This edition contains an update on Covid-19 and my activities across the constituency and in Parliament.
Read the full edition here.
Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil is highlighting the launch of a new benefit which is now open for applications from island residents as part of a pilot scheme started by the Scottish Government.
Applicants in Na h-Eileanan an Iar who are looking after a child or young person with mobility or care needs as a result of a disability, or who has a terminal illness, should apply to Social Security Scotland for Child Disability Payment, rather than to the UK Government’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for Disability Living Allowance for Children.
The pilot will be followed by a full national roll-out across Scotland later this year.
This is the first application-based disability benefit to be introduced by the Scottish Government.
Children and young people who currently receive Disability Living Allowance for children from the Department for Work and Pensions do not need to apply for Child Disability Payment. The transfer of Disability Living Allowance for cases will take place this Autumn. This will include moving the case from the Department for Work and Pensions to Social Security Scotland and replacing the Disability Living Allowance for children award with Child Disability Payment. Clients who have their benefits transferred will receive the same rates and components of Child Disability Payment they received in Disability Living Allowance and will be paid on the same schedule.
For more information, contact Social Security Scotland by phone on 0800 182 2222 or visit mygov.scot
I recently spoke in the Summer Adjournment Debate to praise communities across the country, including South Shields, for showing the absolute best of our country throughout the pandemic.
It was important for me to begin my speech by setting a reminder of how the Government has failed our country since the start of the pandemic. We have seen them award almost £1.5 billion to Tory friends and donors; send covid patients into care homes, leading to thousands of deaths; fail to equip our heroic health service with adequate PPE, then deny health workers a fair pay rise; row back on manifesto promises to pensioners, our armed forces and foreign aid; deny refuge to children fleeing conflict and persecution; repeatedly ignore the crisis in adult and children’s social care; exclude 3 million people from financial support; be shamed into feeding hungry children; silence any dissent and clamp down on freedom of speech, proposing to jail journalists who print the truth; and disfranchise millions from voting in the future.
It’s shocking to think they are a small proportion of examples, the list goes on and on. We should be deeply worried about the trajectory in which the Government are taking our country.
The real difference is how the people of South Shields and our key workers have behaved in comparison to the Government over the past year and a half. From fundraising and delivering food and essentials to our friends, neighbours and wider community, to our local taxi firms offering free taxi transport to elderly and vulnerable people to help them shop for essential supplies. Alongside those going above and beyond to help and support others, and the creation of online activities during a time when many of us felt lonely and isolated. In comparison to the Government, the list goes on and on with truly heartwarming gestures towards those in our community who have struggled during the pandemic.
I could spend hours praising individuals, businesses and organisations in South Shields who have truly shown the best of our country. For those who I did mention in my speech and those who I did not manage to fit in, I am so proud of you all.
I concluded my speech with a simple message to the Government: do better, be more like South Shields.
It is an honour to represent you all.
It is not a sensible approach to green matters to impose more and more rules and restrictions on the lives of the many, only for the establishment to show scorn for such rules in the way they themselves behave. I think all those who preach the green revolution should ask themselves two things before saying anything. The first is, have they done themselves what they are telling others to do? If not it is hypocrisy, and will damage their cause. The second is to check that their advice to everyone else offers practical and sensible ways of conforming with their views that people can afford and accept.
I remember attending a presentation on the need for electric cars sometime ago before the pandemic in Westminster. The person presenting on how we all needed to switch to electric vehicles invited questions at the end. I asked him the simple question of when had he bought one, what was it and how had it worked out for him. It was not meant to be a trick question and it never occurred to me that such a devoted advocate would not have bought one, but he confessed he had not yet made the purchase. I asked the supplementary of when would he, and he still fluffed it, refusing to commit!
I still have not met people with a heat pump on their wish list and when I last made enquiries of heating engineers they guided me off any such idea on grounds of high cost and poor effectiveness. Sales of diesel and petrol cars are down as people have grasped the government intends to make owning them dearer and more difficult, but sales of electric cars are far from replacing the lost sales. People are not reassured about range and battery performance, and think the products are still dear.
The Green revolution needs popular good value products promoted by people whose own lifestyles conform with their net zero doctrine. Creating a Tesla class and seeing the ultra rich flying around in private jets does not help create a popular green revolution.
This afternoon, Cumbrian MP Tim Farron has started a petition calling for planning law to be changed to stop family homes being turned into second homes and holiday lets.
In South Lakeland there has been a 32% increase in the number of holiday lets in the district over the past year.
Meanwhile the Government's stamp duty holiday has helped to lead to a sharp anecdotal rise in the number of second homes being bought in Cumbria.
A recent meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority heard that 3,100 of the national park's 12,000 properties were now holiday lets and second homes.
The petition can be signed here.
Tim said: "In rural places across the United Kingdom from Cumbria to Cornwall, and Wales to Northumberland, the explosion in the number of family homes being turned into second homes and holiday lets is turning our beautiful vibrant communities into ghost towns.
"Holiday lets provide great economic benefit to the local area and of course people are entitled to buy a second home, but the need for families to have a home of their own must come first.
"I want to see holiday lets and second homes become different categories of planning use so that local councils have the power and resources to say when enough is enough.
"This should have happened years ago but the extreme circumstances brought about by the pandemic and the stamp duty holiday mean that now surely is the time for radical action."Published and promoted by P Trollope on behalf of T Farron and the Liberal Democrats, all at Yard 2, Stricklandgate, Kendal
Last week, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman released the first part of its long-awaited investigation into the Department for Work and Pensions. The investigation all centres on whether the DWP communicated effectively to 1950’s-born women about the changes to their State Pensions.
The report’s findings were no surprise, and vindicated what 1950s women have been saying for decades, namely that there was maladministration on the part of the DWP over successive Governments in communication about changes to women’s State Pensions. The report stated that the DWP “failed to make reasonable decisions based on the information available to it” and were too slow in telling women about how the changes to State Pension age would affect them.
The impact of this maladministration has been devastating for millions of women across the UK. Many have spoken about how they had no idea that their pensions had changed until it was too late and were left unable to make plans and economically prepare for the alteration. I’ve spoken to women in my constituency who have been unable to support their families, unable to meet care responsibilities, and have been impacted both mentally and physically as a result.
I have long backed the calls of 1950s women for recognition and compensation. I was a co-sponsor to one of the WASPI women who reported the DWP to the Ombudsman, and am also the co-chair of the All-party parliamentary group on State Pension Inequality for Women alongside the Conservative MP Peter Aldous. The APPG is a cross-party group of parliamentarians who work hard to keep the issue of State Pension Inequality alive. This report therefore felt like a watershed moment for me and the women that I have come to know so well over the years. They’ve marched outside Parliament innumerable times and have been ignored for far too long. I’ve seen first-hand the lack of meaningful engagement with WASPI women from Government ministers who want the issue forgotten.
The fact is WASPI women aren’t going anywhere. This is an issue that spans over 25 years, and none of the major political parties are blameless. We must see ministerial recognition of this issue, and the current Government and the DWP must take proper action to address the concerns of these women. Now that the Ombudsman has found maladministration, it makes it much harder for the DWP to argue against compensatory policies, and I hope this moment is a catalyst for real change.
Until then, however, I and the APPG will continue to stand with 1950s women. They are the toughest of the tough, and I know that together, we will eventually get some form of justice.
The post 1950s-born women have finally been vindicated – my monthly article for the Correspondent appeared first on Andrew Gwynne MP.
The Author’s Licensing and Collecting Society gave me a £100 book token for a quiz I participated in, so I gave it to Mountfield School and look what great use they made of it.
Reading is a door to so many different worlds for young people, we must support them in opening it!
Today is Norfolk Day, the day when we all come together to celebrate all that’s best about our county! We are a special county of heritage, community, natural beauty, arts and innovation and opportunity.
As we begin our recovery from Covid-19 and begin to get our county fully moving again, now more than ever we need to shout about all the things that make our beautiful part of the world the BEST place in which to live, work and visit – and do all we can to support our local businesses, charities, and community groups.
Happy Norfolk Day
Sensational wins for @adam_peaty, @TomDaley1994 and @mattydiver bringing home gold for @TeamGB. If you’re #InspiredToTry any of the fantastic aquatic sports you can find your local club using @Swim_England’s tool here https://t.co/AcMyGHUOSK— Stephen McPartland (@SMcPartland) July 26, 2021
This article was originally published by The Times and made available here.
When we talk in economics about consumers, the image that usually springs to mind is of a person in a shop buying something. What if we invert the perspective, though, so the consumer is the person behind the till selling the customer a trinket? Because that person will, after all, go out later and buy a trinket of their own using the wages they have just earned. There are 32.5 million of these consumers in Britain, 60 per cent of the adult population, and they are also known as workers.
The point is so obvious it is barely worth making but it’s important because our competition regulators have a single concern: consumer protection. “Our statutory duty is to promote competition for the benefit of consumers,” the Competition and Markets Authority says. What that tends to mean is prices. It wants to be sure the customer at the till is getting a good deal. The wages of the consumer working behind the till are less of a concern.
