Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, has attacked those councils not freezing Council Tax for a third year. The problem councils face is that the grant offered by government to fund the freeze is one-off meaning councils face a financial cliff edge which gets higher with every year that they impose the freeze. While I strongly support councils that continue to apply the freeze in these difficult economic times, I cannot support Eric’s centralising diktat about local councils’ choice. If councils are locally elected and accountible, they should be given the freedom to waise council tax or not as they choose and as they will be judged by their electorates. If voter turnout is pathetic it is mainly because local electors know that their council is hamstrung by central government and that their freedom to monoeuvre is severely constrained by the most centralised constitution in the modern world. With this background, I cannot resist repeating the following. I did not originate it; I wish I had thought of it first but I did not! It is a hoot!
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has denounced the behaviour of a majority of motorists when passing speed cameras as ‘fine dodgers’, saying they have a moral duty to man up, speed up and pay their fair share. Pickles said that he wanted all motorists to pay £60 every time they passed a camera, helping to reduce the deficit and that maintaining a speed just below the government-imposed threshold was reprehensible and undemocratic. He added that people could still avoid points on their licence by paying extra for a greed awareness course at which they would discover that cameras are used purely for revenue generation and often cause more accidents than they prevent.
Warming to his theme, he excoriated rail passengers who paid exactly the right price instead of buying a lower-value ticket or dodging the fare completely, cheating the country out of millions in fines. He saved special venom for those who bought saver tickets, as if paying even less but remaining within the letter of the law was socially acceptable.
Mr Pickles concluded by saying that men who squeezed into waistbands measuring less than 50 inches are pie-dodging wimps who have a moral duty to stuff their faces in order to stimulate the economy and make him look, if not sound, less stupid.