Only 10% Council tax discount for an unoccupied property is unfair

When we moved to Ireland for a medical fellowship (part of my medical training). I have to pay 90% of my council tax. That is not fair! Not just for me but those who inherit an unoccupied property have to pay the same until the house is sold. This is a crazy punitive tax. A 50% discount (as it was before labour) I would accept.

See letter I received from Plymouth council;

I refer to your email sent to Mr x about council tax discounts.

Prior to 2003, if a property was nobody’s main residence but furnished, the law provided that all billing authorities should allow a 50% discount. From 1st April 2004, billing authorities were given the discretion to vary the amount of discount for such properties to some percentage between 10% and 50%. Plymouth City Council, by resolution of the Council, chose to reduce the discount from 50% to 10%. In my opinion, this has been done lawfully in accordance with government legislation, although if you want to challenge this resolution, I would suggest you contact your solicitor who will advise you of the procedure you would need to follow.

If the percentage was to be changed, it would need to be by a further resolution of the Council but would only apply to future years and not the current financial year.

With regard to the fact that you will not be getting anything for your money, I would advise that council tax is a tax on the occupation or ownership of domestic property and is not a payment for service. It could be that the owner of a property may have been permanently living abroad for years, not set foot in the UK for the whole of the financial year and pay no UK income tax but he would still be liable for council tax.

If you have any further queries, please contact me again.

Yours sincerely

Why is this idea important?

When we moved to Ireland for a medical fellowship (part of my medical training). I have to pay 90% of my council tax. That is not fair! Not just for me but those who inherit an unoccupied property have to pay the same until the house is sold. This is a crazy punitive tax. A 50% discount (as it was before labour) I would accept.

See letter I received from Plymouth council;

I refer to your email sent to Mr x about council tax discounts.

Prior to 2003, if a property was nobody’s main residence but furnished, the law provided that all billing authorities should allow a 50% discount. From 1st April 2004, billing authorities were given the discretion to vary the amount of discount for such properties to some percentage between 10% and 50%. Plymouth City Council, by resolution of the Council, chose to reduce the discount from 50% to 10%. In my opinion, this has been done lawfully in accordance with government legislation, although if you want to challenge this resolution, I would suggest you contact your solicitor who will advise you of the procedure you would need to follow.

If the percentage was to be changed, it would need to be by a further resolution of the Council but would only apply to future years and not the current financial year.

With regard to the fact that you will not be getting anything for your money, I would advise that council tax is a tax on the occupation or ownership of domestic property and is not a payment for service. It could be that the owner of a property may have been permanently living abroad for years, not set foot in the UK for the whole of the financial year and pay no UK income tax but he would still be liable for council tax.

If you have any further queries, please contact me again.

Yours sincerely

Stop Local Councils from Prosecuting Innocent People with Barmy Laws

Local councils are threatening to prosecute and are even prosecuting law abiding people (who are not harming anyone else and in some cases actually trying to improve society) for some of the most bizarre reasons.

If you do not believe me consider the following absolutely true and completely daft cases that have appeared in the national and local press

(i) Wiltshire Council threatened a man with prosecution if he cleaned the grass verge outside his property .

(ii) Copeland Borough Council fined a man because his wheelie bin lid was overfilled by four inches.

(iii) Swansea Council prosecuted a man for accidentally putting the rubbish in the wrong cycling bin and now he has a criminal record. The irony here was this man was a keen recycler who was trying hard to recycle.

(iv) Havering Council prosecutes a law abiding shop owner for a scap of paper 120 yards from his shop. That could happen to anyone, for all we know the paper could have been dropped when the bin men last collected the bins or it could have just blown out of the bin.

(v) Ipswich Council fined a 14 year old £50 for feeding a seagull half a chip.

(vi) Hinckley and Bosworth Council prosecuted a man for putting two pieces of junk mail into a street bin with his address on it. Is it really a criminal offence to put rubbish in a street bin?

I could go on and on…

My proposals are that the government should, at the very least, be minded to:

(1)  reword or even, in some cases repeal, any central government laws which allows such crazy prosecutions (or crazy threats to prosecute). I realise that for local bye-laws it might be difficult for central government to do anything.

