Monday, June 28, 2010

Questions for Eric Pickles

On Wednesday I am interviewing your chum and mine, Eric Pickles, for my next In Conversation piece for Total Politics.

If there's anything you think I should ask him, please leave your suggestions in the comments.

49 comments:

Sean Haffey said...

1. How old is too old to become a PPC?

2. What's the average age of your new crop of MPs and who is the oldest?

subrosa said...

How about asking him when the coalition government are going to stop the likes of RBS having suites at Wimbledon for their 'clients' and staff to enjoy.

I didn't receive my invitation did you?

Richard said...

Will he relax HMO guidelines to allow for houses of three unrelated persons (i.e. students) to live together without needing a license or a change in planning use? Otherwise the Labour government's regulation will continue to stifle enterprise (student landlords) and limit the number of houses that students can rent in university towns (i.e. Exeter), which will have a knock-on effect in terms of our communities and higher educational abilities.

Irene said...

I am getting concerned because his diet doesn't seem to be working - is he still on it?

James Graham (Quaequam Blog!) said...

"How do you square your lip service in favour of decentralisation with your near obsessive desire to issue local authorities with instructions on how to do everything, from the editorial line of their marketing materials through to how they should empty the bins properly? Doesn't decentralisation require decentralisation of revenue raising powers as well?"

IanVisits said...

I'd be interested to know how he squares the contradiction between the pre-election talk about more local control over decision making, with his post-election announcements instructing local councils about how to manage rubbish collection, local newspapers etc.

Is he falling into the trap of retaining centralised decision making over what should be local issues?

A said...

You should ask the Rt Hon Eric Pickles whether he thinks it is right for a security-focused agenda like 'Preventing Violent Extremism' to continue to be run through CLG.

Also,it would be interesting to hear his views on this article about an advisor within CLG.

slever said...

Ian.

Many of us would like to know what's happening with the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs). They are intent of continuing to spend (redistribute) money without any accountability to pax payers or elected members. It's gone a little quiet on our policy towards them recently.

Fat Councillor said...

Who ate all the pies? (Go on, I dare you...).

londonnw8 said...

With higher rates of unemployment resulting from cuts to the Public sector and incapacity benefits, how do you propose to find jobs for the increased numbers of unemployed you will create?
What about the curent unemployed? Should you not be tackling these numbers first? How far can an already stretched private sector absorb these huge numbers?

londonnw8 said...

What are the expected increases in unemployment (in numbers, please) resulting from proposed cuts to the public sector and incapacity claimants being moved to unemployment? Do you seriously think the private sector can absorb these numbers?

Will said...

Steak and kidney, chicken and mushroom or melton mowbrey pork?

Curbishlyauto said...

What are your views on County Councils and do we actually need them?

Could most of their "services" be delegated down to local authorities, such as District/Borough councils?

harry benn's pig said...

Does he really see himself as the new Cecil Parkinson, and if so, when does the fun begin?

Paddy Briggs said...

Could you ask him for the name and address of his tailor.

tomandclaire said...

Scottish MPs voting in Westminster and the BBC tax.
First one must be a priority and the second one is on the "wish list"

not an economist said...

Can he please clarify the role of Local Authorities in the govts new Localism agenda.

It seems to me that the govt is intent on by-passing LA's wherever possible yet without them I fail to see where the delivery mechaism will be for the govt's policies. Is he infact intent on setting up yet another generation of Quangos? If so I fail to see how that squares with the CP's previous hostility to such bodies - or was that all just an excsuse to have sthg to batter the last govt over the head with sthg?

John R said...

Why are local council budgets still being allowed to grow?

Ian said...

Does he consider himself to be a by-election waiting to happen?

Blue Eyes said...

How does the commitment to localism tie in with council tax caps?

Blue Eyes said...

"Many of us would like to know what's happening with the Regional Development Agencies"

Err, I think George already announced that they are to be scrapped.

javelin said...

