Phillips scores for sports clubs

LOBBYING by Liberal Democrat life peer Lord Phillips of Sudbury to exempt community and amateur sports clubs from paying non-domestic rates has paid off, with the Government announcing changes to the Local Government Bill which will make small community sports clubs eligible for 80% rate relief.

LOBBYING by Liberal Democrat life peer Lord Phillips of Sudbury to exempt community and amateur sports clubs from paying non-domestic rates has paid off, with the Government announcing changes to the Local Government Bill which will make small community sports clubs eligible for 80% rate relief.

This could be increased to 100% if their local council agrees – at present amateur clubs can only receive rate relief if they register as charities.

Junior local government minister Phil Hope told MPs: "We believe sports clubs would have benefited from the small business rate relief and with the additional assistance of local authority discretionary relief, this would have provided a generous package for sports clubs."

But the Government accepted this route could be "onerous"' for small voluntary sports clubs, adding: "This amendment offers a simple route for registered community amateur sports clubs to qualify for mandatory 80% relief." However, decisions would remain a matter for councils.

Says Lord Phillips. "Every now and then, one scores. This was such an occasion."

SWEARING on television upsets regular Colchester and Wivenhoe visitor Stephen Byers (Labour, North Tyneside), who demanded Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell take powers to "prevent the use of obscene, abusive and insulting language" on the box.

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Ms Jowell, in a written reply, refused, saying it was the responsibility of the Governors of the BBC, the Independent Television Commission, and the Welsh Fourth Channel Authority to regulate broadcasting.

She offered this advice: "Viewers who are offended by television programmes should complain to the relevant broadcaster and, in the case of serious breaches of the regulatory codes, to the regulator."

CONGRATULATIONS to North Essex Tory MP Bernard Jenkin, who obtained a commitment from the Prime Minister that "the Falklands will remain British for as long as that is the wish of the Islanders." Whether we have enough troops, warships, and fighter jets to repel another Argentinian attack was left unmentioned.

SUNDAY voting is exercising the mind of Bob Russell (Liberal Democrat, Colchester), who asked Peter Viggers (Con, Gosport) – who in the Commons represents the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission – if the pros and cons of holding local and national elections on the Sabbath could be assessed.

Mr Viggers said the Commission had evaluated a number of local election pilot schemes that featured voting over a period of days, including Sundays. He added, however: "The Commission has no plans to undertake a wider review of the issues involved."

In a separate Commons debate, Mr Russell called for the re-establishment of the Royal Anglian Regiment's Third Battalion, formerly the Essex Regiment, abolished by the last Tory government.

OVER in Brussels, one of the East of England's Euro MPs is fuming over the failed World Trace Organisation talks in Mexico, which would have lifted 144million people worldwide out of poverty. Bashir Khanbhai (Conservative), a leading Member of the Development Committee in the European Parliament, said the collapse of the talks would hit economic growth and create job losses worldwide.

"The refusal of the European Union and the United States to cut their state aid to farmers, worth more than £500 million a day, is a huge disappointment to those of us who have been fighting for a fairer trade system which benefits the poor as well as the rich," said Mr Khanbhai.

 

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