Q: Fracking? A: No-one knows enough

Scarborough and Whitby Labour Party has called for a moratorium on fracking – the highly controversial method of extracting gas from shale deposits. Scarborough and large swathes of North Yorkshire sit on such a deposit known as the Bowland, which some believe contains massive gas reserves.

The Party wants a much deeper factual analysis of what fracking risks in terms of pollution, the environment, earthquakes and climate change. Colin Challen, who proposed the moratorium, said “The Tory-led government has announced it is offering various financial inducements to speed up fracking, and so has decided that the debate is over – or more precisely that there is not a debate to be had about this technology in the place. But there needs to be a full assessment of it before we could possibly accept it locally. I am also not convinced that it would not impact on climate change, since if it is true that fracking would lower energy costs then investment in clean energy sources will be much more difficult to sustain. It will put a brake on tackling climate change even if gas has lower carbon emissions than coal, but that would only be a temporary advantage.” More

Thatcher

Baronesss Thatcher is to get a state funeral in all but name, and not merely because the Queen will attend – even if the last funeral of a prime minister she attended actually WAS a state funeral, that of Sir Winston Churchill. From the commentary we’ve heard since Thatcher’s death, the narrative has been that she was the greatest peacetime prime minister the UK had in the twentieth century, if not in all time. Therefore it is said she deserves a big send off at taxpayer’s expense.
Her death of course has sparked a debate about her legacy and position in history. But was she really the greatest peacetime PM we’ve ever had? Listening to Tory pundits she sorted out the UK economy, smashed the unions and put Britain back on the world stage, defeating General Galtieri and schmoozing Gorbachev (thus ending the Cold War) to boot.
The truth is rather different, More

A special update on the horse meat scandal across Europe from Linda McAvan, Labour MEP

This weekend, the respected food manufacturer Findus was forced to take yet more meat products off supermarket shelves after tests revealed some of their products, including beef lasagne, contained up to 100% horse meat. More retailers are withdrawing their own products and the Food Standards Agency is conducting an enquiry into what went wrong. The only thing that seems clear already is that we need to urgently review how we manage our food supply chain right across Europe. More

New Standards Regime – fit for purpose?

I write in a personal capacity as a member Scarborough Borough Council’s Standards Committee, and as someone with experience of Parliament during the MP’s expenses scandal, when a lot of lessons were learnt the hard way.

A few months ago, most members of Scarborough Borough  Council received a letter from Robert Goodwill MP – a close colleague of Andrew Mitchell MP (of ‘pleb’ fame) – lauding the new standards regime for councillors introduced by the government. The government abolished the national standards board, which was generally welcomed since the board was widely viewed as a case of overkill. But in its eagerness to undo a Labour ‘quango’ the government went in quite the opposite direction, leaving us with a standards regime for councillors that is both toothless and practically denuded of wider independent engagement.
The first significant test of the new system in Scarborough came with the hearing of a complaint stemming from an allegation that eight ‘twin-hatted’ County Councillors who were also Borough Councillors from 2009 had received two sets of allowances to pay for the same thing – I.T. services More