PUB CAMPAIGN GETS PARLIAMENTARY BACKING

By Matt Taylor

After divine intervention from a local priest earlier this month, we reported that the Coachmaker’s Arms was thrown a lifeline which could save it from demolition plans as part of the East West Centre development.

Father Peter Weatherby of the Sacred Heart Church stepped in and got the campaign national recognition by arranging to get the petition onto the Number 10 website, which lobbies direct to the Prime Minister’s office. Now, having had such high-profile coverage, the plight of the pub is attracting attention from global media organisations. Last week, licensee Jason Barlow was even interviewed by the New York Chronicle.

But closer to home, the fight to keep the pub, which is one of very few thriving traditional pubs in the city-centre, has now gained the support of the All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group which believes:

“British pubs are an important part of this country’s history and heritage and are hugely important to the communities they serve; believes that well-run community pubs are sociable, controlled environments in which to enjoy alcohol and so are part of the solution to problem drinking; further believes that too many pubs up and down the country are being closed, for a variety of reasons, and often when they do not need to and should not close; further believes there is an urgent need for the Government to take action in terms for support and legislative changes to address this.”

In a letter to award-winning licensee Jason Barlow, Greg Mulholland, MP for Leeds and chairman of the group, said:

“The”¦Group fully recognises the importance of Pubs such as the Coachmakers Arms to the communities they serve and particularly striking in this case is the pub’s one hundred and sixty year history within the community of Hanley.

“We think it is a scandal that popular and in many cases viable pubs are closing, usually just so developers can make money from what they see as a soft option to get planning permission. Some councils are supportive of pubs and will work with communities, some sadly are not. This is why it is so essential that planning law is of statuary consultation whenever a pub is closed and including a mandatory viability test.

“I have signed the petition that you have put on the Number Ten website and am also happy to formally give you the support in your campaign to save your pub on behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group.”

The paper and online petitions previously attained nearly 10,000 signatures. Now the pub and its followers have the support of local MP Mark Fisher, as well as all of the MPs who have joined the All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group. Can all of these people really be wrong? Or should the architects come up with modified plans to retain the historic Coachmaker’s Arms within the East West development?

It’s time to transfer power from the central state to local people! – Say the Tories.

By Tony Walley.

David Cameron has launched a major policy green paper outlining Conservative plans to give power back to local communities.

He explained that “decentralisation, devolution and empowerment” are naturally part of a Conservative approach to government, and stressed the importance of an “empowering state” rather than an “overpowering state”.

“ËœControl Shift’, our decentralisation green paper, outlines a series of policies that will see powers transferred from the central state to local people and local institutions:

  • Abolishing all regional planning and housing powers exercised by regional government, returning powers and discretion back to local communities
  • Creating bottom-up incentives for house building, by allowing councils to benefit more from the increase in council tax revenues from new homes, rather than being equalised away by Whitehall
  • Allowing councils to establish their own local enterprise partnerships to take over the economic development functions and funding of the Regional Development Agencies
  • Giving local authorities a new discretionary power to levy business rate discounts, allowing them to help local shops and services, such as rural pubs or post offices
  • Provide citizens in all large cities with the opportunity to choose whether to have an elected mayor, through mayoral referendums
  • Greater use of direct democracy, including allowing residents to veto high council tax rises, and instigating local referendums on local issues
  • Requiring councils to publish detailed information online on expenditure by local councils ““ including the pay and perks of senior staff, and issuing new guidance to stop “Ëœrewards for failure’ to sacked town hall staff.

Caroline Spelman, the Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said, “It’s not just about empowering local government; we want to empower the people it serves so that they can have more say in how much of their money they want their council to spend on their behalf.”

But would this work here in Stoke? You could argue that we are close to government intervention now aren’t we?

It would be a good move if local communities were involved with the decision making progress especially relating to the areas in which the live.

How do the people from Trentham feel about this Conservative party initiative given the fact that they are represented by two Conservative councillors who they accuse of not acting in the ward’s best interests and seem hell bent on pushing policies through that the community definitely do not want!

Councillor Ross Irving said this afternoon that he fully supported the delvolvement of power on certain issues that effect communities and he feels that that is where the “ward budget” and how it is spent could involve local people.

Mr Irving felt that you could not widen this out to policies like BSF because it is a city wide policy and that this proposal has to be of benefit to the whole city. He did acknowledge that the TAG were unhappy with the decision but he still feels that the overall proposal is right.

