Small Business Saturday is back and celebrating its fifth year on December 2.
Small Business Saturday is a not-for-profit campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages everyone to support small and local businesses.
Small Business Saturday 2016 had a huge impact across the country with customers spending £717 million with small businesses on the day, an increase of 15 per cent on 2015 spending.
Over 140,000 tweets were sent promoting the day, reaching 130 million people.
Liverpool was one of the over 80 per cent of local authorities across the UK that actively supported the campaign in a variety of ways.
I have backed the initiative from the start and had some wonderful feedback from local businesses who have used the day to encourage people to shop with them.
Once again this year, I will be spending Small Business Saturday locally, visiting shops and talking to traders across Liverpool Wavertree.
If you think there is a business that I should be visiting on the day, please do let me know by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
I moderate this site, when I can spare a few minutes to do so.
I post short contributions first.
I delete postings that make unsubstantiated allegations about named people or companies for legal reasons. Mr Corbyn gets the same protection as Mrs May.
I delete contributions using bad language or smearing groups of people. Links from sources I have not checked will delay a posting and may result in deletion. A link to a source like ONS or the World Bank can be helpful and does not delay a posting.
“Return to your constituencies and prepare for government” was David Steel’s rallying cry – or squeak – in 1981 and is often cited as the prime example of hubris.
There are those gathered in huddles here at Westminster, as chunks of masonry fall off the building and Ministers drop out of the cabinet with the same dull and damaging thud, who repeat Sir David’s mantra and cast covetous eyes on that slew of Tory marginal that look set to fall as ripe fruit into our welcoming arms.
By nature I am the most self-deludingly optimistic of men and cheerfulness keeps breaking out despite my knowledge of the awful realities and miseries of life but I fear I must disabuse my good friends and comrades.
There isn’t going to be a snap election.
Politically it is more than a safe bet to wager that Theresa May will be gone before the Christmas decorations come down and, yes, the only person who would command a majority of supporters in the current blue rabble, David Davis, is otherwise engaged or having a lie in.
It is entirely possibly that a clean skin from the 2010 or 2015 intake could assume the tarnished crown and drape themselves in the moth-eaten robes of state but the real rising stars like Victoria Atkins, Tom Tugendhat, James Cleverly and Nusrat Ghani may be Papabile but surely it is too soon for them.
Graham Brady could be a Stanley Baldwin figure and Rory Stewart has some of Disraeli’s Tory iconoclasm about him but I don’t see either of them in the post just yet.
No – the real reason why there will not be an election before 2022 is constitutional – not political.
The Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011 allows only two circumstances in which an early election can be held. In the current Parliament this means polling day is the 5th.May 2022.
An early election can only be called if, either, such a motion is approved by two thirds of the whole House or without a division or if a motion of no confidence is passed and no alternative government is confirmed by the Commons within fourteen days.
In the first case there would have to be 434 Members voting for an Early Election.
Of course we would vote like a shot but do you think for a moment that the Tories, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and – especially – the Scottish Nationalists would take that suicidal leap into
the dark? We must not forget the Democratic Unionist Party as all modern politics has to be seen through an orange prism.
Conventional wisdom has it that with the obvious exception of North Down there are no gains or losses to be made between Sinn Fein on the West of the Bann and the DUP to the East. That might mean voting for an early election but with no Stormont Assembly or Executive would that really be tenable?
So where would the 434 votes come from?
I rest my case.
The other circumstance – a “no confidence” vote is almost as unlikely.
The agreement signed by Gavin Williamson and Jeffrey Donaldson commits the DUP to voting with the Tories under precisely these circumstances.
This government is more secure than we were in the 1974-79 period and although Jim Callaghan’s government fell on a confidence vote we survived for nearly a full term with no overall majority.
Some stout constitutional traditionalists in Greenford have queried the legitimacy of a Conservative government under new management without the bestowed legitimacy of a general election.
Eden, Macmillan, Douglas Home, Callaghan and even Gordon Brown all rose to the purple without the electorate passing them the laurel crown so I doubt that we can now make a case for Theresa’s handing of the poisoned chalice to some poor sod as being anything less than a legitimate hospital pass.
Interestingly there could be a motion or motions of censure but the Act is very specific in the wording of the “no confidence” motion and – after two weeks – the motion ”that this House has confidence in Her Majesty’s Government”.
As the Tories stumble from catastrophe to crisis there is an honest humane emotion that say that they should be simply put out of their misery – for their sake and the sake of the nation.
