Monday, January 25, 2010

Wind farm subsidies top £1 billion a year

Britain's energy policy faces new controversy as it can be revealed that electricity customers are paying more than £1 billion a year to subsidise windfarms and other forms of renewable energy.

By Ben Leach and Richard Gray Published in the Sunday Telegraph: 8:45PM GMT 23 Jan 2010 Photo by PA

The Ofgem report will show that over the past three years the subsidies have added a total of £32.50 to the average household's electricity bills.

The hidden levy is part of a Government scheme to force energy companies to fund green energy. The companies bear the cost but pass it on to consumers in the form of higher bills.
The amount raised has climbed steeply since the introduction of the levy in 2002.

Next month's annual report from Ofgem, the energy regulator, will show that it has risen above £1 billion for the first time, according to analysts at the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), a green energy think-tank.

It means that renewable energy added an an estimated £13.50 to the average household electricity bill last year. An additional burden fell on industrial users of electricity, who in turn passed on costs to their customers.

Critics claimed that the subsidy scheme unfairly penalised consumers and was being used to fund "unrealistic" plans to increase the use of wind power. Countryside campaigners have expressed concerns at the number of wind farms being built around the country, as the Government tries to meet its target that 30 per cent of the UK's energy should be generated from renewable sources by 2020.

The Ofgem report will show that over the past three years the subsidies have added a total of £32.50 to the average household's electricity bills. The annual cost has steadily risen from £7 in 2007 to £13.50 in 2009.

The proceeds of the levy, known as the Renewables Obligation (RO), are divided between the main renewable energy sources, with wind receiving 40 per cent, landfill gas 25 per cent, biomass 20 per cent, hydroelectric 12 per cent and sewage gas 3 per cent.

Dr John Constable, director of policy and research at the REF, said: "The fundamental problem with the RO is that the cost to the consumer is extremely high. "Since the cost of the scheme is passed onto businesses as well as households, there will also be a significant impact on the economy. "The Government's plans for wind are wildly unrealistic. Wind power is going to be very expensive, very difficult and ultimately very costly."

The cost to consumers of the RO scheme has risen from £278 million in 2002/3 to £1.04 billion last year, the Ofgem report is expected to say - a total of £4.4 billion over seven years.

The scheme works by requiring energy suppliers to obtain a set percentage of the electricity they provide to consumers from renewable sources. In 2008/9 this figure was 9.1 per cent, compared to 7.9 per cent in 2007/8.

For each megawatt hour of renewable energy bought by a supplier from a generator, suppliers must also buy a certificate as proof. If suppliers fail to meet their obligation by presenting enough certificates, they must pay a fine known as a "buy-out". The cost to energy suppliers is passed on to consumers through their bills.

Ofgem predicts that the total cost of the RO to consumers between 2002 and 2027, when the scheme is set to end, will amount to £32 billion. By 2020 it is estimated that the annual cost will be running at over £5 billion. Prof Ian Fells, emeritus professor of energy conversion at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, said money that was being invested into wind farms through the RO scheme needed to be diverted elsewhere.

He said: "Consumers simply don't realise the cost to them of supporting the renewable energy industry. Not only is there a cost to consumers but there is a cost to businesses as well.
"So people will not only see the huge cost of the RO scheme in their household bills but also on the High Street, as they see shops put up prices to meet the rising cost of electricity. Subsidising wind farms is far too expensive, and the money could be better spent by investing in other forms of power."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: "To ensure we meet our climate change goals we need a massive increase in low carbon energy and that includes renewables. "The RO is helping that expansion happen with the amount of electricity generated from renewables trebling since 2002. "We also need to make sure we have continued secure energy supplies in the future and renewables are part of that too. There's no high-carbon low-price alternative – we must move to low-carbon sources."

There are currently 270 wind farms with 2,775 turbines in operation, with plans for a further 10,000 on and around Britain's shores.

