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Todd Foreman, Labour's parliamentary candidate
for North East Somerset, welcomed a cross-party report by the MPs' Business,
Innovation and Skills select committee which found that taxpayers lost £1
billion in the government's privatisation of the Royal Mail.

The Royal Mail was privatised last October in an initial public offering (IPO) of its shares. Despite warnings from experts and huge demand for the shares from investors, the Government priced the shares well below what they were worth. The MPs' report comes comes on the heels of a report in April by the independent National Audit Office (NAO) which likewise found that the Government should have made more from the sale and that taxpayers have been ripped off.2

The report by the MPs' select committee found that, “the performance of Royal Mail shares points to a pricing decision that was too influenced by perceived risks and fear of failure” as opposed to getting best value for taxpayers.

Commenting on the report, Todd Foreman said:

 

“The recent privatisation by the Government of the Royal Mail has been a fiasco that has seen a prized state asset sold for far less than it is worth while a privileged few have made massive profits. Now a cross-party group of MPs have examined the sale and found that taxpayers have lost out to the tune of £1 billion. But rather than accept responsibility for its failure, the Government persists in claiming that taxpayers got a good deal.

“A few fat cat investors and investment banks have made hundreds of millions of profit out of the privatisation, while taxpayers have been ripped off and many small investors who wanted to participate in the IPO were left out.

It's extremely disappointing that the reaction of North East Somerset's Tory MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has been to defend the rip off of taxpayers. Speaking in Parliament, Rees Mogg said that the fact that Royal Mail share prices increased sharply after they were sold at an undervalue was “a sign of enormous confidence of the economic policies of Her Majesty's Government.”3

Todd Foreman added: 

 

 “In defending the “fire sale” of Royal Mail, Jacob Rees-Mogg has sided with a few wealthy fat cats who have made an enormous, quick profit at the expense of the taxpayer, rather than standing up for the interests of the vast majority of his constituents.”

 

Todd Foreman is a lawyer with over a decade's experience in banking and financial services and is Labour's Parliamentary candidate in North East Somerset

 

1See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-28250963. The report can be found here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmbis/539/539.pdf

2The NAO report can be found here: http://www.nao.org.uk/report/privatisation-of-royal-mail-plc/

3Jacob Rees-Mogg made his comments in Parliament on 1 April. See http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140401/debtext/140401-0001.htm#14040172001031.

Todd welcomes cross-party report into Royal Mail privatisation fiasco

Todd Foreman, Labour's parliamentary candidatefor North East Somerset, welcomed a cross-party report by the MPs' Business,Innovation and Skills select committee which found that taxpayers lost £1billion in the government's privatisation...

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Local Labour Party campaigners have expressed concern over changes in fares that will be charged by bus giant First from 6 July 2014 and have called on the bus company to attend a public meeting in Radstock to discuss the new fares.

While some bus users may end up paying less under the new structure, many bus users in the Somer Valley will see big increases in their fares. For example, under the old fare structure, a return ticket from Midsomer Norton or Radstock to Bath cost £5.70. Under the new fare structure, return tickets will no longer be available, and the cheapest option for a return journey will be a “day ticket” costing £7.00—a 23% increase.

 

Anne Marie Jovic-Sas, Radstock town councillor and one of Labour's candidates for Radstock ward at the B&NES Council election next year said:

 

“Any plan to offer more discounts for younger or older people is welcome, but the proposed ‘charge-by-mile’ fares will have a disproportionate negative effect on residents in rural areas who rely on buses to travel to Bath or Bristol.”

 

Anne Marie’s running mate for B&NES in Radstock, Chris Dando, shares her concerns about how First has gone about their fares consultation and follow-up roadshows. Chris said:

 

“First has a slick PR machine that talks up its engagement with the community. But the response to their consultation earlier this year was only 1,800 people – out of a population of 640,000. To make matters worse, their series of roadshows on the issue did not include the Somer Valley area – which has a bigger population than Keynsham, where they did have a public event.”

