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I am an experienced online journalist and political editor working for Trinity Mirror papers in the West Midlands and the North East, based in the Parliamentary Press Gallery at Westminster.

I understand how government, Parliament and political parties work. I am equally at home digging out stories from data, social media or interviews as I am covering major set-piece events or explaining how things work to readers.

I produce content which is shareable and promote my work on social media.

My experience with content management systems and knowledge of HTML allows me to include charts, embedded content from third parties and formatting in my work, to create content which encourages interaction and keeps readers on the page.

Contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (but please send press releases to my work email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as this is the email I monitor during working hours).

Full text of the Government's promise to reconsider press regulation laws and ensure small bloggers are excluded

The House of Lords has endorsed the amendments added to the Crime and Courts Bill by the Commons last week - the measures that had caused some concern among bloggers that they might be caught up in press regulation (although, as I have argued, those concerns may not be justified in every case).

Proposals set out by Tory peer Lord Lucas to ensure smaller bloggers were excluded (and local newspapers too by the look of it) were eventually withdrawn and not voted on.

However, Justice Minister Lord McNally (Lib Dem) promised the Government would consider the concerns that had been raised, and might eventually bring forward amendments of its own to protect bloggers, once the Bill returns to the Commons.

Here is what he said in the House of Lords. I am quoting a long section of his speech, because I think people might want to know exactly where the Government is coming from, and he explains it pretty well. The promise he made is at the bottom, in italics.

Read more http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/birmingham-post/news/jonathan_walker/~3/JZQpIxw2SME/full-text-of-the-governments-p.html

Do the politicians negotiating with Hacked Off know who funds them?

Do our politicians know who is lobbying them?

I'm asking this because I was struck by one of the most remarkable examples of obfuscation I have seen, in a long article by Brian Cathcart, the executive director of the Hacked Off campaign.

The former Reuters journalist, now an academic at Kingston University, has published a piece entitled: "Hacked Off: What did we do? And did we win?". It concludes with the following paragraph:

"We do not regret accepting money to fund our activities from some people who did not want their donations made public. We understand and respect their desire to avoid the kind of hostile treatment that has been dished out to people who openly criticise the press, and we are grateful to them for their generosity. We are grateful too, to the very many generous people who have given money openly. We have been open from the outset about our funding."


You have to admire the chutzpah of anyone who can confirm the organisation he represents is not willing to reveal where it gets its money from and insist it has been open about its funding - in the very same paragraph. My best guess is that he means Hacked Off has always been open about the fact that it won't reveal the sources of its funding.

Read more http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/birmingham-post/news/jonathan_walker/~3/jf-EoC5620A/do-the-politicians-negotiating.html

What the legislation says - most blogs are exempt from Leveson regulation

As MPs debated press regulation there was a lot of discussion on Twitter and elsewhere about the fact that the plans agreed by the three party leaders, and now agreed by Parliament, explicitly included certain websites as well as newspapers.

This led to some concern that bloggers would be included in the new regulation.
Whatever the rights or wrongs of that, I think the full text of the amendments agreed by MPs should offer reassurance that the overwhelming majority of bloggers will not be included.

It's important to note that joining the new regulator - which means it has the authority to pass judgment on complaints made against you - is, strictly speaking, voluntary.

The trick is that amendments added by MPs to the Crime and Courts Bill mean that anyone who fails to join the regulator can then be hammered in the courts (on the grounds that they have refused to give people they treat unfairly the option of going to the regulator).

Read more http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/birmingham-post/news/jonathan_walker/~3/a1ust2jPUnE/what-the-legislation-says---mo.html

Spending cuts have improved council services, says Eric Pickles

I'm told Birmingham City Council is keen to end the perception that it is at war with Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles and get back to a cross-party approach to economic development - which arguably is what we've seen with Labour council leader Sir Albert Bore working closely with Tory peer Lord Heseltine this weekend.

But Mr Pickles is in no mood to call a ceasefire, and had a dig at Sir Albert in his speech to the National Conservative Convention this week.

Apparently, council leaders who worry that Government cuts to their grants are going to damage services have got it wrong. The cuts make councils and their services better, says Mr Pickles.

Read more http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/birmingham-post/news/jonathan_walker/~3/xq1UgFCcjBg/spending-cuts-have-improved-co.html

Osborne backs Heseltine plans - Local Enterprise Partnerships to lead economic growth with billions of pounds diverted from Whitehall

Chancellor George Osborne is announcing radical plans to try to get Britain's economy growing by diverting billions of pounds to local partnerships of councillors and business leaders.