Recent economic analysis is making this view look increasingly outdated. What monopolies theoretically do is corner a market and use their dominance to gouge customers with higher prices, as JD Rockefeller supposedly did at Standard Oil in the early 20th century before the company was broken up. It’s hard to discern that happening today. Amazon has brought prices down. Facebook and Google offer their services free. Looking at prices, it’s hard to spot any detriment to the final consumer.
Yet there is evidence that the economy’s competitive forces are withering. The CMA’s State of UK Competition report last November said: “Competition across the economy as a whole may have declined over the last 20 years.” Concentration is rising, in other words there are fewer operators in certain markets or regions, and “mark-ups”, the amount businesses charge above cost, are bigger. That chimes with analysis in the US and Europe.
The CMA is evolving; a new unit is being created to tackle the natural monopolising forces of the digital economy. It has taken action in traditional fields; blocking the Sainsbury’s-Asda merger and cracking down on housebuilders’ rip-off leasehold deals. But, as identified in two recent reports from Lord Tyrie, the outspoken former CMA chairman, and John Penrose, the Tory MP and anti-corruption champion, the regulator is too reactive.
In his paper for the Centre for Policy Studies last week, Tyrie said the CMA should be “a repository of expertise on the microeconomy: are levels of competition falling or rising; in which sectors and why?” Penrose wants it to be “a microeconomic sibling for the Bank of England’s macroeconomic role”.
To bring us back to the worker-consumer, this kind of regional and sectoral microeconomic analysis is exactly what is needed to identify where competition is being eroded. Monopolistic power is at least as likely to reveal itself in low pay as in high prices, as investigations into Sports Direct, Amazon and Leicester’s garment sweatshops have shown. If a regional population has fewer employer options, workers cannot shop around for a better wage.
Dominance in labour markets is called monopsony and is the flip side to consumer protection. Rather than push up prices to boost profits, a company drives down labour costs. For the consumer, it amounts to the same thing. Either way, their cost of living rises as they are gouged by powerful companies.
History shows that monopolies rarely raise prices. Standard Oil engaged in predatory pricing to kill the competition. Amazon allegedly treats sellers on its marketplace the same, spotting what’s popular and undercutting them. Google and Facebook buy rivals to neutralise competitive threats. All of which is economically scarring.
Competition is the dynamism that drives productivity. A regulator that can map microeconomic patterns, identify areas of market concentration and act preventatively to help new entrants would be invaluable.
At Stokes Wood headteacher, Jane Gadsby, and her team have been giving children such a great start to their summer with mud monsters, henna hand painting, mini golf and delicious sandwiches.
At New Parks Adventure Playground, Jo and the whole team here are doing amazing work offering fun and food to children for 5 weeks over the summer.
Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South, has launched her Summer Survey to find out what constituents think of the constituency and how communities can benefit going forward.
The Summer Survey is timely as it is also a chance for constituents to share how the pandemic has affected them. Be it difficulties with securing much needed services whilst social distancing or finding new ways to move around the area, Karin wants to know.
The Summer Survey will run from 26 July 2021 until 31 August 2021.
The information gathered will support Karin in being able to steer services and investment towards what constituents want. This listening exercise will focus on the following areas:
Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South, said:
“This year’s Summer Survey is a chance to have your voice heard. The pandemic has completely changed how we all live and I want to know how this year has affected you. From housing to healthcare, your views matter. All too often decision makers in government fail to base their decisions on real life voices. That’s why I’m undertaking this survey: to ensure we have the evidence needed to secure positive change.
“It’s my hope that people living in south Bristol share my survey amongst friends and family so we can reach people who don’t normally engage in politics. The truest words ever said about our laws is ‘all politics is local’. I’ve been determined as your MP to make the real change we all need and that means reaching out to everyone.
“My survey will run all summer long and I hope this means everyone takes part. My Summer Survey will compliment the normal work I undertake throughout the year, which includes advice surgeries, supporting local charities and seeking forums between local and national governments.”
You can take part in the Summer Survey here.The post Karin Smyth MP calls on Bristol South constituents to take part in her Summer Survey first appeared on Karin Smyth.
Subscribe to Nigel’s email newsletter here.
Welcome to my July email newsletter. I hope you and your families are staying safe and well during this challenging time, as we start to try to return to normality from the pandemic and enjoy the Summer, whilst still trying to be cautious and sensible with precautions where possible in the face of rising cases.
It is only right that at this critical juncture in our journey out of lockdown, we take a moment to reflect on the extraordinary sacrifices of the wonderful people who make up our NHS, our key workers, and all those involved in the vaccine rollout.
Below you’ll find updates on the latest cases and vaccination restrictions, a link to my new online survey and details of what’s been happening in Parliament and around Amber Valley.
Online Summer Survey – let me know your views:
As we head towards Summer Recess in Parliament, I’m about to start delivering my annual report across Amber Valley – please say hello if you see me out and about.
In the report and online, I’m launching a survey to get your views on local issues and recovering from Covid-19, from health appointments to boosting our economy.
Please take just a couple of minutes to complete my Summer Survey and let me know your views here.
Easing Lockdown Restrictions
On Monday 19th July 2021, the Government lifted all remaining restrictions on social distancing in England. This represents a further step towards normality as we adjust to living with this virus. Although coronavirus cases are continuing to rise nationally, we have not seen the corresponding rise in hospitalisations and deaths that we would expect given the rates of illness we observed last year. It is, therefore, becoming increasingly clear that the link between infections and serious illness is sufficiently broken to enable this further relaxation of restrictions. However, we must remain careful and exercise our own good judgement to keep transmission in our local community to a minimum.
Local Case Rates
The Delta (B.1.617.2) variant continues to spread across the country and Public Health England (PHE) is now confident that it has overtaken the Alpha variant to become the most dominant strain of the virus circulating in the UK. The Delta variant is believed to be around 60% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which itself is more transmissible than the original strain of coronavirus. Encouragingly however, new analysis by PHE shows that 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against hospitalisation from the Delta variant.
As predicted in light of this, cases continue to rise nationally, and this trend is no different locally in Amber Valley. You can find the latest case data here. We are now ahead of the England average which highlights the need for us to remain careful.
The Country’s vaccine program continues apace with more than 46.2 million people in the UK having received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine – part of the biggest inoculation programme the country has ever launched.
I was pleased to see the rollout expanded after the Government hit its target of offering a first jab to everyone in the top priority groups – all those over the age of 50, plus those in high-risk categories by mid-April. With every adult in the UK now having been offered their first dose of the vaccine. A terrific effort, nationally and locally.
As of last Saturday 17th July, Amber Valley had successfully given at least one dose of the vaccine to 88% of local adults, with 72.8% having received both jabs. This remains slightly above the average for England which stands at 87.7% of adults having received one jab, and 68% both jabs. These figures are a testament to the exemplary vaccine program here in our constituency.
I will continue to engage with ministers, the public health team, and the local NHS to ensure that this area continues to see the full roll out of vaccines.
Easing of restrictions
As of Monday 19th July, all legal restrictions on social distancing in England have been lifted. This is truly excellent news, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing Amber Valley businesses, organisations, and individuals operating at full capacity without legal restrictions.
The following measures are now in place across England:
– No limits on how many people can meet.
– 1m-plus rule removed (except in some places like hospitals).
– Face coverings no longer required by law.
– Nightclubs can open.
– Pubs and restaurants no longer table service only.
– No limits on guests at weddings and funerals.
– No limits on people attending concerts, theatres or sports events.
– No restrictions on communal worship.
It is important to remember, however, that this easing of restrictions is designed to empower ourselves as individuals to use our common sense to slow the spread of the virus, which is still very present in our communities. Therefore, I implore you to enjoy these new freedoms responsibly.
As ever, to find out more information on what restrictions apply in your area please look here.
Supporting our local economy
As we try to re-open, it’s key to support our local economy to bounce back, and provide a boost to local jobs and businesses. Unemployment is Amber Valley is currently at 4.2%, which is below the national average of 5.6% and 150 lower than in May 2021. As the Job Retention Scheme (furlough) starts to wind down, we need to remain cautious, but there are lots of vacancies around and local employers advertising job opportunities, including the Kickstart Scheme to help young people get back into work. I’ll also look to organise a Job Fair, maybe initially virtually, over the next few months – please get in touch if you’d like to be involved in this.
I’ve recently welcomed the Government’s New Plan for Immigration, also known as the Borders Bill, into parliament. This legislation intends to:
I know constituents want more to be done to reduce illegal immigration. I will, therefore, continue to engage with ministers throughout this Bill’s journey through parliament to ensure the Government delivers on its manifesto commitments of reducing illegal immigration to UK.
In Parliament this month, I’ve been asking questions on travel restrictions, catch-up education and English Votes for English Laws legislation.
During recent questions to the Secretary of State for Transport, I raised the issue on behalf of constituents of families with children under 18 wanting to travel abroad, but who aren’t eligible for the vaccine as yet. I’m pleased the Secretary of State agreed to look into this issue, and you can find out more on his answer here.
