Climate Change

Beyond our current policies – As minimum to mitigate climate change I would campaign for the extension of the climate change levy into a carbon tax and use it to meet a minimum aim of being a country in the better half of impactors on climate change rather than be one of the the 35rd worst countries (out of around 200) by 2030.

I would set up an organisation whose task is threefold:

  • One group of independent experts would estimate the likely production of climate change gas each country would be producing in 2030 and provide the data for a target for Britain.  This target to be set so that Britain is on the less polluting side of the median of countries in the world – in the better half.
  • A second group of independent experts would analyse the polluting factors involved in climate change and work out whether they are significant to bother counting, can be suitably measured and what the carbon tax figure would be appropriate for them.
  • A third group of independent experts would establish the carbon tax rate that would be needed to hit the target set by the first group using the figures produced by the second group.  This tax rate would always be set five years in advance.

The target will be dynamic as each country develops in its own way.  If other countries become more active in mitigating climate change then our task will be become harder. The carbon tax rate will rise faster.  If other countries are lax then our task will be easier and our carbon tax will rise more slowly.  However, as we are currently 35rd worst we have our work cut out in any case.

All this work would be public to allow for independent scrutiny.

In independent taxation system will provide a neutral way of nudging consumers into making decisions that favour the environment (often without consciously thinking about it because the cost is subsumed in the purchase price of what they are buying) and nudging industry to invest in more sustainable projects.  Because the taxation is set in an independent framework business would be able to rely on the direction of travel.  Although having the carbon tax set for five years hence can be quite short term for many industries such a move is far better than what we have now.

This tax would replace road fuel duty either partially or fully depending on whether or not road user charging was introduced.  It would also replace all the special charges, grants and funding that government currently undertake to clumsily attempt to influence the economy – picking winners as it is often called.  Government investment in research is fine as is investing in demonstration projects but subsidizing industries is counter productive.

The tax could either become part of general taxation to reduce other taxes – to raise the threshold for income tax higher for example and/or fund the insulation of homes and the general decarbonizing of commercial activities.

Minimum Wage

Often confused with the living wage, in government Vince Cable delivered the largest increase in the minimum wage since 2007, benefiting over 1.4million lower-paid workers. Someone working full-time on the NMW has seen their salary increase by over £416.

According to the current trajectory the minimum wage is due to rise to £8.23 by October 2019.

Under Liberal Democrat plans people on the minimum wage working 35hrs a week will be £263 better off under Liberal Democrats as a consequence of our plans to increase the personal allowance to £12,500.

Inequality

This post deals with income and not wealth.

In Britain, the median (average in ranked order)  full time salary in 2010-11 was £26,200 per year, but someone working full time for the minimum wage would only earn around £11,000, while the top 10% earned over £52,600.  This is before taxes and benefits and these reduce inequality.

Gini - standard

Since the world financial crisis the Gini coefficient, a commonly used method to measure inequality, has fallen.  This coefficient summarises the degree of inequality in the income distribution in one number. The Gini coefficient takes a value of between 0 and 1, where the higher the value, the higher is inequality. Gini

However, summarising inequality in just one number can mask different patterns in changing inequality. To illustrate this, the chart above shows the change in the ratio of income at different points in the income distribution over time. For example, the 90/50 ratio is the level of income at the 90th percentile (the level of income that 90% of the population fall below and 10% fall above) divided by the level of income at the 50th percentile (the median). Again a higher number indicates greater inequality.

As the blue line compares the poorest 10% to the average we see that relatively the poorest 10% have approached the median in recent years suggesting that equality is improving.  Likewise, the red line, which compares the people on the 90% percentile to the median 50%, shows that in recent years equality is improving.

Reason that people consider inequity is increasing is because of what is happening above the 90% level. The gap between the people on 90% and the people on 99% has increased dramatically in recent decades – the green line.  The gap between the people on 99% and 99.999% has increased even faster.

This phenomenon has occurred throughout the world and it has not been caused by the coalition government.

Taxing the people in the 99.9999% bracket is notoriously difficult because of the nature of their business and because they can employ more tax accounts and lawyers than the government.

There interesting articles on this subject in both The Economist and Prospect magazines.

Record number of Jobs

Employment levels have hit new records today, with almost three quarters of working aged people now in work.

 

Youth unemployment has continued to fall over the year and our successful apprenticeship programme, which the Lib Dems prioritised in government, will help improve that further. Wages are now rising continuously faster than inflation and living standards are rising too.

 

The role of the Liberal Democrats in government has been crucial to promoting economic stability and a strong recovery. And the work  the Lib Dems have led to deal with abuses in zero hour contracts and strengthening the national minimum wage, will help ensure the recovery is also fair.

Morrison’s Monday Mayhem – Avoided?

Proposed view of Morrisons Small

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update.  As I said below we had to wait until the new year to find out how the traffic moved around the new store.  I have not seen any glitches in the traffic but I know that some people have found small hiccups on school days turning right into Thames Street. Also I have never seen the store car park full – the lowest being seven place left.

