Scottish business leaders have been making the economic case for keeping the Union

Next week, the people of Scotland will make a momentous decision on the future of the United Kingdom. The Conservative message to the Scottish people is simple: ‘We want you to stay’.

But where we offer clarity, those who support separation offer only question marks. Just six days away from the referendum, they are still unclear on what money Scotland could use without the pound sterling.

The plan for Scotland to enter the EU is a blank page. The formula for filling the £6 billion black hole in the public finances is a blank space.

While a Yes vote may be a lucky dip, a No vote is a guaranteed win for anyone who wants a stronger, more autonomous Scotland.

The choice is clear: a leap into the dark with a Yes vote, or a brighter future for Scotland by voting No.

That means remaining part of a United Kingdom, standing tall, forging a more secure future in the world, and building more opportunities for our children and grandchildren and the generations yet to be born.

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My visit to meet the Scottish Government – SNP big spenders to subsidise jobs

About three years ago I was lucky enough to visit Scotland as part of a local authority leadership program.

One of the key meetings was with a MSP minister from the Scottish National Party. It was clear that after a lifetime of minority politics the SNP were very skilled in making things work to their advantage and knew how to build a concensus.

What was interesting was the discussion we had with the minister about finance. He was asked why we could not find any signs of austerity in the Scottish local authorities, particularly as the rest of the UK was really struggling.

His response was that the cuts suffered by the English would not happen in Scotland because his SNP party considered local authorities as job creation schemes. He was clear that it was these people, who relied on these false public jobs, who would keep them in power.

He even said that given the small number of people in Scotland most of the local authorities could be removed and services would not be affected, but it was never going to happen, to save jobs.

It was clear to all of us who visited, that the state was bloated in Scotland, and largely paid for by the rest of the UK. In any case, if the yes vote wins I will wager tax rises are inevitable for the Sottish people or a slashing of services.

The group I was part of was made up of local authority leaders from Labour, the Greens and Conservatives together with chief execs from all around the country. All of us felt envious at the high level of funding the Scottish local authorities enjoyed.

Reality is about to hit I suspect.

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Planning permissions soaring

New figures from the Home Builders Federation show that a total of 216,000 homes were given planning permission in England in 2013-14.

Today’s figures from the Home Builders Federation clearly show how our planning reforms are working. When smaller sites are included, a total of 216,000 homes were given planning permission in England in 2013-14 and this figure is likely to rise further.

We’ve pulled out all the stops and got Britain building thanks to our long-term economic plan, and schemes like Help to Buy which have helped over 50,000 aspiring homeowners onto the property ladder.

The Conservative programme of affordable housebuilding, and the billions we’ve invested to get workers back on sites that were mothballed in the wake of the 2008 housing crash mean we’ve delivered nearly half a million new homes since 2010.

All this is in stark contrast to the previous regime of top down targets and regional strategies, which built nothing but resentment and pitted neighbours against developers as housebuilding levels fell to their lowest since the 1920s.

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OBR confirms Labour left devastating economic legacy

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) have said that Britain is on track to run a budget surplus by 2018; it has also criticised the last Labour Government’s spending record.

As the OBR has confirmed, the last Labour Government left a devastating economic legacy.

The Conservatives have a long-term economic plan to secure a better future for Britain. We know that there is still work to do, but we have already seen the deficit cut by more than a third, the creation of 1.8 million jobs and over 1.8 million new apprenticeships.

Labour haven’t changed and would put that all at risk with more spending, more borrowing and higher taxes. Our plan is building a stronger, more competitive economy that will bring security and peace of mind for generations to come.

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Labour intend to reverse reforms to employment tribunals – backwards and it costs jobs

Labour announced yesterday that they intend to reverse this Government’s reforms to employment tribunals.

Labour just haven’t learned their lesson. These proposals would undermine Britain’s recovery and make it harder for employers to create jobs.

Labour are anti-business, anti-jobs and it’s no wonder that every Labour Government leaves office with higher unemployment than when they arrived.

Of course we want to make sure that everyone can get justice in the workplace. That’s precisely why we’re giving waivers to people who can’t afford to pay employment tribunal fees – as well as encouraging alternatives to tribunals like mediation and arbitration.

As part of our long-term economic plan Conservatives are delivering record jobs, increased job security and a fair deal for workers. Labour on the other hand would take us backwards.

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Open letter to Mr Pickles MP – Ely Bypass

Dear Eric,

I understand that the proposed bypass for Ely has been referred to you, effectively taking the decision for its approval out of the hands of elected county councillors.

The need for a bypass has been made repeatedly by the vast majority of the residents of Ely. Local councillors support the new bypass. Local business supports the bypass. Critically, Ely Cathedral supports the bypass.

So it seems unelected quangos and single issue pressure groups have some objection to the bypass. These objections relate to the view of Ely Cathedral from one specific direction. This view is already compromised by a range of existing industrial buildings. The bypass will go some way to hide them.

Imagine if Ely Cathedral did not exist and a planning application to build it was received now. Would that be turned down because it spoilt the view of the Fens?

I know you are a champion of local democracy and the rights of local people. I respectfully request you listen to the voices of the local people and waste little time approving this fantastic piece of infrastructure.

Referring planning decisions to you is increasingly being seen as a way of circumnavigating proper and democratic planning decisions. This is bad for democracy and is bringing the planning process into disrepute.

It is also costing a lot of extra taxpayers money.

Is it not time to review the planning system and in particular the increasing centralised approach?

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River Cam polluted. Outrageous in a wealthy city like Cambridge

Cambridge has been defined over many years by the River Cam that flows through it. The Cam has provided recreation for visitors and residents over the years. It provides employment and enjoyment to many and yet it is being neglected.

Cambridge City Council can not ignore this. It is a disgrace.

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Nick Clarke

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