(2)  not use the criminal law over such trivial matters. Something as serious as a criminal prosecution is not appropriate for some trivial offence like putting rubbish in the wrong place. In none of these cases has anyone deliberately littered or deliberately refused to recycle. Maybe this could be achieved by primary legislation in parliament.

(3) tell councils very firmly that they must use their powers far more sparingly and far more responsibly.

Why is this idea important?

Local councils are threatening to prosecute and are even prosecuting law abiding people (who are not harming anyone else and in some cases actually trying to improve society) for some of the most bizarre reasons.

If you do not believe me consider the following absolutely true and completely daft cases that have appeared in the national and local press

(i) Wiltshire Council threatened a man with prosecution if he cleaned the grass verge outside his property .

(ii) Copeland Borough Council fined a man because his wheelie bin lid was overfilled by four inches.

(iii) Swansea Council prosecuted a man for accidentally putting the rubbish in the wrong cycling bin and now he has a criminal record. The irony here was this man was a keen recycler who was trying hard to recycle.

(iv) Havering Council prosecutes a law abiding shop owner for a scap of paper 120 yards from his shop. That could happen to anyone, for all we know the paper could have been dropped when the bin men last collected the bins or it could have just blown out of the bin.

(v) Ipswich Council fined a 14 year old £50 for feeding a seagull half a chip.

(vi) Hinckley and Bosworth Council prosecuted a man for putting two pieces of junk mail into a street bin with his address on it. Is it really a criminal offence to put rubbish in a street bin?

I could go on and on…

My proposals are that the government should, at the very least, be minded to:

(1)  reword or even, in some cases repeal, any central government laws which allows such crazy prosecutions (or crazy threats to prosecute). I realise that for local bye-laws it might be difficult for central government to do anything.

(2)  not use the criminal law over such trivial matters. Something as serious as a criminal prosecution is not appropriate for some trivial offence like putting rubbish in the wrong place. In none of these cases has anyone deliberately littered or deliberately refused to recycle. Maybe this could be achieved by primary legislation in parliament.

(3) tell councils very firmly that they must use their powers far more sparingly and far more responsibly.

Protection of Privacy (Electoral Register)

I concur with the idea submitted by "nrs" in July 2010 "that the electoral register should be completely and universally removed from access by any third party"

Additionally this should be prohobited from all third parties irrespective of monetary gain in any capacity whatsoever.

I have discovered that 192.com have been selling my address to anyone who will pay despite the fact that I opted out in 2003. They are happy to work with old data. An opt out system is operated. When you don't know your in it, how can you know to opt out.

Furthermore I have now discovered that Experian and similar credit reference agencies are actively marketing the sale of individuals information on their web-sites. It appears to be a very profitable business for them.  United Utilities have passed my data to an insurance company and they have obtained my ex directory phone number from Experian.

With investigation I have discovered that local councils make as little as £300 for selling the register yet companies are potentially making thousands when they in turn sell it on to anyone who wants to buy it. This probably does not cover the cost of overheads for them being bound by law to supply it to would be purchasers. Who else is getting private information?

Despite having registered for the Telephone Preference Service and the Mailing Preference Service to protect my details, I have still had my address used fraudulently on two occasions and in both these instances, the Police did not want to get involved. I also receive numerous marketing calls and the companies calling refuse to give you their name and become rude and abusive if they don't cut you off first.

I believe it imperative that the law is repealed to help protect inividuals from identity theft and nuisance calls from marketing companies.

Why is this idea important?

I concur with the idea submitted by "nrs" in July 2010 "that the electoral register should be completely and universally removed from access by any third party"

Additionally this should be prohobited from all third parties irrespective of monetary gain in any capacity whatsoever.

I have discovered that 192.com have been selling my address to anyone who will pay despite the fact that I opted out in 2003. They are happy to work with old data. An opt out system is operated. When you don't know your in it, how can you know to opt out.

Furthermore I have now discovered that Experian and similar credit reference agencies are actively marketing the sale of individuals information on their web-sites. It appears to be a very profitable business for them.  United Utilities have passed my data to an insurance company and they have obtained my ex directory phone number from Experian.