It has raised concerns in communities that hundreds of acres of rural landscapes will have wind farms built on them.

Last week The Sunday Telegraph revealed how 14 of the UK's officially-designated beauty spots could soon be blighted by turbines, which can reach more than 400ft in height.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Working to understand Anti-Social Behaviour

The Goole and Howdenshire LAT identified addressing anti-social behaviour as one of the highest priorities for residents, this has also been highlighted at Police and Partners forums, and household surveys.

The Howdenshire Neighbourhood Action Team, as a key delivery partner in crime and disorder issues, is looking into the perceptions of anti-social behaviour. The team is talking to both young people and older people to try and more fully understand the issues. This included a visit by a group of older residents to Howden School last week to engage in ‘one on one conversations’ with young people specifically about perceptions of anti-social behaviour. As one of the facilitators it was fascinating to listen as the two generations expressed their thoughts to each other, and at the end for all to say they now have more of an understanding of anti-social behaviour, proved the exercise very much worth while, and something to build on.

The East Riding of Yorkshire Council is also conducting a review of anti-social behaviour through a panel of Councillors, of which I am part. As part of this review Cllr Pat Smith and I visited Bridlington to spend some time with the Council’s detached youth workers, talk to some of Bridlington’s young people, and look at facilities for young people in the area. One of the highlight of the visit was visiting the Bridlington Gasworx Skate Park, a fantastic facility greatly valued by the kids we spoke to. (pictured with Cllr Pat Smith and the the ERYC Detached Youth Workers)

I have spent quite a lot of time with the Council’s detached youth workers in the past, and continue to be impressed with what they do, but more importantly how they interact with young people.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Holme on Spalding Moor To Get Allocation Of Affordable Housing

The East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) is one of 47 Councils across the country that will receive a share of £127 million of funding to build council homes. The ERYC received the largest allocation of funding in the country and proposes to build 275 new affordable homes. These dwellings will be in many communities with identified need, four of which to be built in Holme on Spalding Moor (HOSM) were on the agenda for the ERYC's Western Area planning committee this week.

I spoke in favour of the proposal and supported HOSM Parish Council in their recommendation for approval, and I’m pleased to say the planning committee agreed and granted planning permission.

One issue constantly being raised by Howdenshire residents is that of affordable housing. It is increasingly difficult for young people to find accommodation in rural villages such as HOSM because of both availability and cost.

At the present moment, East Riding of Yorkshire Council has 58 applications on the waiting list for houses in Holme on Spalding Moor and a further 239 applicants requesting consideration for re-housing into the village as one of their areas of choice. But the council has just 45 properties in the village – almost all occupied.

In areas such as HOSM, where homes are required, much new affordable housing is linked to new housing developments where a proportion of those new houses are affordable. But this can mean that unless there is allocated building land in the village, there is little scope for building the required affordable properties. This can be overcome by working in partnership with specialist affordable housing providers who can build on Green Field sites but this can also be difficult.

Gaining this dispensation is dependant on the communities bidding for affordable housing to match the identified need – those villages that want to grow by allowing children to leave home to live alone or with spouses/partners, without leaving their communities to do so. In this application there was no bidding process – the money had already been obtained by the ERYC.

Affordable housing required could be a mixture of not just rented accommodation, but also Homebuy shared ownership – which means young people, who would not have the opportunity to conventionally get onto the first rung of the property ladder, then have the opportunity through this shared ownership – paying part rent and part mortgage.

Allowing young people to remain in the villages in which they grew up is a very important element of community cohesion in most rural settlements. This is why it is important that local people, such as the HOSM Parish Council, who, through the Parish Plan, have identified the housing requirements of residents, are key in the decision making on affordable housing.

The provision of affordable housing can only improve the village by allowing people to live and stay in their own community, and I fully support Parish Council in what they are doing in this area.

