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Armed Forces visit to Gibraltar

Nia Griffith (Llanelli)

Last week I spent my parliamentary recess out on a very informative visit with the Armed Forces in Gibraltar.

It was great to meet Carl Thomas from Bryn, Llanelli (in the photo) and hear about his diving and bomb disposal work with the Royal Navy’s clearance diving unit. He’s also spent many years in the UK defusing bombs like the one we recently heard about in the Thames.

My visit also included going out on HMS Sabre, one of the Royal Navy’s patrol boats, as well as joining an army training session with the Royal Gibraltar Regiment and visiting the RAF base.

Bill Wiggin MP and the dental professionals behind the award-winning oral care innovation Brushlink, have joined forces to tackle the growing crisis in dental health in the UK. The issue is especially critical in children. Hospitals extracted multiple teeth from... Continue Reading →

On Tuesday 20 February, Banbury MP Victoria Prentis spoke in a debate on the recruitment and retention of NHS staff in Oxfordshire. During the course of the debate, which was secured by Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran, Victoria emphasised the need to be creative with recruitment ideas, have greater clarity when considering the domino effect of staffing shortages, and communicate more openly and transparently.

Speaking after the debate, Victoria said: “I was delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to this important debate. Recruiting and retaining NHS staff in Oxfordshire has been an ongoing issue for many years now. The current situation at the Horton’s maternity unit is a daily reminder for us all. We need to think outside the box and tackle the problems together, particularly in light of the Care Quality Commission’s recent full system review of the local health system. We are in urgent need of a vision for our health service and must keep up the pressure.”

 

Full text of Victoria’s speech:

Thank you, Mr Hollobone, and it is a pleasure to take part in the debate. I thank the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Layla Moran) for securing it.

It is great to see all my fellow Oxfordshire colleagues present today. If I may say so, they have all been great allies in my fight to save acute services at the Horton General Hospital. Talking about recruitment in some detail is particularly useful, because that is our greatest local challenge with regard to good healthcare.

It is also good to see the Minister in his place. Since he took up his role, he and I have spoken many times about the issues faced at the Horton. We in Banbury are waiting patiently to hear the outcome of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel’s initial assessment of the permanent downgrade of our maternity services. Our hopes are pinned on a full review, and we were due to find out 10 days ago whether that would take place. We have heard nothing yet, but I am watching the post with interest.

The Independent Reconfiguration Panel is familiar with our situation, having looked at similar proposals to downgrade maternity at the Horton back in 2008. Just as recruitment was the contributing factor almost 10 years ago, the failure to fill middle-grade vacancies at the Horton’s obstetric unit was the straw that broke the camel’s back in 2016. However, failures in recruitment are not, as we have heard, unique to maternity services at the Horton. We have spoken briefly about chemotherapy services at the Churchill, and at a meeting in January with local GPs, many expressed concerns about the sustainability of their practices in the current recruitment climate. Last week, the Care Quality Commission observed the following in its full and, if I may say so, quite critical review of the local system, which the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon has quoted and which I will carry on a little:

“The system in Oxfordshire was particularly challenged by the issues of workforce retention and recruitment across all professions and staff grades, especially acute hospital staff…and in the domiciliary…market. This resulted in staff shortages, heavy workloads and impacted upon seamless care delivery and integration of services.”

I am reassured that the Department takes recruitment seriously and has invested significant time and resources in addressing current workforce challenges across the nation. Attracting more people to the profession and training them takes many years. The cost of living in our area is high and London weighting is a significant pull factor out of our area, particularly given our very reliable transport links to the capital. We may be a wealthy county but we must think creatively to overcome the current challenges. The future of our services depends on that.

When I called for help, I was overwhelmed by the generosity of local schools and businesses in my area, which offered discounted school fees, free shirts from Charles Tyrwhitt, and free beer from Hook Norton—that made the headlines—to any prospective obstetricians who wanted to apply for a job at the Horton General. As a leading house building authority, Cherwell District Council has been exemplary in its support for the Horton, exploring the possibility of golden handshakes and providing key worker housing. A local developer came forward to offer one of its new build properties to any obstetrician looking to relocate to our area. Yet all of these offers remain completely unexplored by the local hospital trust, which has refused repeatedly to engage with me on this issue.

Last September, the Secretary of State announced plans to offer salary supplements to GPs in rural and coastal regions, which was a really welcome development. Market towns such as Banbury, Bicester, Abingdon and the many others represented in this Chamber desperately need similar incentives to attract newly trained professionals, whether through an Oxfordshire weighting or a ring-fenced housing allowance. I have no particular view about which would be the more effective incentive—I am happy to explore both. More money is always welcome, but it does not have to be the only answer. Just yesterday, I heard from a Banbury GP who has not been able to recruit a fully qualified international GP who is a resident outside the EU, because of problems with the tier 2 visa requirements. The person is an Australian who trained in Banbury and is very familiar with the local system, and we would really value having her back.

It is important that we consider specialties such as general practice and obstetrics when looking at the shortage occupation list that needs to be filled, because there are gaps in those areas too. We must think outside the box and talk across Departments to find the solutions that we desperately need. We must also have some clarity. When obstetric services at the Horton were suspended in August 2016, we were told that the rota needed six obstetricians to operate safely. But the goalposts were moved; the trust now tells us that nine are needed before the unit can reopen. Those decisions have real consequences. We must know the potential domino effect that shortages can have on other medical rotas. Since maternity services at the Horton were downgraded, the hospital has, in turn, lost one of its anaesthetic rotas. Difficulties attracting professionals to CT1 and CT2 posts pose a very real risk to the future sustainability of the one remaining rota. Until that can be full resolved, the threat to all acute services at the Horton cannot be fully ruled out.

Finally, we must learn, as I say repeatedly, to communicate openly and transparently. Extracting recruitment information from the trust is painfully slow. Rather than offer updates, it leaves us to ask for meetings. We are still waiting for the meeting that my hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Robert Courts) requested for us to discuss recruitment at the Churchill. Yet when I made remarks on local radio about a perceived culture of secrecy, the trust chairman was very quick to summon me to meet her. I was told by the trust that all Oxfordshire MPs would be sent a detailed briefing on recruitment and retention challenges by 1 February. I have not had such a briefing and I do not know whether other hon. Members have.

Time and again I have offered assistance with tackling recruitment. Schools and businesses made generous offers to attract obstetricians, and I am furious that the trust continues to fail to engage. I am hopeful that the CQC report provides a long overdue reality check and that we start to see a real step change in its approach. I have made clear numerous times that we MPs are ready and waiting to help. I am really hopeful that under the new excellent interim head of the clinical commissioning group, we will start to develop a vision for our future healthcare, which we have so desperately lacked for so long.

This year we mark 70 years of the NHS. I am hopeful that many of the hard-working staff in Oxfordshire will be recognised at the upcoming parliamentary awards. I am particularly grateful to the dedicated Horton midwives who now face an almost three-hour round commute to and from the John Radcliffe, following the downgrade of our unit. Experience has taught us that we need to keep up the pressure.

Ahead of the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting on 26 February, 101 Parliamentarians across parties have signed a letter urging the Foreign Secretary to publicly support and campaign for his EU counterparts to back a UN Security Council referral of Myanmar General Min Aung Hlaing to the International Criminal Court.  

Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham, has expressed concerns that NHS dentistry is becoming a ‘Cinderella service’, following announcements that Queensway Dental Clinic is the latest dentist to stop taking on NHS patients.

The public were given the opportunity to voice their concerns about Queensway’s move at a meeting organised by Alex, and with representatives from NHS England and the British Dental Association in attendance.

Residents heard how NHS commissioners are looking to extend some contracts with existing dentists in the short term, pending attracting other dentists through a procurement process – which could take between 9 to 12 months.

But Alex is worried that more and more dentists across the country are leaving the service to set up private practices claiming they can no longer afford to do NHS work for the fees being offered. 

Alex said:

It is clear from what residents were saying that they are struggling to find a NHS dentist. This is purely because of the lack of capacity as a result of poor funding and dental contracts that dis-incentivise dentists from carrying out NHS work.

While I welcome the work NHS England is doing to increase that capacity, my fear is that dentistry is fast becoming the Cinderella service of the NHS – underfunded and ignored. The Government needs to assess current funding levels to make sure dentistry and dentists are sufficiently supported. If it fails to do this, then I’m fearful other dentists will quickly follow in Queensway’s footsteps.

Alex has raised his concerns about dentist contracts and the lack of capacity with the Health Secretary. At the meeting, he reiterated his fears that dentistry is an often ignored service within the NHS, the result of which means patients struggle to find NHS places and are impeded from looking after their oral health.

 

Latest M&S Update

Kit Malthouse (North West Hampshire)

This morning TVBC Leader Councillor Phil North and I met with Marks & Spencer Retail Director, Sacha Berendji, in Parliament to continue to press the case for Marks & Spencer to retain a presence in Andover High Street. Once again we highlighted the massive goodwill for M&S amongst shoppers from Andover and the surrounding villages and pointed to the ever growing number of signatures on the petition organised by Councillors Iris Andersen and John Cockaday and crucially to the profitability of the store’s food section.

 

M&S should be thinking creatively about the future of the current store with its thriving food offer, prime location and “personal entrance” from the Black Swan Yard car-park. Instead the they continue to refuse to consider options such as subdividing the store. This is particularly galling given that they themselves admit that past under-investment by the company is behind M&S’s problems.

 

In light of the ambitious plans for Andover Town Centre such as the Town Mills Urban Park, the Cultural Quarter and the redevelopment of the Chantry Centre, this is immensely frustrating. However we were at least given commitments that, if the store does close, then the future of the staff will be a priority consideration.

