In this month's "The Westcountry at Westminster", Alastair Stewart is joined by Baroness Jolly from Cornwall, a Liberal Democrat peer and government whip in the House of Lords; Labour's Clare Moody who represents the South West as an MEP; and Rebecca Pow, a former journalist, who's hoping to take Taunton Deane for the Conservatives at the next General Election.
Up for discussion on the show - the Rochester by-election and what a UKIP win means for the other parties. Also, on a recent visit to Somerset Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg all but promised an improved transport infrastructure package for the South West. Business and council leaders want to see the A303 and A358 turned into dual carriageway. Plus, nearly one hundred years since the first female MP was elected, how have things changed for women in politics?
Cllr Alex Folkes has defended himself online after Cornwall Council issued a statement asking him to resign.
Yesterday Cornwall Council said Folkes may pose a risk to children. He was in charge of the council's finances until he left his cabinet post for personal reasons earlier this month.
Cllr Folkes accuses Council Leader Andrew Kerr of 'trying to bully him out of office'. The blog is entitled 'the truth about why I resigned and the claims being made against me'.
In 2006 (and before I became a councillor) I was one of many people who was arrested when credit or debit card details were found which linked the cardholders to a site containing indecent images of children. I have never viewed any such images nor had I ever visited the site or any others like it. I was able to show the police that my card had been cloned at some time in the past and used illegally for various things including a hotel in Brazil. I reported that at the time and my bank refunded the money.
Of course I cannot be sure, but that is how I believe my card details came to be linked to the site as it fits the time my card was used fraudulently. When details are stolen on the internet they tend to come in a package and hackers can also have access to your address, email, password, phone, IP address, etc, which can easily be cloned and used by another person to cover their own identity and make it look like the victim of their fraud is the guilty party. The police searched my computer and other electronic devices I owned. Because I had done nothing wrong, and therefore there was no evidence against me, the police did not bring any charges and they told me the matter was closed.
I cannot blame the police for investigating based on the information they received. The whole episode put me through a huge trauma but I am reassured that they took such matters very seriously and I am glad that they were able to establish my innocence as they did.
In 2009 when I was elected to Cornwall Council my arrest was flagged up in an enhanced CRB check. I discussed this matter with the chief legal officer of the council. He told me that he would discuss it with the (then) leader Councillor Alec Robertson. I heard no more about this from the legal officer, Mr Robertson or anyone else. I assume that they took the view, quite rightly, that the matter was properly dealt with by the police and considered closed.
You can read the rest of Cllr Folkes' blog post here.
A Cornwall councillor has been asked to step down from his post - following accusations he may pose a risk to children.
Alex Folkes was in charge of the council's finances until he left his cabinet post for personal reasons earlier this month.
Today - Cornwall Council revealed child protection issues had come to light - and called for him to leave his position as a councillor.
On 16 October, the Council received information raising serious child protection concerns relating to Alex Folkes and immediately launched a formal investigation into the circumstances. In view of the potential seriousness of the issues raised, Councillor Folkes was asked to stay away from the Council whilst the investigation was carried out by senior officers from the authority in consultation with other agencies.
As a result of the information which came to light during this investigation, the Leader of Cornwall Council, John Pollard, decided that Councillor Folkes could not continue to carry out his Cabinet responsibilities and demanded that he either resigned with immediate effect or he would remove him from his role as the Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources. The Council received his resignation on 4 November.
Although the concerns arose in relation to specific incidents which occurred in 2003 and, therefore, before Councillor Folkes became a member of Cornwall Council, the authority has an overriding responsibility to safeguard the welfare of children and young people in Cornwall. The Director of Education, Health and Social Care has, therefore, written to schools and children’s settings in the Launceston area to alert them to the potential risk posed by Councillor Folkes.
Following the 2009 unitary elections, some Council officers became aware of an adverse entry on a CRB disclosure form relating to Councillor Folkes. The way the matter was dealt with at that time is now subject to an internal investigation.
The Council totally condemns any action which poses a threat to children, but does not have the legal power to remove Alex Folkes from his position as an elected councillor. Nevertheless, the Chief Executive Andrew Kerr has written to Councillor Folkes urging him to resign from the Council with immediate effect.
The West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox has defended his work as a barrister after criticism from a pressure group.
In 13 months he earned £450,000 on top of his Parliamentary salary.
However he said this covered VAT and staff costs, and that outside interests were vital to ensure we had independent-minded MPs.
A recruitment drive to double the number of part-time soldiers in our Armed Forces is falling short of Government targets.Read the full story ›
Three district councils in Dorset are to share staff to save money.
Weymouth and Portland Borough and West Dorset District councils already work together and share a chief executive. Now North Dorset will join them. They hope to save six million pounds over the next five years. The councils say the money they get from government has halved in the last five years.
The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has been discussing proposals to improve the A303 to the West country at a meeting with business leaders and councillors in Somerset.
He gave strong hints that money for the scheme would be announced in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Autumn Statement next month.
I am absolutely determined that we should finally fix this. We haven't crossed the T's and dotted the I's yet on the announcement that will be made in the Autumn Statement in early December but, how can I put it, if there isn't an announcement to improve the A303 in the Autumn Statement, I'll come down here and start tarmacking it myself!
The Prime Minister has promised to meet business leaders in our region to discuss upgrading road and rail links to the South West.
Gary Streeter, MP for South West Devon, raised the issue during Prime Minister's Questions.
The PM agreed to such a meeting, and on the need to upgrade our transport links.
This follows yesterday's announcement by Danny Alexander that improvements to the A303 were now a "high priority".
See the exchange here:
Officials from Devon County Council will today lobby government ministers over improved road and rail links to the region.
They want assurances about strengthening the rail line around Dawlish, creating a new line inland, and upgrading the A303 - though one Somerset MP says this should not include the Blackdown Hills.
Cornwall Council has agreed to delay cutting a number of school crossing patrols.
The council was hoping to save £80,000, but it will carry out a risk assessment first before making a final decision.
It has also reached a deal with the RNLI to maintain the current level of lifeguard cover on 57 beaches, despite reducing its contribution to the charity from £1.4million to £950,000.