So, in a nutshell, the East Riding of Council has received funding to build a number of dwellings in communities with identified need and the Western Area Planning Committee supported the officer’s recommendation and approved the application for ‘affordable housing for local people in Holme on Spalding Moor’

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rehabilitation of offenders and reducing re-offending

The estimated number of crimes in the East Riding attributed to re-offenders is 6,500 with an estimated cost implication of £22.8 million.

This is a serious issue; costing the East Riding a phenomenal amount of money and for this reason must be given the highest priority, and should be given the strongest leadership.

Clearly prison works for some people and not for others, community payback and fines work for some and not others.

Sentencing is a serious issue - we will all have different thoughts on sentencing guidelines, but ultimately it is about primary legalisation, which is the will of the Government, who do seem to want to control every aspect of our lives.

Prison sentences given to offenders fall into two distinct categories - those sentenced to less than 12 months and those over 12 months.

The evidence indicates that those sentenced to less then 12 months committhe majority of re-offending. Why is this?

A prisoner serving over 12 months will benefit from programmes that are available in prison, once released will be on licence and under statutory supervision by the probation service, and most importantly will have a single case manager throughout the prison sentence and upon release.

But for those serving less than 12 months, the prison service has neither the time nor the opportunity to effectively work with the prisoner, they are released without being under licence and the Probation Service has no statutory right or obligation to work with them.

On completion of the sentence an offender can leave the prison gates with £40 in their pocket and nothing else… not even someone to meet them and take them to the benefits office – is it any wonder they go on to re-offend?

All prisons offer a detoxification service for prisoners withdrawing from drugs or alcohol – but it’s up to the prisoner to take this up – although all prisons carry out random drug testing on 10% of the prison population every month. This is achieving only modest success and must be improved.

The Regional Reducing Re-offending Action Plan sets out nine key areas of work with offenders with community or custodial sentences, these are termed ‘pathways’ and include:

  • Accommodation

  • Education, Training and Employment

  • Mental and Physical Health

  • Drugs and Alcohol

  • Finance, Benefit and Debt

  • Children and Families of Offenders

  • Attitudes, thinking and Behaviour

  • Prolific and Priority Offenders

  • Voluntary Sector and Community Sector Engagement
As with most things, tackling re-offending is very much target driven, unfortunately we have the large organisations with National Targets and large budgets that don’t necessarily dovetail well with local targets – and can’t commit fully to partnership working.

Specifically, prisons operate regionally taking in prisoners from the region rather than the locality… Here it would seem logical to see regional funding and regional targets. But for this to happen major legislative changes are required.

Locally we have many different agencies, organisations and partners working on the different pathways, either together or separately.

To compound this there are 5 of the Government's National Performance Indicators:

  • NI 18 - Adult re-offending rates for those under Probation supervision:

  • NI 30 - Re-offending rate of prolific and priority offenders

  • NI 143 – Offenders under Probation supervision living in settled and suitable accommodation at the end of their order or licence

  • NI 144 - Offenders under Probation supervision in employment at the end of their order or licence

  • NI – 40 Problem drug users in effective treatment

But perhaps it's just as significant that there is no indicator relating to ex-offenders who are not under Probation supervision or managed under the PPO scheme.

From April 2010 agencies will have a shared statutory responsibility to formulate and implement a strategy for the reduction of re-offending in the area (as well as the existing duty to formulate and implement a strategy for the reduction of crime and disorder)

The Reducing Re-offending Group (an action group of the East Riding LSP’s Safer and Stronger Communities Action Group (SSCAG)) is chaired by the Probation Service, which would seem to be the most suitable organisation, and one that takes a regional view.

Other Group members include the Police, NHS East Riding, Job Centre Plus, victim support, Learning and Skills Council, HM Courts Service, HM Prison Service, and ERYC (Safe Communities Housing and Organisational Development), the latter giving a local perspective.

This group focuses on Accommodation, and Education, Training and Employment, while maintaining an overview of the other pathways…. and SSCAG has acknowledged that more leadership needs to be exercised, and I support the Probation Service in doing this, but they must be held to account if they don’t.