 

Brendan O’Hara MP Surgery on Coll 26th February

Brendan O'Hara (Argyll and Bute)

I’ll be holding a constituency advice surgery on Coll on Monday 26th February 2018. If you would like an appointment please don’t hesitate to get in touch Related Images: [See image gallery at www.brendanoharamp.scot]

Last Friday the MP for Ashford Damian Green hosted his first Jobs Fair at Ashford College, which was attended by more than 100 people.  

 

The Jos Fair hosted a wide- range of employers from John Lewis to Kent Police, HR GO and The National Citizens Service.

 

Judith Proctor has been recommended as the preferred candidate for the post of Chief Officer of the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board and Director of the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership.

Ruth George MP submission to Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service – Fire Station Duty System Consultation

As Member of Parliament for High Peak, the level of emergency service cover across the constituency and the ability to respond to serious incidents both now and in the future is a key interest.

As such, I am very concerned at the proposed cuts to full-time firefighters at both Matlock and Glossop fire stations, but particularly to Glossop as it serves a wide area in the north-west tip of Derbyshire.  This includes an expanding population of almost 40,000 people and key employment sites, including several chemical works, several of which pose significant fire risk.

  1. Nearest Fire Station assured cover is 30 minutes away

The nearest fire stations to Glossop in Derbyshire are:

  • New Mills at 6.4 miles
  • Chapel en le Frith at 8.7 miles
  • Whaley Bridge at 12 miles

These are all on-call stations, currently seeking to recruit additional retained firefighters.

The closest station with full-time firefighters is at Buxton, 21 miles away and half an hour from Glossop, even on a blue light.  In winter, roads in and out of Buxton are treacherous several times a year, and the road over Chunal into Glossop can also be hazardous.

In Tameside in Greater Manchester, the closest fire stations are:

  • Stalybridge – 6.9 miles
  • Hyde – 7.5 miles

The journey time from these stations is around 15 minutes on a blue light.  However, the roads between Tameside and Glossop are some of the most congested in the north west, and it can frequently take over an hour to travel from Glossop to Stalybridge or Hyde.  Even on a blue light, at rush hour it would take around 30 minutes.  Planned roadworks over the next 2-3 years will make congestion even worse in the short term.

However, Derbyshire Fire & Rescue cannot necessarily count on support from Greater Manchester stations as they are often called to support incidents across the city.

With assured back-up at least 30 minutes away, it is vital that Glossop’s fire service provision can be guaranteed 24/7.

As such, I am very concerned that constant guaranteed cover is not an option in the consultation.

  1. Sufficient on-call firefighters cannot be recruited

The recruitment process for firefighters is lengthy, in-part due to the intense training program for those seeking selection.  The consultation admits there are problems with the recruitment of on-call firefighters, yet all of the options proposed are to considerably increase on-call staff and to reduce full-time firefighters.

All fire stations in High Peak, including Glossop are currently seeking to recruit on-call staff for existing roles.  Glossop fire station has had a large banner outside its station for years calling for recruits to Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Employment in Glossop is typically centred around small businesses rather than large businesses, and thus flexible terms of employment – which are vital to recruitment of on-call firefighters – are much less common in the Glossop area.

The proposal in all 3 options is to increase the number of on-call firefighters from 12 to 22.

How can Glossop Fire Station rely solely on service from an additional 10 on-call firefighters at evenings and weekends, if they cannot even fill the 12 current posts?

Please would you let me know the numbers of unfilled posts for on-call firefighters in:

  1. a) Glossop;
  2. b) Each of the other fire stations in High Peak

 

  1. Lack of Availability of on-call firefighters

On-call fire-fighters can specify when they are available for duty – the fire service do not have the power to enforce their availability.  The consultation states that the current on-call staff are supposed to provide 24/7 cover at Glossop, but are only available 69% of the time.

All three proposals include leaving the Glossop fire station reliant on on-call fire-fighters during evenings and weekends.

More serious incidents occur at night than during the day.  The second appliance at Glossop, used in addition to the first for more serious incidents, is required more at night than during the day.  In the last year, 60% of call-outs for the second engine have been during the night (56% on average over the last 5 years.)

If it is difficult to crew one appliance from on-call firefighters, it will be almost impossible to crew two appliances.  The second appliance was called out 22 times at night in the last year.

How can the Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service guarantee the availability of sufficient retained firefighters to crew one engine or two engines at nights and weekends?

I would appreciate details on how many weekends in the last 6 months there were sufficient on-call firefighters available at Glossop throughout the weekend to crew the second appliance?

  1. Increased Response Times

The consultation claims that response times will only increase from the 10 minutes 38 seconds for the current full-time service to 13 minutes 20 seconds for the on-call service.

How will these response times be affected by:

  1. a) Inability to recruit sufficient on-call firefighters
  2. b) Lack of availability of on-call firefighters
  3. c) Travel time to back-up stations?

Glossop is surrounded by a vast moorland area, and fires which are started in the summer can spread rapidly. Inevitably, these incidents are time consuming and require a larger number of staff to be deployed, which leaves the station with a depleted level of staff. How does Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service plan to cope with these incidents under their proposals?

How can the Fire Service guarantee adequate response times in Glossopdale at times when there is no cover from full-time firefighters?

                                                                                             

  1. Longest Road Tunnel in UK to be nearest to Glossop Fire Station

The proposals for the Woodhead road tunnel, described by the Department for Transport in 2016 as “the most ambitious road scheme undertaken in the UK in more than five decades”, would result in a tunnelled section ranging between 12 – 19 miles.

The recommendation from Transport for the North in December 2017 was for a shorter tunnel, but still in excess of 5 miles, with a shorter timespan for completion.

Final proposals are being drawn together by Highways England with Peak District National Park, but all scenarios are for by far the longest tunnel in the UK and one of the longest in Europe, constituting a major national hazard in terms of both RTAs and fire risk.

Glossop will be the fire station situated nearest to the western entrance to this tunnel.

How does Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service propose to provide the necessary cover to the proposed Woodhead Tunnel on a 24/7 basis?

 

I hope that these points will be given full consideration in the consultation.

I would be grateful for responses to the questions posed in my response and for a meeting with Derbyshire Fire and Rescue to discuss this issue further.

 

Ruth George MP

Member of Parliament for High Peak

The post Ruth George MP response to Glossop Fire Station consultation appeared first on Ruth George MP for High Peak.

Gwynne backs APPG measures to reduce heart failure

Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish)

Denton and Reddish MP, Andrew Gwynne, has written to local Clinical Commissioning Groups to highlight the importance of adopting recommendations contained within the recent APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) on Heart Disease report in order to reduce instances of heart failure.

The reports, Focus on Heart Failure’ report: commissioner recommendations and the Heart Failure Audit, wish to see hospital leaders take steps locally to adopt their recommendation in order to achieve improved outcomes for those affected by the condition. Achieving improved outcomes for heart failure is particularly important considering the fact that it represents the only major cardiovascular condition that has become more prevalent in recent decades, with projections indicating that hospital admissions for the condition are likely to increase by 50% over the next 25 years, largely as a result of an ageing population.

Whilst the latest National Heart Failure Audit showed that modest improvements are being made in the number of patients surviving heart failure, due in part to increases in access to specialist care, there remains significant scope for further improvements, particularly as quality of care remains highly variable across the country. Twenty six percent of patients with heart failure are misdiagnosed and may be treated for considerable periods for conditions such as respiratory infection, asthma or anxiety before the correct diagnosis is made.

As a result, Gwynne has written to Tameside & Glossop CCG and Stockport CCG to highlight the importance of adopting these recommendations and to seek reassurances around the steps that are being taken locally to help achieve improved outcomes for those affected by the condition.

Andrew Gwynne said: 

“When I joined clinical experts and representatives from the UK’s leading heart failure charities to discuss heart failure last year I was surprised to learn that such a high number of people across the UK are living with heart failure as a major cardiovascular condition.

“I’ve written to both Tameside and Stockport CCG’s to find out whether they are adopting these recommendations, and if not, why.” 

Manufacturing at a 10 year high

Royston Smith (Southampton, Itchen)

Official stats show that UK manufacturing output is at its highest for a decade - helping to create more, higher paying jobs in an economy that is fit for the future.

The post Manufacturing at a 10 year high appeared first on Royston Smith - At the heart of Southampton.

Gordon's next Advice Surgery - Friday 23rd February

Gordon Marsden (Blackpool South)

Gordon is to hold one of his regular advice surgeries this Friday (23rd February).

This will take place from 3.00pm to 4.30pm at his constituency office at 304 Highfield Road, Blackpool, FY4 3JX.

Appointments are required and can be made by either calling 01253 344143 or emailing gordonmarsdenmp@parliament.uk

A daily tea or coffee to-go has become part of the average work day for millions of Brits. Indeed, as a nation we go through an astonishing 2.5bn disposable paper cups a year! Even if you’re not an ardent environmentalist, it is still disconcerting to know that that less than 1% of them are recycled.

As I child I remember rushing about collecting dozens of glass bottles at the weekend to return them to the local pub to claim the cash for doing so. It seems to me that proper incentives are as important as public awareness when it comes to mass participation in recycling.

The latest in this Government’s green agenda has been cracking down on single use, disposable cups. Our ever-enthusiastic Environment Secretary has led from the front, presenting every Cabinet Minister with a reusable cup to symbolise the changes underway. Enlightened high street chains have backed the Government on its plan to tackle the UK’s disposable culture, with Pret a Manger offering a 50p discount to customers using their own cup, Costa Coffee offering 25p off and 20p at Greggs.

