HMRC – Self Assessment back up

Following yesterday’s story about HMRC’s website for completing your tax return not working I emailed a government minister and my MP.

This morning it is working and I got to complete the sections on my self-employment income. However government owned banks want a week before they can tell me how much interest I’ve earned (and any tax paid). When will banks start providing a speedier service? I suppose when you’re in a business that can’t fail and the banks are so big people don’t have real choice there’s not much of an incentive to improve things is there?

I had a positive chat with someone working at the local nursing home, Birkenhead Court & Grange. I’d last been there playing in a carol concert organised by St. James church. It provides 30 places for elderly people with dementia and 30 places for 24hr residential care. I remember the place being built as the local residents complained about all the large lorries going down the quiet residential roads!

As the population gets older sadly more dementia beds are required. I am glad that the Lib Dem/Tory administration at Wirral Council care enough about the elderly to fund their care in such places.

HMRC – Self Assessment down

Being self-employed each year I have to file a tax return. However, in something they have in common with the local Labour Party, the HMRC website is not working.

As someone who works in IT I can understand why it has been unavailable the past few days while the enterprise release is installed. However it was supposed to be up and running by 6am this morning.

Obviously preventing people from filling out tax returns online is going to mean the government gets income tax and NI from self-employed people later. In previous years I have not noticed any glitches in the system. One would hope the Coalition government sees the sense in getting this fixed sooner rather than later.

I will certainly be sending an email suggesting it does. It almost makes me nostalgic for the days of paper, pen and adding things up with calculators.

Reason to vote Liberal Democrat on May 5th – Day One

The local Labour Party website has often provided me with amusement in the way things are put. However today was even more interesting.

All of its pages now look like this (the login page for WordPress).

So reason #1 to vote Lib Dem is that we can manage to run a website.

Unlike Labour, local Lib Dems work hard all year round on communicating with the public through many means to suit them whether email, website, leaflets, phone or personal visits. Why don’t you vote Liberal Democrat on May 5th?

Surprise in Candidates for Bidston & St. James – no Green or BNP candidate

I was surprised to read the the list of candidates for Bidston & St. James ward (Wirral Council).

I’ve stood as the Bidston & St. James Liberal Democrat candidate in 2007, 2008, 2010 and this year. Each year a Green candidate called Bowler has stood, as the ballot paper is listed alphabetically by surname I have always been number 2! Has the Green party given up here?

In addition to there being no Green candidate there is no BNP candidate either (which I am pleased about)! I was half expecting an independent George Thomas to stand against Harry Smith again as he did in 2007.

So you will have a choice of only four candidates on May 5th.

Those are:-

Name Party Home Address
John Michael BraceLiberal DemocratsJenmaleo, 134 Boundary Road, Bidston, Wirral, CH43 7PH (in Bidston & St. James ward)
Helen Frances RomnesUKIP6 Pleasant Street, Wallasey, CH45 5EU (in New Brighton ward)
Harry SmithLabour25 Holmlands Drive, Oxton, Birkenhead, CH43 0QY (in Oxton ward)
Jerrold Samuel VickersConservative13 Bramwell Avenue, Prenton, CH43 0RG (in Prenton)

However, if you wish to vote for a local candidate, the Liberal Democrats are your only choice. As the Liberal Democrats came 2nd last year, voting Conservative or UKIP will result in Labour being elected.

I do wish all candidates the best of luck with their election campaigns and look forward to hearing from them. However I have already made my mind up to vote Liberal Democrat, so you may have to try persuading someone else to vote for you. 😉

Price of Alcohol – Lib Dem and Tory councillors vote not to raise it – Licensing, Health and Safety and General Purposes Committee 21st March

Unusually the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Licensing, Health and Safety and General Purposes Committee weren’t available. This led to a few jokes from the Cabinet Member for Housing & Community Safety as to what he’d Twitter about it following his recent coverage in the Wirral Globe of the Chair.

The Committee decided to (for this meeting only) have Cllr Ian Lewis (Cabinet Member for Community Engagement) as the Chair. The most interesting item on the agenda was a decision (following consultation) as to whether Wirral would recommend a minimum price (per unit ~50p) for alcohol as a local bylaw.

Many councillors told members of the public present and committee members about their favourite drinks, how alcohol was an issue that needed to be addressed but that putting up the price for Wirral residents wasn’t the answer. They also suggested that raising the price would lead to an increase in shoplifting. A quarter of the consultation responses were from the Birkenhead & Tranmere/Rock Ferry area.

Here were the results

Licensed premises
39% agreed with a minimum unit price for alcohol (384 people)
16% had no strong opinion (159 people)
45% disagreed with a minimum unit price for alcohol (438 people)

Off Licences
44% agreed with a minimum unit price
14% had no strong opinion
42% disagreed with a minimum unit price

People cited issues such as anti social behaviour, young people drinking, violence, noise and criminal damage as some of the problems caused by alcohol. There was also a call for better policing and education.

In the end after a spirited debate the committee voted not to implement one of the “Access to Alcohol by Young People” report’s recommendations and press for a bylaw on Wirral. However with an election less than a month away would you have expected any politician to vote to increase the price of alcohol?

When I dig out my notes, I’ll provide a more detailed report of the meeting.