There are also some within the People’s Party who see the opportunity to keep inflicting defeats – such as the current issue of the missing 58 Impact Assessments and the Local Housing Allowance semi-victory – while honing the skills of what is still a Shadow Cabinet largely untested in full government.
We should be streets ahead of the Austerity Alliance in the polls and part of the reason why we are not is a feeling that our potential Cabinet Ministers are not yet as well-known as they deserve to be. We also need to start landing some serious policy blows and not just standing at the side of the motorway chuckling as the cavalcade of clown cars crash into each other.
May 2022 may seem a long way away and there are dreadful cruelties – Universal Credit in particular – that we must defeat but constitutionally we must wait till then and politically I dare to suggest that it makes sense as well.
Isles MP Angus Brendan MacNeil today visited the Arnish Yard in Lewis to speak with management and unions about the effect of the ongoing difficulty at Burntisland Fabrications (Bi-Fab).
Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:
“There are difficulties with the contracts, we must remember that the work is high-quality, the fundamentals of Bi-Fab are right. The difficulty is down to contract and cash-flow, we have to make sure that we bridge through this period.
“I am heartened that the First Minister of Scotland has made this a priority and has worked across a variety of companies and across government, working hard trying to find a resolution to these difficulties.
“I had a good and productive meeting today with the GMB Union and also with management at Arnish and we shall keep collaborating to find ways to bring about the situation we want to see at Arnish and Bi-Fab in general.
“Obviously this is a tough time for all concerned with Bi-Fab, and we have to ensure that we have a positive outcome.”
Labour MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, used last week’s Parliamentary ‘recess’ to visit armed forces personnel at the British Army Training Unit in Kenya (BATUK) to see the work of our forces first-hand.
During the trip, Stephen joined servicemen and women on a live training exercise as well as gaining an insight into the forces engagement with local communities, including a visit to an orphanage and school building improvement project.
The Portsmouth South MP also payed tribute to the fallen as part of an Armistice Day service.
Commenting on his visit, Stephen Morgan MP, said:
“It was fantastic to see first-hand the excellent work being done by our armed forces out in Kenya.
I enjoyed an extremely useful week at BATUK talking to serving frontline men and women about their experiences in the forces and how we can best support them in Parliament.
I want to express my sincere thanks to everyone who looked after us during our time in Africa and made the trip so informative and enjoyable. I’ll be taking back this experience to the House of Commons so I can continue to speak with authenticity on issues affecting personnel and our forces.
It was a real honour to spend time alongside such a committed and talented of service people”.
Dr Mubashar Hasan, a Bangladeshi professor and policy analyst has been missing since 7pm on Tuesday 7th November. Dr Hasan is an expert in the field of political science and has previously held a position at the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh and has worked as a public relations and communications specialist for Oxfam.
This morning, I visited Grovelands School in Walton-on-Thames. I sat down with Susan Foster, Chair of Governors, and Chris Hodges, the Interim Executive Headteacher, and Bethan Chadda, Deputy Headteacher. We discussed the school’s new interim leadership as well as their ambitions for the school’s future and how I can support them going forward.
The school has gone from strength to strength in recent months, having made a number of improvements, including a new outdoor play area for the early years classes which was partly funded by the schools’ PTA. The school library has been renovated and the school has invested in 4,000 new books and reading materials to help motivate and encourage children to read more, and the sports club has been expanded to include more extra-curricular clubs to develop the skills and confidence of pupils.
After the meeting, I chatted to some of the pupils who were dressed in spotty clothes in support of Children in Need (pictured with me below).
I was really impressed with the school’s ambitious plans for the future, and above all the sparky and engaging pupils.
Tonight will be the climax of many months of fundraising activities when the annual BBC Children in Need Telethon will showcase some of the amazing fundraising events and groups and individuals who will benefit from the fundraising. Emma said, “I’ve seen many fantastic events locally, in shops, schools, community centres and businesses including this one at Northycote Farm https://tinyurl.com/Northycote-Children-in-Need. Many more groups and individuals have given their time to help support this fantastic campaign. it is heart-warming that as a country, we are still able to come together to help those most in need and I commend everyone who is getting involved and doing their bit.
“Children in Need has been going since 1980 and has raised an incredible £600 million to date and long may it continue.
“There is still time for you to get involved and you can find more information and resources on the BBC Children in Need website at the following address; https://www.bbcchildreninneed.co.uk/fundraisinghub/fundraisingtools .”
Have you a story to share on how you will be supporting Children in Need or have you or your group benefited from the fundraising? If so, I’d like to hear about it. You can email me at: email@example.com
Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham, has expressed his hoped that Thorpe Thewles will remain free of an unwanted housing development, and has called on government officials to back a locally-made decision to reject a housing application.