 

Todd added:

 

“There are winners and losers under the new fare structure and I'm concerned that many residents in Somer Valley are clear losers. The Somer Valley suffers from a serious lack of local industries and jobs, and many residents have to commute to Bath or Bristol for work. Many commuters making a return journey are facing a 23% increase and will be looking at paying £7.00 just to get to work for the day. That is a lot of money, especially to someone on the minimum wage of £6.31 per hour.”

 

First Group made £90.7 million operating profit from UK buses in 2012-13, contributing to £335 million in total operating profits for company as a whole. First currently has one-fifth share of the UK’s deregulated bus market worth over £4 billion ever year. The group’s chief executive, Tim O’Toole, recently enjoyed an 86% annual pay rise – rising from £1.1 million to almost £2 million.

 

Anne Marie and Chris are calling on First to attend a public meeting in Radstock on Friday 11 July to discuss their fares and services.

 

Anne Marie said: “I have personally invited First’s managing director, Paul Matthews, and commercial manager, Simon Ford to attend, suggesting they try catching the bus to get here.”

The public meeting will be held at 7.30pm, Friday 11 July, in Radstock Methodist Church Hall (side entrance, off The Street).

Labour concern over First bus fare impact on Somer Valley and calls for their attendance at public meeting

Local Labour Party campaigners have expressed concern over changes in fares that will be charged by bus giant First from 6 July 2014 and have called on the bus company...

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Todd welcomed a report published today by the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee on the floods that hit Somerset and other parts of England over the winter. 

The report says that "overall funding does not reflect the increased flood risk" being driven by climate change and says that money for maintenance of rivers and flood defences "was at the bare minimum."  The Conservative-led coalition imposed cuts of 17% in real terms on flood defenses prior to the flooding last winter.

 

Todd said:

 

"The flooding that occurred in Somerset and other parts of England in the winter was devastating and costly.  I welcome the Select Committee's cross-party report which provides constructive suggestions for managing flood risk going forward, including repair and replacement of damaged flood defences, dredging and increased cooperation between internal drainage boards and the Environment Agency. 

 

"The Conservative-led government imposed deep cuts on flood defenses after taking office, and this has proven to be a false economy.  Furthermore, in February David Cameron said that "money was no object" when it came to flood defence funding, yet the Select Committee has found that flood defence funding which the government has described as "additional" is actually only reallocated within existing budgets.  The government still isn't taking the issue seriously enough.

 

"I welcome that the cross-party report recognises the reality of climate change and increased risk of flooding that is brings.  This is in stark contrast to the record of North East Somerset's Conservative MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, who has a record of denying that human activity is contributing to climate change and opposing action to tackle the issue.  Jacob has previously said that we should "put people before polar bears" in opposing carbon emissions targets that would help tackle climate change.  The recent flooding demonstrates that it's not just polar bears who are affected by the issue, but local residents. 

 

"North East Somerset needs an MP who recognises the reality of climate change and who supports constructive ways of tackling the issue locally, and as part of the UK's wider environmental and energy policies."

 

 

Notes: 

  1. The      report of the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs      Committee can be found here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmenvfru/240/240.
  2. The      Timsbury Environment Group reported that in a meeting on 15 September      2012, Jacob Rees-Mogg expressed doubts that climate change was caused by      human activity, and that Rees-Mogg "did not appear to accept the      judgement on climate change of the International Panel on Climate Change      (IPCC), endorsed by the Royal Society, the U.S. National Academy of      Sciences and the leading science academies in most of the world, and      believes that lots of scientists hold seriously different      views."  See http://www.timsbury.net/PDFS/TEG.pdf.
  3. Jacob      Rees-Mogg said that the UK should scrap carbon emission targets and      "put people before polar bears" in a lecture at the Center for      Policy Studies on 10 May 2012 available here:  http://www.cps.org.uk/files/reports/original/120510113556-JacobReesMogglecture2012.pdf.

Todd welcomes report on increasing flood risk and climate change

Todd welcomed a report published today by the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee on the floods that hit Somerset and other parts of England over the...

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