I’ve also asked the Secretary of State for Education about catch-up tutoring for school pupils following the pandemic, and you can find the full debate on this here.
And, during Business Questions in the House, I asked about the continuation of English Votes for English Laws legislation, as part of a continued fair settlement of devolution across the UK. You can find more on this here and on my Twitter feed here.
You can also find more on my recent parliamentary appearances and questions here.
Locally, I’ve been working with local residents and councillors to help oppose plans to construct a 310-acre solar farm on a vast swathe of green space between Alfreton and Oakerthorpe. The solar farm has been proposed by Kronos Solar and is subject to several planning applications across Amber Valley Borough Council and North East Derbyshire District Council. I think this would destroy our local landscape due it’s scale and extent, so whilst I’m not against renewable energy or solar panels, I think these applications are inappropriate.
The applications are still awaiting determination by the councils (likely to be in September) so there’s still time to comment or lodge any concerns you may have.
You can find details of the residents’ objection group, and information on the individual applications and how to comment if you haven’t already, here.
Amber Valley Borough Council Local Plan consultation – Have your say!
The new administration at the Borough Council has launched a new consultation on the next stage of preparing Amber Valley’s Local Plan, a development document which will set out and plan future housing growth in the area, and making sure we have the infrastructure improvements to match any new homes. I welcome the planned reduction in the overall number of new homes being proposed, which is part of the consultation. The Council are also consulting on the options for the overall strategy (spatial strategy) of the plan, which include focusing housing growth on the Derby City urban area border, in and around Amber Valley’s four key towns, or in the wider area and villages.
The consultation on the proposals and headline strategy for the plan so far is open from now until the 30th September 2021. Please do take opportunity to feed in your views to the Council – I know how strongly residents rightly feel over housing in our area, and so this is the most important chance to have your say on making sure we protect our Green Belt and shaping the future of planning in our area. You can find the consultation and how to submit your views on the proposals here.
As always, if there are any street repairs in your area, such as potholes, pavement repairs or broken street lights, you can report these issues and concerns to me quickly and easily here so I can ask for the repairs to be investigated and addressed.
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Get in Touch!
As always, you can contact me by hitting the ‘reply’ button on this email, or you can ring my office on 01773 744341.
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We are seeing restrictions on Covid loosen as the sun has come out. Although pubs and restaurants have opened and we have a great deal more freedom than last summer, it still is not “business as usual”. We must continue to be careful and to behave responsibly to ensure that Covid does not spread and that we protect ourselves and our loved ones from both Covid and Long Covid. Please continue to wear your masks – it is still a requirement in Wales – follow social distancing where you can, and continue to wash your hands frequently.
I want to say a huge thank you and well done to all the hardworking teachers, teaching assistants, and all staff, in Neath. It has been an incredibly difficult year, one in which they have had to learn an entirely different way of teaching, using new software and adapting their teaching styles to overcome the barriers that computers sometimes put in place. They have continued to teach and support our pupils through this difficult time, and have welcomed them back to school with enthusiasm, despite all the worries and challenges. Thank you to all of you. You are incredible.
The last week in Parliament before the summer recess, has been as busy as all the previous weeks. On Monday, as vice chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Restorative Justice (RJ), attending the two final evidence sessions, which we held as part of our enquiry into RJ as set out in our Terms of Reference “To examine the use of RJ principles within the U.K. justice system and beyond, to raise the profile of RJ principles within Parliament, and to provide opportunities for policy discussion and consultation”.
I chaired the first session, when we heard from Jim Simon and Dr Gerard Drennan from the RJ Council, followed by Nina Champion from the Criminal Justice Alliance. At the second session we heard from witnesses: Prison Chaplain, Reverend Shawn Verhey, who spoke about the Sycamore Tree Project which is an intensive 5-8 week in-prison programme that brings together groups of unrelated victims and offenders, using a curriculum guide prepared by the Prison Fellowship International (PFI); and Dr Kerry Clamp, Assistant Professor in Criminology, Nottingham University, who spoke about her extensive research into how police are trained to deliver and practice RJ.
This was followed by Linda Millington, of Why Me?, who introduced 4 witnesses that told us about their individual experiences of RJ. Ray and Vi Donovan spoke extensively about the murder of their son Chris in 2001, and the Chris Donovan Trust charity that they set up in his memory to educate prisoners and young people on the impact of violent crime. They have become prolific campaigners for RJ, and have given talks in many prisons, schools, Youth Offending Teams, probation services, and youth clubs across the U.K.
On Tuesday morning I joined the APPG for Hospitality and Tourism to receive an update from Kurt Jansen of the Tourism Alliance, and Richard Clifford of U.K. Hospitality with the peak summer season underway and restrictions being lifted at different times by the nations across the U.K. They spoke about the problems for businesses to survive through the pandemic and the shortage of staff in their sectors. In the hospitality sector, 650,000 jobs have been lost and many staff are unable to work because of being “pinged”. Kurt and Richard would like the U.K. Government to extend the VAT reduction, and provide long term business rates relief, because businesses in both sectors are struggling to survive and the next three months will be crucial to rebuilding balance sheets in order to survive through the winter, into the next season. Kurt said that the situation was much better in Wales because support had been focused, and Richard agreed, and commended the Welsh Government for extending the business rates holiday, illustrating that the Welsh Government believes that hospitality and tourism are such important sectors to Wales.
As a new member of the Parliamentary Petitions Committee I took part in a private meeting with its Chair Catherine McKinnell, its members, and the clerks to the committee to discuss the work programme for the petitions that may reach the required number of petitioners in order to be debated in Westminster Hall in the autumn.
Dame Katherine Grainger, Chair of U.K. Sport, and Mike Sharrock Chief Executive of the British Paralympic Association, gave members a briefing looking ahead to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics hosted by John Lamont MP. Dame Katherine has 5 Olympic rowing medals, 5 silvers and a gold from London in 2012, is 6 times World Champion, and proudly told us that for the first time, the GB Olympic Team has more women than men. Katherine said that these Olympics are the most challenging of all Games for all the competitors, and that the GB Team are prepared to cope with the extra demands of the pandemic whilst competing, and all its members will do their very best to perform to the best of their abilities.
I spoke about my life changing experience being part of the GB Youth Team to the Munich Olympics, and that many events were not open to female competitors in those days, but how far women’s sport has come in the intervening years. I asked Katherine and Mike what they thought about Squash not being included in the events at any Olympic Games, highlighted the campaign we have been running to get Squash included since the Barcelona Games, without success, and asked whether Katherine and Mike knew the reasons for our failure. They did not, but I was very encouraged to hear that they thought that Squash is a fantastic sport, and should have been included many Games ago. I asked Katherine what was her favourite moment of all Olympic Games, and she said that when she was competing in her first Games in Sydney in 2000. She will never forget the wonderful Australian Aboriginal athlete Cathy Freeman lighting the Olympic Flame at the opening ceremony and Cathy going on to win 400 metres gold.
As a life time member of the British American Parliamentary Group, I attended an online briefing with Dr Richard Wike, of the Pew Research Centre, which has studied trends in global perceptions of the US and its presidents for two decades. It’s newest findings, based on polling data collected in 16 advanced economy around the world, explored the public image of Joe Biden, including several of his major policy initiatives and how America’s reputation has changed in the post-Trump period. Dr Wike discussed the new data and compared America’s current reputation in international affairs with public perceptions of China and the European Union. For more information click – Pew Center Research Presentation
On Wednesday I attended a briefing given by Rachael Maskell MP, Shadow Minister for the Voluntary Sector and Charities, who has been meeting with charities and Councils for Voluntary Services (CVSs) virtually across the U.K. to listen to their concerns. The importance of volunteers can not be underestimated, and we will never forget all the dedicated work that volunteers have done to keep us safe throughout the pandemic. We heard about the funding difficulties that the voluntary sector has faced during the pandemic, and will continue to face, due to the complexity of funding applications, which must be simplified, so that this sector has the resources to continue to deliver. Only one in twenty application is successful. Many trusties, who have been involved for many years, are facing retirement, and there is a dearth of new trusties coming forward. We shall continue to urge the U.K. Government to make legislation provisions to support the voluntary sector.
I am shortly going to be going live with my Summer Survey. I want to hear your views on a range of issues that will help inform my work in Parliament in the autumn, and to represent your views and concerns. From the climate emergency to support for community groups and charities, from youth activities to the courts, I want to hear what you think about some of the biggest challenges facing the UK. Covid has brought us many challenges, but it has also compounded many that have developed over the last decade. The U.K. Government has implemented funding cuts to the justice system, the education system, and the health system which has left the UK lacking the resilience to confront immediate challenges such as the pandemic. It is important that the recovery from Covid is informed by the concerns and values of our local communities.
As always, if you have any questions or issues and want to get in touch, please do not hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01639 630152.
My staff are working from home to comply with the social distancing measures, but, as always, we are available, should you need to get in contact with us. Massive thanks to all my staff who have worked so hard during very challenging times.