This follows the decision government’s appointment of planning inspectors to oversee an appeal against Stockton Borough Council’s rejection of their application to build 40 units of housing in September. Alex campaigned alongside residents against the application, which saw a 155 signature petition and 38 letters of objection go to Stockton Council’s Planning Committee.
The original application was rejected on the grounds that the development would have an adverse effect on Thorpe Thewles and a harmful impact on the existing infrastructure around the village. In his own letter of objection, Alex expressed his concerns that the proposed development would lead to further applications and create pressure on a village which already suffered from infrequent bus services, limited access to GPs and no local school provision.
I’m disappointed to see that the developers have gone against the wishes of local people by appealing against the original decision of the Planning Committee. Like local residents, I will continue to oppose their proposals to build 40 houses in the village, and sincerely hope the Planning Inspector will confirm the decision of the Committee.”
During a debate on the Labour’s Council’s Site Allocations Plan at Leeds City Council, a Labour Councillor, Neil Walshaw, tweeted: “It’s almost as if they [Conservative Councillors] are under the thumb of small groups of sharp-elbowed NIMBY campaigners in outer areas”.
Cllr Walshaw is Chair of an influential Plans Panel at Leeds City Council and is duty-bound to judge any application independently and on its individual circumstances. Alec was therefore appalled that a senior Labour Councillor issued such insults about thousands of his constituents in Elmet & Rothwell who are rightly concerned about Labour’s destruction of the city’s green belt.
This is much bigger than party politics, it is a matter of whether there has been a breach of local governance rules.
Alec therefore raised the matter in the House of Commons on Thursday 16th November:
Alec Shelbrooke MP: “Last week, the Labour chair of the plans panel on Leeds City Council referred to those who are opposed to the destruction of the green belt in my constituency as “sharp-elbowed NIMBYs”. May we have a statement from the relevant Minister on the quasi-judicial responsibilities of plans panel chairs and the course of action available to applicants, and my constituents in Elmet and Rothwell, when councillors breach those responsibilities?”
Andrea Leadsom MP, Leader of the House of Commons: “I am sure that my hon. Friend heard the Prime Minister say yesterday that we will continue to protect the green belt. He raises an important point. It is vital that local councillors, like everyone in public life, behave in a way that inspires the confidence and trust of the electorate. My hon. Friend is right to raise his constituents’ concerns. There are some options that he might want to consider if he feels that councillors have breached their responsibilities. There is a code of conduct, required by all local authorities, that applies to local authority members, and there are procedures for considering complaints where members have breached that code of conduct.”
Last night I was officially appointed to the Houses of Parliament Intelligence and Security Committee.
The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (ISC) was first established by the Intelligence Services Act 1994 to examine the policy, administration and expenditure of the Security Service, Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). The Justice and Security Act 2013 reformed the ISC: making it a Committee of Parliament; providing greater powers; and increasing its remit (including oversight of operational activity and the wider intelligence and security activities of Government). Other than the three intelligence and security Agencies, the ISC examines the intelligence-related work of the Cabinet Office including: the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC); the Assessments Staff; and the National Security Secretariat. The Committee also provides oversight of Defence Intelligence in the Ministry of Defence and the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism in the Home Office.
Members of the ISC are nominated by the Prime Minister and in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. They are then appointed by Parliament and the Committee reports directly to Parliament. The Committee may also make reports to the Prime Minister on matters which are national security sensitive.
The Members are subject to Section 1(1)(b) of the Official Secrets Act 1989 and have access to highly classified material in carrying out their duties. The Committee takes evidence from Cabinet Ministers and senior officials – all of which is used to formulate its reports.
This recent re-appointment will be added to my current portfolio in Parliament. Has am already a member of the House of Commons Justice Select Committee and a member of the Speaker’s Panel of Chairs, which sees me presiding over parliamentary debates and Bill committees on the behalf of Mr. Speaker.
I am honoured to have been re-appointed to the Intelligence and Security Committee by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. Being a member of this Committee will see me scrutinising and investigating the Government’s approach to protecting our security.
This is an important Committee as it deals with the oversight of our security and intelligence services. In times of great unrest in the world we must ensure that those institutions and specialists who protect our country from attack are provided the support they need. But we must make sure that their work is scrutinised so we know that they are working effectively towards maintaining our safety.
I will be continuing my membership of the Justice Committee and still sit on the Speaker’s Panel of Chairs. But most importantly I will press the Government on behalf of my constituents and work actively within the constituency to help individuals, businesses and charities in Delyn.
Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps met with residents of Hillfield in Hatfield to see for himself the poor quality of the road surface.
Grant heard that efforts to get Hertfordshire Highways to resurface the road have been ongoing for many years, with the road last being resurfaced in 1986. The council has said that resurfacing works are assessed on a nationally agreed formula, and the roads in the poorest condition are not necessarily the ones that are resurfaced first.
Grant said: “I came to Hillfield to meet with local residents and to see for myself the appalling state of the road. I was told that the road was last resurfaced in 1986, and it’s clear that the poor quality of the surface is impacting on the lives of my constituents. I have urgently asked Hertfordshire County Council to address this issue so that everyone can use the road safely.”
Local resident James Barnes said: “We are thankful to Grant for coming to see the poor condition of the road himself. We have been trying to get this road resurfaced for many years now, which is causing damage to residents’ vehicles. Something needs to be done now.”
Harriett Baldwin responds on behalf of the Government to a debate on defence aerospace industrial strategy. read more »
Lee Waters and I are delighted to announce the winners of Llanelli’s annual MP & AM Christmas card competition.
Congratulations to Ella Evans of Swiss Valley Primary School and Hannah Suter of Ysgol y Felin who won the Infant and Junior categories respectively. Their brilliant designs (see below) will now feature on the cards that Lee and I will send out this Christmas.
We received some beautiful entries from pupils right across the Llanelli constituency. The card designs of the winners and runners up will be displayed for all to see at Llanelly House from Saturday 2 December through to Christmas.
Thanks to all those talented pupils who took part, the judges who volunteered their time and the Llanelli based Parker Plant Hire for sponsoring the competition.
Junior Winner – Hannah Suter (Year 6), Ysgol y Felin
Infant Winner – Ella Evans (Year 1), Swiss Valley Primary School
According to the NHS, in Nottinghamshire just under 16% of adults admit to smoking. Getting them to quit or use an alternative is still a huge task for public health services.
In this county alone, during 2015/2016, 8,600 people were admitted to hospital because of smoking-related illnesses. With the NHS already under strain, a reduction in the number of people needing medical attention because they smoke would be welcome, and vaping could be one of the ways this is achieved. The vaping market in the UK is now the second largest in the world. Studies show that it is 95 per cent less harmful than smoking. The Royal Society of Public Health is looking into why more smokers aren’t switching to vaping. They’ve found that there is mixed messaging in the media about the benefits of vaping instead of smoking. If the UK was to go “smoke free” then this could save the NHS £2 billion a year and it would save thousands of lives. After giving up smoking several years ago, I have been vaping and it has made a huge difference to my health and bank balance. More should be done to get people to switch the fags for a vaper.
With the release of the Paradise Papers, tax avoidance is very much in the news at the moment. The papers show how the rich manage to avoid paying their fair share of tax by employing accountants to spread their wealth and assets around the world. For most hard-working people in the UK, this isn’t an option for them. They don’t have a choice but to pay their tax each month. Under a Labour government there would be an inquiry into tax dodging and action to clamp down on these unfair and immoral practices. After years of Tory failure to tackle tax avoidance and evasion, proposals purporting to close tax loopholes in the upcoming Finance Bill do not go far enough. This Government needs to act now to make sure super-rich individuals and companies pay their share.
I’m sure many of you will have read the sad news about Sutton boy Dawson Willcock, whose cancer has reached an advanced stage.
A lovely lady, Carrie Austin, wants to hold a carol service in fancy dress outside Dawson’s house to help make his Christmas extra special.
Carrie has a list of costumes that she needs volunteers to wear, but anyone is welcome to dress up and help provide some festive cheer for Dawson.
If you check out my Facebook page at, facebook.com/gloriadepieroforashfield, you can see Carrie’s post about the event for more info.
Martin Docherty-Hughes, MP for West Dunbartonshire, has welcomed the success of a community-based addictions charity in securing an award of National Lottery funding. The Alternatives Community Recovery Project, which provides support and counselling to families in West Dunbartonshire affected by drug-related problems, has been successful in applying for £96,000 from the Big Lottery Fund Scotland. The funding has been awarded to support the charity’s addiction support services across Dumbarton, Clydebank and the Vale of Leven. The group will work with...
The post BIG LOTTERY FUNDING AWARD FOR WEST DUNBARTONSHIRE COMMUNITY GROUP appeared first on Martin Docherty-Hughes MP.
Windsor MP asks questions on broadband policy in Parliament
On Thursday 16th November Adam asked the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for an update on the government’s continued work to rollout superfast broadband and build a fast, secure and ubiquitous digital Britain (09:44:25 to 09:45:56):
Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): 3. What steps she is taking to improve broadband speeds in rural areas.