The reason that so few paper cups are recycled is that the name is actually a misnomer. Paper coffee cups contain a thin layer of polythene which actually makes them unrecyclable, except at one of 4 specialist facilities.

But whilst all of us want to do our bit for the environment by recycling, we don’t all drink coffee enough to justify carrying around a reusable cup everywhere we go. Thankfully, the beverage industry is willing to help by providing more collection points.

A collection of 14 companies and the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE) have expanded a series of 382 recycling collection points across the country to accept paper cups alongside food and drink cartons.

In the Windsor constituency an expanded point can be found on Longshot Lane, RG12 1RL. ACE will be following this up with further work on developing kerbside collections and extending commercial collection services.

Hopefully this will aid in the fight against disposable plastic waste, and is also a welcome sign of a cultural shift in the attitude of British businesses and consumers that will complement this Conservative Government’s 25 year plan to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state for our children than the one we inherited.

In the last year this Conservative Government has cracked down on the ivory trade, made CCTV mandatory in all slaughterhouses, banned microbeads, increased sentences for animal cruelty, banned harmful pesticides and taxed diesel cars. This commitment to tackle Britain’s disposable culture is yet another step in the right direction.

 

ENDS

Note to editors

  1. Adam Afriyie is the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Ghana.
  2. He has a strong background in science, technology and innovation.
  3. He is currently Chairman of the Fintech APPG, Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) and President of the Conservative Technology Forum (CTF).
  4. He was shadow Minister for Science from 2007-2010 and has a background in the information services and technology sector.
  5. To read more about Adam’s position on the environment please click here.
  6. The 14 companies signed up to the agreement are: Benders Paper Cups, Bunzl Catering Supplies, Caffe Nero, Costa Coffee, Dart Products Europe, Greggs, Huhtamaki, International Paper, McDonald’s UK, Nestlé, Pret A Manger, Seda Group, Starbucks, and Stora Enso.

Today, John Mann MP published research into the scandal of low levels of Arts and Sports funding in former coalfield communities ahead of a debate in parliament. 

Higher Education

John Redwood (Wokingham)

The government has announced a review of student funding and University fees. They have decided to do this because they are concerned that Universities do not provide competitive and varied course fees to reflect the different costs of provision and the different economic values to the student of differing degrees. They are also concerned about the scale of student debt and the rate of interest charged on it. This was an important talking point in the General Election when some in Labour seemed to say they would cancel all existing student debt, only for Mr Corbyn after the election to make clear this was not an affordable promise.

The government will have to remember that Universities are independent institutions with a substantial revenue from overseas students. It is not surprising that individual Universities have been reluctant to vary their pricing, for fear of being labelled a second or third rate institution if they decided on a price cutting strategy. It is also perhaps understandable that they have decided to price the same for each subject, meaning that high cost subjects like chemistry are cross subsidised by lower cost subjects that do not need expensive laboratories and supplies. Harmony between staff of different faculties and convenience of administration point to common pricing. There has also been a reluctance to vary prices related to demand and market value, though a law qualification or a finance qualification from a top university probably bestows more economic value on the holder than some other courses from less well regarded institutions.The government may well encounter resistance to the idea of segregated pricing, and may not wish to take pro competition action against the universities.

The present loan system allows for the possibility that some degrees do not enable the student to enter relatively high earning jobs, by allowing write off of student debt if the person stays in low paid employment. It also has the weakness that a high flier who can attract a well paid job may decide to leave the country and walk away from the debt. The high rate of interest acts as a kind of graduate tax on all those who do settle into employment above the income threshold.

There are three main ways that the system could be altered. The government could put more money in to subsidise expensive and worthwhile courses, or to subsidise good UK students. The Universities could be made to compete, with requirements for differential pricing based on costs, supply and demand. The government could continue with a loan based scheme with reform of the interest rate and tweaks to the requirements to repay and to the enforcement of repayment by those who are successful. The scheme can be made to be more like a graduate tax.

I am not myself recommending any reform. I will be interested in your thoughts. The loan scheme which Conservatives originally opposed, fearing it would lead to fewer people attending university and fewer people from poorer backgrounds thinking they could go, has had neither of those consequences. For that and other reasons the Conservative party altered its stance and came to accept and extend the loan scheme Labour introduced. I do favour more increases in scholarship funds so good students can be grant financed. Many universities now are raising these access funds from ex alumni and other wellwishers.

Local MP Maria Miller called in recently at the Rooksdown base of Headway Basingstoke, a local charity providing rehabilitation for adults who have sustained brain injuries, and support, guidance and information for people with brain injuries and their carers. Maria met up with Evelyn Vincent, the Chair of Trustees and Heather Jury, Service Manager, for an update on the charity’s work. Cllr Simon Bound also joined the meeting.
 

Phase Two of Connecting Devon and Somerset

Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot)

Last month, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Matthew Hancock, confirmed that the Government has delivered on their commitment to extend superfast broadband (speeds of 24 Mbps or more) coverage to 95% of UK premises by the end of 2017. This means that we can all use the internet faster and more easily, whether that is businesses reaching new customers, or parents doing the weekly shop.

Cate Woodward, Labour Candidate for Wollaton West By Election
On March 8th people in Wollaton will be asked to vote for a new local Councillor. As someone who has lived in Wollaton for most of their life, I believe I can be a strong local voice that will protect our open spaces, continue to seek solutions to our traffic problems, provide a sensible approach to housing and ensure there are adequate facilities for young and elderly people.


Before 2013 we had 3 Conservative councillors- I never heard from them and they didn’t do much for people like me. When Steve Battlemuch was elected, I saw the improvements that an active councillor can bring. I want to work with Steve to continue to raise the issues that matter to you- including parking, speeding, new housing developments, protecting our parks and creating more opportunities for young people.

If elected, my five key pledges are:

• Work with local schools to support working parents by providing more after school places where they are needed

• Sort out problem parking on streets around Fernwood and Middleton schools and Wollaton Park, in consultation with residents

• Continue and expand the Wollaton Arts Festival as part of the cultural offer for Wollaton residents

• Fund improvements to local parks on Fernwood Crescent, Torvill Drive and Lambourne Drive, as well as maintaining the playground at Wollaton Park

• Review current provision for elderly people and provide extra support where it’s needed to combat loneliness and isolation

My experience working for a charity supporting people with long-term health conditions and having previously worked with a mental health trust and for the NHS has helped make me a great listener and good advocate for people.

As a longstanding Wollaton resident I have seen the difference a good local councillor can make and believe that if you elect me, I can help to make things better.

Best wishes
Cate Woodward
cate.woodward@nottinghamlabour.org.uk

The post Cate Woodward – Labour’s Local Candidate for Wollaton West appeared first on Nottingham Labour.

A TV star, an acclaimed novelist and a writer who has penned some of the country’s best-loved programmes will be joining inspirational local women for Tracy Brabin MP’s free one-day festival to mark International Women’s Day and Vote 100.

A day of inspiring speeches, workshops, performances and historical displays will also see talented local women offer their take on a variety of subjects ranging from writing your first novel and screenwriting to entrepreneurship and the argument for Votes for 16-year-olds.

The packed day will culminate in the screening of an award-winning film which brings to life some of the defining historical moments in the battle for votes for women, Suffragette.

Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin said: “This year marks one of the most significant milestones in British history as we mark 100 years of women’s suffrage.

“With this is mind, we want to celebrate inspirational women – local and national and from the past and present – in an exciting and engaging festival where anyone can come along and take part.

“There will be International Women’s Day events held the world over celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women and it only seems right and proper that we have something here in Batley and Spen – a place where there’s so much to celebrate.

“All are welcome so please come and join us for what promises to be a fascinating, fun and inspiring day.”

The event will be held at Batley Older People’s Centre on the 3rd March between 10am – 8pm and food and drink will be available.

Who’s Who

The day will see a variety of women take to the stage to deliver talks and workshops on a host of subjects, with more exciting additions expected over the coming weeks.

Sue Vincent (women in comedy) – Sue is an actor and writer famed for her roles in hit TV programmes including Mount Pleasant, Shameless and Bad Move.

Salma Karolia (being an entrepreneur) – Salma is a hugely successful and influential Batley entrepreneur who runs the award-winning Salma’s Hair and Beauty Academy.

Mary Creagh (women and the environment) – Mary Creagh is a hardworking and passionate MP who has represented Wakefield since 2005 and is chair of the Environmental Audit Committee.

Helen Smith (writing your first novel) – Helen is an award-winning mystery novelist and playwright whose work has topped bestseller lists in several countries.

Emily Warrilow (votes for 16) – Emily is a Diana Award winning local political activist and campaigner who has already achieved huge successes at the age of 16.

Lisa Holdsworth (writing for TV)  – Lisa is a BAFTA nominated television writer who has written for primetime shows including Waterloo Road, Midsomer Murders and New Tricks.

Fazila Aswat (women in the voluntary sector) – Fazila is an indefatigable champion of women’s rights and has extensive experience in the charity sector, including the Royal Voluntary Service.

What else to expect

Alongside the star roster of inspirational women there will also be music, poetry and a variety of stalls.

The day will include verse from the Batley Poets, a performance from the Bulldogs champion cheerleading squad, Batley Xplosion, an insight into the Conflict and Kindness project inspired by Batley’s Catherine Exley and a history of the heroic local suffragette, Dorothy Elizabeth Evans.

