> Gentoo, if I remember correctly, is what used to be Sunderland Council’s council housing stock department before it all got privatised. Now it mainly builds houses for sale – affordable insomuch that anything is affordable to someone with lots of cash. What we really need is new housing at affordable rents.
Gentoo is joining forces with Mayor of London Boris Johnson to bring 2,000 affordable new homes to the capital.
> Oi ! 2000 affordable new homes in Sunderland first would be nice.
The Doxford International-based housing company’s Genie Home Purchase Plan, which is targeted at helping first-time buyers and long-term renters on to the property ladder, is to launch in the city with £40million loan finance backing from the Greater London Authority (GLA) through the Mayor’s Revolving Fund, which gives recoverable loans for new forms of affordable housing.
The moves comes after Genie’s successful pilot in the North East, which has seen 88 families move into homes of their own.
Genie is now looking for development opportunities for the first 500 new homes.
Boris Johnson said:
“Plans like this provide more accessibility and flexibility for purchasers who may struggle to save large deposits and funding will help accelerate the delivery of much needed new homes across London.”
Genie managing director Steve Hicks said:
“This 10-year partnership with the GLA will help customers into a minimum of 2,000 new homes in the capital who otherwise would have struggled to own their own homes, because of the difficult market conditions in London.”
> On its website, Gentoo informs us under the heading What Makes Us Special :
Gentoo’s uniqueness and strength comes from the dedication, skill and energy of our staff; they live our values daily and work to deliver Gentoo’s vision and
Vision – to improve the Art of Living beyond our imagination.
Mission – we generate wealth by improving the lives of our customers and re-invest it through passionate people to create a climate for personal and collective opportunity.
• Believe nothing is impossible
• Re-imagine the future
• We cultivate a learning curiosity
• Live authentic relationships
• Give us all you’ve got
> I would be particularly worried by that last one… including your very soul, perhaps ?
Source – Sunderland Echo, 06 Jan 2015
A Teesside MP has warned that the Government’s Transport Ministry may look to replace Northern Rail’s Pacer trains with equally ageing former London Underground trains.
Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, has joined in calls for improvements on routes served by the trains, which go no faster than 60mph on Northern and Trans-Pennine Express routes.
Easington MP Grahame Morris has called for a firm commitment from the Government on replacing the “outdated, uncomfortable and cramped” trains after Chancellor George Osborne said the re-franchising of the East Coast mainline next year would include “a substantial package of upgrades including new services and modern trains”.
Now Mr Blenkinsop, who uses the trains which operate from Middlesbrough and Darlington to Nunthorpe and Saltburn, said:
“The influential railway industry source, the Rail Business Intelligence Bulletin has become aware of a proposal to convert London Underground District Line D78 units – that were already 30-years-old and being decommissioned by London Underground – into diesel engine carriage sets for use on North of England commuter lines like the ones in my constituency.”
Mr Blenkinsop said the only winner if a deal was brokered would be London Mayor Boris Johnson “who will get a Christmas present of some cash for trains he was going to scrap anyway”.
“This worries me as a local rail service user, we don’t want to see veteran trains replaced by equally ageing old London Underground trains which will be nothing more than vintage carriages with a diesel engine bolted on to them.
“I have a simple message to coalition transport ministers – just get rid of the Pacers.
“They are an embarrassment to our rail system and the regular commuters who have to be sardined in them on a daily basis.
“Give people on Teesside the longer trains and comfortable carriages enjoyed in the south. Only then will you see passenger numbers really increase on local routes instead of today’s steady decay.”
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 16 Dec 2014
The region must accept a single directly-elected mayor ruling from Durham to Scotland in order to grab dramatic new powers, George Osborne said yesterday.
The Chancellor signed a landmark devolution deal with Greater Manchester – covering transport, health, housing and the police – in return for a ‘metro mayor’, to run its ten authorities.
And he immediately warned that any city-region hoping for similar control over its own destiny must also accept a cross-border ‘Boris Johnson-style’ leader.
That list includes the new the North East Combined Authority, which brings together County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland.
The area is believed to be third on Mr Osborne’s list for agreeing devolution deals – after Manchester and West Yorkshire – with an announcement as early as next month.
But, last night, Simon Henig, Durham’s leader and the chairman of the combined authority, criticised Mr Osborne’ attempt to tie the region’s hands.
And he pointed out voters in Newcastle and eight other English cities had rejected mayors – for city boundaries only – in referendums just two-and-a-half years ago.
Councillor Henig said:
“I strongly believe it is now the time for powers and control over spending to be devolved out of Whitehall throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, not just to Manchester.