I hope you stay well, enjoy the weekend, and remember – observe social distancing, wash your hands regularly and keep Wales safe.
A virtual Children's Parliament is being held at 5pm on Friday 29th October 2021 ahead of the COP26 United Nations Climate Change conference.
650 Child MPs, from primary schools across Britain, made up of children between 7 and 11 years of age (next term), will be debating their views on a range of issues including climate change, the Covid-19 response and technology.
Microsoft and online educational content curator Wakelet are delivering the platform for the children to use for this unique experience.
South Shropshire MP, Philip Dunne, is encouraging children in South Shropshire to take part, and has written to local schools to encourage pupil participation.
Mr Dunne said:
“As Chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee, I have been working hard to encourage community engagement the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in November.
“As we know, young people are today very engaged with environmental concerns, and policymakers must act to protect their future. So I am pleased to be encouraging schools in South Shropshire to nominate pupils to take part and be a Child MP for the day, to discuss with other children the importance of sustainability and the environment.”
Children will be asked to join a live-streamed Microsoft Teams call with other children from around the UK to talk about sustainability and climate change. Children nominated therefore need to be comfortable appearing on camera, and a selected few children will also have the opportunity speak on behalf of their class and constituency in the live event.
In response to a question at July Full Council, the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Resources has called on the Government to retain the £20 a week uplift in Universal Credit – highlighting how it supports many low paid working people in Nottingham.
There are roughly 35,000 people on Universal Credit in Nottingham and in response to the pandemic in April last year the Government introduced an increase in payments of £20 a week. There is growing speculation that the Government will reverse the uplift later this year resulting in increasing difficulty for many people who are already struggling.
Responding to a question at Full Council on the issue, Cllr Sam Webster said “Universal Credit supports low paid working people in our city, tens of thousands of children in our city and people who are entitled to support with housing costs or have lost their job during the Covid pandemic.”
Cllr Webster commenting on the consequences of the £20 a week uplift being reversed warned that “It will often be felt most acutely by Nottingham children who are growing up in families where there already isn’t much money around, families who are living in poverty.”
In January this year Nottingham City Council passed a motion urging the Government to retain the £20 a week increase to Universal Credit and urging an extension of the payment to claimants of legacy benefits who are currently excluded from the additional support. This was followed up by a letter from the Leader of Nottingham City Council to the Chancellor emphasising the importance of the £20 a week uplift.
Cllr Webster continued his response by saying “Lower paid and lower skilled working people are much more likely to have lost their job, not be able to work from home, have additional childcare needs, have gone through periods of Covid isolation without receiving pay, have lost hours at work….and the list goes on. Reducing Universal Credit now would be big blow to many families who are already struggling to make ends meet.” He also argued that the uplift in Universal Credit should be seen as a litmus test for how seriously the Government is about levelling, saying to not make the uplift permanent would be a case of “levelling down”.
Cllr Webster ended by saying “In the aftermath of the global financial crisis a decade ago it was (and still is) shameful that the poorest people in this country were made to pay the price of mistakes made by the wealthiest. In terms of the policies that our national politicians pursue – this is one of those markers – who will The Conservative Government expect to pay for this latest economic and public debt crisis? The message from Labour in Nottingham is crystal clear – let it not be the poorest families again.”
The post “Universal Credit uplift should be permanent” says city councillor appeared first on Nottingham Labour.
Barnsley Central MP and South Yorkshire Mayor Dan Jarvis took part in a site visit at Lang Avenue, Lundwood to meet with officers from Barnsley Council and Yorkshire Water and discuss the ongoing flood alleviation works.
CADEY is steadily whittling down the number of communities in Beverley and Holderness in need of a publicly accessible defibrillator.
On Friday 23 July, Graham Stuart MP, founder and Chair of the CADEY campaign will be joined by his CADEY Committee to celebrate the launch of CADEY’s latest defibrillator.
Fully funded by CADEY’s generous partner, HFR Solutions, this latest addition to the life-saving devices inspired by CADEY will be installed at the visitors’ centre at Saltend Chemicals Park.
Graham said “CADEY can’t thank HFR Solutions enough for their kind donation which has allowed this publicly accessible defibrillator to be installed at Saltend Chemicals Park. It will mean hundreds of workers at the park, should the worst happen and they suffer a sudden cardiac arrest, will be within a couple of minutes of the defibrillator. At the moment, fewer than 10% of SCA patients survive. This is, in great part, because a defibrillator is not close by. A patient’s chance of survival drops by 10% for every minute defibrillation is delayed.”
Below is an updated list of funding for Voluntary Organisations and Charities as of 19th July 2021.
The post Funding Opportunities for Voluntary Organisations & Charities appeared first on Dr Philippa Whitford.
Welwyn Hatfield MP spent last Friday talking to people and businesses from around Welwyn Hatfield to see how they were getting on as they prepared for Monday, the next stage of the unlock.
After holding a constituents surgery in the morning, Mr Shapps went to the Galleria in Hatfield to visit Potential Kids. There, Grant went to see how they had been doing since the launch of their ‘Learn to Ride’ sessions earlier in April.
Potential Kids is a local charity that provides learning, social and sport opportunities to children who are neurodiverse, as well as their families. Their ‘Learn to Ride’ programme provides 1 on 1 bike riding lessons to children.
Speaking about the visit Angela Gaughan, founder of Potential Kids said: “We were delighted to have the opportunity to talk with the Grant Shapps about the joint project between Hatfields Mens Sheds and Potential Kids.
“Being able to teach children and young people to ride and maintain a bike provides life-long skills that promote independence, mental health and self-esteem, whilst encouraging physical activity and time spent outdoors in the fresh air.
“Grant also had the opportunity to see our Community and Learning Garden project, ‘Potential to Grow’, which has been successfully running over the last 11 months.
“We are so grateful for the support we have received in developing this project. Our continued thanks go to Tim Sterling, Center Director at the Galleria for our Hub and Garden and to Welwyn Hatfield Council for their support to build our new kitchen area. Which will enable us to run fun cooking sessions for neurodiverse children, young people, their siblings, and families in the local area, using healthy ingredients grown in our very own garden.”
Mr Shapps said: “Potential Kids look to be doing brilliant work here. I’ve spent a bit of time talking to the leaders here and learning about their work, and the cycling programme more specifically.
“Cycling is great way to get from A to B- it’s healthy for you, and great for the planet. Learning to ride a bike as a child is something that all kids should experience, and it’s great to see that Potential Kids are helping make sure every child has that opportunity.”
Next stop for Mr Shapps was a meeting with business representatives in Welwyn Garden City, to hear from them about how businesses in WGC have been responding to the lifting of covid restrictions, as well as their plans for the recovery of the town centre. Mr Shapps toured some recent changes in the town centre, including a new outdoor dining area.
Mr Shapps said: “As we are moving away from covid restrictions- thanks in no small part to our amazing vaccination effort- it’s vital that our local businesses can get back on their feet and adapt to life post-covid.
“Visiting the town centre in Welwyn Garden City today and meeting with the local BID group, I’m confident that we’ll be able to spring back and make the most of what life post-covid has to offer.”
Finally, Mr Shapps travelled to Welwyn Village to meet with Off Broadway Travel – a local travel agency.
Mr Shapps- who is also the UK Transport Secretary- met with Tricia and the team at Off Broadway Travel to listen to their experience of international travel in the wake of the COVID pandemic. The meeting came as Mr Shapps recently announced that double vaccinated Brits would no longer have to isolate after travelling to ‘amber list’ countries from 19 July.
Natalie Bennett, a partner at Off Broadway Travel, told Travel Weekly: “He took everything on board, he listened to us, and it went well. He appreciated that travel had been made illegal and said he would talk to the chancellor [about further sector specific support].
Off Broadway Travel tweeted after the visit, saying: “A very productive meeting with @grantshapps today our local MP. Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to listen & understand out sector….”
Mr Shapps said: “I had a very useful discussion with the team at Off Broadway Travel today. They told me about the challenges they’ve faced as a business over the past year and a half.
“As we unlock domestically, and take some first steps towards flying internationally again, I want to make sure I’m best representing all parts of the transport sector.”
On Friday 16 July, residents will gather on Harborne high street, in order to protest against the closure of their local banks.
Planned closure of the branch of Santander on Harborne high street would leave members of the local community more vulnerable, as well as create even more problems for the community hotspot.
From Thursday 5 August 2021, the Harborne based bank is set to close, adding onto the 7,400 other bank closures since 2010.
Following a survey sent to around 1000 people surrounding the high street, it was revealed that 89% of people visit the bank branches on Harborne high street on a regular basis, with 89% of people also unable to travel 4 miles to the nearest bank, located in the city centre.
For citizens with disabilities or mobility issues, a trip into the inner city just to access banks would be both extremely difficult and unnecessarily polluting for Birmingham’s already poor air quality. This, as well as the new clean air zone strategy which has recently been implemented in the city centre, would mean that it could cost people £8 just to go to the bank.
As well as environmental issues which would arise because of this inaccessibility, 44% of people only use in-person banking, with 27% of people not understanding how online banking works, or lack internet access, making them the most vulnerable people in the community.