There is more to be announced over the coming weeks, so watch this space. If anyone wants to get involved in the event, please contact Tracy Brabin MP’s office on 01924900036 or email tracy.brabin.mp@parliament.uk

https://www.internationalwomensday.com/

https://www.vote100.uk/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out and About in Crook Log

David Evennett (Bexleyheath and Crayford)

Over the weekend we had a huge turnout at our Crook Log campaign event. Pictured here is just 1 of the teams we had out and about knocking on doors throughout the ward. The MP for Bexleyheath & Crayford, the Rt Hon. David Evennett and the Leader of Bexley Council, Cllr Teresa O'Neill were both present leading from the front. 

Activists reported an overwhelmingly positive reception on the door step including in areas traditionally supportive of other parties.  

Making plans to defeat cancer

Luciana Berger (Liverpool, Wavertree)

I met with Cancer Research UK researchers and ambassadors last week in the build up to World Cancer Day on February 4 to hear how international collaboration is vital in beating the disease.World Cancer Day Luciana B

World Cancer Day is designed to raise awareness of cancer and to promote its prevention, detection and treatment.

I’ve been wearing my Unity Band with its classic reef knot design to with pride to symbolise the strength of people coming together to defeat cancer. Money raised through Unity Band donations will help fund more research, more treatments and more cures – ultimately helping to save more lives.

One in two people born after 1960 in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime. Although survival rates have doubled since the early 1970s, everyone needs to act to help speed up progress and see more people survive the disease.

Cancer waiting times exist so that people referred by their GP get swift diagnosis and treatment, but the national target of 62 days is being regularly missed nationally, but here in Liverpool is being met.

However, in Liverpool we need to get better at spotting cancers early. More than one in five people presents as an emergency case, often when the cancer has developed dangerously.

Better cancer treatment requires planning to attract and keep the best staff so that we can improve public awareness and screening programmes, and ensure that GPs have the training, resources and support they need to identify symptoms and refer patients quickly.

The government published its cancer workforce plan in December last year. If implemented in full, it could save 30,000 more lives per year by 2020.

However, the government has repeatedly missed the national cancer target since January 2014. In the past year, waiting lists have topped 4 million, the number of patients spending more than four hours in A&E has risen 250 per cent and the Royal College of Nursing has warned of a 40,000 shortfall of nursing staff.

NHS England has already warned that treatment targets cannot be met and other benchmarks and standards may be at risk because the Chancellor did not provide the NHS with the money experts said it required at the Autumn Budget.

I recently raised my concerns about this with the Prime Minister, click here to see our exchange.

If the NHS is to deliver for patients and fulfil the Cancer Strategy by 2021, it is essential that Ministers fully support the cancer workforce plan with the funding needed to make its ambitions a reality and to ensure cancer diagnosis, care and outcomes are improved.

Horse Time

John Lamont (Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk)

Local MP John Lamont has hailed the work of Berwickshire based Horse Time following a visit to the charity.

The organisation offers a range of courses and workshops for people struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma and PTSD, as well as helping children and adolescents with complex needs all based around working with horses.

Jesse’s Hereford Times column: Tackling litter

Jesse Norman (Hereford and South Herefordshire)

Herefordians were, I know, transfixed like the rest of the country last year by Sir David Attenborough’s astonishing second series on The Blue Planet.

car theft, crime charges

Steve McCabe, MP for Birmingham Selly Oak has today described charges to retrieve stolen goods as ‘outrageous’.

 

After being contacted by a number of constituents who have recently been burgled, Steve discovered that victims of crime are being charged hundreds of pounds to recover their stolen cars once found and seized by the police. Depending on the size of the car stolen people can expect to be charged up to £350 per vehicle meaning that when a number of vehicles are stolen the costs mount up.

 

read more

My Month – February 2018

Christina Rees (Neath)

Please click on the following link to read my report from February:

Christina Rees MP Report – February 2018

Model United Nations Speech 16 February 2018

Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central)

Here is a speech I gave at the opening ceremony of the Sheffield Model United Nations Conference at Sheffield University.

It is a pleasure to be here today to address this meeting of the Sheffield Model United Nations.

It is wonderful to see how the society has grown to its current size.

And how it now encompasses so many young people from across the Sheffield City Region and beyond.

I would particularly like to extend a warm Yorkshire welcome to those who have come from outside our great county;

a county that I am incredibly proud to call my home.

February 2018

Louise Haigh (Sheffield, Heeley)

Private Member's Bill

Stewart Hosie (Dundee East)

🗳 I'll be supporting Stewart McDonald's private members bill on the 16th of March to ban exploitative unpaid trial shifts.
📝 If you also believe workers should be paid for the work they do please consider sharing this post and writing to your local MP to make sure they vote to end the unfair practice of unpaid trial shifts

A fair number of local residents have got in touch about homeless people in and around Weston town centre. It isn’t a new problem, of course; most towns and cities have a shifting group of ‘rough-sleepers’, plus a larger group of at-risk people whose accommodation isn’t secure and are either sofa-surfing with friends or staying in temporary digs and hostels instead.

My first official contact with the issue came about 20 minutes after I’d been declared Weston’s MP for the first time, when a homeless gentleman buttonholed me at 4am in the morning as I left the election-night count to ask for my help. And there’s been a steady trickle of people who’ve come to my regular weekly surgeries ever since.

But whether their housing problems are caused by an addiction, family breakup, mental illness, losing a job or something else, the temperature on Weston’s streets is dropping and homeless people need our help. There are some good organisations locally, including Somewhere to Go, Weston’s YMCA, and housing associations like Curo, who all offer different types of help.

And, right at the ‘sharp end’ are two groups – Hands of Change and the Weston Homelessness Facebook Group – who are out and about checking the rough sleepers are safe and offering food, hot drinks, clothes, as well as advice on where to go next.

I went to meet some of their volunteers, and the homeless folk they’re helping, a few weeks back. And, as I hope we’d all expect, local people are responding positively too. The Town Council has earmarked £25,000 for tackling homelessness locally, including a possible night shelter. If you’re interested, check out any of the groups I’ve mentioned online – they could always do with some extra help!

Dear Newcastle February 2018

Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central)

The last few weeks in Westminster has been dominated by the real economy and our deteriorating public services though Brexit remains a source of constant bickering in the Government.

Visit to Gosforth Hotel

January saw the collapse of Carillion with devastating consequences for its employees, those who depend on its services and the many small businesses which make up its supply chain. As Shadow Minister for Business I spent some time looking into the history and failings of the outsourcing model on which Carillion depended and it brought into sharp focus a number of serious failings in our economy and Government – public sector dependency on the private sector, lack of transparency and accountability in the private sector, the casino capitalism business models of companies like Carillion who were raising their dividend payments even as their profits were falling and their pension fund and small business suppliers were suffering.

 

The hostile takeover of British engineering firm GKN by Melrose is another such watershed moment for our economy although it has yet to achieve the kind of profile that it deserves. The failure of Virgin East Coast to maintain services and its bailout by the Government also highlight the failings of rail privatisation.

The long years of Conservative austerity is now being seen in our public services in a way even Ministers find hard to deny – falling police numbers, a ‘Winter’ NHS crisis that seems set to last well into the Spring and a Local Authority – Northamptonshire – declared bankrupt. Newcastle City Council is maintaining good services overall but I know from constituents that concerns over litter and the environment are widespread. I am working with local councillors and the Police to address this.

 

Shadow Ministerial Role
  • I have been closely involved in Labour’s response over Carillion and the GKN takeover including meeting the GKN unions.
  • I spoke from the frontbench in Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: Topical Questions (30 Jan 2018) on the proposed hostile takeover of GKN
  • We continue to develop our industrial strategy and are holding a roundtable in Newcastle on February 15th
  • During a Shadow Minister visit to Oxford I discussed the importance of science and innovation with local businesses and academics.

Backbench and Constituency Role

  • John Bercow’s gave an Insight Lecture as part of Freedom City was very successful and I recommend his lecture which can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/newcastleuniversity/videos/1793431714043072/
  • I secured two meetings with ministers, the first regarding the situation of leaseholders in Leazes Park who cannot extend their leases and the second regarding quality and consistency of GP services and the closure of some practices in Newcastle. On GPs services the Minister said he was not aware of this issue elsewhere in the country. The minister’s officials are going to research where else this has occurred in the country before we have a ‘Health Summit’ for Newcastle GP services.
  • I invited Google’s Android Play Services Director to Newcastle Campus North for an event with start ups to help form an Android user group here in Newcastle.
  • My question to the Prime Minister (24 Jan 2018) on foodbank usage in Newcastle, the generosity of ToonAid, and benefit sanctions received much positive feedback although, as I emphasised, we should not have to be feeding people with charity. The PM did not answer my point.
  • I spoke a further eight times from the backbenches, including:
  •  In debate following a statement on Carillion (15 Jan 2018)
  • In an Urgent Question on Personal Independence Payment (23 Jan 2018)
  • In Education questions (29 Jan 2018) on role models for girls in engineering.
  • In Exiting the European Union questions (1 Feb 2018) on business investment in the North east
  • I asked 27 written questions to Ministers.