Matt Hancock (Minister of State for Digital): As we have heard, superfast broadband is now available to more than 94% of premises. In 2010, only 42.5% of homes in Windsor had superfast broadband access. Today, that number is just shy of 94%.
Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): Windsor is a well-connected constituency—particularly given one notable resident—but we do have concerns that some rural and semi-rural areas may need further connectivity. In order to boost the creative, home education and home entertainment markets, does my right hon. Friend agree that developers and local authorities would do well to push on with ensuring that they deliver broadband infrastructure, such as ducting alongside the mains?
Matt Hancock (Minister of State for Digital): Windsor is not only well connected, but well represented. My hon. Friend’s point is that it is important that new developments get infrastructure and connectivity right from the start. We have agreed with the Home Builders Federation and major broadband providers that all new large developments of over 30 homes will get good connections, but we are also talking to the Department for Communities and Local Government to strengthen that requirement, because it is pretty absurd to build a new house without the ducting to take fibre all the way to it.
The MP for the Windsor constituency, Adam Afriyie, said:
“I was delighted to hear that the Government is continuing its excellent work rolling out superfast broadband to more and more households. Every month brings us closer to the goal of every family having superfast access
“In just 7 years this Conservative government has helped to truly transform the digital landscape. It’s difficult to believe that when Labour were last in government in 2010 just 42.5% of households in Windsor had access to superfast broadband, which has since more than doubled to 94%.
“To prevent that number sliding backwards I think that it is important housebuilders take broadband infrastructure into account before deciding on new developments by putting in ducting into their designs and I am glad that the government will be strengthening this requirement.
“Internet access is going to underpin our success in the 21st century in so many sectors. Whether it’s by giving children access to home learning, offering up greater opportunities to the self-employed or even ensuring that vulnerable people do not become socially isolated, we must ensure that Britain remains on the cutting edge.
Local MP Maria Miller has added her support to draft legislation to have mother’s names included on marriage registration certificates in England and Wales. Currently, the law does not mandate for the inclusion of mother’s names on marriage certificates - a practice which has remained unchanged since 1837.
Croydon Council has given the go-ahead to the giant Westfield-Hammerson development that will change the face of the town centre. The new shopping centre will bring thousands of new jobs and homes and turn Croydon into South London’s major shopping and leisure hub.
When the Conservatives ran our council, Croydon went into long-term decline with the once-booming town centre losing major retailers like Allders and employers like Nestle. But with Labour back in charge, the town now enjoys the fastest growing economy in the country creating huge opportunities for local people.
Steve Reed MP said:
“I am thrilled the Westfield Hammerson shopping centre now has the green light to go ahead. This multi-million pound scheme will transform the town centre and make Croydon one of the most exciting destinations anywhere in London and South-East England for shopping or enjoying a night out. This is the best news Croydon’s had in a generation and I’ve been proud to work alongside our Labour Council and business partners to make it happen.
“Work must begin as soon as possible, and we must make sure every part of the borough benefits from the jobs and investment this will bring.”
Once again the various remembrance services that took place over the weekend gave an important opportunity to remember the lives that were lost in both world wars and subsequent conflicts. Every year I find the services deeply moving and am reminded how close to home and how recently lives have been lost in the pursuit of peace, with the loss of 11 men from Cornwall, 3 from the St Ives Constituency, who died in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2014. It is a powerful reminder of how much we owe to so many.
As usual I attended the Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph in Penzance and was very impressed with the discipline and commitment of the Sea Cadets and the children of local schools including St Mary’s CofE and Humphry Davy School. At each of the events I attended over the weekend the numbers in attendance demonstrated the determination to remember all those whose sacrifice gave us the freedom we enjoy today.
There is plenty to distract from the important work that Government has to do to ensure Britain is a place of opportunity. One significant issue that Government is grappling with currently is how to move towards a fair funding formula for our schools. Schools in Cornwall are nearly all described as good or outstanding but we must make sure this can continue with adequate funding to enable our children to have the very best opportunity.
Elsewhere there are schools that enjoy twice the funds of some schools in Cornwall and navigating towards equal funding for children’s education, wherever they may live, is something that southwest MPs have been exercised about for some time. In 2015 we joined together to argue for fair funding for public services including for our schools and I personally welcomed the Government’s commitment to deliver a National Fair Funding Formula. This is no easy challenge especially given the pressure on public finances but we must persevere and I was pleased that one of our West Cornwall head teachers had the opportunity to make our case to the Chancellor for a fair and adequate funding.