On the question of whether this conservative green paper would give the people of Trentham a say on whether any new school is an academy or a Co-operative Trust, Mr Irving said that although the TAG have been a very powerfull action group he did not know if they were willing to take on the responsibilty of running a school. But he has always been willing to meet with the TAG and discusss the issue.

Is this not another example of how the EMB and coalition have destroyed the political party infrastructure in this city. Here we have a clear conservative initiative that local party activists have no chance of pushing in this city.

Over to you…………………

POLICE MANHUNT AFTER DEATH OF LOVING FATHER

By Pits’n’Pots reporter.

Police are looking for a man who fled the scene of an accident in which father-of-one Sean Davy, aged 38, died late last Friday night.

The photograph of Ivan Weekes, aged 26, formerly of Princes Street in Stone, has been released by officers who want to talk to the man who was believed to have been driving another car involved.

Police want this man to come forward: Ivan Weekes

Police want this man to come forward: Ivan Weekes

The fatal accident happened just before midnight on Friday March 27, when Mr Davy’s Peugeot 106 was in a collision with a silver Renault Megane near the George and Dragon pub on the A520 between Stone and Meir Heath.

Mr Davy, of Melrose Avenue in Meir Heath, was head chef at Granville’s in Stone, and leaves behind his 21-month old daughter, and partner, Claire, who has implored for anyone who has any information about the man who fled to contact police.

The family has now released a tribute to Sean, which is printed below in full:

Doting father, loving partner, and respected chef, Sean Davey

Doting father, loving partner, and respected chef, Sean Davey

“Sean Davy aged 38 from the Meir Heath area, has been with partner “ËœClaire’ for the past 12 years. He was devoted to her, and to his 21 month-old daughter Christina ““ she was very special to him as she was born premature at only 26 weeks, weighing only 2 ½ lbs.

“He became a Chef after leaving school and worked all over Staffordshire. His career culminated in him working as “ËœHead Chef’ and Granville’s Brasserie in Stone for the past 2 years. He built up the venue to have a reputation for good food and was well liked and respected by his hand picked team.

“In regard to his interests ““ being a chef was a driving passion, he was also devoted to his family and had varied interests in music.

“Sean had a wide circle of friends.

“He will be greatly missed, Claire is totally devastated. They encountered many serious problems in regards to their daughter’s health (as a result of being premature) and as that improved, they were starting to enjoy life once again ““ and were due to go on holiday in the summer to put their problems behind them.

“Claire and Sean’s family implore any person with any information on the whereabouts of the driver who made off, to contact the police.”

Anyone with information about Mr Weekes’s whereabouts or the collision is asked to contact police on 0300 123 4455 or anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

MPs’ EXPENSES UP FOR SALE!

By Tony Walley.

Details of MPs’ expenses receipts are being offered for sale for up to £300,000, it has been claimed.

Labour MP Sir Stuart Bell, who sits on the Speaker’s Commons Estimates Committee, told the BBC the committee was investigating the reports.

Sir Stuart said the claims of about 650 MPs are thought to have been for sale.

In the wake of a string of allegations about MPs’ expenses, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has suggested scrapping MPs’ controversial second-home payment.

Sir Stuart said: “All of the receipts of 650-odd MPs, redacted and un-redacted, are for sale at a price of £300,000, so I am told.

“The price is going up because of the interest in the subject.”

Sir Stuart added that all three of the main political parties should commit to reform of MPs’ expenses in their manifestos for the next general election.

Newspapers have reported a series of allegations about MPs’ expenses in recent weeks, fuelling speculation that information might be being leaked by officials within Parliament.

The allegations have prompted calls for a reform of the additional costs allowance – known as second-home allowance – which covers up to £23,083 of the cost of an MP staying away from their main residence to perform their parliamentary duties.

The row intensified when official figures showed the total expenses claimed by MPs went up 6% in 2007-8, to just over £93m.

In a letter to the independent Committee on Standards in Public Life, which is looking into MPs’ pay expenses, Mr Brown has now urged it to consider replacing the existing payment with a “simpler overnight allowance” that would be independently determined.

He also suggested that all London MPs should receive the same allowance, ending the current distinction which allows those in outer London to make the additional claim for a second home.

In the Sentinel today, the expenses claimed by Stoke on Trent’s three Labour have been published.

Rob Flello MP

Rob Flello MP

Collectively Rob Flello, Mark Fisher and Joan Walley claimed  more than £450k in the main for travel, second homes and the running of offices.