With investigation I have discovered that local councils make as little as £300 for selling the register yet companies are potentially making thousands when they in turn sell it on to anyone who wants to buy it. This probably does not cover the cost of overheads for them being bound by law to supply it to would be purchasers. Who else is getting private information?

Despite having registered for the Telephone Preference Service and the Mailing Preference Service to protect my details, I have still had my address used fraudulently on two occasions and in both these instances, the Police did not want to get involved. I also receive numerous marketing calls and the companies calling refuse to give you their name and become rude and abusive if they don't cut you off first.

I believe it imperative that the law is repealed to help protect inividuals from identity theft and nuisance calls from marketing companies.

more freedom for the public on where construction of council led initiatives take place

 My idea is to have a more open policy on placing of construction projects in my local area,this is to say at a local level councillors should have to meet and respect opinions of local resisidents about what if any type of building work they want done in their own local area.

 For an example I will look no further than my own experience of a proposed Academy that is being built on a local playing field(Queen Elizabeth Playing Field) near to where I live in Kingston Upon Hull.Despite widespread dissaproval of this local building scheme the school will be built on the only "green space" we have available to enjoy time away from city life.Despite partitions from local people at a local level to city councillors for stopping this,despite their being many local schools in the area already,that would be better served refurbished rather than knocked down,they are still going ahead with this idea that would disrupt the community,that has relied on those playing fields for an escape from city life.

  I feel this is an idea that would save the goverment money, money that we all know needs to be saved from the school budget as you'll find many people(certainly in my local area) are opposed to such hair-brained schemes that they neither want nor need.Their are other construction projects that I could write about,but It just feels that local councillors do not listen to the will of the local people.-this one in particular is part of the previous goverments future schools building program.

Why is this idea important?

 My idea is to have a more open policy on placing of construction projects in my local area,this is to say at a local level councillors should have to meet and respect opinions of local resisidents about what if any type of building work they want done in their own local area.

 For an example I will look no further than my own experience of a proposed Academy that is being built on a local playing field(Queen Elizabeth Playing Field) near to where I live in Kingston Upon Hull.Despite widespread dissaproval of this local building scheme the school will be built on the only "green space" we have available to enjoy time away from city life.Despite partitions from local people at a local level to city councillors for stopping this,despite their being many local schools in the area already,that would be better served refurbished rather than knocked down,they are still going ahead with this idea that would disrupt the community,that has relied on those playing fields for an escape from city life.

  I feel this is an idea that would save the goverment money, money that we all know needs to be saved from the school budget as you'll find many people(certainly in my local area) are opposed to such hair-brained schemes that they neither want nor need.Their are other construction projects that I could write about,but It just feels that local councillors do not listen to the will of the local people.-this one in particular is part of the previous goverments future schools building program.

Repeal Part 8 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003.

Due to the manner in which some local authorities interpret the legislation Part 8 of the Act needs to be repealed in the interests of justice. Alternatively it should be central government and not the local authority or council with the responsibility to enforce the regulations. Currently some local authorities and councils are ignoring what it actually states in the body of the statute and forcing law abiding citizens to destroy kill and remove alleged hedges and conifers even where vexatious complaints have been received from others with a complant. The statute expressly forbids any remedial action that will result in the death of an alleged hedge or conifers and yet remedial notices are being used to criminalise law abiding citizens who refuse to obey the orders of a local authority or council even where this goes against what is actually required by statute. It is as if the planning departments of some local authorities and councils can act in a way that is above the law. It is for Parliament and not the local authority or council to enact statutory legislation and all MP's need to be made aware of just how some local authorities seem to be acting ultra vires and with maladministration.

Why is this idea important?

Due to the manner in which some local authorities interpret the legislation Part 8 of the Act needs to be repealed in the interests of justice. Alternatively it should be central government and not the local authority or council with the responsibility to enforce the regulations. Currently some local authorities and councils are ignoring what it actually states in the body of the statute and forcing law abiding citizens to destroy kill and remove alleged hedges and conifers even where vexatious complaints have been received from others with a complant. The statute expressly forbids any remedial action that will result in the death of an alleged hedge or conifers and yet remedial notices are being used to criminalise law abiding citizens who refuse to obey the orders of a local authority or council even where this goes against what is actually required by statute. It is as if the planning departments of some local authorities and councils can act in a way that is above the law. It is for Parliament and not the local authority or council to enact statutory legislation and all MP's need to be made aware of just how some local authorities seem to be acting ultra vires and with maladministration.

