Jan 01 2010

Don’t stop the music – village halls, churches and charities face new tax

tax-imageGovernment to hit local voluntary groups across Harrow with new music charges. Churches, village halls, charity shops and sports clubs across Harrow face a new £20 million tax from Gordon Brown’s Government, Bob Blackman, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Harrow East warned.

In the small print of obscure new regulations, the Government is abolishing charities’ and voluntary groups’ long-standing exemption from music licensing rules – hitting them with unexpected new bills just for holding events with recorded music or for playing a radio.

To date, voluntary groups have not had to pay for a so-called “PPL” performance rights licence in order to play recorded music. This exemption reflects the public benefit that such organisations provide, but this is now being abolished by the Government.

This will affect church worship, charity discos, tea dances, youth clubs, dancing groups, sports clubs and even charity shops which have a radio in their staff room. The changes are being imposed by Peter Mandelson’s Whitehall empire. The new levy will come into effect in April 2010 once the new regulations are ratified by Parliament. Conservatives are opposing these changes and standing up for local voluntary groups.

The Government admits that the new levies will cost voluntary groups £20 million a year. Some organisations will “cease playing music” because they cannot afford a licence, and it will hit a quarter of a million organisations – 140,000 charities, 6,750 charity shops, 66,440 sports clubs, 4,000 community buildings, 5,000 rural halls and 45,000 religious buildings.

These new levies are on top of bureaucratic rules imposed by the Licensing Act 2003, which requires expensive ‘premises licences’ for village halls to hold regular small-scale social functions, and which has imposed new red tape to play unamplified live music.

Bob Blackman said:

“This is another Labour assault on the fabric of British community life. Having effectively shut down post offices and local pubs across Harrow, Labour’s Whitehall bureaucrats now have our village halls, scout huts, charity shops and churches in their sights. This is a heartless tax on community buildings and charities. The Government should think again and don’t stop the music.”

Jan 01 2010

Put the law back on the side of local people across Harrow

crimeBlueprint to tackle crime in Harrow, as 3,124 violent attacks took place last year.

Bob Blackman, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Harrow East, strongly endorsed radical and bold new plans – set out in the Conservatives’ draft election manifesto – to tackle crime and to restore confidence in Britain’s ‘broken’ criminal justice system.

Their importance is underlined by new analysis revealing that there were 3,124 violent attacks on people across Harrow in the last year, a rise of 33% in the last decade. Under the manifesto plans, a Conservative Government would:

  • Give Harrow’s citizens greater protection if they have to defend themselves against intruders in their homes, or if they stop a crime being committed in the street.
  • Create fifteen new rape crisis centres across the country, and give all existing rape crisis centres stable, long-term funding.
  • Grant Harrow Council new powers to fight booze-fuelled antisocial behaviour in Harrow, and stop supermarkets selling alcohol at below cost-price which is destroying law-abiding local pubs and fuelling low-level crime.
  • Give the Mayor of London stronger powers to set priorities for local policing
  • Publish detailed street-by-street crime statistics online every month, in an open and standardised format, so people know the real level of crime in their neighbourhood.
  • Make it clear that anyone caught carrying a knife in a public place can expect to be prosecuted and sent to prison.

Bob Blackman said:

“Labour have launched endless initiatives and top-down schemes which have made little difference. Their broken promises have undermined people’s trust. We can’t go on with the police filling in forms instead of fighting crime.

“Our hard-working local police officers deserve the highest praise. But many people across Harrow are hugely frustrated with our criminal justice system. They feel that it’s just not on their side anymore. These major Conservative proposals will help put the law back on the side of local people in Harrow and give our police the full support they so richly deserve.”

Mar 05 2007

Harrow’s teachers need more powers to tackle school bullying

Half of all children bullied, but no expulsions across Harrow

classroomOfficial Government figures have revealed that just ninety pupils across the country were expelled last year for school bullying, despite a new survey finding half of all 14-year-old children have been bullied.

Across Harrow, no pupils were expelled last year from state secondary schools and none from all state schools. In over two-thirds of local authorities across England, not a single child was expelled for bullying. In

Harrow,30 pupils were suspended from state schools – meaning the disruptive students returned to the school where they caused misery for their classmates.

Since 1997, Labour Government rules have deliberately made it more difficult for schools to expel pupils, undermining the authority of head teachers and meaning bullies end up back at the same school as their victims.

Bob Blackman, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Harrow East said:

“Bullying makes far too many children’s lives a misery. But the Government’s own figures show that in the vast majority of cases bullies are returned to the same school as their victims after a short punishment, rather than being expelled.

“The key to tackling bullying is giving Harrow’s teachers the powers they need to crack down on bad behaviour. But under Labour, the balance of power in the classroom has shifted too far in favour of disruptive pupils.

“Conservatives would give Harrow’s schools the power to take a zero tolerance approach towards serious offences such as bullying. We will give our teachers the tools they need to maintain discipline in the classroom before it spirals out of control.”

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