John Kelly, a retired engineer from Exmouth, Devon, is a cussed fellow. For three years he has withheld part of his council tax because he objects to it being given to what he regards as an “insolvent body”. Twice he has been taken to court, and five times visited by the bailiffs, but so far not a penny has he handed over.
The South West Regional Assembly (SWRA) is one of those parts of John Prescott’s legacy left high and dry when an elected assembly was rejected in the North-East. Prescott set up eight unelected assemblies, as part of his plan to divide England under regional governments, hoping to have them legitimised as democratically elected bodies in referendums.
Despite the massive thumbs down to this idea, his assemblies are still in being, costing us all £360 million a year. They have been given statutory planning powers, including the right to compulsory purchase. But without democratic legitimacy, their status looks questionable, as Mr Kelly has tried to highlight.
In particular he focused on the fact that his own assembly, the SWRA, took on 50 employees, including a liability to fund their pensions. If regional assemblies are to be abolished, as the Tories half-promise to do, who will pick up that bill? The SWRA has no assets. Technically, therefore, it is what accountants call an “insolvent body”, to which it is not right, Mr Kelly argues, to give ratepayers’ money.
Faced with this anomaly, the SWRA linked up with two other bodies, the South West Local Government Association and the South West Provincial Employers Organisation (SWPEO), which runs training schemes for local employers. These three were given a shared secretariat, and it was then claimed that, because the other bodies did have assets, these would cover any pension liability.
In 2004, however, the Certification Officer, the watchdog on employers’ associations, questioned this arrangement. In February the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) confirmed that “there has not been a formal amalgamation of the SWPEO, the SWRA or any other body”, and that the Certification Officer was still looking into the matter.
When I put this to the SWRA, the reply on behalf of its chief executive, Bryony Holden – who said she was now chief executive of all three bodies – might have come from a different planet. For a start she denies that the SWRA has any employees at all.
They all now work for the “secretariat” that manages the affairs of all three bodies. The SWRA therefore has “no pension liability”. (Last year, in a letter to a local MEP, she stated that it had a “£1 million liability”.) Even though the SWRA doesn’t have a pension liability, the letter went on, one of the other three bodies has “ring-fenced” assets of £2.3 million, just in case a “future pension liability” should arise.
All this might sound plausible if the PAC had not determined that no legal merger between the three bodies has taken place. The Certification Officer confirmed last week that his enquiries are “still ongoing”.
Mr Kelly therefore continues to say he will be happy to pay his council tax when his council can prove that its contributions to the SWRA are properly authorised. The bailiffs still haven’t removed any of his goods, even though his debt after three years totals £838.
Meanwhile, the unelected SWRA continues to exercise its statutory powers, such as its plan, which has provoked uproar in Bath, to force the local council to accept an additional 15,500 houses around the city, many of them on green belt land. And if the people of Bath don’t agree with the diktats of this unelected body, what are they democratically supposed to do about it?
Without a constitution the Galileo project crashes
How would the millions of owners of Navstar tracking devices, using free signals provided by the US government’s global positioning satellites, feel if they had to pay a tax to the EU to help fund its own rival satellite system, Galileo? This is what would happen under the latest proposal from Brussels to bail out the most ambitious technical project the EU has ever embarked on.
Galileo was designed to establish the EU as a space superpower in its own right, and would pay for itself, in three ways. It could be used, first, to run an EU-wide road charging system; second, to charge all aircraft using EU air space, the famous “Single European Sky”; and, third, to sell missiles and other satellite-based weapons systems to China and other countries, making them dependent on Galileo.
All that member states such as Britain would have to do was put up the initial research and development funding – our bill is now approaching £500 million – and the money would then pour in. But one after another those funding schemes have fallen apart.
Galileo-based road charging proved technically unworkable. Charging airlines for using EU air space would have provoked retaliation from the US and others. The Chinese, having been made full partners in Galileo for a knock-down price, walked off with the technological know-how to set up a GPS system of their own.