Abolish Council Tax Capping

Repeal central government's power arbitrarily to limit the power of local councils to raise money to fund the local services people want.

It would need to be done in the context of a thorough look at the operation of the present Council Tax arrangements, which are opaque to the ordinary citizen, unfair in many respects, and increasingly out of kilter with the economics of a rational tax base.  This tax base could, with advantage, be broadened.

Difficult stuff, but a re-casting of the system could improve the standard of locally-provided services and re-invigorate our democracy at both local and national levels.

Why is this idea important?

Repeal central government's power arbitrarily to limit the power of local councils to raise money to fund the local services people want.

It would need to be done in the context of a thorough look at the operation of the present Council Tax arrangements, which are opaque to the ordinary citizen, unfair in many respects, and increasingly out of kilter with the economics of a rational tax base.  This tax base could, with advantage, be broadened.

Difficult stuff, but a re-casting of the system could improve the standard of locally-provided services and re-invigorate our democracy at both local and national levels.

Suggested change to the application and enforcement of planning conditions for commercial and large scale residential development

This suggestion is not to remove a regulation but to ask for Planning Authorities to be under a statutory obligation to monitor and enforce conditions they apply to planning consents.  The result may be that the number of conditions applied to developers may be reduced but they would be enforced.

National guidance on planning conditions sets out that conditions should only be used to make a development that would otherwise be unacceptable acceptable.  It follows then that any such conditions must be important, but they are rarely enforced.  In almost every town across the UK you can go to your local supermarket, housing development, industrial development or similar and see areas of tree or shrub planting with dead trees or knee height in weeds.  Many other aspects of development mitigation also go un checked or not implemented leaving local communities all the poorer and occasionally neighbouring individuals seriously disadvantaged. 

Many developers look on planning conditions as an optional extra and pay lip service to the requirements they have been set with a planning approval.

All authorities should be formally required to inspect commercial development sites annually for 5 years post completion (the inspections should be on a public register) and be under a statutory obligation to enforce conditions where a developer is found to be in breach.  This would add to the work load of planning departments but in time would lead to a much clearer understanding from developers they must implement schemes only as approved (which would then in turn lead to a reduction in the need to take action).  Authorities would then only apply conditions they could expect to enforce and the public could then accept developments with the confidence that what they see is what they get.  Some authorities would no doubt give up applying conditions – but this would be in affect little different from what happens now. 

The additional cost of this could be recouped through fines for the most flagrant breaches of planning approval.

A spin off consequence of this would be a marked improvement in the UK landscape industry as contractors would no longer be able to walk away from poorly implemented schemes and the UK Nursery trade may be able to get back on its feet and start producing proper quality plant stock.

This suggestion is targeted at only commercial developments.  The reason for this as there is a distinct contrast between how most planning officers treat the public from how commercial developers.  With a member of the public most planners instantly go into a Cap and Badge syndrome mentality.  With a commercial developer most planners start to open their top button reminiscent of Pamela Stephenson on Not the Nine O'clock News (there that dates me doesn't it)!

 

Why is this idea important?

This suggestion is not to remove a regulation but to ask for Planning Authorities to be under a statutory obligation to monitor and enforce conditions they apply to planning consents.  The result may be that the number of conditions applied to developers may be reduced but they would be enforced.

National guidance on planning conditions sets out that conditions should only be used to make a development that would otherwise be unacceptable acceptable.  It follows then that any such conditions must be important, but they are rarely enforced.  In almost every town across the UK you can go to your local supermarket, housing development, industrial development or similar and see areas of tree or shrub planting with dead trees or knee height in weeds.  Many other aspects of development mitigation also go un checked or not implemented leaving local communities all the poorer and occasionally neighbouring individuals seriously disadvantaged. 

Many developers look on planning conditions as an optional extra and pay lip service to the requirements they have been set with a planning approval.