Local Enterprise Partnerships will take the lead role in promoting economic growth, using funding currently spent by Whitehall.

The proposals are likely to mean a series of national schemes are scrapped, but the money will instead be spent locally on measures to improve skills, provide apprenticeships, build better transport links, attract investment or other projects to support the economy.

Read more http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/birmingham-post/news/jonathan_walker/~3/pziClaIFvh8/osborne-backs-heseltine-plans.html

Government still hiding Romanian and Bulgarian migrant estimates - needs 60 days to decide whether publication is in the public interest

Eric Pickles' department has spent 40 days considering whether it is "in the public interest" to release government estimates for the number of Romanians and Bulgarians expected to enter the UK - but it still can't make up its mind.

The Government does have figures giving an estimate for the number of Romanians and Bulgarians expected to migrate to the UK when the EU transitional controls end next year. Mr Pickles confirmed this in a television interview in January, although he also suggested he didn't have much confidence in the figures.

I submitted a Freedom of Information request asking to see them, and on February 11 I received a reply confirming "The Department for Communities and Local Government holds information that you requested".

Read more http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/birmingham-post/news/jonathan_walker/~3/17d3e2wwBQM/government-still-hiding-romani.html

Read the letter revealing Government plans to outsource fire services

As we report, Ministers are attempting to make it possible for fire services to outsource their services - despite the failure of attempts to outsourcing policing in the West Midlands, which prompted widespread opposition.

The official line is that this is about encouraging public sector employees to take over the running of services by forming employee-led mutuals. This is sometimes described as the John Lewis approach to running public services.

But I publish below the letter from Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis to the Regulatory Reform Committee setting out the proposal, which makes it clear that a mutual would be only one of the options open to fire services if the measure goes through.

Read more http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/birmingham-post/news/jonathan_walker/~3/-qRXx4cxk9U/read-the-letter-revealing-gove.html

The Government does have predictions for immigration from Bulgaria and Romania but thinks it may be in the public interest to keep them secret

The Government does have estimates for the number of workers from Romania and Bulgaria who could come to the UK once restrictions are lifted - but it is currently refusing to tell the rest of us while it decides whether revealing the figures would be in the public interest.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has confirmed that the information exists.

But responding to a Freedom of Information request asking for the numbers, an official said: "Your request . . . raises complex public interest considerations which must be analysed before we can come to a decision" on whether to release the numbers.

Read more http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/birmingham-post/news/jonathan_walker/~3/7fTiIBgspZM/the-government-does-have-predi.html

50 Conservative chairmen and activists back same-sex marriage - full list of names

More than 50 senior Conservative activists, including chairmen or deputy chairman of the Birmingham Ladywood, Edgbaston and Erdington constituency associations, have written an open letter backing same-sex marriage.

Senior members of the Stourbridge and Halesowen & Rowley Regis constituency associations in the Black Country have also signed the letter.

There has been a lot of publicity about a letter signed by 22 current and former chairman of Conservative constituency associations asking the David Cameron to delay or scrap the proposal.

But senior Conservative activists who back the proposals, to be debated tomorrow evening (Tuesday February 5), have now spoken out.

Read more http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/birmingham-post/news/jonathan_walker/~3/doJQAknMy3I/50-conservative-chairmen-and-a.html

Is Birmingham treated unfairly? A detailed look at Government funding for Birmingham City Council

Has Birmingham been unfairly targeted for funding cuts by the Government?

This is one of the major bones of contention between Labour, including city MPs and the council's Labour leader Sir Albert Bore, and the supporters of the Government.

But the figures seem to me to throw doubt on any suggestion that the city is receiving larger cuts in Government grant than other authorities. The cuts suffered by Birmingham - as a proportion of total grant - are similar to those experienced by other councils.

Read more http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/birmingham-post/news/jonathan_walker/~3/IRvNhS66XZo/is-birmingham-treated-unfairly.html

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About me

Jonathan Walker Political Editor of the Birmingham Post, Birmingham Mail, Sunday Mercury, Coventry Telegraph, Newcastle Journal, Newcastle Chronicle and Sunday Sun.

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Email jonathan@walkerjon.com (but please send press releases to my work email which is
jon.walker@trinitymirror.com, as this is the email I monitor during working hours).

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