“However, my own view is that devolution should not be made conditional on accepting an elected mayor, which was rejected by the public in referendums in several major cities in 2012.”
The Chancellor’s move is a dramatic U-turn, because the Conservatives had rejected calls for metro mayors which, many argued, could be handed a powerful portfolio.
“Any other city that wants to receive more powers and move to a new model of governance, with an elected mayor, should bring forward their proposals.”
The Manchester package includes:
* Responsibility for re-regulated bus services and integrated ‘smart ticketing’ across all local modes of transport.
* An enhanced ‘earn back’ deal – keeping £1m a year from economic growth, to fund an extension to the Metrolink tram network.
* Police powers – with the abolition of the elected police and crime commissioner (PCC).
* Control of a £300 million ‘housing investment fund’.
* Power over business support services – including manufacturing advice and UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) export advice.
* Power to develop a plan to integrate health and social care.
A Government source said:
“Who do the voters sack if something goes wrong? City-region mayors answer that.
“So we can obviously go further for cities that are able to step up to the accountability challenge.”
Source – Northern Echo, 04 Nov 2014
An organisation registered at a stables in the Home Counties, with a former tobacco lobbyist for an honorary secretary, is a key weapon in the Conservative Party’s battle to win the next election.
The United & Cecil Club is playing an increasingly crucial role in funding election bids in the most tightly contested constituencies. The club has been used to raise funds for the Conservatives for years and these funds are now being deployed strategically as the party targets United & Cecil Club ahead of the 2015 election.
Since the last election, the organisation has given £282,250 to Conservative candidates – nearly double the amount it has given to Conservative central campaign headquarters. In the first quarter of this year alone, the U&C club has given almost as much to candidates as it did in the whole of last year. Most of the cash is targeted at key swing seats.
Despite its increasingly important role, little is known about the U&C club. Donations to the club tend to be small and so there is no obligation to identify the donors. Only the identities of individuals making donations of more than £7,500 are published by the Election Commission under disclosure rules.
In disclosures made and published by the Electoral Commission the U&C club is registered at an an address in Iver, a village in Buckinghamshire. However, in the parliamentary register, the U&C lists its address as a riding school in Berkshire.
The stables are run by Tim Lord. Lord, a former chief executive of the Tobacco Manufacturers Association, confirmed to the Bureau that he is honorary secretary of the U&C club.
When asked to supply further details about the U&C club, Lord declined to elaborate. “We are a club, we have our objective and we comply with the law,” he said.
Christopher Fenwick, a member of the wealthy retail family which has an estimated fortune of £500m, was until recently a former deputy chairman of the organisation, Lord confirmed.
Fenwick hosted a table at last week’s Conservative fundraiser at the Hurlingham club, which was focused on the 40 seats to hold and the 40 seats to gain. Last year he sponsored two tables where the table plan showed his guests included U&C chairman, Brooks Newmark MP and Anne-Marie Trevelyn, a Tory hopeful who is bidding to win the Lib Dem marginal seat of Berwick-upon-Tweed.
The Tories have been criticised in the past for taking money from organisations which lack clarity about the identity of their donors. The Midlands Industrial Council, an organisation based in a small Lincolnshire village, was for years used to channel money to the party from wealthy businessmen who wanted to keep their donations private.
“The Tories have learned the language of modern government,” said Tamasin Cave of Spinwatch who leads the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency coalition. “They talk about transparency and fairness but the reality is they are continuing with an antiquated way of doing things, like secret donor clubs.”
A Tory spokesman said: “All donations to the Conservative party are properly and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission, published by them, and comply fully with Electoral Commission rules.”
Analysis by the Bureau reveals that hundreds of thousands of pounds have already been donated to Tory candidates ahead of next year’s election, one that polsters suggest may produce the tightest result in living memory.
With Labour having to rely largely on the unions for funding, the Bureau’s analysis shows that leading Tory hopefuls are powering ahead in the sums raised.
Political funding and the way this money is raised has been thrown into sharp relief following the Tories’ annual fundraising dinner, held last week at the exclusive Hurlingham Club in south west London.
The event proved a huge money-spinner with oligarchs, Middle Eastern businessmen and City financiers vying to bid huge sums at an auction that raised, according to those there, £500,000 for David Cameron’s party.
At this year’s dinner a Russian banker – the wife of a former Kremlin deputy finance minister – paid £160,000 to play tennis with David Cameron and Boris Johnson. A bottle of champagne signed by Margaret Thatcher went for £45,000 with a pot of honey fetching £20,000.
Source – Bureau Of Investigative Journalism, 05 July 2014
100 ? Tip of the iceberg !
Reposted from The Green Benches
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