Friday, June 24

A Fiday in June

The result of the South Staffordshire election:

Sir Patrick Cormack (Conservative) 13,343 (52.05%, +1.56%)
Paul Kalinauckas (Labour) 4,496 (17.54%, -16.63%)
Jo Crotty (Lib Dem) 3,540 (13.81%, +2.21%)
Malcolm Hurst (UKIP) 2,675 (10.43%, +6.69%)
Garry Bushell (Eng Dem) 643 (2.51%)
Kate Spohrer (Green) 437 (1.70%)
Adrian Davies (Freedom Party) 434 (1.69%)
Rev David Braid (Clause 28, Christian Democrat) 67 (0.26%)

Majority 8,847 (34.51%)9.10% swing Lab to ConTurnout 25,635 (37.28%, -23.04%)

Other issues

Two spending watchdogs have warned that the NHS requires stricter financial management to keep debts under control. In a joint report released today the National Audit Office and Audit Commission found that the health service is likely to have fallen into small deficit last year. Although final audited figures are not yet available for the 2004/05 financial year, the report estimated an overall deficit of £140m.

Health secretary Patricia Hewitt says reforms were part of the solution, "not the problem".
"Today's study shows that the vast majority of NHS bodies are managing the extra resources well but it also very clearly indicates that in a minority of organisations, leadership and financial disciple are weak," she said. "This needs to be tackled head-on and with a sense of urgency."

Karen Jennings, head of health at the Unison trade union, said the report shows too many reforms are taking place at once. "The report highlights that payment by results is a real risk to financial stability in the NHS and in turn this could damage patient care," she added. But Nigel Edwards, director of policy at the NHS Confederation which represents trusts, said politicians should accept the need for more, not less, managers.

Sir Patrick Cormack has held the South Staffordshire constituency for the Conservatives. His majority over second place Labour rose to 8,847 despite a significant reduction in turnout.

European Union environment ministers hold talks in Luxembourg, with environment secretary Margaret Beckett and minister Elliot Morley representing the UK.

A vote is expected on proposals relating to GMOs, with the British position likely to be defeated.

Members of the Ulster Unionist Party executive vote on David Trimble's successor as party leader. The contest will be the first since the Protestant Orange Order severed its links with the party in March, removing a bloc of about 120 delegates on the Ulster Unionist Council. Three candidates - assembly members Sir Reg Empey, David McNarry and Alan McFarland - have entered the race.

EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson has today spoken out in favour of Tony Blair's agenda for reform in Europe. "We need more open markets, we greater innovation and higher productivity growth in Europe if we are going to take on the huge competitive challenge that we are facing from China, India and elsewhere in Asia," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme.

The Department for Constitutional Affairs may publish a summary of responses to the consultation on court broadcasting.

Constitutional affairs secretary Lord Falconer today opens the recently refurbished West London Courthouse.

Unison's annual conference concludes in Glasgow with debates on low pay, privatisation and the government's anti-terror legislation.

The British Chambers of Commerce has said that most EU regulations are not subjected to a regulatory impact assessment. A survey being published today found that only 0.5 per cent were assessed in 2003/04. Director general David Frost said: "These findings show that the systems in place at both EU and UK level to prevent burdensome and unnecessary regulation are both failing." Cabinet Office minister John Hutton said "progress" is being made but accepted that "more needs to be done".

In its submission to the government's consultation on the proposed regulations for the licensing of gangmasters, the TUC has said that thousands of temporary, mainly migrant, workers could be left vulnerable to exploitation. "Ministers must allow the licensing scheme to have the widest possible reach," said general secretary Brendan Barber. "Only a scheme covering both primary and secondary processing will be robust enough to deter those ruthless individuals who are currently making a lot of money from exploiting large numbers of mainly foreign, temporary workers."

The FBU has highlighted government figures showing that consultancy fees for setting up regional emergency control centres are forecast to hit £31.3m. General secretary Matt Wrack said the cash could pay for 1,000 extra fire fighters. "Instead they are wasting money on IT consultants chasing another technology rainbow," he added. "There is no pot of savings at the end of this rainbow." The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister says the union has "distorted" the figures.

The 'Power' inquiry into political participation and involvement holds a session in Bristol on local democracy and single issue campaigns. Witnesses include gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, Red Pepper editor Hilary Wainwright, Bristol council leader Barbara Janke and Professor Gerry Stoker, chairman of the New Local Government Network.

Nurses will today join the campaign against third world poverty. RCN members will gather inside a giant white wristband, which is the symbol of the Make Poverty History campaign, outside the college's HQ in central London.

As shareholders attend Tesco's annual general meeting, Friends of the Earth today warns that the supermarket giant's growing market share is bad for British business, bad for consumers, bad for the environment and "must be checked".

MORI's Social Research Institute today launches reports on The State of Britain 2005.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs publishes an agricultural market report and data on quarterly supplies and totals for domestic usage of meat.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister sets out data on commercial and industrial property vacancy statistics and planning applications for Q1 of 2005.

The Office for National Statistics publishes a monthly digest of statistics for June.

Finally, Australia triumphed over England at Chester-le-Street yesterday, winning by 57 runs.

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