Out of the three Stoke South MP Rob Flello claimed the largest amount. He ranked as the 75th highest claimant out of the 645 MPs’ with a total of £162,116.

Flello claimed £150,405 for running a second home and a constituency office.

Stoke North MP Joan Walley claimed a total of £146,719 in expenses. This amount included £134,210 on allowances and £12,509 in travel expenses. This put her in 325th place out of 645 MPs.

Stoke Central Mp Mark Fisher claimed a total of £147,664 which included £139,360 in allowances and £8,304 in travel expenses. This put Fisher in 309th out of the total of 645 MPs.

Mark Fisher MP

Mark Fisher MP

Our three city MPs are by no means abusing the system. I Live in Stoke South and I have visited Rob Flello’s constituency office and it is professionally run and is more akin to a public drop in centre. We get regular mail through the door updating us on what is happening in the community of Stoke South.

The real issue is of those MPs that are based in and around London yet are still claiming towards the cost of running a second home. I heard one London-based MP say on the radio the other day that she knew of a number of MPs who live within a ten mile radius of the Commons and still claim for another home apart from their main dwelling.

This type of abuse of public funds must be stopped and quickly! How do people feel reading the details about Jackie

Joan Walley MP

Joan Walley MP

Smith & Tom McNulty who on the face of it are fleecing the taxpayer for all they can get away with, when so many citizens are losing their jobs and their homes in this recession. And they seem to be getting away with plenty.

MPs give up much of their time to live away from home to attend the various parliamentary meetings and to carry out their duties in Westminster. I know Rob Flello travels up from London late Thursday/Friday morning to start his constituency work. It is a hard life and at times comes at a great cost in MP’s personal life.

It is out of respect for all the hard working MPs that the abuse perpetrated by the few must be eradicated as a matter of urgency.

In our city there is always the suspicion that our politicians are in it for the rewards and national stories like those that have hit the headlines in the last few days do nothing to dispel the myth.

Source: BBC/Sentinel

MPs’ EXPENSES UP FOR SALE!

By Tony Walley.

Details of MPs’ expenses receipts are being offered for sale for up to £300,000, it has been claimed.

Labour MP Sir Stuart Bell, who sits on the Speaker’s Commons Estimates Committee, told the BBC the committee was investigating the reports.

Sir Stuart said the claims of about 650 MPs are thought to have been for sale.

In the wake of a string of allegations about MPs’ expenses, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has suggested scrapping MPs’ controversial second-home payment.

Sir Stuart said: “All of the receipts of 650-odd MPs, redacted and un-redacted, are for sale at a price of £300,000, so I am told.

“The price is going up because of the interest in the subject.”

Sir Stuart added that all three of the main political parties should commit to reform of MPs’ expenses in their manifestos for the next general election.

Newspapers have reported a series of allegations about MPs’ expenses in recent weeks, fuelling speculation that information might be being leaked by officials within Parliament.

The allegations have prompted calls for a reform of the additional costs allowance – known as second-home allowance – which covers up to £23,083 of the cost of an MP staying away from their main residence to perform their parliamentary duties.

The row intensified when official figures showed the total expenses claimed by MPs went up 6% in 2007-8, to just over £93m.

In a letter to the independent Committee on Standards in Public Life, which is looking into MPs’ pay expenses, Mr Brown has now urged it to consider replacing the existing payment with a “simpler overnight allowance” that would be independently determined.

He also suggested that all London MPs should receive the same allowance, ending the current distinction which allows those in outer London to make the additional claim for a second home.

In the Sentinel today, the expenses claimed by Stoke on Trent’s three Labour have been published.

Rob Flello MP

Rob Flello MP

Collectively Rob Flello, Mark Fisher and Joan Walley claimed  more than £450k in the main for travel, second homes and the running of offices.

Out of the three Stoke South MP Rob Flello claimed the largest amount. He ranked as the 75th highest claimant out of the 645 MPs’ with a total of £162,116.

Flello claimed £150,405 for running a second home and a constituency office.

Stoke North MP Joan Walley claimed a total of £146,719 in expenses. This amount included £134,210 on allowances and £12,509 in travel expenses. This put her in 325th place out of 645 MPs.

Stoke Central Mp Mark Fisher claimed a total of £147,664 which included £139,360 in allowances and £8,304 in travel expenses. This put Fisher in 309th out of the total of 645 MPs.