Probation has tended to be reluctant to involve itself in work that does not directly involve the offenders for whom it has statutory responsibility. I would urge them to work closer with all partners.

In conclusion - Many organisations have responsibility for reducing re-offending, the East Riding of Yorkshire Council's Safer and Stronger Comunities Overview and Scrutiny Committee (on which I sit) identified a need for greater coordination and a current lack of leadership.

Is it really acceptable not to provide the strongest possible leadership of a service provision that has a cost implication for the East Riding of £22.8 million ..."?

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Environment Agency plans to regulate all Agricultural Composters

I am very pleased to say the Environment Agency has brought forward plans to regulate the agricultural composting industry by bringing all operators under regulation, rather than some being exempt as we see, and smell, at present.

Over the last 3 years many residents have raised the issue of composting and the foul smells drifting across the Howdenshire villages of Spaldington, Brind, Wressle, Holme on Spalding Moor, Eastrington and North Howden.

The East Riding of Yorkshire is home to a significant number of composting operations, most of which cause very few problems and don’t come to the notice of residents, the Council, or the Environment Agency. Unfortunately a small minority of composters operating under a licence exemption have not followed the rules, and have caused serious odour problems for local residents and whole villages. It was clear that the past regime of self-policing was not working for this small minority of composters

The composting of animal by-products has been a concern to me, especially if the raw materials are transported from far away, not composted correctly or for sufficient time, resulting in the foulest smells imaginable.

Many of you will recall that I originally raised the issue of composting in a motion to the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, after which the Council’s Environment and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Committee looked further into the issue, the Council then expressed its concerns to the Government’s Environment Agency.

The Environment Agency also wants to see operators attend formal training, which along with the proposed permitting and regulation will have a cost implication for the composters, although in fairness many other industries require operators to undergo training before being able to carry out work. (e.g. CORGI registration for gas heating engineers)

Bringing all composting operations into the general permitting framework and undergoing formal training is a positive step and will be good for the industry as a whole, and certainly good for the public. It is always a question of balance between regulation and cost, and I would hope that the charges to be levied are based solely on the costs for regulation rather than yet another stealth tax.

I have a great deal of sympathy for those farmers, who have diversified into composting as a replacement for conventional fertilisers and operated in a responsible manner, and are now going to have to pay increased fees for regulation, unfortunately this means the whole industry is being made to pay for the actions of the few.

David Davis MP and I have worked closely on this for a considerable time, and he was able to add his weight to the case by raising the issue with the Shadow Minister and the Chief Executive of the Environment Agency.

David adds; “I welcome the plans for more rigorous inspection and regulation of the agricultural composting industry. A great many of my constituents have had to put up with vile smells associated with composting animal by-products for far too long as some operators have been working outside regulation through an exemption. For to long the inspection regime on this unpleasant Industry has been to lax it is time to put this right”

“It is essential that the charges should cover the full cost of the proposed inspection and regulation. Firm regulation is needed whatever the cost, which should be borne by the composters and not the taxpayer.”

Friday, January 08, 2010

Massive Windfarm planned in the North Sea - 80km off the Hornsea Coast

The Government has today announced plans for £100 billion project for off-shore windfarms comprising of up to 5,000 turbines; this includes a proposal for a 4,000 mega watt (MW) turbine site covering a large area of the North Sea approximately 80km off of the Hornsea coast. This could include up to 570 x massive 7 MW rated wind turbines. (By comparison Drax power Station’s 6 x 660MW steam turbines give a total of 3,960MW)

I broadly support the concept of off-shore wind generation and welcome this as a positive step, but I would like to see the potential for wave and tidal power moved higher up the Government’s agenda and for funding to be made available to fully exploit these more efficient and predictable alternatives.

Off-shore windfarms have many advantages over, and in my opinion ultimately more preferable than, on-shore windfarms as there is very little negative visual impact or noise issues for neighbouring communities, nor transportation of wind turbine components along narrow rural roads.