HSBC are also planning to shut down their Harborne branch, looking to become a virtual only bank, also preventing customers from solving issues in person.
Preet Kaur Gill, MP for Edgbaston in Birmingham, has called on Santander to reverse their decision, for the benefit of their customers and the local community, saying “Over the last decade, our high streets have suffered, seeing more and more empty units appearing. Following the pandemic, I do not want to see this trend continue. Harborne High Street should be a place that the community is proud of and is one that includes the pivotal services Santander provides its residents.”
Last week, there was some rare welcome news from the UK Government on my #scrap6months campaign to improve access to welfare support for people living with terminal illnesses.
As some of you may recall, back in 2017, I set up a cross-party group on Terminal Illness after hearing about the horrific treatment my constituent received from the DWP. Despite having being diagnosed with a terminal illness, they couldn’t get fast-tracked access to welfare support because they couldn’t prove that they only had six months to live. Just imagine how that felt, having just received a terminal illness diagnosis.
Their plight had been brought to my attention by the Macmillan CAB team at Raigmore, who are relentless advocates for those they support. I have worked closely with Elaine Donnelly and the rest of the MacMillan CAB team on several issues since 2015. Their passion and determination to help people near the end of their lives is unfaltering. They are unsung heroes and I want to take this opportunity to thank them for all they do.
In taking the issue on behalf of my constituents to Parliament, I found out that thousands of people had the same experience with the welfare system. Working with Marie Curie, we launched an inquiry and forced the UK Government to review the system. We have been waiting two long years for the outcome of that review, and yesterday the Minister announced that they would extend the end of life fast-tracked support to those with a diagnosis of 12 months or less to live. While this doesn’t go far enough – the arbitrary timescales need to go – this move will ensure thousands of people living with a terminal illness will now get access to support. I’m incredibly proud of the work we have done on this, and we will keep on the case.
These sorts of wins are rare, but they do make such an incredible difference to people’s lives. However, the fact remains that if these decisions were made in Scotland, this rule would not have existed. You don’t need to take me at my word on that; two years ago, when faced with the question of how it would deal with this rule when it takes over Personal Independence Payments, the Scottish Government decided to remove the rule in its entirety. This is the difference when you build a social security system with dignity at its core.
Keep up to date with new articles at www.drewhendrymp.scot
Find out more about my work in parliament at www.theyworkforyou.com
The post OMIW ARTICLE: After 2 Years of Campaigning, Six Month Rule for People with Terminal Illness Scrapped appeared first on Drew Hendry MP.
Privilege to join Malcom, Llanelli Multicultural Network & the Mayor, to light a candle to remember the terrible genocide of 8372 civilians at Srebrenica 26 years ago, and to pledge to do all we can to combat prejudice and hatred, and make sure nothing like this ever happens again.
There seems to be a webinar for everything — from cooking an apple pie and setting up your email list to creating a company and making your first million. This form of interaction with the target audience became popular for a good reason. It allows to achieve numerous goals:
And that’s we’ve just scratched the surface. Every person who creates a webinar has their own unique goals in mind. This wide array of benefits is what makes webinars such a great way to promote your brand.
However, there is one issue with them — they’re popular. Ironic, we know. But this popularity makes it hard for new webinars to actually attract the audience because people are already bored of them. That’s why we need to create a truly outstanding webinar to make it stand out, gain the interest of the audience, and be a success everyone will be talking about for a while. Here is how to do it.
While it seems like an obvious thing — to have a great topic for a webinar — many lecturers miss the whole point of creating one. What might seem like an amazing thing to talk about for you can be hard to understand or useless for your listeners. Topics that don’t get attention from the public are born because the lecturer didn’t think of their audience’s interests hard enough.
So before picking a matter to talk about, determine your target audience. What are its interests, what does it want and need to know? Do your best to put yourself in the shoes of your future listeners and understand what they want to hear during the perfect webinar. This will help you to figure out the best topic your audience will find valuable.
Also, make sure that the topic isn’t too complicated if it’s your first webinar. Start with basics and slowly raise the difficulty of your lectures. This will help you to attract both beginners and advanced specialists gradually thus improving your image and positioning you as a true expert in your field.
Tip: you can test topics in your blog if you have one. Or on some kind of platform such as Medium. It will help you understand if the matter is really interesting to the target audience. Also, you can promote your future webinar in such an article.
Finally, remember about keywords, especially if you plan to keep your webinar uploaded somewhere online for people to watch and rewatch it after the actual stream. By including relevant keywords in the title and the description of your webinar you will increase the chances that users will find your webinar through the search.
The best day and time for your webinar really depends on your target audience. While some experts say that it’s best to host a lecture on Tuesday through Thursday, and others say that Monday through Friday is fine, too, some listeners might find weekends the best time for a webinar. So before selecting a date, think of your target audience — when they would be able to make time for your lecture? The best solution would be to ask your future listeners when they want to attend your webinar if you have such an opportunity, of course.
Things get especially tricky when your audience is spread around the globe. If you understand that some of your listeners live in a drastically different time zone from other listeners, you should consider holding two streams for these groups.
Another thing you should consider is holidays in different countries — you wouldn’t want to have a webinar when a large part of your audience is busy having a vacation or celebrating.
Your slides are just as important as whatever you’re telling your audience. Many lecturers treat presentations as just some visual entertainment for their listeners — why pack slides with information if you already tell it verbally? But that’s a false thought. Think of this — your visual presentation can later become a valuable piece of information both for those who attended your webinar and those who just found slides later. Why would you want to lose an opportunity to keep attracting attention to your work even after your stream? Moreover, an informative presentation you send to your attendees after the webinar is another way to show your audience that you care.
So take your time and put enough work into your presentation — it will be worth the effort. If you aren’t sure about your design skills, it will be a good idea to get a designer. The slides should both be informative and look appealing.
We all know these webinars that seem to have the sole purpose of promoting some product of a lecturer. And they’re extremely annoying. People listen to a person bragging about their product for an hour and get little to no information from the lecture. That’s something you don’t want to do if you really want to create a useful and popular webinar.
Build your material with useful information and be generous when sharing your knowledge. The bad example would be to start telling about some matter and then say, “I’ve told about it in my book in chapter four — you can read all the info there.” Don’t be greedy — tell your audience at least half of the information, and then follow it with encouraging listeners to get your book if they want to know even more.
Don’t end a webinar once you’re finished with your material. Ask the audience if they have any questions and give as detailed answers as possible. Of course, you should remember about time, too. So it would be a good idea to dedicate, for example, an hour to the lecture itself and then another 30 minutes — to the questions.
Creating and holding a truly outstanding webinar is not an easy task. Yet, if you succeed, you will benefit a lot from your work. Use our tips, and you’ll definitely host a useful and engaging lecture.
At the end of last week the Black Country Core Strategy was published. The proposed plan has left me shocked at the sheer scale of development being proposed for my constituency.
At its heart the proposal should have been looking at viable opportunities to provide housing and employment across our communities on appropriate local sites.
Instead, the proposal simply seeks to drive a coach and horses through the green lungs of my Aldridge-Brownhills constituency.
The proposed development on our precious Green Belt is unacceptable to me and I know from the many emails that I have already received on this matter that it is unacceptable to you too.
I am still of the firm belief that there are an adequate number of brownfield sites across the Black Country which should be developed first instead of forging ahead with the wholesale destruction of our Green Belt and Open Spaces.
That’s why I will be questioning the housing allocation numbers and asking why it is that my Aldridge-Brownhills constituency and the wider Walsall area are being expected to do the heavy lifting and why we are being asked to take a disproportionate number of houses.
Whilst at this stage the Black Country Plan is only a ‘proposal, it remains extremely important that when the consultation starts in August we all feed in our views.
When I have further information about the consultation I will update you all.
However, please be assured that I will be opposing this plan on behalf of the residents of my Aldridge-Brownhills constituency.
This week I had an article published on PoliticsHome. During the passage of the Fire Safety Bill, Ministers said the issue of leaseholders would be addressed in the Building Safety Bill. We will hold them to their word and remind them that protection must be for all leaseholders, not just for the leaseholders of the future. [...]
On 17 June, Rushanara Ali MP joined with London Mayor, Sadiq Khan on a visit to The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel.
Reacting to news that Bradford Bulls will now continue to run an Elite Academy, Bradford South Labour MP Judith Cummins said, “I’m pleased that the club and the RFL have reached a resolution that enables Bradford to continue to run an Elite Academy.”
“It would, however, have been better for all concerned to have avoided the worry and trauma in the first place,” she added.
Ms Cummins had challenged the RFL on the process and decision that saw Bradford losing out in the award of Elite Academy licences. She questioned whether quotas rather than an assessment of record, performance and deep roots into the community game had been given little weight in the consideration.
“The Bulls Academy has been productive and respected for its work, a rich source of playing talent. Leon Pryce, Sam Burgess, and John Bateman to name but a few of the players to have come through the academy and gone onto star at the highest levels of our sport.