Discussion session in Newcastle University

Media

Quoted regularly in local media and nationally including on Sky News and the Daily Politics. Wrote a number of blogs including on regional economic policy for the Fabians http://www.fabians.org.uk/creative-solutions/ and for the Guardian on the importance of trade unions for all workers, including tech workers here and in the US https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/31/silicon-valley-unions-employee-workers-rights-organise-labour and the impact of a hard Brexit: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/09/brexit-means-north-east-poorer-leaked-report

Meetings and visits

 

Meetings (Organisation/Name)

Barclay’s/ Allen Simpson, Santander reception, Holocaust Memorial day event, TechUK & LEOcoin Foundation reception, Digital Charter dinner, Novartis/ Dominic Wake, City Fibre/ Vicky Read, Alliance for Intellectual Property, IoD Parliamentary Reception, CAMRA/ Paul Hillhouse, NHS Newcastle Gateshead CCG/ Guy Pilkington, Dental Health Inequality/ Professor Justin Durham, East Coast Mainline Authorities/ David Carr, Power of coding Apple reception, Candida Owusu-Apenten, Cybersecurity/ Tom Ilube, Rolls-Royce Future Technology Showcase, Leaseholds Departmental meeting, UKIR/ Sir Mark Walport,Tine van Houts, Data Protection Bill Immigration Exemption, African High Commissioners, Medical Research Council’s science showcase, ‘True Value of Retail’ report, Social care & the upcoming Green Paper, Laura Pidcock, Annual intu Parliamentary dinner, Stonegate pub/ David Crow and Nick Andrews, Sage (UK) Limited visit, Kenton School/ Sarah Holmes-Carne, Port of Tyne Board/ Lucy Armstrong, Commemoration quilts exhibition for Newcastle Holocaust Memorial, APPG Fintech reception, Northumbria University and Dynamo North East (IC3) Reception, IOT Visa/ Avin Arumugam dinner,

Newcastle University School of Dental Health

The Royal British Legion and Poppyscotland’s campaign, Creativity: Powering the 4IR reception, US Embassy Kim Dubois, Professional and Business Services Council on Brexit, Observatory for Responsible Research and Innovation in ICT launch, GP Surgeries/ Steve Brine, Michael Peel, Unite/ Tony Burke and GKN worker reps, The Society for Radiological Protection reception, Briefing dinner for centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution, launch of Newcastle Community Asset Trust, Culture in the North East/ Adam McKenna & Dane Ridley, CITMA/ Ian Byworth and Bill Goodwin, Know Africa/ Elewechi Okike, Labour North Burns’ Night, SITB Exhibition, Wired/ Rowland Manthorpe, Labour together, Ten Years On: The Financial Crisis and the State of Modern Capitalism, YLDC launch event, Pictfor AGM, 100th anniversary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act reception, BBC Civilisations, Kier Group breakfast roundtable on skills crisis facing the UK, Drax Group/ Karl Smyth, Royal Africa Society/ Nick Westcott, Timber Industries Parliamentary Reception, Mandela8 reception, Cornelia Parker exhibition, ICE 200 Celebration Dinner

During a Shadow Ministerial visit to Oxford I met Oxford Science Park, Nanopore, Immunocore, Evox Therapeutics, Vaccitech, Oxford Genetics, OxSonics, Sesui, Professor Ian Walmsley and Professor Sir Charles Godfray and toured the Oxford Beecroft Physics building.

Google Android event at Campus North in Newcastle

Speaking

Chair Regulation and the Internet, Launch Women & Work report on industrial strategy, Daily Politics PMQs Panel, Chair RAS private dinner, ‘The Internet of Things’ roundtable, Science and Engineering Roundtable on 3% target, Chair Innovation & Construction Roundtable, Google Android event Newcastle, Newcastle University Students Labour, Westminster briefing Local Government ICT after Brexit, APPG Diversity & Inclusion in STEM, Chair South African Development Community meeting, Coffee Research Fortnight, Speaker Lecture Newcastle University, Overseas Fellowship of Nigerian Christian Newcastle Branch, Powering the North; Next step for delivering an infrastructure strategy debate, Frontbench Science Park visit, Kenton School 6th Form Politics.

 

 

 

Mansfield MP Ben Bradley has called for two hours free parking in Mansfield Town Centre.
Explaining the reason for launching his petition, Ben said: “I’ve launched this petition after contacting over 200 shops and businesses on how we can improve our town centre. From many of the responses I received from the business owners and managers, parking is a huge issue in our town centre”
“Our local car parks are hidden away, expensive and just can’t compete with free parking at retail parks. Two hours free parking would encourage footfall back into the town and boost local business and regeneration”.
The MP has sent copies of his petition for two hours free parking in the town centre to town centre based shops, businesses and organisations. He is encouraging all Mansfield shoppers and residents to sign this petition before it can be presented to Mansfield District Council.
“When I got elected in June” Mr Bradley stated, “I pledged to make regeneration one of my main priorities, and I believe that free parking will increase footfall in the centre, it’ll encourage shoppers, which will in turn improve the health and business of the centre. I want to encourage you all to sign my petition, the more voices we get behind this, the stronger the case when it’s presented to the Council.”
The MP has previously held public ‘Meet your MP’ events at ‘The Hive’ in the Four Seasons Shopping Centre, where shoppers have suggested to Mr Bradley that parking is an issue for Mansfield. “It’s not just shop owners” Mr Bradley said, “When I’m chatting to residents, either at Meet your MP events or out on the doorstep campaigning, the feeling is that parking is letting our town centre down, and this petition for two hours free parking in the town centre would directly address that.”
“If you would like a copy of this petition or poster to display in your window”, Mr Bradley advises, “contact my office on 01623 372 016, or email me at ben.bradley.mp@parlaiment.uk. The more people we get to support this petition, the more likely the Council is to make it happen.”
Birkenhead MP Frank Field said: “An idea bringing the largest programme of new housing to Wirral in living memory, announced today, is the brainchild of Andrew Forsey who is the head of my...

Hardly a week goes by without homelessness or rough sleeping hitting the national news.

While Chesterfield doesn’t have the same level of problems faced by some of the big cities and towns we do experience issues too – and one person homeless is one person too many.

The causes

Cllr Helen Bagley, Cabinet Member for Homes & Customers at Chesterfield Borough Council

Cllr Helen Bagley, Cabinet Member for Homes & Customers at Chesterfield Borough Council

The cause of this is a range of factors coming together. Some of the most common are drug or alcohol dependency, mental health issues or benefit changes, particularly the recent introduction of Universal Credit.

We also know that Chesterfield is attracting rough sleepers who see it as a safer option than being in some of the surrounding cities. The generosity of local people to give food, clothing and other items, combined with the lower risk of violence towards them means that some rough sleepers have specifically come to Chesterfield.

What complicates the situation further is that another group of people who are not actually homeless but are friends with people who are rough sleeping or themselves have drug or alcohol dependencies are often on the streets too.

The solutions

In the same way that there is no one cause, equally there is no one easy solution. That is why Chesterfield Borough Council is working together with all the other public bodies (eg police, Derbyshire County Council, NHS, probation), the voluntary sector and the business community to tackle all the issues as a whole.

This work is brought together through the Chesterfield town centre summits chaired by the Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa. The group’s work is focused on three linked areas:

  1. Enforcement: This focuses on tackling some of the anti-social behaviour that has been seen in Chesterfield town centre that is often associated with people who are, or appear to be, either homelessness or rough sleeping.

This area of work has already seen the police significantly increase their patrols and presence in the town centre. They have targeted some of the dealers who are supplying people on the streets with drugs, particularly the drugs that were previously known as ‘legal highs’.

As a council we have introduced a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) which gives the police and our enforcement officers powers to deal with some of the anti-social behaviour experienced in the town centre over recent months. PSPOs are not aimed at people who are homeless or rough sleeping but at dealing with people who are breaking the law and creating problems for the law-abiding majority.

  1. Treatment and support: This strand of the work recognises that the only effective long-term solution is to provide people who are on the streets with the support they need to get permanent accommodation or deal with the underlying issues that aggravate their situation.

By working together the various agencies can avoid duplication and identify any areas where support is not currently provided so that both can be addressed.


Chesterfield Borough Council also supports this work through its funding of voluntary agencies. We have a strong working relationship with Pathways and others who support the hard to reach homeless.

Within the council itself our homelessness prevention team works to provide accommodation for anyone who needs it. We are also a key player in the North Derbyshire Homelessness Forum that brings together a range of agencies who are working to prevent homelessness and support people who are rough sleeping.

  1. The final area of work is lobbying the Government to make them aware of the impact that welfare reforms are having on the streets of Chesterfield. While the group is not seeking to make political points the recent welfare reform changes have undoubtedly had a visible impact on this issue.

With the support of our MP Toby Perkins we are asking the Government to be aware of what is happening and make changes to their welfare policies to help provide more assistance to the people who need it.

More information about homelessness and the support the council is able to offer can be seen at www.chesterfield.gov.uk/homelessness

The Borough Council, Toby Perkins MP, Hardyal Dhindsa and various agencies, charities & businesses have joined together to discuss ways to tackle issues of homelessness and anti-social behaviour in Chesterfield town centre at a series of summit meetings.

The Borough Council, Toby Perkins MP, Hardyal Dhindsa and various agencies, charities & businesses have joined together to discuss ways to tackle issues of homelessness and anti-social behaviour in Chesterfield town centre at a series of summit meetings.

Harriett helps to find Worcestershire’s wartime heroines

Harriett Baldwin (West Worcestershire)

West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin has added her support to a search to find Worcestershire wartime heroines who served at the ground-breaking bases around Pershore. read more »

Pancakes were fun but give up plastic for Lent

Michelle Donelan (Chippenham)

As we approach Easter we of course have the start of Lent, which I celebrated by leading the team from my office in the Chippenham Great Pancake Race.

We may not have won but everyone braved the rain and it certainly was a ‘flipping’ enjoyable event which brought the community together.

I have joined with a group of MPs who have committed to reducing their plastic usage for Lent. Plastic waste is an issue which I have campaigned extensively on and I am hoping that this challenge will help me cut down further on my own use and highlight areas where it remains impossible to avoid plastics so we can work with businesses to change this.