An off-shore wind farm can be of a sufficient size and scale to be economical, as the winds off-shore tend to be more constant and predictable, therefore the turbines will be somewhat more efficient than the pathetically low rates achieved by on-shore turbines.

Care must be taken in finding ways to connect the power to the national grid without the need for miles and miles of new pylons, it is essential that underground cabling is used or that existing pylons are utilised or upgraded wherever possible and any new pylons be placed in areas where they are least intrusive.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

East Riding of Yorkshire Council's Salt Bins and Gritting Footways

Salt bins

Due to the severe weather conditions demand for salt from East Riding of Yorkshire (ERYC) bins is far exceeding normal usage. Salt bins located are a secondary measure in the Councils winter maintenance effort and resources have to be targeted at the Councils primary responsibility, which is keeping our principle road network open.

As a result of this the ERYC have moved from a system of responding to requests for refills and now the bins are being systematically refilled. The Council is constantly filling bins with white salt. High demand means salt is being used faster than some bins can be refilled.

Gritting footways

The Council do have a network of footways which are treated during winter weather set out according to how busy they are and which services the footways lead to. There are 16 areas across the East Riding where this work is carried out, and where resources allow the treatment will be broadened out.

For more information about salt bins or the network of roads and footways which are gritted please call the ERYC on (01482) 393939.

A map of gritting routes can also be found at:

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

What the East Riding of Yorkshire Council is doing to keep the areas roads clear of snow and ice


The Council’s winter service policy is reviewed and approved on a three year cycle. The current policy was approved in July 2007 and is due for review again later this year.

The Council’s policy / duty is to ‘as far as reasonable practicable’ to treat a defined network known as the precautionary network. This network consists of the ‘A’ and ‘B’ roads and the more heavily used linking roads. A criteria exists to determine which roads fall into this precautionary network. The precautionary network consists of some 1,400km of roads around 40% of the network.

In addition to the main priority, a responsive network is treated when conditions indicate that freezing weather will continue beyond lunch time and resources allow. This criteria also applies to the salting of selected footpaths in the town centres.

The responsive network adds a further 700km to the treated network.

The precautionary and responsive networks are published in the East Riding News each November and are available on the Council’s web pages.

Recent weather

Compared to last year the start of this winter season (the winter season runs from October through to April) was very mild.

The first signs of winter weather came on Friday the 18th December and has stayed with us. An extremely unusual occurrence where past experience has shown short periods of snow tailing away within a week.

The weekend of 19th and 20th was particularly bad and a forbearer of things to come. Road surface temperatures have remained at / below freezing throughout the period meaning any contact with snow / sleet / rain has caused ice unless salt has been present. Even where salt has been present on less trafficked roads the masking effect of snow followed by sub-zero temperatures has resulted in freezing snow over the salt. In some places temperatures have been as low as -100c. Over this weekend much of the East Riding was covered with snow in a fairly short period of time covering all road surfaces (including treated ones).

Across the weekend of 19th and 20th repeated treatments were undertaken using some 2,000 tonnes of salt in two days.

The weather is forecast to remain in such wintery conditions through towards the end of January. However it needs to be noted that the longer term forecasts carry less confidence then shorter range forecasts.

Salt stocks

The Council has four salt barns that can collectively hold around 8,000tonnes of salt. These are filled up during the summer months in readiness for the winter season. A framework contract is in place with Cleveland Potash to supply salt to us.

The plan of action is to ensure that for the Christmas close down period that the barns are as near full as possible to see the service through to the resumption of normal services.

At the commencement of 14th December the barns were 90% full with further salt orders in place up to Christmas Eve to replenish any envisaged usage. This plan was severely challenged with the onslaught of the extended period of bad weather commencing on Friday the 18th December and the usage on that date and over the weekend to combat the conditions. The depletion of stocks combined with a forecast showing a continuation of similar conditions required a re-evaluation of the plan and a daily monitoring of usage coupled with attempts to increase the existing orders of salt to ensure the continuity of the service and to meet the Council’s stated Duty.