Is it possible to make the cuts they have announced?

How Many public sector workers will lose their jobs?

Are public sector job cuts being coordinated with immigration limits?

How can tax cuts help areas of the country left dependent on Government spending?

John Moorcraft said...

The question posed by Richard in relation to Homes of Multiple Occupancy regulations and its impact on student landlords is an extremely interesting one.

The potential impact on student communities and beyond of landlords selling properties in order to avoid compiling with unnecessary regulation is huge. I I know a number of people who, like me, invested in buy to let houses in the student areas of Cardiff. If you go around there today there is a plethora of for sale boards...The cost of converting 100+ year old terraced houses to make them compliant with HMO regulations is not worth the outlay when you can generate only 600 a month in rent and have a mortgage to pay.

Libertarian said...

@Londonnw8

unemployment will be going down, not up. New labour has gone now so some of the 8 million without jobs will be taking the work that is already available, now that we are going to stop importing workers to do the jobs there are lots of opportunities.

And if only the coalition had the cojones to scrap payroll taxes we could create a few million new jobs overnight

James said...

Are "Really Cheesy Wotsits" genuinely cheesier than traditional Wotsits?

Peter said...

You could ask him if the government has plans to ask the EU to cuts its expenditure by a similar amount to the planned UK spending cuts.

English Pensioner said...

What is he going to do to see that our local councillors exert real control instead of giving in all the time to the paid officials?

At a recent public meeting with local councillors, when asked why they did certain thing, the answer was always one of the following prefixed by the words
"Our officials advise us that
a. it is necessary for Health & Safety reasons"
b. it is a requirement of the child protection act"
c. the Council could be sued if we don't do it"
d. it is a statutory requirement"
e. we could be personally liable if we took action contrary to the professional advice being given"

It is the last one which is the clincher, and most give in at this point. I am told that one of our local councillors is thinking of resigning because he is, in effect, being told to vote for something that he does not agree with and can not afford the risk of being liable, however unlikely.

Billy Blofeld said...

What were the Tories biggest three mistakes during the election campaign?

The Grim Reaper said...

Do you know where Gordon Brown is now?

Well, no one else seems to know, so perhaps Pickles does.

David Boothroyd said...

Eric Pickles should be asked for a pledge that the Government will still support increasing power for local authorities in the event that Labour makes large scale gains and the coalition parties lose control of councils.

Also a good point would be to ask about reform of the rules of eligibility to serve as a councillor. All parties have fallen foul of them by nominating someone as a candidate who is disqualified by being a school nurse, or a lollipop lady, or driving a pensioners' minibus etc. when it is clear that there isn't any real conflict of interest with them acting as councillor. All education employees are on nationally negotiated contracts and wages anyway so they can't boost their own job conditions. How about a liberating reform to allow more people to serve as councillors?

Hugh said...

Is it true he started his career playing Harold Bishop in Neighbours?

Daedalus said...

My wife works as a Health Visitor. She has many ideas on how to save vast amounts of money due to waste and none core activities. How does she get her ideas to the PEOPLE WHO REALLY COUNT? There is no point in going to most of her managers as they may resent the implication that they are the problem.

Daedalus

The Purpleline said...

Does he believe that members of the government >cabinet< should ensure they are fit & healthy of the appropriate weight to set a clear example to the population and save the NHS from expense caused by obesity levels.

Further would he consider banning or limiting fast food restaurants from towns and cities.

Finally would he support a yearly medical of the PM and members of the cabinet and making those medical results available in the house, public domain to avoid the problems we had with the last occupier of number 10.

Harry said...

You could ask him "Why, when top civil servants, council employee and quangocrats are being paid over the odds for their expertise is it necessary for so much to be spent on "consultants".
If these top earners are so good as to attract massive salaries, there should be no need to "consult"

Maybe the cost of consultants should be deducted from executive salary and bonuses!

HarryF

mafuta said...