All authorities should be formally required to inspect commercial development sites annually for 5 years post completion (the inspections should be on a public register) and be under a statutory obligation to enforce conditions where a developer is found to be in breach.  This would add to the work load of planning departments but in time would lead to a much clearer understanding from developers they must implement schemes only as approved (which would then in turn lead to a reduction in the need to take action).  Authorities would then only apply conditions they could expect to enforce and the public could then accept developments with the confidence that what they see is what they get.  Some authorities would no doubt give up applying conditions – but this would be in affect little different from what happens now. 

The additional cost of this could be recouped through fines for the most flagrant breaches of planning approval.

A spin off consequence of this would be a marked improvement in the UK landscape industry as contractors would no longer be able to walk away from poorly implemented schemes and the UK Nursery trade may be able to get back on its feet and start producing proper quality plant stock.

This suggestion is targeted at only commercial developments.  The reason for this as there is a distinct contrast between how most planning officers treat the public from how commercial developers.  With a member of the public most planners instantly go into a Cap and Badge syndrome mentality.  With a commercial developer most planners start to open their top button reminiscent of Pamela Stephenson on Not the Nine O'clock News (there that dates me doesn't it)!

 

Legislate to install an independant regulatory authority to control Councils

I have had a serious problem with Hampshire County Council requiring me to involve my member of parliament. In the course of discussions his representative commented that he held little hope of resolving the problem because County (and City) Councils were a law unto themselves. I think this is unacceptable as they should be accountable to the people that pay for them and their services – the local tax payer.

I would like Parliament to install an independant regulatory authority, with teeth, that could deal with taxpayer's complaints against their local councils just as we have for other public services – Gas, electricity, water, telephones, etc.

I think this is long overdue.

Why is this idea important?

I have had a serious problem with Hampshire County Council requiring me to involve my member of parliament. In the course of discussions his representative commented that he held little hope of resolving the problem because County (and City) Councils were a law unto themselves. I think this is unacceptable as they should be accountable to the people that pay for them and their services – the local tax payer.

I would like Parliament to install an independant regulatory authority, with teeth, that could deal with taxpayer's complaints against their local councils just as we have for other public services – Gas, electricity, water, telephones, etc.

I think this is long overdue.

Be able to sack your Councillor.

A re-titling of this one, for the sake of accuracy:

http://yourfreedom.hmg.gov.uk/restoring-civil-liberties/be-able-to-sack-your-counsellor

My spelling sucks.  So I'll re-do it here for clarity.  Sorry mods!

~

 

To the Mods.  I've seen the wording of another one you blocked so I'm gonna try this angle.  Giz a fair chance eh?

 

Basically there are laws coming in to make MP's sackable.  By forcing a local election under certain circumstances.

I propose this power be extended to Councils as well.  For the same reasons.  It is a restoration of civil liberties, hence why I am trying it this way.  If someone lies to get in they need to go, so there is a serious justice factor as well.

Yet the regs as is have been set up to not allow this.  Hence why you now have these new changes.  Unwritten or written down they were there and protected bad eggs.  It could even be called implied law. Like an implied contract, and how that is not written down yet some things can be reasonably expected.

Hence why MP's are now being made more accountable.  The old regs were bad so needed adjusting.  There may be some repealing in this.

Why is this idea important?

A re-titling of this one, for the sake of accuracy:

http://yourfreedom.hmg.gov.uk/restoring-civil-liberties/be-able-to-sack-your-counsellor

My spelling sucks.  So I'll re-do it here for clarity.  Sorry mods!

~

 

To the Mods.  I've seen the wording of another one you blocked so I'm gonna try this angle.  Giz a fair chance eh?

 

Basically there are laws coming in to make MP's sackable.  By forcing a local election under certain circumstances.

I propose this power be extended to Councils as well.  For the same reasons.  It is a restoration of civil liberties, hence why I am trying it this way.  If someone lies to get in they need to go, so there is a serious justice factor as well.

Yet the regs as is have been set up to not allow this.  Hence why you now have these new changes.  Unwritten or written down they were there and protected bad eggs.  It could even be called implied law. Like an implied contract, and how that is not written down yet some things can be reasonably expected.