An exciting day on Monday as our illustrious mayor opens the new Weybridge Morrisons.

Not only is the store new but it is a flagship store and that means people will come to see the new features that no other Morrison store has.  I can smell the bakery from where I live.

Morrisons says that the first two weeks of a store opening draws many more people than usual so they will have extra staff in place to protect the car park from over filling.  These staff are intended to stay fro two weeks but if the problems persist then the staff will be kept on until the pressure dies down.

As the opening comes just before Christmas the extra traffic could last through Christmas and the sales into January.  By January we should see the normal flow.

It will be interesting to see where these extra cars will go. Contact me here if you have a problem.

Weybridge Town Centre Traffic

Baker Street websiteWeybridge town centre needs a comprehensive overhaul – from Balfour Road to Monument Hill and all points in between.   Last year I posted about what we could achieve for Weybridge.

What was lacking was not the ideas or the commitment but the availability of funds.  However, there are government funds especially in place for enabling extra investment in transport infrastructure of the M3/A3 corridor.

But we have to bid for these funds and for our bid to be successful we would have to detail why improving Weybridge would be a benefit of the M3/A3 corridor as a whole.  Not only has Weybridge one of the highest GVAs in the country based on the flagship companies located in the town but its transport infrastructure is restricting growth its further growth potential.  Weybridge is such a popular destination it is notoriously difficult to enter the town from any direction in the morning.

I believe that a case can be made for improving Weybridge’s infrastructure but such a case costs money to design.  We need to bid elsewhere for to the funds to develop a feasibility study.  Again this can be done.

Morrisons

Proposed view of Morrisons SmallThank you for all your questions and comments.  These are the answers that Morrison gave me today at our meeting.

When will Monument Hill be opened?  This afternoon.

Will all of the street work be complete?  No there will be short closures from time to time.  The pedestrian crossing is still to be finished and the landscaping will be completed in November – apparently the best time to plants trees.

What about the illumined sign at the rear of the store?  Morrisons says it will look again at the sign facing Baker Street.

What about the contractor parking problem?  Morrisons says that it has made park and ride facilities available to all contractors so if anyone finds any problem parking then call Simon Whittingham on 07964 245 239.

When will the store be opened? The intended day for the opening of the store will be Monday, 24 November. Morrisons invite ideas for the opening – any thoughts?

How will the store manage traffic after opening?  Morrisons expects a larger than usual number of visitors in the first few weeks so it has laid on extra resources to ensure that the flows are well managed.

What is the employment situation?  All the twenty or so departmental managers have been recruited and Morrisons is in the final placement stage for the general staff of 200. Most of which are very local. Morrisons has worked with the job centre next door to recruit long term unemployed people and the apprenticeships will be in place soon. further recruitment will begin soon to fill in any gaps.

Where will the staff park?  Morrisons says that in off-peak times those staff members who need to park wills use the under-croft parking at the store.  At peak times Morrisons says it will provide off-street parking (not Elmbridge public car parks).

Will there be trolley tokens to stop trolleys being left all over the place?  No there will not nor will there be any trolley mechanism to stop the trolleys leaving the store. However, Morrisons beleives that the design of the store is such that people will not take trolleys out of the store. That will be one to watch.

Will Morrison seek further planning change in the future?  Given that the Weybridge store is the only one in the country that does not have deliveries on all of its opening days, I expect Morrisons to apply again at some point in the future to have some of the delivery restrictions set aside.  Said the that I thought it would be unwise to pursue such a course until its stock with the burghers was considerably higher than it is at present. It would need to demonstrate that the local fears regarding noise were unfounded – if that be possible.

The roundabout looks awful – will Morrisons change it?  The roundabout is Surrey’s idea as is the chevron design. This is a matter that I will be taking up in due course.

Parking responsibility  On-street parking management is perversely Surrey’s responsibility (I think it should be Elmbridge’s but thee you go).  I have no doubt that a review of all local streets will have to take place once Morrisons opens.  Surrey has already said that, in Elmbridge, it will look at Walton first – there is no guarantee that Weybridge would be next – unless we all kick up a fuss.

Baker Street Traffic. This problem should abate now that the road works are almost complete.  As part of the planning application Morrisons has agreed to contribute to the traffic carming of Baker Street.  It is for Surrey to take this project forward.  I have a more radical solution – restrict motorised traffic (apart from buses and taxis) from passing in front of Lloyds Bank. That would remove through traffic completed and civilise the town.

Have I missed anything? Then please tell me.

 

Clothes Collection

Clothes-02Clothes+ is a charitable collection service for unwanted items, which the borough runs in partnership with the British Heart Foundation. So far, in 2014 the borough has passed on 22 tons of items for the BHF to sell in their shops and there’s another cycle of collections this September. There is also a free reminder service for Elmbridge burghers and other residents.