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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).

Cameron's welfare reforms could include regional benefits

Although not included in his speech today, the Prime Minister does appear to be considering introducing regional benefits, so that people in one part of the country received more than those in others.

The idea was included in an early draft of the speech - presented as a "question" to be asked rather than a proposal - but cut out of the final version, Downing Street says.

We can only guess how such an idea might work in practice, but it would presumably mean that benefits were higher in wealthier parts of the country such as the south east, where the cost of living is also generally higher, and lower in the North and Midlands.

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39 laptops stolen in Parliament over the past year

39 laptops have been stolen from offices in Parliament over the past year, an MP has discovered.

Harriett Baldwin (Con West Worcestershire) made inquiries after two laptops were stolen from her locked office on the Parliamentary estate during the Jubilee break.

Speaking in the Commons, she called for a debate on how MPs could make their offices secure.

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Toyota and General Motors call for Budget U-turn over Osborne's green car tax

A bit more detail from our coverage of the recent hearing of the Commons Transport Committee:

Motor industry executives told the Committee that the Chancellor had set back attempts to develop and sell low-emission vehicles in the March Budget.

Employees who receive company cars are charged a benefit-in-kind tax, on the basis that the vehicle is effectively part of their income. For vehicles with the highest emissions, the tax rate is 35 per cent of the value of the vehicle each year.

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Ever considered being a councillor? MPs want to hear from you

Have you ever thought about getting involved in local politics - but decided it's not for you?

If so, MPs want to find out why - and how things could be changed to encourage more people to get involved.

The Communities and Local Government Committee at the House of Commons is inviting anyone who has considered standing to become a councillor to get in touch.
That includes people who actually did stand in local elections, including sitting councillors, as well as anyone who chose not to.

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Gordon Brown: I would have asked Tom Watson to end the plot against Blair if he'd told me about it

Gordon Brown would have told the plotters who forced Tony Blair to quit to stop their rebellion - if he had known about it, he has told the Leveson inquiry.

The former Prime Minister insisted he would have told Black Country MP Tom Watson (Lab West Bromwich East) to have stopped the plot, if only Mr Watson had told him what was going on.

Mr Watson was the most high-profile Labour politician to sign a letter in 2006 demanding Mr Blair set a date for his resignation. Labour had fought the 2005 general election on the basis that Mr Blair would serve a full third term in office.

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Wolverhampton turned Boris into committed Tory

Boris Johnson knows exactly when he decided he was a Tory. It was when he worked as a local newspaper reporter "in a place called Wolverhampton".

Asked by the New York Times whether he remembered the moment he knew that you was a Conservative, he revealed: "When I was a 22- or 23-year-old reporter in a place called Wolverhampton. I got impatient with some of the stuff I saw going on about damp and mold, about who's ultimately responsible for improving the ventilation in people's houses.

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Capita, G4S and BT among police partnership/privatisation bidders - full list published

More developments in the police's controversial business partnership plans. We report in today's Post that the largest security firm, G4S, and outsourcing specialists Capita are among the firms competing to become partners with West Midlands and Surrey Police.

The forces have published the names of six bidders which have been selected to move on to the next stage of the tendering process in the partnership programme, which critics describe as privatisation.

Some of the bids come from individual businesses while others involve a number of firms working together in consortia.

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So are West Midlands Police's partnership/ privatisation plans now about saving money?

West Midlands Police is arguing that the need to make savings is one of the reasons it is pursuing a "Business Partnership Programme" to bring in private sector partners (see this blog by PC Richard Stanley for another perspective on the debate).

The force states on its website: "The force is facing a funding gap of more than £126m over the current spending review (CSR) period and recognises there will considerable challenges ahead. As a result the force is exploring every possible option in order to deliver the most cost efficient and effective service it can."

The issue also came up in a live chat the force has been holding today to explain the process, described by critics as "privatisation", to the public.

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Commons will consider whether to proceed against News International executives for contempt - full motion published

MPs will tomorrow, Tuesday, decide whether to refer News International executives - possibly including Rupert and James Murdoch - to the Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges for "Contempt of Parliament".

The motion has been tabled by John Whittingdale MP, Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, on behalf of the committee.

But Black Country MP Tom Watson, the Committee's most high profile member, may be absent - as he is due to give evidence to Lord Leveson's inquiry into the media tomorrow afternoon.

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West Midlands Police set to continue with private partnership plans despite delay

West Midlands Police may have delayed plans to agree a "business partnership" with the private sector - what critics called privatisation - but it certainly hasn't abandoned them.

Trade Union Unite has issued a statement welcoming the delay, saying: "Police privatisation is on hold but it's absolutely crucial that those who care about public services keep up the pressure to kill off these plans for good."

But Chris Sims, the force's chief constable, has sent a paper to West Midlands Police Authority making it clear that he intends to carry on with the proposals, that the force has already appointed no fewer than three firms as consultants to help it work on the plans, and that it still expects to spend £1.5 million on the procurement process alone - down from the original estimated cost of £2 million.

West Midlands Police has also launched a publicity drive on its website, designed to reassure the public that police forces will not be "privatised" our outsourced.

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Mayor argument continues despite poll defeat as interest grows in metro mayor idea

The debate over an elected mayor for Birmingham is not over, as far as the idea's supporters are concerned.

Proposals for elected mayors were defeated in nine out of the ten cities which held referendums on May 3. In Birmingham, 57.8 per cent of voters opposed a mayor with 42.2 per cent in favour, while 63.6 per cent voted against the idea in Coventry with just 36.4 per cent in favour.

But supporters of change insist local government in cities like Birmingham cannot continue as it is.

As we report in today's Birmingham Post, the city's "yes" campaign is to hold a meeting next month on the way forward. They hope to attract politicians, business leaders and other members of the public. A date has yet to be confirmed.

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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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