Hence why MP's are now being made more accountable.  The old regs were bad so needed adjusting.  There may be some repealing in this.

Role of local government Councils – limit their scope

Local Government Councils (County, Unitary, District, Borough, National Park, Parish) should be reminded and have clear thresholds imposed as to what they can and should get involved in. 

This should be restricted to what is their ability and function is in terms of REGULATORY roles. They should therefore be stopped (unless special licence is given) from wandering into other areas which maybe of interest to them as a corporate body, but which do not serve the people.

I would take for example the desire so many councils have for publicising themselves, paying for designer concept logos, leaflets telling the public how great they are (the council tax bill statement is all that is needed in this regard), putting their names on every bit of land, building, street sign, litter bin, they own.

Apart for knowing who to pay our council taxes to, and what that covers (part of open government and accountability) we don'r need to know that one council does this and another does that because they brandish their named everywhere, all we need is an efficient organisation to carry out the essential tasks in a cost effective manner.

If this means that one council does the bin collecting for another council area, so be it, but we don't need to know all the details, just that the job is being done as we, the public, expect and require.

 

Another example, appointing five-figure salaried 'Communications Directors' , 'European Officers', and similar corporate style posts. What value do they offer the public, what benefit do they give to carrying out the services that Councils are there to do ? 

Why is this idea important?

Local Government Councils (County, Unitary, District, Borough, National Park, Parish) should be reminded and have clear thresholds imposed as to what they can and should get involved in. 

This should be restricted to what is their ability and function is in terms of REGULATORY roles. They should therefore be stopped (unless special licence is given) from wandering into other areas which maybe of interest to them as a corporate body, but which do not serve the people.

I would take for example the desire so many councils have for publicising themselves, paying for designer concept logos, leaflets telling the public how great they are (the council tax bill statement is all that is needed in this regard), putting their names on every bit of land, building, street sign, litter bin, they own.

Apart for knowing who to pay our council taxes to, and what that covers (part of open government and accountability) we don'r need to know that one council does this and another does that because they brandish their named everywhere, all we need is an efficient organisation to carry out the essential tasks in a cost effective manner.

If this means that one council does the bin collecting for another council area, so be it, but we don't need to know all the details, just that the job is being done as we, the public, expect and require.

 

Another example, appointing five-figure salaried 'Communications Directors' , 'European Officers', and similar corporate style posts. What value do they offer the public, what benefit do they give to carrying out the services that Councils are there to do ? 

Ticket restrictions

Stop organisations (particularly rail, airlines, concerts & sports) having rules re transferrability of tickets (other than for security) that can cause great expense for the unwary ticket holder.  Examples are where the organisations :-

a) prevent names being changed –  as with airlines where an error has occurred in nameing the pasenger. 

b) ban the transfer of tickets – as do rail companies and organisers of concerts, sports events, etc.

c) prevent a passenger joining part way through the journey – e.g. a ticket from Newcastle to London, but joining the train at Darlington. 

Why is this idea important?

Stop organisations (particularly rail, airlines, concerts & sports) having rules re transferrability of tickets (other than for security) that can cause great expense for the unwary ticket holder.  Examples are where the organisations :-

a) prevent names being changed –  as with airlines where an error has occurred in nameing the pasenger. 

b) ban the transfer of tickets – as do rail companies and organisers of concerts, sports events, etc.

c) prevent a passenger joining part way through the journey – e.g. a ticket from Newcastle to London, but joining the train at Darlington. 

Fines for not Recycling Properly

I HATE the fines one can get for not recycling properly. It is we consumers that  buy the food, we should not be forced to recycle and then threatened with a fine if we make a mistake. That is absolutely ludicrous. And its a hassle.

 

In fact, we should be getting paid for doing this type of labour. We already pay council taxes for our rubbish to be done away with and now the councils want to cheat us out of MORE money. Recycling should definitely be encouraged, but the government should look to encourage people to do this, like, offering coupons or something to make people want to do it.

Why is this idea important?

I HATE the fines one can get for not recycling properly. It is we consumers that  buy the food, we should not be forced to recycle and then threatened with a fine if we make a mistake. That is absolutely ludicrous. And its a hassle.

