No facility time for union duties
Cabinet office minister Francis Maude used the Tory conference to attack union facility time. He wants to cut the number of civil service workers who do union duties. PCS union general secretary Mark Serwotka said the Tories are “trying to divert attention from the real issue” of the cuts.
Tory lies on council tax
Local government secretary Eric Pickles launched a third year of a council tax freeze in his conference speech. This will cost £450 million. Councils that don’t freeze the tax will be penalised—so either way they face a big hole in next year’s budgets.
Picketing the anti-gay bigots
LGBT protesters picketed a meeting of the “Coalition for Marriage” at the Tory conference. The bigots came to hear Anne Widdecombe argue that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. But equal marriage campaigners waved placards and chanted outside.
Boris is nothing to worry about
The talk at the fringes of Tory conference is of whether London mayor Boris Johnson will put up a challenge to David Cameron. Cameron claims he’s not worried. “There are lots of people that are more popular than me in this world,” he said. He’s not wrong.
Trains fiasco to cost £40 million
The government is set to pay out at least £40 million to train firms as the fiasco over who runs West Coast trains continues. The money will go to four firms that were shortlisted bidders for the franchise.
The government awarded the franchise to FirstGroup—but Virgin Rail Group has launched legal challenges to the decision.
The RMT union pointed out that “The overwhelming case for renationalising the railways is now staring the government smack bang in the face.”
Norman Bettison jettisoned at last
The chief constable of West Yorkshire police, Norman Bettison, has announced he will retire in March next year. Bettison is the most senior serving police officer associated with the cover-up following the 1989 Hillsborough football disaster.
But he will still receive his police pension and, so far, has not had to answer for the role he played. He also still has his knighthood. The campaign for justice for the 96 Liverpool football fans who died in the disaster continues.
Baby starved to death in London
A ten-month old baby starved to death in Westminster, central London, following government cuts to key services. The boy, whose mother was an asylum seeker, died in March 2010. His mother had been granted asylum but her benefits had been delayed.
The government cut funding for the Refugee Integration and Employment Service a year before. This had provided critical help and advice to asylum seekers.
Boris Johnson links with Murdoch
London mayor Boris Johnson had contact with senior News International executives Rebekah Brooks and James Murdoch several times during the investigation into phone hacking.
Johnson had previously failed to report the meetings and phone calls. But the Information Commissioner forced him to reveal his diaries. The content of his conversations, however, remains unknown.