I write in response to the consultation on Intermediate Care, as Member of Parliament for High Peak.
The people of Glossopdale feel very strongly about their local health services and about Shire Hill Hospital in particular. They have evidenced this in full:
The vast majority of responses from the people of Glossopdale, both at the meeting and on the online petition are in favour of keeping Shire Hill Hospital open, of keeping rehabilitation beds in Glossop for local patients, their families and for staff.
There was a justified and strong criticism of the style and mode of the public consultation at both consultation meetings in Glossop. Glossopdale residents are the only portion of the Tameside and Glossop population who will be disadvantaged by the proposals.
I expect the CCG to give appropriate weighting to the views of Glossopdale, especially as the voice of Glossopdale on the single commissioning board of Tameside and Glossop is minimal. Understandably the policies and protocols that have been developed by the board focus on the needs of the majority population, and a default position that the same policies and procedures can apply to Glossopdale. Bearing in mind the overwhelming response to the consultation from Glossopdale, I expect the CCG to take full account of the views of both residents and staff in Glossopdale, and the impact that proposals will have on them.
Many local people are also concerned at the general lack of provision of health services in Glossopdale, especially as traffic into Tameside and public transport have deteriorated over the last few years. There has been a lot of anger at the claim in the consultation document that journey times to Tameside Hospital are 18 minutes, when at usual travel times it is more like 45 minutes. Bus times vary from between 1 hour and 2 hours as there is either a considerable walk required from Ashton Town Centre, or a change of bus.
I call on Tameside Council and Derbyshire County Council to look to re-instate the direct bus service between Glossop and Tameside Hospital, including a Sunday service, as so many families can only visit their loved ones in hospital at weekends.
Now that the Mottram bypass is scheduled, traffic problems will become even more extreme during the period that roadworks take place. This will make it even more important that patients and staff who live in Glossop can access or work in health care in Glossop.
I concur with the very reasoned response set out by Sir John Oldham that unfortunately the intermediate care strategy as proposed in the CCG’s preferred option will not deliver the expected results, and in particular will be detrimental for the people of Glossopdale.
Centralising intermediate care beds is unsupported by the clinical evidence which points to better outcomes if people are in facilities closer to their homes, principally because of the psychological benefit. It also enables families to visit more frequently, to have more contact with care staff and to more easily support the transition from hospital to home.
It is very important that we retain the skills, experience and excellent team working evidenced by the staff at Shire Hill Hospital. We are seeing at the Cavendish Hospital in Buxton how a proposed closure of wards – even when no date is fixed – leads to uncertainty amongst staff and to them seeking alternative employment – often not even in health care. It would be a tragedy if highly skilled staff, who are so valuable to the health service and difficult to recruit, are lost to the CCG due to uncertainty about their future.
Almost all staff who work at Shire Hill live in Glossopdale. Most are not prepared to travel to Tameside to work, and if they did so, they would find it difficult to work long shifts due to the journey times, and uneconomic to work short shifts due to the transport costs. The consultation response must take the views of the staff fully into account. The manner of the consultation has already risked alienating staff at Shire Hill and their vital contribution to the service provided must be taken fully into account.
I am concerned that there was no projected needs assessment for intermediate care beds in the consultation, and a denial at the consultation meeting that this was a matter to consider now. With an ever growing elderly population, increased retirement age, and families moving further apart there will be more people to care for, more elderly people living on their own, and fewer families nearby to give the support that the strategy is predicated on.
The changes made now need to be future proofed. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) population projection for Tameside and Glossop show that 22% more intermediate care beds than current provision will be needed by 2030. This has not been considered in any of the options.
There is an over reliance on a medical model of care to help people stay at home that is unsupported by the evidence. The major influence on whether a person can be safely kept at home, or discharged to home, is the availability of home care support. With a decline in home care support, the strategy as outlined will not work and it is very important that the CCG keeps beds available to meet future need.
I am receiving complaints from constituents in my surgery of the lack of joined up care between social services and health services in Glossopdale. The people of Glossopdale will need both assurances and evidence from Derbyshire County Council that they are prepared to input both the resources, personnel and integrated working from one hub for all staff that would be needed for a Home First policy to operate effectively.
I am concerned at Sir John Oldham’s assessment that the strategy will not adequately increase throughput in acute beds and there may be system cost increases. Further, the strategy exchanges a building wholly owned by the NHS in perpetuity, for a building with a four and a half year lease. The renegotiation of that lease will be from a weak position so financial savings are unlikely to be realised.