 

In fact, we should be getting paid for doing this type of labour. We already pay council taxes for our rubbish to be done away with and now the councils want to cheat us out of MORE money. Recycling should definitely be encouraged, but the government should look to encourage people to do this, like, offering coupons or something to make people want to do it.

Stop Town Twinning. Let’s do old fashioned business.

When the average working man gets up for work everyday, it doesn't mean a thing to him that his town is twinned with whatever land. This is just a waste of time and tax payers money, and an excuse for councilors jollies. We did o.k. before this insane, wasteful idea was thought up. It does nothing to promote trade with foreign countries. but it does waste public money. How much more can councils waste, and how much more could councils save?

Surely we have businesses that can trade without wasting resources.

Why is this idea important?

When the average working man gets up for work everyday, it doesn't mean a thing to him that his town is twinned with whatever land. This is just a waste of time and tax payers money, and an excuse for councilors jollies. We did o.k. before this insane, wasteful idea was thought up. It does nothing to promote trade with foreign countries. but it does waste public money. How much more can councils waste, and how much more could councils save?

Surely we have businesses that can trade without wasting resources.

Stop councils etc from misusing RIPA Act 2000

This Act is regularly being abused. Councils and others use covert surveillance on citizens that violates our Human Rights. This intrusion into our privacy is disproportionate to the actual risk we pose to society, it is used for instance to spy on residents to see if we are doing our rubbish properly. Nobody is checking or enforcing that this surveillance complies with RIPA. We cannot protect ourselves from this abuse because it is carried out covertly. The same holds true for MI5's indiscriminate use of phone and email interception. We can't even seek justice because we can't get the required proof, the evidence. And of course all this is carried out 'in the public interest', again it is impossible for us to prove that it is only in the government's interest, not the public's because the government decides what is 'in the public interest' when actually it is in their own interest – to retain power over us.

Why is this idea important?

This Act is regularly being abused. Councils and others use covert surveillance on citizens that violates our Human Rights. This intrusion into our privacy is disproportionate to the actual risk we pose to society, it is used for instance to spy on residents to see if we are doing our rubbish properly. Nobody is checking or enforcing that this surveillance complies with RIPA. We cannot protect ourselves from this abuse because it is carried out covertly. The same holds true for MI5's indiscriminate use of phone and email interception. We can't even seek justice because we can't get the required proof, the evidence. And of course all this is carried out 'in the public interest', again it is impossible for us to prove that it is only in the government's interest, not the public's because the government decides what is 'in the public interest' when actually it is in their own interest – to retain power over us.

Law needs rewriting to protect the victims

The High Hedges act brought in by 2J Prescott was badly drafted and implemented. The first issue is that the victim has to pay the local council before they act and if it is found that they are the victim of a high hedge and the hedge has to be reduced then they do not get their money back. This can be a large sum if more than one neighbour is involved and the amount charged is set by each council with no UK standard. in my area it is typically over £800. 

The second issue is that if the culprit decides to remove the hedge and replace it with the same  evergreens then the whole process is reset and you have to start again with yet another payment and so on. Surely if it is proved that an evergreen hedge above a specified height is not acceptable in a specific location than that should stand for the future and not apply to a particular set of plants?

The law needs rewriting so that the victims have their money refunded by the perpetrators and that once it is established that a hedge in that location constitutes a nuisance then the ruling should apply to the location and not a particular set of plantings.    

Why is this idea important?

The High Hedges act brought in by 2J Prescott was badly drafted and implemented. The first issue is that the victim has to pay the local council before they act and if it is found that they are the victim of a high hedge and the hedge has to be reduced then they do not get their money back. This can be a large sum if more than one neighbour is involved and the amount charged is set by each council with no UK standard. in my area it is typically over £800. 

The second issue is that if the culprit decides to remove the hedge and replace it with the same  evergreens then the whole process is reset and you have to start again with yet another payment and so on. Surely if it is proved that an evergreen hedge above a specified height is not acceptable in a specific location than that should stand for the future and not apply to a particular set of plants?

The law needs rewriting so that the victims have their money refunded by the perpetrators and that once it is established that a hedge in that location constitutes a nuisance then the ruling should apply to the location and not a particular set of plantings.