There remain challenges ahead but I’m looking forward to working with and supporting the club and the RFL to make sure that the sport has a healthy future,” said Ms Cummins.
Tulip Siddiq MP is looking for an enthusiastic and responsible individual to join her busy team to support her constituency work.
This role will be full-time, based in Tulip’s constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn. We are happy to discuss options for flexible working at any stage.
The successful applicant will have a strong understanding of politics and campaigning, an unstoppable work ethic, a team-first mentality and meticulous attention to detail.
• Manage relationships with the many and varied communities in Hampstead and Kilburn;
• Monitor local media and work with stakeholders in the constituency to ensure our office is aware of ongoing issues;
• Ensure local stakeholders are kept up-to-date with the latest relevant news from Parliament and maintain databases of contacts;
• Arrange and assist with surgeries, public meetings and other visits, and follow up as appropriate;
• Deal professionally and confidentially with standard queries from members of the public, as well as assisting on more complex cases;
• Respond directly to constituents by phone and email, log and monitor casework progress – gathering relevant information and following up as required;
• Correspond and liaise with Government departments, executive agencies, local government and charities to resolve constituency matters;
• Ensure records are kept in line with the data protection legislation;
Skills and values:
• Sound judgement in dealing with sensitive issues;
• Strong awareness of local and national politics;
• Excellent attention to detail;
• Ability to prioritise and manage a large workload independently;
• Fluent and clear written style;
• Good communication and teamwork skills;
• Proficiency in basic IT;
• Sympathetic to the aims and values of the Labour Party;
Upon appointment you will be required to comply with the Baseline Personnel Security Standard, undertaken by the Members’ Staff Verification Office (MSVO). See Members’ Staff Verification Office (MSVO) page for further info. MPs generally pay staff in accordance with IPSA guidelines.
Closing Date: 21 June 2021
Interviews will be held in the week beginning 26 June 2021
Applicants should send their CV with a covering letter to: email@example.com with the title “Job application: <your name>”
The covering letter should include an explanation why your skills, experience and knowledge make you suitable for this specific role for the Member of Parliament for Hampstead and Kilburn and why you would like to work in this community.
The post May 2021 E-Newsletter appeared first on Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth.
I was delighted to formally open the brand new Melksham Hub Café the other week. The café and community space at Melksham Railway Station is located in a former commercial depot building and is a fantastic addition to the railway station. There is an extensive menu, and from today you can eat in as well as takeaway.
This is an amazing community effort involving Wiltshire Council, Melksham Area Board, TransWilts and commercial partners Knorr-Bremse as well many others to make Melksham Railway Station a really attractive and user friendly place to travel to and from the town, be sure to check it out!
As the vaccine rollout continues across Birmingham we can start to see some light at the end of the tunnel after what has been a truly difficult year for all of us.
We all know someone whose health or employment has been affected by the events of the past 12 months, and as we look to the end of the covid restrictions I’m determined to see the government provide Birmingham with the support it needs to rebuild its healthcare and employment capacity.
While the numbers of covid patients is decreasing, our NHS will have a mountain to climb to provide care for those with other conditions whose treatment has been deferred. Recent figures show 300,000 patients now waiting a year or more to receive care as a result of the pandemic.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me in the coming months if you have been affected by these issues and I can help in any way.
Birmingham Coronavirus Update
Following the first stage of the unlocking process, the following changes to the coronavirus restrictions came into effect on the 8th March:
Call for an independent inquiry into the Government’s handling of the pandemic
Alongside my fellow Birmingham Labour MPs and Council leader Ian Ward, I have called for a full independent public inquiry into the government’s handling of the Covid pandemic.
Many residents have raised this issue with me, and want to know why the UK had the highest death rates in the world and whether these deaths were preventable. I believe we have a duty to those who have lost loved ones to ensure a full, independent, and transparent investigation into how our country has handled the pandemic.
“The pandemic has undoubtedly presented unprecedented challenges to governments around the world. There has not been a crisis like this is living memory and combatting this deadly virus was always going to be difficult. However, it must be acknowledged that the UK has seen one of the highest death tolls in the world and questions are now rightly being asked about what led us to this position.”
You can read the full letter here.
Support for a nurses pay rise
Over the past year our health workers have given everything while under historic pressure to save lives and cope with the huge number of extra patients in our hospitals.
After all they’ve been through it cannot be right that the 12,289 nurses in Birmingham have been offered a real terms pay cut by the government. We must do better for them than that, after all they’ve done for the country there must be a fair pay settlement.
We’ve all been encouraged to show our appreciation throughout this crisis, but claps don’t pay the bills. I sincerely hope that the government will reconsider its recommended 1% pay increase.
Celebrating St Patrick’s Day
This St Patrick’s Day was unlike any other in generations.
Coming from an Irish family, I saw the great solidarity and cohesion of the Irish community in Britain. It is heart-warming to witness this togetherness reaffirm itself during these challenging times.
I hope that all members of the Irish community in Hodge Hill found a way to mark the day, and that next year we will be able to come together as usual!
Fighting to safeguard employment
Second only to the health impact of Coronavirus is its impact on the economy and employment. That is why I’ve written to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling for a £7.8 billion Budget ‘fair share funding’ boost for our area to tackle the jobs crisis.
Businesses need help to bounce back from the Covid crisis, and we must do every we can to support them by extending the furlough scheme in a targeted way, extending business interruption and bounce back loans, enabling interest free deferral of VAT, and extending targeted business rate relief.
Alongside help for existing business we must make sure big projects such as HS2 and the Commonwealth Games deliver jobs and long term benefits for local people.
You can currently apply for one of over 200 vacancies with HS2 and its partners at the following link: https://www.hs2.org.uk/careers/careers-with-our-supply-chain/jobs
Diana Johnson stood up for skilled jobs and the red arrows in the House of Commons today.
Diana asked the Minister:
Steve Reed has asked Croydon Council to listen to local people over the future of South Norwood Library. The library’s future is uncertain because the Conservative Government has cut funding to Croydon by 70% and pushed it into a financial crisis.
Local MP Steve Reed has spoken to residents and campaign groups who are fighting to save the library. He’s now written to the Council asking them to consider how closing the library will affect the areas poorest residents who may not have access to WiFi or quiet spaces for learning or reading at home. He’s also asked the Council to fully involve the local community before taking any decisions.
Steve Reed said: “Croydon Council is faced with some really difficult decisions after ten years of Conservative funding cuts. But they do not have to go it alone. Now more than ever people want a say over what happens in their area. The Council should harness this enthusiasm and work with residents to come up with plan that could protect library services for South Norwood.”
If you would like to get involved in the campaign to save South Norwood library, email Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org
Steven Reed is Labour MP for Croydon North and Shadow Minister for Children and Families. In 2018 his private member’s bill on reducing violent mental health restraint became law. In June 2019 he launched Labour’s civil society strategy outlining radical plans to empower citizens and communities.
Steve chairs the Cooperative Councils Innovation Network, co-chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for London, was Leader of Lambeth Council 2006-12 where he led the council’s children’s services to become best-rated in the country and pioneered the public-health approach to tackling violent youth crime. He worked in publishing for 16 years and was an elected trade union branch secretary.
The post Steve Reed calls on Council to work with residents to save South Norwood Library appeared first on Steve Reed MP.
The local Clinical Commissioning Group has confirmed that the funding is in place to build a new GP surgery for Shifnal.
Commenting, Mark Pritchard MP said:
"I'm delighted that, in the last 24 hours, the Shropshire NHS Clinical Commissioning Group has confirmed to me that the new GP surgery in Shifnal will go ahead this year. The building plans are well advanced and NHS England has provided the extra funding needed. Local councillors and Shifnal Matters 2021 have supported me in pushing for this new surgery, and I'm glad that the NHS has listened to local needs."
The cold weather has been harsh enough recently to trigger the Cold Weather Payments System, and some residents will receive an additional £25 towards the costs of heating.
Eligibility of CWPS is for those who are currently in receipt of some benefits, with pension credit serving as the most common eligibility criteria.
Residents in the following postcodes will be eligible; RG28, SO21, SP10, SP11, SP4, SP9, RG19, RG20, RG21, RG22, RG23, RG25, RG26, RG7
A full list of eligibility criteria can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment/eligibility
Alec urges all constituents to book their COVID-19 vaccination or access the NHS Test & Trace system if you have symptoms.
The UK medical regulatory agency has approved a number of vaccines for COVID-19. The Government has organised the largest nationwide vaccination programme in history, with all adults now eligible to book a vaccine. You can book your vaccine online here.
Anybody with symptoms can book a test. To book a test click here.
Help from Alec
If you have a unique issue to raise with Alec that is not covered in the information above, please get in touch at email@example.com or via 01937 589 002.
I wanted to take a moment to explain my reasoning behind abstaining from the vote in Parliament on Wednesday (30/12) as the Governments’ Brexit deal returned to the House of Commons.
