour to crack.

At the end of our filming in the leader of the opposition's offices in Parliament he wanted to stress the growth in southern membership.

Read full article Has Corbyn got southern momentum?