Salt suppliers are under pressure to meet customer demands which is causing a significant spike in orders and quantities of salt requested by all customers at the same time. This spike is having to be managed by the suppliers by limiting supplies to each customer to ensure that all get something.

Salt stocks continue to be monitored on a daily basis.

Action taken

Winter operations have continued around the clock from 18th December to date. The primary focus has been on the precautionary network and over the period the crews have been out some 35 times. In addition to this responsive salting has been undertaken during the day time, salt bins have been re-filled and town centre footpaths salted by teams from Environmental Services. In excess of 7,000tonnes of salt has been used between Christmas and return to work.

This compares to a more usual operation over the period of less than half this level of activity and a salt usage of typically 2,000tonnes.

Operations are controlled from the main winter operations room at Beverley Depot and this has been manned throughout the period.

As necessary particularly on the higher ground some ploughing has been undertaken to move snow and slush off the carriageway.

With limited exceptions the precautionary network has been kept open to traffic.

Current Situation

Operations continue and look set to continue for at least the next two weeks. A 30 day weather forecast from the Met Office indicates that over the next 2 weeks it will remain very cold with periods of precipitation (taking the form of rain / sleet / snow). For the remainder of the month still cold but slightly improved conditions.

Salt usage is being monitored and supplies secured to ensure the service can continue.

Many complaints are being received. The perception seems to be that the Council hasn’t done anything. Much of this relates to footpaths remaining icy over the duration and the lack of treatment to minor roads which do not form part of the network. Similarly people have complained about empty salt bins. It is pleasing that people have used these facilities and bins have been refilled as notified to us that they were in need of replenishing. However the rate of usage has resulted in some being empty for a period of time.

Financial Position

The high intensity operation has inevitably cost more money than would have been expected under normal circumstances at this point of the season. Payments for continuous operations out of hours, procurement of extra salt supplies, transport costs all come at a price.

The budget will be monitored throughout the season and depending on weather conditions up to April the current spike in expenditure may be evened out.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Holme upon Spalding Moor bus connection issues resolved

After some painstaking work by a number of people, I am assured that we will not see a repeat of the number 34 bus to Holme upon Spalding Moor (HOSM) leaving Market Weighton without connecting with the X46 bus from Beverley/Hull.

East Yorkshire Motor Services (EYMS) have stated “it is unacceptable for the driver of the 34 bus to drive away when people are trying to make the connection”. They have also clarified their contract requires the 34 bus to wait for any late running X46 bus from Beverley/Hull. The driver’s running board now has a note attached requiring drivers to wait for the connecting bus.

There is radio communication on all EYMS buses therefore we should not see a repetition of HOSM residents being left in Market Weighton because the connecting bus has left.

As from Monday 11th January 2010 there will also be some minor changes to the timetable, with the buses leaving Market Weighton five minutes later, giving a little more time for the connection. This will also address the problem of congestion near HOSM Village Hall when the East Yorkshire Bus and the York Pullman have been arriving at the bus stop at the same time, blocking drives or the entrance to the Village Hall car park.

In addition the first bus from HOSM to Market Weighton will operate the opposite way around the village, using the bus stop across the road from the Village Hall.

I hope this will resolve the issue but please let me know if you experience, or hear of any further problems with the connection in the future..

Friday, January 01, 2010

My 10 Predictions for 2010

Happy New Year to you all.... Over the Christmas period I got to thinking what 2010 may hold for me, Howdenshire residents and those many people who read my blog… and came up with 10 predictions on topical stuff that interests me and hopefully you readers. Nothing too personal just a mixture of politics and sport….. some wishful thinking, and after reading the tea leaves in the bottom of Cllr Steve Parnaby’s cup, looking into one of Cllr Carl Minns’ crystal balls, watching the body language of John Prescott, a kind of telepathic communication with Radio Humberside's Steve Burns, listening to every word of BBC's Peter Levy… and all mixed together with a degree of realism…(some are based on hope, others reality!)