When are you going to let us have a smoke with our pint - and I dont want to drink at home, Id rather go to the pub.

Tom Lees said...

What is his favourite speech of all time?

HampsteadOwl said...

A shape like that.

An accent like that.

A name like that.

And still he only gets to be runner-up for the Tories' token Yorkshireman.

How angry does that make him feel?

Mr Yithy said...

Paddy Briggs said...

"Could you ask him for the name and address of his tailor."

I don't recall the name, but he's based in an aircraft hangar just outside of Brentwood.

(Only joshing, Eric)

man of the lakes said...

Here in the Lake District we have far too many KWANGOS - around 12 last time I counted.

Of particular local concern is the SLDT (South Lakeland Development Trust) who are unelected and unaccountable but continually come up with "wonderful schemes" for things we neither need or want.

They even produce a newspaper "The Hub" which is absolutely useless and could have been written by a ten year old.

We are sick and tired of public money being used to employ "Town Managers" when we have local councillors and active Civic Societies who do actually feel the true pulse of this community.

Let's have some REAL action from Mr. Pickles. Get rid of all the KWANGOS in one foul swoop. The people of this area will feel much, much better without them.

Geof Johns said...

This artcile recently appeared in the daily Mail
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1289702/Public-sector-inertia-council-office-employees-month-sickies.html

I was shocked, surely this stopped happening years ago!

Is is true of this council. Is it widespread? Are there systemic causess? What will the government do to stop it? When?

Titania said...

Please ask Uncle Eric when he plans to merge the smaller district/borough councils. Although some in my area are 'sharing' services, some old fashioned take-overs are needed to reduce the duplicated layers of management.

jailhouselawyer said...

Dies he believe in democracy, rule of law and human rights?

He may try to limit the latter with certain derogations.

However, the Council of Europe has said in this case it is not negotiable. Not only have they said jump, they have said how high. Given that a Kenya court ruled prisoners should get the vote on 23 June, and the electoral commission announced on 26 June that it was registering prisoners for the vote. After 5 years, isn't it time that the UK jumped to it?

Will he now apologize for thinking and, in effect, saying that convicted prisoers are less than human and not deserving of a fundamental human right?

Johnny Norfolk said...

Will planning rest with the local authority, this is the real test so that supermarkets and the like cannot appeal. All the government should do over a bitter dipute is to allow a local referendum to take place. If they do not do this the rest of the changes count for nothing

Toon said...

Does he think there a)are ANY problems in the South East b) Life in London is NOT typical of the South East and c)and why can these areas not benefit from NI holidays for new jobs?

no longer anonymous said...

Will the government be getting rid of the non-jobs (diversity co-ordinators, smoking cessation officers etc)?

west coast wanderer said...

what is he going to do about overpaid council officials and the vast hordes of non jobs

Doubting Richard said...

As a new constituent of Mr Pickles (I moved just after the election) I would ask what he will do about the Dartford crossing that affects us so much in this area.

I have in the past waited for an hour to cross to see a client. Since I charge that client £30 per hour and time was limited this cost me a total of £31.50 plus extra fuel and wear on the car, of which the operator of the crossing gets £1.50. The remainder is lost productivity.

This is a ridiculously inefficient way of collecting money. It is utterly farcical. Even at night when there is no toll the barriers are closed so all vehicles have to stop and waste time and fuel. The increase in taxes paid due to increased productivity would more than pay for the costs if the government stopped the toll and allowed traffic to flow freely (as was intended by the last Conservative government who commissioned the bridge).

Mwmbwls said...

How is thge 2008 Planning Act going to be implemented in practice. What changes, does he envisage, are going to occur at the Infrastructure Planning Commission. How is national interest - usually in favour of infrastructure projects going to recomciled with the need for local consultation

Jill Tuck said...

Can Eric assure us that now the Regional Development Agencies are no more, we can just get on with designing our own leaner and better solution to getting growth into places like Cambridgeshire (where I lead the County Council)?