From the outset, I have sought to respect the decision of the referendum in 2016 and have been happy to work with colleagues in Parliament to deliver a compromise between those 16 million people who voted to remain in the EU, and the 17 million who voted to leave with the myriad of different options that would entail. It has become clear to me over the last 4 years that many people who voted to leave the EU in Gateshead, did so for very different reasons and with very different expectations of our future relationship ranging from close alignment like Norway, to what has now been termed a hard Brexit, essentially no formal trading relationship with the European Union, operating on basic WTO rules instead. I was re-elected to represent Gateshead at the last General Election on the pledge to respect the result of the referendum and to negotiate a deal that would meet the 6 key tests.
It would seem that successive Conservative Prime Ministers have seem set on rail-roading their respective deals through Parliament without proper scrutiny our accountability, and this week is no different. It appears to be the case that the Government may have sought to hold out for demands within the negotiations that they knew could not be agreed, around fishing quotas as an example, knowing that once these demands were dropped a deal could be agreed between both sides. They have then sought to drop these demands as Parliament goes into recess for the Christmas period, and bring back a deal of some 1200 pages for 5 hours of debate at 3 working days’ notice; 48 hours before the UK would end the transition period with no deal if this was not agreed.
The deal itself does not satisfy the 6 key tests I was elected on, and the way in which the Government appear to have manipulated the Parliamentary calendar to force MP’s into a vote quite literally between this deal or no deal, brings great shame on any type of Parliamentary Sovereignty. What we now have in the UK is Government sovereignty without proper input or scrutiny from democratically elected Members of Parliament.
To this end, I found that while a deal, even this deal, is better than a no deal, I could not in good conscience vote in favour of a deal which did not satisfy the key tests in the manifesto on which I was elected, and in essence to vote to help the Government extricate themselves from a mess entirely of their own making. It is the Government who have sought to negotiate this deal alone, it is they who have forced the timetable for approval and who have removed any Parliamentary Sovereignty and scrutiny from the timetable and it is the Government who must be judged on the success or failure of this deal.
As a local resident of Gateshead for over 40 years, I absolutely hope that this deal goes far enough to safeguard jobs and livelihoods of families across the North East. I also hope that this does not lead to shortage of supplies or price increases. This affects us all, and in many ways I do not wish the Government deal to fail to protect us from any negative consequences of it. However, with the way the whole process has been manipulated to force MP’s into a corner, and with the deal not meeting the 6 key tests set out in the manifesto on which I was elected, I could not see fit to vote in favour.
This is the Conservative Government’s deal, their deliberate mismanagement has brought it to Parliament, on a timetable manufactured by them, with no time for appropriate scrutiny, it’s their deal and they should own it!
I hope this sets out my reasoning, as ever please do get in touch should you have any further questions.
The post Very proud day today – the law change I fought for to protect pensioners comes into force appeared first on Mark Tami.
I am delighted to write and tell you that local NHS leaders have confirmed plans for a new hospital to be built in Sutton and to upgrade facilities at St Helier. This represents a £500 MILLION plan that will not only build a brand new state of the art hospital near to the Royal Marsden by 2025, but ALSO invest AT LEAST £80 MILLION into upgrades at St Helier.
The new specialist emergency care hospital, just a few minutes from St Helier, would treat the sickest 15% of patients, those normally arriving by ambulance. This larger specialist team would be available 24 hours a day to diagnose what is wrong with patients more rapidly, start the best treatment faster, and help patients recover more quickly. St Helier and Epsom Hospitals will remain open 24/7, with updated and improved facilities, providing all the other services that they currently do.
My children were born at St. Helier so healthcare provision in Sutton has been an issue that is a very personal one to me. Ever since being a councillor in Carshalton, some 14 years ago, I have been campaigning for a solution that protects the future of St. Helier whilst ensuring that Sutton residents have access to the very best treatment in cutting edge modern healthcare facilities. I believe that this decision can finally put to rest the political arguments so that we can get on with doing what’s best for residents across the whole of the borough of Sutton.
With this plan, the refurbished St Helier Hospital is here to stay providing the majority of local health services, and the sickest patients will get state-of-the-art treatment in the brand-new specialist emergency hospital right here in our area.
You can find out more about the plans, including the answers to some frequently asked questions at the NHS’ website: www.improvinghealthcaretogether.org.uk. You can also contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, or get in touch with me with any queries.
IMPORTANT QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT THESE PROPOSALS
Why is this being done?
To improve the care that we receive. As St Helier’s buildings continue to age over time, it’s necessary to upgrade our healthcare facilities to improve outcomes. Surviving illness and recovering quickly is the number one priority.
Is St Helier closing?
No, quite the opposite. St Helier is here to stay with a multi-million-pound improvement package.
Is a new hospital being built?
Yes. A new specialist emergency care hospital will be built in Sutton, in addition to improving St Helier hospital.
Is St Helier getting an upgrade?
Yes. At least £80 million of the funding promised will go towards improving the facilities at St Helier hospital.
Who developed these proposals?
For the first time, we have a plan that was developed by local clinicians, not national bureaucrats or politicians. Local healthcare professionals made the case for funding to deliver this improvement, which has been rewarded with a £500 million investment. Sutton Council also supported the proposals last year.
Will I have to travel outside my area for services now?
At the moment, if you have a stroke or heart attack you will be taken past St. Helier to be treated at St. George’s. This plan means that we will still be able to treat people within the local area, not moving more services away from Sutton.
Will we still use St Helier?
Yes. From 2025, Epsom hospital, St Helier hospital and the new hospital at Sutton will all have a 24/7 Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) (which already treats the vast majority of people going to St. Helier in an emergency). Under the plans, 85% of services will remain at St Helier. Both Epsom and St Helier hospitals will still have a 24/7 UTC.
Diagnostic tests, such as MRI, x-ray or ultrasound, the heart problem diagnosis unit, the dialysis unit, Croft Ward (which takes care of patients who are stable but not ready to leave hospital), the eye care unit, the gastroenterology unit, and so many more services are staying put at Epsom and St Helier hospitals.
What about bed numbers?
The NHS have calculated that they will need the same number of beds as they do now.
What about A&E?
Unlike previous plans, which saw A&E diverted away into Tooting, A&E is now staying right here in our Borough at the new hospital. Most of the time you will still use St Helier for matters requiring immediate medical attention like broken limbs or cuts. Major trauma cases needing a blue light ambulance transfer will be treated in Sutton at the new state-of-the-art hospital next to The Royal Marsden.
What about maternity services?
Maternity services have also been protected and kept locally. Post-natal and ante-natal care are staying put at Epsom and St Helier hospitals, and births will take place in the brand-new maternity unit at the new hospital in Sutton built to the very latest healthcare standards. Women need the very best care and facilities when giving birth, and the new plans will provide that.
Where will children services be provided?
Most children will continue to receive care and treatment in the same place as they do now. Care for children who need to stay in hospital overnight – as a result of a serious illness or complex problems – will be treated at the new specialist emergency care hospital. This includes children’s surgery.
What will happen until the new hospital in Sutton is built?
All services will continue to be carried out at Epsom and St Helier hospitals until such time the new hospital in Sutton is ready for patients.
Where will the new hospital be built?
After consulting residents, patient groups and healthcare professionals, the decision was taken to build a brand-new specialist emergency care hospital in Sutton. This will be combined with the necessary infrastructure and transport links to ensure the site of the new hospital is accessible to all that need to use it.
For more facts, and to find out what this multi-million-pound government investment in our local NHS will mean for you and your family, visit the following website: www.improvinghealthcaretogether.org.uk/faq.
A&E @ the Glam – Strength in Unity
I have said from the very beginning that if we are to ensure a 24 hour A&E Service at RGH then we need to forget about Party Politics, and come together to work cross-party.
We need you to play your part too, by signing the below letter. If you wish to do so then please let me know by filling in the form at the bottom of this page:
The configuration of Emergency NHS services across Cwm Taf Morgannwg has changed over the years – and will continue to change along with medical advances and changes in the local population. We welcome, for instance, the development of the new Major Trauma Centre at UHW, which will almost certainly save lives and we recognise that for some specialist forms of care it will be necessary to travel to a regional centre of excellence such as the Burns Unit at Morriston. We also understand that there is a UK-wide shortage of Emergency Consultants. and that Cwm Taf Morgannwg is not in a unique position with the recruitment challenges it faces,but would note that 5 of the 7 LHBs in Wales have substantially increased emergency consultant numbers over the last 6 years whereas Cwm Taf Morgannwg has not. We would argue that the uncertainty created over the future of the hospital due to the South Wales Programme has itself created a self-fulfilling prophecy about recruitment problems.
Our starting point, however, is that all NHS services should be safe, efficient and delivered as close to people’s homes as is medically and logistically feasible. Time-critical medical interventions can make the difference between life and death in many emergency situations and we are concerned that if the A&E were permanently to close at any one of the three hospitals, significant numbers of patients in some of the most deprived communities would not be able to get to an Emergency Department in time. A&E cannot be seen in isolation from other services such as GP surgeries, local minor injuries units and out-of-hours support. Additional capacity in these services would almost certainly lighten the load in the Emergency Departments, but this must be put in place before any changes to the configuration of Emergency Care is considered, let alone implemented, with evidence that they have substantially reduced the load on Emergency departments required before any changes. Changes to A&E provision at any one of the hospitals would have serious implications for other services within the hospital, including ITU and theatre and might harm the recruitment of other specialists.
