Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Late night Nationalisation

It's just turned 11pm and we're still going strong, busy nationalising Northern Rock.

It's pretty scandalous really that the House of Commons has just one day (albeit finishing at midnight) to consider a complete Act of Parliament, dealing with tens of billions of pounds of liabilities, and then the House of Lords has one day, and then that's more or less it. Whilst we agree in principle that Nationalisation is probably the 'least worst' option - and indeed had the Government listened to Vince Cable we could have saved months of uncertainty - that still doesn't mean every dot and comma of the legislation is right. Laws made in haste are sometimes the worst of all, and I can't say that much in the way of effective scrutiny has gone on - especially the nearer we get to midnight.

PMQs could be interesting tomorrow - you might imagine that David Cameron will go on Northern Rock and/or reinforce his call to sack the Chancellor? But actually Gordon Brown has some quite strong counter-arguments about the total lack of a coherent Conservative response to the whole Northern Rock fiasco. I predict therefore a series of each man asking the other questions - so pretty much business as usual, but the rest of us being probably slightly more tetchy than usual having not got to bed until the early hours!

Wednesday, 13 February 2008


Last night I attended a very impressive public meeting in Pucklechurch on plans for a new 'in-vessel' (ie enclosed) composter between Westerleigh and Pucklechurch. The plan is to process 30,000 tonnes a year of 'green waste' from South Gloucestershire. The problem is that the proposed site is in the middle of a particularly important stretch of Green Belt.

For anyone who wants to know more about in-vesssel composters (and I never thought I would find myself writing that sentence) my Lib Dem colleague councillor Claire Young has recently started her own blog and you read more here.

We saw a particularly impressive presentation by parish councillor Martin Smith who had produced some artist's impressions of what the actual scheme would look like. A building described in the application as being like a 'Dutch Barn', turned out to be a great big metal construction, and the size and scale of the thing was comparable to an Airbus A380. Only goes to show you shouldn't believe everything you read in planning applications.

Friday, 8 February 2008

New climate change campaign launched

Working with Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, we have just launched a new campaign to get the Government to toughen up its climate change targets. At the moment, the Climate Change Bill proposes a statutory target of 60% cut in CO2 emissions by 2050. But most people - environment campaigners, scientists and even the Prime Minister - now seem to accept that 80% is probably the minimum needed to avoid some pretty catastrophic climate change. The Lib Dems are going to try to amend the Climate Change Bill to have an 80% target, but we will only succeed if we can get other parties to vote with us. At the moment Labour and the Tories are saying we should leave it alone and wait until a committee of the great and the good (the Climate Change Commission) come back and tell us what the figure should be.

We say we can't afford to waste time and we need tough targets now.

If you agree, please join our Facebook group which allows you to register your own support and also to report back on whether your own MP is willing to back 80%.