  1. The ERYC Car Parking review will be completed and the decision will be popular with the majority of residents.Topical for many residents - I don’t have inside information - although I do feel the Council has listened to people over the past months, and I am confident the ultimate decision will reflect what people have told us – it will be about compromise and one will be reached.
  2. The vast majority of flood prevention work in Gilberdyke will be completed, including the watercourse between the houses on Scalby Lane and Chestnut Drive.I have a great deal of optimism here as the residents, the Parish Council, the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, and the Drainage Board are all working together on this – something that doesn’t always happen.
  3. A management plan and strategic lead for Goole will evolve but not all parties and organisations will buy into it.Knowing Goole as I do, I’m confidant things will improve and move forward, but we have to find a way of all working together… Goole is a fantastic place, with some great people and it can become the economic powerhouse of the East Riding.
  4. The East Riding of Yorkshire will continue to be bombarded with windfarm applications including at least one in the Yorkshire Wolds rather than at the edge, and the ERYC will not win a planning appeal against a windfarm application under this present Government.
    Here my feelings on this are quite well documented, as a member of the ERYC planning committee I have voted both for and against windfarm applications, for me it’s all about size, scale and location…. But Ed Milliband and his cronies have overruled us every time we have rejected an application - so its at the whim of speculative developers – until we have a change of government– there will be no change to Central Government trampling over local elected councillors and local democracy.
  5. The Conservatives will win a May 2010 general election with a majority of 35 seats. May would seem the ideal date, it’s the date of the local elections, it’s probably the best chance Gordon Brown will have of saving some of his Labour Councillors by ensuring a higher turnout…. And then it’s a case of looking at how the cards may fall and what likely percentage votes the parties will get… nothing sophisticated – just an educated guess.
  6. Nigel Farage will unseat John Bercow MP. I felt this would happen as soon as Farage declared he would run… the conventional wisdom is that Bercow is not popular with Tories, he’s not a Labour politician and Farage has the gravitas and personality to attract many protest voters…
  7. Diana Johnson MP and Ian Cawsey MP will lose their seats. Obviously both seats are vulnerable with low majorities and being targeted by the other parties – I don’t think either incumbent has done enough to hold on, including saying one thing and voting another – post office closures. The Lib Dems are throwing everything including the kitchen sink at Diana Johnson, and Ian Cawsey has a formidable campaigner in Hull City Councillor Andrew Percy against him – remember Percy has the highest majority of any Hull City Councillor – Not bad for a Tory in Hull - so pretty confident on this prediction.
  8. David Davis MP will return to the cabinet and Graham Stuart MP will become a junior minister. When the going gets tough there is one man who the Conservatives need back at the centre of their team, the man who could strangle you with a cordless phone, a man who doesn’t read books – merely staring at them until he gets the information he needs, a man who can slam a revolving door, a man who doesn’t wear a watch because he decides what time it is, and the person the bogey man checks under his bed for… yes David Davis will be back!
    Graham Stuart – I’ve watched him closely since his election and I think he will go far, given a good and challenging job to do…. A tip for high office.
  9. Hull City will stay in the Premier League. As a life long fan of the Mighty Ull and vice president of the club I have optimism like you wouldn’t believe on this issue…. I’m thinking we can average a point a game for the remainder of the season, plus an extra win to get us up to 41 points and 16th place.
  10. Manchester United will not win the Premier League and England will lose in the semi-finals of the World Cup. Here it’s all about hope…. hoping I might be wrong… Not with the Man Utd thing… but certainly with England. If England wins the world cup I will be over the moon and very, very happy to be proven wrong.

Please have a listen to me being interviewed on Radio Humberside about the predictions at the following link: (starts at approx. 2hours 16mins in)