Mark Fisher MP

Mark Fisher MP

Our three city MPs are by no means abusing the system. I Live in Stoke South and I have visited Rob Flello’s constituency office and it is professionally run and is more akin to a public drop in centre. We get regular mail through the door updating us on what is happening in the community of Stoke South.

The real issue is of those MPs that are based in and around London yet are still claiming towards the cost of running a second home. I heard one London-based MP say on the radio the other day that she knew of a number of MPs who live within a ten mile radius of the Commons and still claim for another home apart from their main dwelling.

This type of abuse of public funds must be stopped and quickly! How do people feel reading the details about Jackie

Joan Walley MP

Joan Walley MP

Smith & Tom McNulty who on the face of it are fleecing the taxpayer for all they can get away with, when so many citizens are losing their jobs and their homes in this recession. And they seem to be getting away with plenty.

MPs give up much of their time to live away from home to attend the various parliamentary meetings and to carry out their duties in Westminster. I know Rob Flello travels up from London late Thursday/Friday morning to start his constituency work. It is a hard life and at times comes at a great cost in MP’s personal life.

It is out of respect for all the hard working MPs that the abuse perpetrated by the few must be eradicated as a matter of urgency.

In our city there is always the suspicion that our politicians are in it for the rewards and national stories like those that have hit the headlines in the last few days do nothing to dispel the myth.

Source: BBC/Sentinel

Minister Opens “Wonderful facility for local people”

By Tony Walley.

The “Ëœgreenest’ building in Stoke-on-Trent was today officially opened by Minister for the West Midlands Ian Austin MP.

The new Stoke Local Service Centre provides all Stoke-on-Trent City Council services in Stoke and is the new home for the town’s library.

Visits to the library have more than doubled since the move to the new location.

Ian Austin, Derek Capey & Pervez

Ian Austin, Derek Capey & Pervez

“This building is a great example of environmental construction and a wonderful facility for local people. It also celebrates the city’s past by finding a new use for the historic market hall,” said Minister Ian Austin.

Deputy Elected Mayor Cllr Mohammed Pervez introduced Ian Austin to guests.
“The purpose of the Centre is to help local people access the full range of City Council services all under one roof ““ and it’s a very green roof indeed. I’m especially proud that the Centre has been built using state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly, technology to make it the “Ëœgreenest’ building in the City,” said Cllr Pervez.

The building houses a “Ëœone-stop-shop’ giving customers access to a huge range of council services including bus pass issue, blue badges, council tax, benefits, housing repairs and recycling information. The library has over 24,000 books and 1,000 electronic media items.

The regeneration team for Stoke is housed in the Local Service Centre, working to boost the local economy.

The building has a “Ëœgreen’ exterior roof planted with the alpine plant “Ëœsedum’ to improve insulation and absorb rainfall. It also features solar panels; photo-voltaic cells; rain water collection for toilet flushing; wind catchers; sun tubes; and a heat pump to utilise the earth’s natural heat.

Hodge Urges Rethink on BNP!

By Pits’n’Pots Reporter.

Margaret Hodge

Margaret Hodge

A minister has told the government it needs a “more sophisticated narrative” to counter the threat of the British National party. Margaret Hodge, who is on compassionate leave from the cabinet, writes in this month’s edition of Progress magazine that Labour needs to change tack after “decades of political complacency”.

“We need to understand that people who vote BNP do not see themselves as racists … The traditional shame has gone. So bringing voters back to Labour cannot be based on negative condemnation and has to be built on positively convincing people that Labour is on their side, listening and responding to their concerns – and we need a more sophisticated narrative on the BNP,” she writes.

The culture minister has been urged by other colleagues fighting the BNP in their constituencies to be silent on the threat of the far-right party after her first warning appeared to backfire in April 2006. Then Hodge detected that eight out of 10 white, working-class voters in her Barking constituency in east London may have been tempted to vote for the BNP.

She said that “no one else is listening to them” on the issues of unemployment, high house prices and local housing for asylum seekers.

In the local elections the following month, Hodge’s comments were blamed for raising the profile of the BNP, which won 12 of the 13 Barking seats it contested. The party delivered a bunch of flowers to her office to thank her for her comments.

In this year’s European elections, the BNP leader, Nick Griffin, is standing in the north-west region and hopes to become the party’s first MEP. Under proportional representation, he needs 8% of the vote.

The concern over Nick Griffin’s Euro campaign has  intensified recently with the news that the Bishop of Manchester has called for voters to not waste their votes on June 4th.