In Parliament I have always been outspoken in my desire to protect and promote religious freedom across the globe and believe we need to be doing more as a country to protect the rights of individuals to practice their desired religion. I raised this with the Prime Minister directly in Prime Ministers’ Questions last week. I asked: “A recent report by Open Doors highlights the top countries where Christians suffer horrific persecution, often in countries which are synonymous with luxury holidays. We need to take action and send a clear signal to other nations. Will the Prime Minister consider earmarking a specific fixed percentage of international aid to go towards tackling religious persecution?” It is disgusting that in 2018 there are still people who are being persecuted because of their religion and we need to make sure we put pressure on countries to ensure we have freedom of religion.

I was also able to speak recently on the closure of local banks, an issue which has significantly impacted both Bradford on Avon and Corsham in my constituency. I am working closely with Lloyds Bank to organise the deployment of a mobile banking branch, something which we are in the final stage of agreeing and something which is crucial to ensuring access to banks for all. I have recently organised three fraud awareness workshops with local banks in Chippenham and I will be rolling this out across the constituency in the coming months. With bank closures encouraging more and more people online it is vital the banks also support local people with training in digital skills and on identifying and preventing online fraud.

As always if you have any issues or concerns you would like to raise with me then please email michelle.donelan.mp@parliament.uk or call my office on 01249 704465 to arrange an appointment in one of my advice surgeries.

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img_7234jpg_30747791921_o.jpg

Today, Stephen Kinnock has:

  • called for urgent action on pension misselling
  • called out the FCA for failings;
  • urged the government to produce a white paper;
  • and supported Work and Pensions Committee report

Stephen Kinnock, Member of Parliament for Aberavon, home of the Port Talbot Steelworks, today called out the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for their failure to protect British steelworkers and savers in the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS); called on the government to accept, in full, the Work and Pensions Committee recommendations, and urged the government to go further in introducing a system of deemed consent to keep savers in the best scheme for them.

Labour launches Animal Welfare Plan

Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield)

The Labour Party has launched our Animal Welfare Plan which contains 50 policy proposals out for consultation. This is the next stage in Labour’s animal welfare agenda and seeks feedback on some of the measures we would seek to bring in under the next Labour government. Labour has a proud record on animal welfare. From […]

MP calls public meeting about A1 Closure

Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

MP’s Column

Derek Thomas (St Ives)

Last December Post Office Limited received a further £370m (over three years) from Government for the network, of which £160m is to be used to protect village community branches.

Back-bench MPs including myself pressed Government for more help for rural post office services. This extra money is welcome as in recent months we have seen some challenges regarding rural post office branches including the closure of Heamoor before Christmas and now Newlyn’s Post Office, closed once again due to staffing.

I’ve argued for months that the ‘offer’ to run sub-post offices is not sufficient and does not recognise the challenges that hosting such a service presents.

My view is that Post Office Ltd lack vision for rural post office services and must act quickly and use this money to deliver bespoke solutions for our much-loved post offices.

I’ve launched a petition calling on Post Office Limited to reopen Newlyn Post Office and ensure that a suitable solution can be found to keep post office services open.

As we see high street banks close, the post office network becomes even more essential to local communities. A year ago the banks came to an agreement that most banking transactions can be carried out in your Post Office. I’d strongly recommend this service if you have a post office nearby.

In pouring rain in Penzance on Saturday I was greeted by a jovial group of campaigners having walked from Mousehole to hand over a petition calling on Government to take further action to support local people to get the homes they need.

Whilst the protest was good humoured the issue raised is hugely important and I want to pay credit to Alana Bates in particular who organised the petition and has engaged so constructively with me in recent months on this campaign.

The petition wants local areas to be able charge a council tax premium on second homes and use planning law to support local families. This is an issue I’m already engaged in quite simply because in West Cornwall and in particular on Scilly more money is required to provide homes for local people.

On January 23rd I raised the idea of a council tax premium in a meeting with Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid and representatives from the Council of the Isles of Scilly. Currently an empty home incurs a council tax premium after two years and in Wales they can apply the same to second homes. I see no reason why we should not apply this in the worst affected areas in Cornwall and on Scilly. This is not the entire solution.

I’m still committed to bringing back empty homes into local use and have argued that Cornwall Council should apply for Government funding to assist in this.

We need to accelerate the building of sites that have planning permission and I’ve argued that Cornwall Council should allow the RentPlus model for these undeveloped sites. This is where tenants can rent at an affordable rate and have the opportunity to purchase the property at a later stage.

Emma Reynolds, Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton North East has welcomed the city’s first modular constructed council properties.

Wolverhampton, like many councils are facing a shortage of housing and many thousands of people on the waiting list for council housing.

In an effort to help tackle this problem, the City of Wolverhampton Council commissioned council homes that were constructed totally offsite and were recently delivered and installed AT their permanent address in Fallings Park.

The houses are the first of their kind delivered by the City of Wolverhampton Council in partnership with Wolverhampton Homes, and the completed houses should be ready for handover later this month.

The scheme is part of the council’s successful new build council housing programme aimed at bringing small derelict sites back into use.

Emma said, “This is an excellent and innovative initiative by the council and Wolverhampton Homes and I hope it is the first of many examples to be built.

“Wolverhampton Council and Wolverhampton Homes, are doing all they can to address the chronic shortfall in available properties and I commend them for their approach.

Clearly more is needing to be done but this is an excellent start.”

February 2018

 

The post Emma welcomes the city’s first council houses built by modular construction appeared first on Emma Reynolds MP.

City MP backs plans to reform animal welfare policy

Stephen Morgan (Portsmouth South)

Portsmouth MP Stephen Morgan has backed Labour’s plans to radically reform Government policy on animal welfare and raise welfare standards.

In a draft policy document launched today, the Labour Party has proposed a number of changes which aim to raise animal welfare standards and end cruel and outdated practises.

The report, named ‘Animal Welfare For The Many, Not The Few, outlines proposed changes which include the introduction of a ban on the live export of animals for slaughter, consultation to landlords on giving tenants the right to keep a pet, the strengthening of the Hunting Act, the preservation of the principal of animal sentience in law, an end to the badger cull, implementation of a review of animal testing and expansion of affordable vet care for people on low incomes.

The 50 point draft policy document will go out for public consultation and proposes appointing an Animal Welfare Commissioner to ensure Government policy across Whitehall is continually informed by the latest scientific evidence on animal sentience.

The role of Commissioner would be to ensure animal welfare standards are always considered in new legislation and are maintained in Britain’s involvement in international bodies and post-Brexit trade deals.

Stephen Morgan MP, said:

I am in full support of this new policy document. No animal should have to suffer unnecessarily and with Brexit on the horizon it’s imperative we have clear Government policy in place to protect animal welfare.

As the authors of the Hunting Act, our party has a proud history of raising welfare standards. Labour is once again taking a stand, with a regulatory framework fit for the 21st century to ensure the UK is truly a world leader in animal welfare.”

The announcement has been welcomed by the League against Cruel Sports, Compassion in World Farming and WWF.

 

 

 

Following on from the success of last year’s event, Bristol South MP Karin Smyth has joined forces with City of Bristol College for another apprenticeships and jobs fair.

Taking place from 12 noon – 5.30pm on Thursday 8 March, the event will involve local businesses and organisations with job and apprenticeship opportunities.

Hundreds of young job seekers from across south Bristol and beyond are expected to attend the fair, which takes place at the South Bristol Skills Academy in Hengrove. It will feature a wide range of employers from a number of industries – including Kier Construction, Bristol Airport, Greene King, Marriott Hotels and Bristol Water among others.

The fair is part of Karin’s drive to improve job opportunities for people in south Bristol. “Improving prospects for young people living in my constituency is one of my key priorities,” said Karin. “Quality apprenticeships mean you can earn while learn. They can open up new opportunities.”

Not only will young people be able to talk to potential employers about the opportunities available, but businesses will be able to find out more about how apprenticeships could benefit them.

Apprenticeships are available to people aged 16 or older with a minimum of 5 GCSEs and combine paid work with training and typically last between one and five years. They offer a minimum apprenticeship wage of £3.70 an hour to those under the age of 20 and National Minimum Wage for older apprentices (between £5.90 and £7.83 depending on age).

The 2017 fair was the first of its kind with around 30 exhibitors and over 400 young people, many of whom went on to undertake apprenticeships.

“My apprenticeship gave me the inspiration I need to thrive for a great career,” says young apprentice Casey Abrams from City of Bristol College. “I feel motivated to train to become a business administration assessor so that I can help others achieve their goals and aspirations, just like I did.”

Lee Probert, Principal and Chief Executive for City of Bristol College, added: “We’ve seen many students benefit from apprenticeships, and we’re keen to support more young people in finding the right apprenticeship for them. Working with employers, we actively continue developing our apprenticeship offer to grow young talent in order to address local skills shortages.

“We’re delighted to be working with Karin on delivery of this event again and we’ll be on hand to offer help and advice on the day.”

Karin, who speaks regularly in Parliament about the need for quality apprenticeships, added: “It was great to see so many people at last year’s event, and I look forward to welcoming even more young people this year.”

The Bristol South Jobs & Apprenticeships Fair is once again being run in association with official media partners the Bristol Post. It coincides with International Women’s Day and there will be information on apprenticeships for young women.

The fair is free to attend with a limited number of free stands on offer for local businesses.

For more information or to book your stall, see: www.karinsmyth.com/apprenticeshipsfair2018

Palestinian Child Prisoners

Vicky Foxcroft (Lewisham, Deptford)

Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about the treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli detention. 