The commercial consortia set up to run and pay for Galileo, seeing their potential sources of income dry up, pulled out. The only hope left, according to a “Communication” just put out by the E uropean C ommission, is to impose a levy on every satellite receiver sold in the EU, to pay for what has become its biggest white elephant.
There is another problem. The EU hasn’t actually got the legal power yet to operate a GPS system. It was due under the EU’s aborted constitution, which is one reason why they are so keen to get some version of it back on track. But why bother?
Galileo now seems so doomed that we may have to write off the £500 million we have spent on it, as just another of what our Government likes to call the “self-evident benefits” of Britain’s EU membership.
The fastest voters in the West
One of the wonders of modern democracy is the voting system in the EU Parliament. Most of the time, voting by the 785 MEPs in their vast glass and concrete chamber in Strasbourg is by show of hands. But on contentious issues they vote electronically. Visitors gaze in awe as MEPs punch away frenziedly at buttons, deciding issues they know nothing about, according to detailed lists supplied by their whips. In this way, as many as 1,500 amendments have been dealt with in 90 minutes. Thus are the laws that govern us made.
A keen student of this system is Graham Booth, a Ukip MEP, who describes a typical occasion this month when an amendment on a report on “EU Partnership in the Horn of Africa” was said to have been “rejected” on a show of hands. A call for an electronic vote proved that, on the contrary, the motion had been accepted – by 567 votes to 17. The chairman blamed this discrepancy on MEPs not “holding their hands high enough”.
When Mr Booth and a Czech colleague last year presented the president of the parliament with a list of similar blunders, calling for electronic voting to be mandatory, it was pointed out that the average two seconds longer needed to record each vote electronically might cause MEPs to miss their lunch or even their flights home. Naturally, lunch won over democracy.
Is it starting to sink in now? They have used Fabians techniques to destroy our country, by Fabian leaders. England is going to be abolished, and it has been done illegally. Stand up now and be counted and stop paying your Poll Tax Completely. It is Illegal, it is corrupt, and it is one of the ways we are paying to destroy our own country.
Stop Paying today as John Kelly is doing. Regional Assembly links:
East of England Regional Assembly
East Midlands Regional Assembly
North East Assembly
North West Regional Assembly
Yorkshire and Humber Assembly
South East England Regional Assembly
South West Regional Assembly
West Midlands Regional Assembly
English Regions Network
Find out what area you are in, and what the EU have planned for your area.
We have recently been contacted by an 83 year old lady by the name of Elizabeth Becket, a lady who point blank refuses to pay her poll tax because as she say’s ‘it is Illegal’. Elizabeth has been threatened by Bailiffs, who have threatened to remove her belongings, and to break in to her house to do this.
Elizabeth is a frail old lady who cannot walk and has to use a wheel chair, she receives very little money from her pensions, but is still expected to pay Poll Tax. Like us Elizabeth knows that the Poll Tax system is illegal, and we will be covering this whole issue in the next few day’s, and gearing up our new campaign which we hope will show everyone in the UK why they should stop paying Poll Tax immediately!!!
More news items you should know about.
Household tax bills could be calculated on how much rubbish people throw away under plans unveiled by ministers this week, with families facing face fines if they fail to store food scraps in “slop buckets”.
The measures are expected to be contained in the Government’s long-awaited waste strategy document, to be launched by Environment Secretary David Miliband.
Mr Miliband is desperate to reduce the country’s waste mountain by encouraging people to recycle more and throw away less.
Local authorities could be allowed to introduce schemes that rewarded households for behaving in a “green” fashion, with one suggestion being that prolific recyclers receive council tax rebates.
According to the Sunday Times, Mr Miliband will set out recommendations that councils send food waste to “anaerobic digesters” – which would produce methane that can then be burnt for energy.
They may be allowed to punish people who do not save up their scraps for use in the process.
He is also likely to suggest that giant incinerators be used to “cleanly” burn more than a fifth of the rubbish that cannot be recycled.