Bearing in mind the very tight finances in the CCG in future years, this could lead to cuts in the services which need to be especially well resourced in the community and would mean that patient care would suffer.
I fully support the proposal from Sir John Oldham for an alternative to the options put forward – Option 4. This proposal, outlined below, will:
Firstly, a formal subcommittee of the Single Commissioning Board, the Glossopdale commissioning subcommittee, should be set up and meet in Glossop. It should comprise selected elected members of High Peak and Derbyshire County Councils, officer(s) from Derbyshire CC social services, GP, and manager of the Neighbourhood team. Its remit would be to ensure commissioning decisions fully respect the specific circumstances of the Glossopdale population and make a reality of integrated care between health and social care in Glossopdale. This may permit a strengthening of the home care provision in Glossopdale. This is an important component of this option, to address the current governance and accountability gap for Glossopdale.
Secondly, Shire Hill is redeveloped by a third party. My suggestion is that the redevelopment creates flats for the elderly with on site 24/7 care and potential respite accommodation . The development should include an updated 10 bedded intermediate care unit run by Tameside and Glossop IFT. The capital costs would come from the developer and be part of the initial negotiation. It is my view this intermediate care unit should operate on the same lines as the original Homeward bound unit we set up in 1994, then only the second intermediate care unit in the country. This had step up beds from the community and the unit was successfully managed by a multidisciplinary team, and included social services domiciliary care manager and Occupational therapist as well as nursing staff. Crucially staff worked both on the unit and in the community ensuring a truly seamless transition for individuals and greater flexibility for the deployment of staff to meet variable need. I would recommend that an expanded Neighbourhood Team is the ideal vehicle for such an arrangement. There would be considerable synergy between the elderly care accommodation and the intermediate care facility. There is also the possibility to seek additional external funding for the provision of palliative care beds in addition to the 10 intermediate care beds. There are precedents in the country where similar developments have been undertaken by joint ventures with Housing Associations. I am confident that such a scheme would be looked on favourably by NHS Properties.
As part of this option, the empty floor of the Stamford unit at Tameside would be opened with an initial 26 intermediate care beds, providing a more appropriate site for Tameside residents and building in flexibility for future expanded needs. The staffing for this should come from the existing compliment including Shire Hill, and staffing costs for Option 4 would be neutral, as they are suggested to be for Option 2. Financial savings from Option 4 would come from reduced rental costs at the Shire Hill site, in the same way as Option 2, but a lesser amount.
I believe this option is a better solution for all the residents of Tameside and Glossop and seeks to address some of the flaws in the current intended intermediate care strategy.
I call on the CCG to give serious consideration to this option which is fully supported by local people in Glossopdale and by staff at Shire Hill Hospital, whose skills, experience, and close teamworking are so integral to the high level of care delivered at Shire Hill.
Ruth George MP
Member of Parliament for High Peak
Following the closure of the Folkestone East GP practice at the beginning of this month, I have asked the South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to give the me the latest figures for the reallocation of patients to their new surgeries. As of Monday this week, 3,772 people have been allocated to a new GP and practice, and a further 400 patients have registered for their new surgery are in the process of being formally transferred – making a total of 4,172 patients that have either been reallocated or who are in the process of moving. As I have written in this column before, please let me know if you have registered for a new surgery but not heard back from the CCG. Equally, if you have not responded at all to the requests from the CCG that you indicate your preferred new surgery it is important that you do so, as you have to give your consent to being transferred to a new doctor. Any patient who has not yet been registered at a new practice, has the right to seek treatment from any local surgery, which they are required to deliver under the terms of their contract with the NHS. Despite the closure of the Folkestone East practice, the CCG is working to ensure that all residents will maintain full access to local GP services, and be included on the register of a local surgery. More funding has been made available to support local practices, both directly in the funding per patient they receive, and in the commissioning of additional services to conduct home visits, and provide walk in and emergency care through the Royal Victoria Hospital.
Last Friday I visited both Brabourne and Aldington primary schools. At Brabourne I was delighted to be invited to speak to all of the pupils during their morning assembly and then to answer a wide range of interesting and thoughtful questions. At Aldington, as part of my tour, I was particularly interested to visit the forest school area in the school’s grounds. Each year group spends lesson time once a fortnight in the forest school space throughout the year, where they learn many practical and outdoor skills. Forest schools are popular in Germany and the Scandinavian countries, and I know other local schools have taken an interest in Aldington’s innovative approach.
On Sunday I attended the Remembrance Day service at the war memorial in Hythe. It was excellent to see, once again, such an excellent turn out of people of all ages, to pay their respects to those servicemen who gave their lives for the freedom of others in the two world wars, and in other more recent conflicts. This shows that even as the living memory of the deeds of those terrible wars starts to pass, they are no less important to the people of our country today.