The Right Reverend Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester, accused the BNP of preaching a message of “division and hatred” during an address to Manchester City Council.

The BNP is fielding eight candidates in the North West, including party leader Nick Griffin, in the elections.

Bishop McCulloch called on voters not to squander their vote on any political party or candidate “who promotes division, exclusion, blame, or who in any other way seeks to stir up racial and ethnic hatred”.

He warned councillors that the far-right party would exploit “the difficult times which presently face our country” to turn “one community against the other”.

He also said that sensitive debate by mainstream political parties was the way forward.

Referring to the BNP, he said: “They will exploit the difficult times which presently face our country, trying to turn one community against the other.
“They will use difference as a scapegoat, because they have nothing else to offer in response to the issues we face.

“We all know in these difficult times that many of our local communities are fearful about the future – fearful for their jobs, their homes, their economic prospects.”

He said an uncertain future could be faced by sensitive debate and democratic representation and added: “At the heart of our political process is belief in democratic representation – a belief that values difference and seeks the common good.

“The British National Party does neither. It offers only division, fear and hatred.

“I make no apology for speaking of the British National Party directly.

“This party has a racial analysis at the core of its philosophy. It claims that it is not a racist party but it calls at least for segregation of the races.”

Simon Darby, BNP deputy chairman and spokesman, accused the bishop of abusing his position and claimed that many thousands of people would vote for the party.

He added: “He (the bishop) gets paid very well, his job is safe and he probably gets a house provided and other trappings and ordinary people don’t have that luxury. He’s out of touch.”

Roy Goodwin, BNP organiser for Blackpool and Oldham, criticised the bishop.

He said: “The pews are empty so they must be doing something wrong. They want to keep out of politics and stop bashing the BNP.”

The BNP failed to win an MEP seat in the North-West in the 2004 European elections.

Mr Darby said they received 6.4% of the vote and needed to get about 8.5% of the vote to win one seat in June.

Pits’n’Pots asks is there being to much made over the rise of the far right BNP?

Are government right to be concerned over the rise in popularity of the BNP?

Is it right for religious leaders to participate in the political debate?

Source: The Guardian

Good Enough For The G20, But Not For Stoke on Trent City Council!

By Tony Walley.

G20Voice is holding an “open primary” to pick 50 bloggers from around the world to attend the conference and put questions to the leaders.

Political leaders are set to be confronted by questions from members of the public received online at next month’s G20 summit in London.

More than 600 were nominated by readers with many arguing blogs explained issues in a way they found accessible.

For what is believed to be the first time at a major political meeting, bloggers will have the same access as the mainstream media. Are you listening Dan Barton?

Charities including Oxfam, Comic Relief and Save The Children have joined forces to create G20Voice.

It aims to push the public’s concerns about the economy to the forefront when some of the world’s most powerful politicians meet.

They believe the global financial crisis has made people more engaged than ever.

People can call a number to record a voicemail, which will be translated into text and uploaded onto the web page by Spin Vox.

The G20 summit – a forum for the world’s finance ministers and bank governors – will be held in London on April 20.

The recession has made it more important than ever for people to be heard, according to Oxfam’s Karina Brisby who is leading the G20Voice project.

So there you have it! It’s good enough for the G2o summit and Barack Obama, but not for the Stoke on Trent City Council Media Department.

I wonder if there was a “jobsworth” somewhere who pointed out that blogs were not regulated by either Ofcom or the Press Complaints Commission?

Doesn’t this just highlight how backward thinking our city and it’s leaders are? I wonder if Obama will tell the worlds greatest leaders not to contribute to a particular blog because they may read comments that they don’t like or someone may be having a go at the UK (because after all we work together – don’t we?).

Are you listening Joy?

Public Gets Community Service Say!

Community Service Programme

Community Service Programme

By Tony Walley.

How often do we hear complaints about the lenient sentences passed by magistrates and the like?

Well now you can have your say on what type of community services are carried out by offenders.

The scheme, launched by the justice secretary, Jack Straw, and home secretary, Jacqui Smith, will allow the public to choose via a government website which of five local projects should be started first.

About 55,000 “community payback” projects, including clearing up litter, cleaning graffiti and redecorating community centres, were completed last year with more than 6m hours of unpaid work ordered by the courts.

The five schemes to be voted on in Straw’s own Blackburn constituency include a “thorough clean-up” of Whitebirk Drive; removing graffiti and rebuilding fences at the Brownlow Street garage colony; a “deep clean” of the King Street part of the town centre; and a complete overhaul of Olive Lane, Darwen, including cleaning up the backstreets.