 

I share your concerns and agree that more needs to be done about this. No child, no matter what their nationality or where they are in the world, should be subjected to physical or psychological violence, blindfolded, painfully restrained, or subjected to coercive force or threats.

 

In 2012, the independent Children in Military Custody report outlined no fewer than 40 recommendations for how Israeli authorities should improve the way they deal with arrests, interrogations, bail hearings, sentencing and the investigation of complaints. However, over half a decade later, only one of these recommendations is believed to have been implemented.

  

The recent arrest of Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi has served to highlight these issues once again. I believe it is time for the UK Government to step up and demand that Israeli authorities not only implement the remaining recommendations of the Children in Military Custody report, but also respect their ongoing obligations under international law – in particular, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. There should also be an independent investigation into reports of ill-treatment of young people in Israel’s military detention system and I believe the UK Government must call for this immediately.

 

Without this kind of insistence on basic protections for the rights of Palestinians, we will never make the progress we all want to see towards a long term, sustainable peace in the Middle East. I can assure you that my Labour colleagues and I will continue to press the Government on the actions it is taking.

Conwy County Borough Council is inviting tenders for the following seasonal concessions:

  • Mobile Ice Cream Vending Licence on Conway Morfa Car Park, Conwy
  • Pitch and Putt, West Shore, Llandudno

Apply to Jane Allen:

e-mail jane.allen@conwy.gov.uk

or call 01492 574570.

Closing date for receipt of tenders: Friday 9th March 2018

 

 

WEST DUNBARTONSHIRE CHARITIES URGED TO APPLY FOR FUNDING

Martin Docherty (West Dunbartonshire)

Martin Docherty-Hughes, MP for West Dunbartonshire, is urging local charities and community groups to apply for grants of between £500 and £20,000 from the People’s Postcode Lottery. Projects in West Dunbartonshire have been successful in applying for over £75,000 of grant awards in recent years, including £18,500 for Glasgow Fever Basketball Club, £1,950 for Loch Lomond Rowing Club and £19,888 for ENABLE Scotland The latest funding rounds for the People’s Postcode Trust, Postcode Trust, Postcode Local Trust and Postcode Community...

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Whiteley Village – Enjoying Life to the Full

Dominic Raab (Esher and Walton)

Last week, I joined the retirement community at Whiteley Village as they launched a new Care Hub. Whiteley is an inspirational place, where retirees come to relax and be part of a community, while various levels of care are provided to support independent living as well as those who need more nursing or medical support in their twilight years.

The village is home to both self-funders and those of limited means – in accordance with the ethos of the founder William Whiteley. It is an innovative and inspirational example of how care in the community can be done in a personal and nurturing way.

So, I was delighted to come and put the first shovel in the ground, as they build the new hub. The idea is to create a facility that can provide nursing for those who need it, whilst also enabling family members to come, relax and spend time with their elderly relatives in comfort. The hub will use technology to link up with the other homes across the village, helping the residents to live independently with the comfort of knowing care or help is at hand whenever it is needed. My thanks and congratulations to the Whiteley Village leadership team – including Chairman Peter Wilkinson and CEO Chandra McGowan – and above all to the wonderful residents who bring the community to life.

Graham backs new plans for Hollym water treatment plant

Graham Stuart (Beverley and Holderness)

Beverley and Holderness MP, Graham Stuart, met with senior management at Yorkshire Water this week to discuss plans for the relocation of Withernsea Water Treatment Works.

With the current plant requiring relocation owing to coastal erosion, work is well underway to move the plant to just outside Hollym. In 2015, Yorkshire Water’s initial proposals kicked up a stink with local residents, who were concerned about the vicinity of the unpleasant smells. Graham got behind the campaign to oppose the plans and forced Yorkshire Water into a major rethink.

A planning application is now underway for a new, more environmentally sustainable Aero-Fac Wastewater Treatment Works, which will be submitted this spring, with work due to be completed by the end of 2021. The protection and replacement of the failing Long Sea Outfall pipe (LSO) is also underway with work due to be finished in 2020.

Graham said the £30 million Aero-Fac Wastewater Treatment Works is the first of its kind to be built in Yorkshire and will feature an innovative low-carbon construction which produces minimal odour and noise. Specifically, the plant will have no need for sludge removal, meaning no tanker movement and the subsequent impact on traffic that this brings.

Graham lobbied Yorkshire Water to keep residents up to date with the plans and they agreed that they will do so as the process continues.

Graham said “I welcome this project which represents a substantial investment of £30 million in Withernsea by Yorkshire Water and I’m pleased with assurances that there’s not expected to be an impact for residents in respect of odour and noise.

I will monitor progress on the plans as they progress to make sure that the plant delivers the changes that residents wanted to see. I also encourage residents to attend future Yorkshire Water consultation events to find out about the works and to make their views known.”

Live Life Local

Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills)

This is the first of my regular columns in the Live Life Local Magazine.

 

Lynne was a true community champion and we are all devastated by her loss. Lynne actually represented everything that is best about local democracy where it genuinely works to the advantage of local residents.

We first met when Lynne and her husband Ian accepted an invitation to attend one of my regular tours of the Houses of Parliament back in 2007. From a fortnight later we were regularly in touch working to solve local problems that Lynne had identified in her Hatfield neighbourhood. But I quickly noticed that Lynne would not only raise issues with me, but would literally work alongside to get them resolved for everyone.  So, when Lynne and Ian attended an event I was holding in Hatfield one evening, I saddled up to Lynne and asked her whether she might consider becoming a local Councillor. Lynne immediately said she was interested. And, the rest is history.

Serving twice as the Borough’s Mayor, Lynne got on brilliantly with everyone – regardless of their politics. She quickly had not only earned the respect of the whole council, but the wider community too. And Lynne was always someone who would get things done. From helping to move forward the improvements now becoming visible in Hatfield Town Centre, to working with numerous local charities including the new Hatfield Night Shelter and of course Isabel Hospice, where she spent her last day.

And I know that everyone who knew Lynne is quite simply devastated by her loss. She was someone that Welwyn Hatfield was fortunate to have both as Councillor and our Mayor. Our thoughts and prayers are with her very close-knit family. Our community will support them in the knowledge that we have all lost a true local champion who won the hearts and minds of everyone she met, with her mix of enormous empathy combined with an ability to simply get things done around here.

 Richard’s response


New Parliamentary report reveals ‘horrific’ impact of parental alcohol misuse
37% of child deaths and serious injuries through neglect linked to parental drinking

A new parliamentary report lays bare the reality of damage caused by parents who drink too much. The report, published by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology following a request by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children of Alcoholics, confirms that 37% of child deaths and serious injuries through neglect are linked to parental drinking.

The report comes as a new Freedom of Information investigation reveals that:

  1. Over half of councils still do not have a strategy to help children of alcoholics (COAs).
  2. Almost all councils are cutting their budgets for alcohol and drug treatment services.
  3. In more than half of councils, referrals to alcohol treatment services are falling.

The parliamentary report Parental Alcohol Misuse and Children is published by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST), for International Children of Alcoholics Week (11th-17th February 2018). The decision to write this report was made by the Board of POST, following a request by the APPG for Children of Alcoholics.

The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology’s remit is to provide Parliament with objective scientific analysis and to support uptake of research evidence by Parliament.

The report finds that:

  • Between 2011-14, ‘Parental Alcohol Misuse’ (PAM) was implicated in 37% of cases involving the death or serious injury of a child through neglect or abuse in England.
  • 18% of children reported feeling embarrassed by seeing their parent drunk, while 15% reported their bedtime routine had been disrupted as a result of their parents’ drinking.
  • 61% of care applications in England involved misuse of alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Children living with alcohol-dependent parents report feeling socially isolated, and are reluctant to seek help due to feelings of stigma, shame and guilt about not wanting to betray parents: Calls to helplines reveal their chronic worry and fear.
  • Children may have to take on caring responsibilities for the affected parent or younger siblings which can negatively impact school attendance and homework.
  • ‘Parental Alcohol Misuse’ leads to inconsistent and unpredictable parenting.

The report also notes that reviews of research into parental alcohol misuse identified increased risks of obesity, eating disorders, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder among children, as well as of hospital admissions and injuries.

Liam Byrne MP, who lost his dad to alcoholism in 2015 and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children of Alcoholics said:

“Millions of parents drink too much and their misuse of alcohol causes horrific problems for their children. Parental Alcohol Misuse scars kids for life and can leads many into a life of drinking too much themselves.

“Our campaign has now won a new commitment from government for a national strategy to stop parental alcohol misuse. This new report shows just why the government must act fast to put an effective plan in place.”

ENDS

 

 

Notes to editors

To interview Liam Byrne MP, please contact Harry Kind at harry.kind@parliament.uk or 07980630201.

For case studies, please contact the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACOA) on 0117 924 8005 or admin@nacoa.org.uk.

 

FOI Investigation Key Findings

1. Over half of Local Authorities still do not have a strategy to help children of alcoholics (COAs).

Over 50% of councils say they do not have a strategy of support for COAs.

Five Local Authorities – Bracknell Forest, Hartlepool Borough Council, Northamptonshire County Council, Reading and Warwickshire County Council – previously had strategies in place in 2015 but now do not.

This is a big improvement on 2015, when three quarters of councils did not have a strategy to support COAs.

 

2. Almost all Local Authorities have cut their budgets for alcohol and drug treatment services.

Of the 53 Local Authorities that provided data, 92.4% have cut their budgets for drug and alcohol treatment.