There would be significant knock-on effects if the A&E at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital were to be downgraded to a Minor Injuries Unit, as the hospital would almost certainly lose its Intensive Care Unit and operating theatre. This could jeopardise the long-term future of the hospital. The RGH’s Emergency Department is the most used in the area, with roughly 65,000 attendances a year, and ranked the best in terms of viable outcomes. We fear the two other Emergency Departments would find it impossible to cope with the additional workload and that many patients will travel instead to UHW, which is also already over-stretched. We are also concerned that extra A&E admissions to PCH and POW would put additional pressure on not just their respective A&E depts but onwards and throughout the hospital system. We are determined to work with people of all political parties and trades unions (and none) to get the best possible outcome for the communities we represent. We believe the eventual decision should be informed by clinical best practice and local experience on the ground – and not by any partisan consideration.
We are calling on the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board to do the following:
1) Rule out the closure of A&E at the RGH or changing it to a 24-hour Minor Injuries Unit.
2) Reinstate the option of maintaining a full consultant-led A&E at all three hospitals. This would require a serious new attempt at recruiting Emergency Consultants who would have secure full-time permanent posts working across all three hospitals. It would also require at least a ten-year commitment to RGH so that potential staff can apply with confidence.
3) Bring forward proposals to extend the opening hours of the Minor Injuries Unit at Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda and Ysbyty Cwm Cynon and make these units more readily accessible for walk-in patients.
4) Bring forward other proposals for community health services, including improvements in the out-of-hours GP service, that might alleviate the pressure on all three A&E departments
and bring services closer to local communities.
In addition, we are calling on the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board to publish the following:
1) A socioeconomic and equality impact assessment of any proposed changes.
2) Detailed analyses of travel-to-hospital times, average ambulance response times and levels of car ownership, for all electoral wards in the area. that analyses such times during periods of poor weather.
3) Detailed statistics for levels of ischemic heart disease, diabetes, stroke and infant and adult mortality for all electoral wards in the area. and how they compare with the Welsh averages/wealthier wards in Wales.
4) An assessment of how many patients from each electoral ward would be affected by a proposal to move to an 8 to 8, and 8 to 10 and an 8 to midnight Emergency Department.
5) An assessment of capacity in the Emergency Departments at POW, PCH, and UHW and how they would cope with additional patients.
6) Statistics for the number of patients who are admitted on towards at each hospital from A&E.
7) An assessment of the impact to the Welsh Ambulance Service, Ambulance response times, handover response times, in terms of waiting times at hospitals, blue light trauma travel times
and non-emergency transport between hospitals.
Wigan Constituency Labour Party have reselected Lisa Nandy MP as their candidate for the next General Election.
At meetings held over the last fortnight, members in all of the branches that make up Wigan Labour Party voted overwhelmingly to reselect Lisa. All affiliated organisations, including Unite the Union, the Communication Workers’ Union, GMB, Unison and Usdaw, also voted to reselect.
“I’m grateful to Labour members in Wigan for choosing to reselect me so overwhelmingly. Being the Member of Parliament for Wigan is the privilege of my life, and I couldn’t do it without the members who turn up year in, year out and in all weathers to campaign for the Labour Party. With a General Election looking likely, we will be out once again fighting for every vote and to put an end to the damage inflicted on Wigan by this reckless Conservative government.”
Wigan Constituency Labour Party said:
“We’re delighted to have reselected Lisa Nandy as our candidate for the next General Election. For 10 years Lisa has worked tirelessly to represent Wigan in Parliament, fighting for constituents hit hardest by this Conservative government’s brutal cuts and ensuring that Wigan’s voice is heard on the national stage. The overwhelming level of support Lisa received from local party members is testament to that work. We’re proud to have Lisa as our MP and we’re ready to fight and win the next General Election together.”
We did it!
Thank you to each and every one of you that volunteered time to canvass with me, deliver leaflets, stuff envelopes and most importantly those who voted for me.
I cannot wait to get back up to Westminster and be the voice for Swansea East.
This website will be closing down shortly, but you can keep up to date with my work on my main webpage.
A vote for the SNP is a vote to stand up for young people against the Tories, Mhairi Black has said, she urged young voters to use their voice in this Thursday’s election.
In government, the SNP has protected and expanded the Education Maintenance Allowance which has been scrapped south of the border, and has abolished university tuition fees in Scotland while the Tories have increased them to £27,000.
The SNP has also increased the number of Modern Apprenticeships, with a target of 30,000 new starts by the end of this Parliament.
The SNP manifesto commits to a real Living Wage – projected to be just over £10 by the end of the parliament for all workers aged 18 and above – creating a new single adult rate.
SNP MPs will also support a ban on exploitative zero-hours contracts and will support votes at 16 at all elections.
Commenting, Mhairi Black said:
“A vote for the SNP is a vote for a strong team of MPs who’ll stand up for young people – calling for a fair and equal minimum wage, protecting rights in the workplace and votes at 16 in all elections.
“The SNP are already delivering for Scotland’s young people, delivering free university education and with youth unemployment at the lowest level on record – while the Tory vision is just cut after cut.
“The Tories think they can do anything they want to young people and get away with it – from hiking tuition fees to slashing housing benefit for young people and much more.
“That’s why it’s so important that young people turn up and vote – don’t let the Tory government leave you behind.
“Any Tory MPs elected in Scotland will simply rubberstamp whatever the Tory government does to young people, and Labour can’t win this election in Scotland – meaning that voting Labour risks letting Tory MPs in by the back door.
“Now more than ever, it is vital to have strong SNP voices standing up for Scotland. Only then can we protect Scotland from the dangers of an unopposed Tory government at Westminster.”
Here’s how strong SNP voices will stand up for young people at Westminster.
– SNP MPs won’t let the Tories trade away Scottish jobs in the Brexit negotiations – we will work to protect Scotland’s place in the Single Market.
– We will back a transition over the next parliamentary term towards payment of the real Living wage for all adults above the age of 18. This will mean a new single adult rate and will see the UK minimum wage to rise to the real Living Wage, projected to be just over £10.
– We will guarantee the continuation of free university education in Scotland, protecting students in Scotland from paying up to £27,000 of fees.
– In Scotland, we are mitigating the Tory decision to withdraw housing support from 18 to 21 year olds. We will fight for the restoration of this support across the UK, alongside scrapping the Bedroom Tax.
– SNP MPs will look to introduce our own legislative proposals to give 16 and 17 year olds a vote in all elections.
– In Scotland, youth unemployment is already at the lowest level on record. SNP MPs will support the devolution of employment and employability powers so we can extend our successful approach on youth employment.
– To help businesses create jobs, we will propose a doubling of the Employment Allowance – the discount businesses receive on National Insurance when they create jobs.
– We will press the UK government to ban exploitative zero-hours contracts, and to ensure that workers have appropriate rights and protections, including holiday and sick pay. And we will work to ensure that the rights and protections currently safeguarded by EU membership are not diminished.
– We will work to protect opportunities for young people to study and train in other European countries through the ERASMUS+ scheme.
– We will continue to work with Scotland’s universities and institutions to seek clarity from the UK government on what will replace EU research funding for Scotland’s universities.
Over recent days I’ve received hundreds of emails from local residents about the refugee crisis. It’s extremely heartening to know that so many of you not only share my anguish at the human cost of the crisis but agree with me that more needs to be done to help those seeking sanctuary from civil war, sectarian violence and authoritarian regimes.
The crisis is one of the biggest humanitarian challenges that Europe has faced since the Second World War. It is therefore shameful that so far the Government’s ‘Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation (VPR) scheme,’ begun in March 2014, has only assisted 216 Syrian refugees.
As a result of concerted public pressure the Prime Minister reluctantly agreed to welcome more Syrian refugees to Britain. In my view his Government is right to prioritise the most vulnerable Syrians – victims of sexual violence, elderly and disabled people, and victims of torture living in camps across the Middle East – for resettlement and to argue that we need to redouble efforts to help tackle the traffickers and people smugglers who prey on people’s fear and desperation. However, given the scale and immediacy of the present crisis the pledge the Prime Minister gave the House of Commons on Monday, to receive only 20,000 Syrian refugees over the course of the next five years, is woefully inadequate.
The Government should think again about taking more refugees – both directly from Syria and from Southern European countries who are bearing the brunt of this crisis. The Prime Minister should also engage with EU leaders to agree a process for dealing with this crisis at Europe’s borders and work with local authority leaders across the UK to see what more can be done in our local communities to support refugees and asylum seekers.
Please rest assured that I will continue to press the Government on this issue while also supporting local efforts by the council, community groups and individual residents to help those in need.
With Northern Ireland once again in politcial crisis and continuing divisions within unionism, we need to consider carefully the consequences, both for the Union itself and for efforts to create a shared future here.