Mr Straw said: “It’s crucial that the public – the taxpayer – has a say in what community punishments offenders receive.

“People have a right to know what offenders are doing in their neighbourhood to repay for the wrongs committed.

“We are determined to open up the justice system. Recent steps to do this include the appointment of a dedicated Victims Champion, giving distinctive orange jackets to offenders and now ensuring the public knows they have a say in punishing offenders.”

Shadow justice secretary Dominic Grieve said: “The public wants to see justice done with proper sentences that fit the crime, not gimmicks from ministers who have undermined the criminal justice system by releasing prisoners early and relying too heavily on ineffective out of court sanctions.”

Each trial area will have its own five projects to choose from – in Leicester, for example, clearing up pathways or removing graffiti will compete with creating a sensory garden for disabled people or cleaning up a canal.

Voting for projects in 54 “pioneer” neighbourhood crime and justice areas, which appears to exclude the home secretary’s Redditch constituency, opens today on direct.gov.uk and runs until 24 April. However, the “winning project”in each area is not to be announced until early June, suggesting that the actual work is unlikely to start until the summer.

The scheme, to be promoted in local newspapers and on local radio, will also invite the public to suggest neighbourhood projects.

It forms part of a forthcoming government green paper on increasing the public’s role in handling low-level neighbourhood crime. It follows the controversial introduction of high-visibility vests so offenders can be identified when they are doing community work.

Barking & Dagenham, Barnsley, Birmingham, Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Bolton, Bradford, Brent, Bristol, Caerphilly, Camden, Cardiff, Doncaster, Greenwich, Hackney, Halton, Hammersmith & Fulham, Haringey, Islington, Kingston upon Hull, Kirklees, Knowsley, Lambeth, Leicester, Lewisham, Liverpool, Luton, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Newcastle upon Tyne, Newham, Newport, North East Lincolnshire, Northampton , Nottingham, Nuneaton and Bedworth, Oldham, Peterborough, Preston, Redcar & Cleveland, Rochdale, Rotherham, Salford, Sandwell, Sheffield, Slough, South Tyneside, Southampton, St Helens, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland, Swansea, Tameside, Thanet, Tower Hamlets, Wakefield, Walsall, Waltham Forest, Wolverhampton.

So over to you what community service would you like offenders to undertake in our city? What do you think about this scheme?

Over to you………

Source: The Guardian/BBC

The Ultimate Abuse of Taxpayers Money?

By Tony Walley.

Jacqui Smith

Jacqui Smith

JACQUI SMITH has claimed Commons expenses, paid by the taxpayer, for the cost of watching adult films at her family home.

The Home Secretary, already embroiled in an expenses row, submitted the bill as part of a £67 claim for television services in June last year.

As she fought for her political life last night, Ms Smith apologised after being confronted by the Sunday Express.

She promised to repay the money. In a statement she said: “I am sorry that in claiming for my internet connection, I mistakenly claimed for a television package alongside it.

“As soon as the matter was brought to my attention, I took immediate steps to contact the relevant parliamentary authorities and rectify the situation. All money claimed for the television package will be paid back in full.”

A source close to Ms Smith, 46, said last night that she had not been at the family home in Redditch, Worcestershire, on April 1 and April 6 last year when the adult films were viewed.

The source said she was “furious” with her husband, adding: “She was not watching these films, has never watched them and is horrified that this would end up anywhere near a taxpayer-related claim.”

An itemised receipt submitted to the Commons confirms the Virgin Media bill included two 18-rated items listed as “additional features”, which cost £5 each to view.

The company confirmed the phrase was a euphemism used on bills to spare the blushes of  customers who access films with an “adult content”.

Viewers can tune in to one of six adult channels, offering full-length films and “the best of amateur video and adult entertainment”.

It seems that this government just stumbles from one abuse of taxpayers monet to another. Surely the whole expenses fiasco must be reviewed. The public should not have tp put up with any more examples of mis-use of public funds. Smith’s reputation is already tarnished, and this latest episode may be the straw that “broke the camels back”! Tom McNulty is also facing an enquiry into claims that he received public money the cost of his second home, used by his parents and not more than 10 miles from the house of commons.

Over to you, what do you think about the whole MP’s expenses fiasco?………

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeF36BWgKhE

Source: Sunday Express/ITN