The average size of cuts is approximately £198,000 but the size of cuts varies significantly between Local Authorities:

  • Wolverhampton has cut its budget by just under £87,000 (1.1%)
  • Lancashire has cut its budget by £9.6 million (58.1%)

Nine Local Authorities have actually cut their budgets despite seeing increases in the number of referrals to their alcohol treatment services.  Blackburn, Hampshire, Lambeth, Lancashire, Ealing, Newcastle, Norfolk County Council, Peterborough and Rochdale Borough Council saw an average increase in referrals of 430, yet have cut their budgets by an average of £2.1 million.

 

3. In more than half of Local Authorities, referrals to alcohol treatment services are falling.

 In over half of councils, referrals of adults for alcohol addiction problems have fallen on the figures for 2014/2015.

Northamptonshire County Council saw the biggest decrease in referrals, from 2,904 2014/15 to 1,396 referrals in 2016/17 – a decrease of almost half.

 

POSTnote: Parental Alcohol Misuse and Children

The POSTnote can be found on the POST website here

Report Overview

  • Parental alcohol misuse (PAM) refers to a spectrum of problem drinking by those with parental responsibility for children.
  • It is unclear how many children across the UK this affects.
  • Most studies focus on the effects of parents’ harmful and dependent drinking on children, including educational and behavioural effects and impacts on physical and mental health.
  • Services for families affected by PAM can be provided by local authorities or charities and vary geographically. It is not clear how many of these services are targeted specifically at children.
  • Effective interventions focus on factors known to protect children from the effects of PAM, as well as providing services for the whole family and improving parenting skills.

The POSTnote has been peer-reviewed by 25 different individuals/organisations:

Government (central and local)

  1. Department for Education
  2. Department of Communities and Local Government
  3. Department of Health
  4. Local Government Association
  5. Public Health England

Devolved administrations

  1. Public Health Wales
  2. Research Services in the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies
  3. Scottish Government

Charities and NGOs

  1. Adfam
  2. Alcohol Research UK
  3. Children’s Society
  4. Institute of Alcohol Studies
  5. Mentor UK
  6. NACOA
  7. NSPCC
  8. Office of the Children’s Commissioner

Academics

  1. Professor Yvonne Kelly, UCL
  2. Professor Richard Velleman and Lorna Templeton, University of Bath
  3. Dr Luisa Zuccolo, University of Bristol
  4. Professor Judith Harwin, University of Lancaster
  5. Professor Petra Meier, University of Sheffield

Practitioners

  1. Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist and Director FDAC National Unit, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust
  2. Consultant Psychiatrist, FASD clinic, Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

POST Board Members

  1. Lord Naren Patel, Chair, Lords Science and Technology Committee
  2. Professor the Lord Winston

  

OFFICERS OF THE APPG ON CHILDREN OF ALCOHOLICS

Role Name Party
Chair & Registered Contact Liam Byrne Labour
Vice Chair Fiona Bruce Conservative
Vice Chair Baroness Hollins Crossbench
Vice Chair Caroline Flint Labour
Secretary Mr Gavin Shuker Labour (Co-op)
Treasurer Earl of Listowel Crossbench

 

 

The APPG for COA’s Ten Point Plan

 Take responsibility for children of alcoholics

  1. Create a national strategy for COAs
  2. Properly fund local support for COAs
  3. Increase availability of support for families battling addiction to alcohol
  4. Boost education and awareness for children
  5. Boost education and training for those with a responsibility for children
  6. Develop a plan to change public attitudes
  7. Revise the national strategy to tackle alcoholism to focus on price and availability
  8. Curtail the promotion of alcohol – especially to children
  9. Take responsibility for reducing rates of alcoholism

The post New Parliamentary report reveals ‘horrific’ impact of parental alcohol misuse appeared first on Liam Byrne MP.

70th Anniversary of the NHS

Steve Pound (Ealing North)

MPs will be taking part in the NHS70 Parliamentary Awards in July which will identify and highlight innovative and high-quality care across every constituency in England in recognition of the dedication, hard work and commitment made by so many NHS staff.

I attended an event at Westminster organised by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Endangered Species to highlight the elephant poaching crisis and public support for a UK ivory ban. I was able to view some of the many ivory items recently donated by members of the public to IFAW’s UK ivory surrender.

IFAW invited people to surrender their own ivory to be destroyed as part of a campaign to close the UK’s ivory market and save this iconic species from the threat of extinction. The surrender has received overwhelming support from the UK public with almost 500 ivory items weighing around 150kgs donated in just a few months.

IFAW has run previous successful public ivory surrenders in the UK in 2004, 2011 and 2014, but has received far more donations in the recent surrender which ran from mid-July last year to the end of January. Items received range from whole raw and worked tusks to statues, carvings and jewellery.

Philip Mansbridge, UK Director of IFAW told me that there is clearly huge public momentum in the UK for an ivory ban.

With elephant populations at an all-time low and the species facing extinction due to the ivory poaching crisis which is killing at least 20,000 elephants each year, it is fantastic to see so many people keen to give up their ivory. We thank everyone who has surrendered ivory as well as the huge number of politicians who are supporting the campaign for a UK ivory ban.

Polling commissioned by IFAW reveals that the vast majority of the UK public want to protect elephants with a UK trade ban and do not wish to purchase ivory themselves. An overwhelming 95% of respondents polled by YouGov stated that they would not be interested in purchasing antique ivory. A YouGov survey of MPs also found 97% of MPs to be supportive of either a total ivory ban or a ban with some exemptions.

Time is running out for elephants and we must act now before it is too late. It is shocking seeing all this donated ivory when in reality each piece of ivory represents a dead elephant, shot or poisoned for its tusks. Clearly from the amount of ivory donated to IFAW’s ivory surrender more and more people recognise that ivory should only be valued on a live elephant. It is very good news that all this ivory will be put beyond use.

The Government recently announced that it had received more than 70,000 responses to its ivory ban consultation, one of the largest ever public responses to a Defra consultation, with the overwhelming majority analysed so far supportive of a ban.

Impact of Tourist Office closures greater in rural areas says MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar

lochmaddy TO

In a letter to Joan McAlpine MSP Chair of Holyrood’s Committee on Culture Tourism, Europe and External Affairs, Angus MacNeil MP has asked for the impact of the closure of Tourist Information Centres to be investigated.

Commenting Mr MacNeil said

“A 70 mile stretch of my Constituency covering a number of Islands will go from having three Tourist Information Offices to having none. Visit Scotland appear to have decided to close Tourist Offices purely on the basis of footfall without regard to the geography of the area or to the number of visitors compared to the size of the resident population.

Castlebay Tourist office had 17000 visitors in 2016 – 17 times the population of the Isle of Barra, Lochmaddy saw 6,000 visitors, more than 4 times the number of residents. With few other sources of information in these rural areas the impact on tourism could be substantial.

I have asked Joan McAlpine MSP and her Committee to look into how Visit Scotland made their decisions and the impact on tourism in remote and rural areas such as the Islands of these cuts.”

 

 

 

President of Ireland

This week the country celebrated 100 years since the passing of the Representation of the People Act, a seismic piece of legislation that extended franchise to women over 30 who owned property. Though full franchise would take a further ten years to achieve, I was delighted to participate in events in Parliament and the constituency to celebrate the landmark.

The Suffragette Movement was undoubtedly a nationwide struggle, and this month I was able to honour one of our local connections. Eva Gore-Booth was an Irish Suffragette whose campaigns were responsible for aligning the struggles for women’s rights in industry and their right to vote in the UK. She is buried in Hampstead, and I was joined by the President of Ireland, Frances O’Grady of the TUC and local Councillors, to lay a wreath at Eva’s grave.

Women's Institute

I was also delighted to address our local Women’s Institute, not only to mark the centenary of the vote, but also to mark their own centenary since their first motion was passed. I hope that this month’s celebrations will inspire thousands of young women in Hampstead and Kilburn to assume leadership positions and to live their lives to the fullest potential.

Figures released today by the British Medical Association (BMA) show that most mental healthcare commissioners and providers don’t record the number of people waiting for specialist therapies.
 
Freedom of Information (FoI) requests made by the BMA to Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and NHS mental health trusts revealed nine in 10 (166) of the 183 CCGs who responded have no records of waiting times for talking therapies for treating severe mental illness last year.
 
For those CCGs and Trusts which did respond, the BMA found 3,700 patients waited more than six months for talking therapies. Around 1,500 patients waited longer than a year before therapy started, with year-long waits found in two-thirds of responding mental health trusts. Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust recorded 373 patients currently waiting over a year to access talking therapies.
 
Hospital trusts pointed to rising demand and a national shortage of the right kind of therapists, as reasons for long waits.
 
Commenting on the figures, Jeff said:
 
“For those living with severe mental health conditions, waiting over a year can be devastating.
 
It’s clear from the BMA’s investigation that not only are waiting times for specialist therapies too long, but we lack the data needed to hold trusts, CCGS, and ultimately the Government accountable.
 
These figures are yet more evidence of the yawning gap between the Prime Minister’s promise to ‘transform mental health services’ and the reality facing cash-strapped CCGs and trusts.
 
Ministers must ask themselves how long they can go on cutting mental health budgets while patients and staff are put under unbearable pressure.
 
It’s time Jeremy Hunt faced the reality on the ground and ring-fenced mental health budgets.”
nhs_plain_2.jpg
Speaking in the Commons, Hull North MP Diana Johnson has accused the Government of going back 100 years in forcing ‘the poor to keep the poorest’ with council tax hikes, while cutting Government funding for council services, in deprived areas like Hull.
 
Dave Cross / Tuesday 20 February 2018 20:21