This Friday is the opening night of the Folkestone Book Festival, which runs until 26th November. I hope you get the chance to attend one of the many excellent events. You can find out more through the festival website www.folkestonebookfest.com
Many constituents have contacted me recently urging the need for a London rent cap.
In recent times rents have risen to record levels – leading increasing numbers of families into temporary accommodation and exacerbating the homelessness crisis.
Due to a shortage of affordable housing in London, coinciding with work obligations, many landlords are exploiting the situation by charging high rents. Consequently, professionals are being pushed out of the capital and forced to make lengthy journeys to work each day.
I firmly agree we must end insecurity for those renting in the private sector by controlling escalating rents and enhancing consumer rights for renters to create more secure tenancies.
At the 2017 General Election, I stood on a manifesto that pledged to cap rents in line with inflation, ban letting agency fees for tenants, as well as look into giving the Mayor greater power to provide additional security for London renters. We also pledged to reverse the cruel decision to abolish housing benefit for 18 to 21 year-olds, which risks putting more vulnerable young people on our streets.
I ensure I will keep up pressure on the Government to act on this issue and push for legislating a London rent cap.
The digital revolution is the greatest social experiment of all time and we have made our children its guinea pigs. Already however, we have seen negative impacts on children’s resilience and mental health, as well as increased exposure to harmful, inappropriate content. Children only get one chance at childhood and we must defend it. Today during Prime Minister’s Questions I asked Theresa May when the Government would bring in legislation with teeth to make sure social media companies uphold their responsibilities to their users.
James Cleverly writes in the Independent...
Those of you who are already bored to tears with the protracted process by which the UK leaves the EU, look away now.
Those of you who are addicted to each twist and turn of our negotiations with the EU27, who are obsessed with the arguments between and within political parties, who are left breathless by the process of repatriating laws and powers from Brussels to Westminster, you are in for a treat. Brexit is about to get detailed. Very detailed.
This year 67% of Nottingham City Care Leavers are either in employment, education or training, a significant increase on last year that places Nottingham as one of the best local authorities in the country for the future prospects of Care Leavers.
A designated Leaving Care service which solely works with those aged 18-25 has managed to support a significant number of Nottingham’s Care Leavers, with individual support packages that enhance their abilities and teach new skills, providing them with practical support for interviews and job applications. This ultimately provides them with the opportunity to live independent and successful lives after leaving our care service.
The priority that we have given to this area of our work is reflected in the fact that it forms a manifesto target, where we have pledged to offer apprenticeships or permanent jobs to 10% of care leavers within the council, setting an example to other employers with our own practice. To deliver this, the Leaving Care Service is working closely with the Nottingham Apprenticeship Scheme.
Further and higher education has also proved attainable for Care leavers, and we are proud of the 16 Nottingham care leavers who are currently at University. Work to ensure that care leavers have appropriate and additional pastoral support from FE providers is taking place through identifying designated contacts and improving communication between providers and Personal Advisors. The impact of this is starting to be seen, with examples of more collaborative and earlier support being implemented when issues arise, resulting in college places being sustained.
This approach has led to year on year success. In 2016/17 Nottingham City had 58.7% of care leavers aged 19 – 21 in education, employment or training and the average for local authorities who are similar to ours was 47.7%, meaning we are well out performing other parts of the country. We are also proud of the work and progress we have achieved and are particularly proud of our staff in the Council and Futures Advice who are providing Nottingham’s Care Leavers with the support and help they need.
We are not complacent however, and will continue to work hard to maintain and build on this progress.
Councillor David Mellen,
Portfolio Holder for Early Years and Early Intervention
The post More Nottingham care leavers are entering employment, education or training appeared first on Nottingham Labour.
Susan Elan Jones MP has tabled several questions to the Government on the subject of the environment, research and our nation’s food security.
This week, MPs will scrutinise the Government’s EU Withdrawal Bill, which aims to adapt EU legislation into UK law after Brexit.
High on the list of priorities for many are the laws that protect our environment and consider both our food security and research needs.
The Clwyd South MP recently stated that she receives many emails and letters from concerned constituents about these issues.
Susan Elan Jones MP, who has posed written questions to Jo Johnston MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation to answer, said: “I believe it is vital that the UK Government does more to consider environmental concerns and our country’s food security and research needs. This is especially so at this time of Brexit confusion.”
More than a quarter of the food we consume in the UK is imported from the EU. Further to this, there has reportedly been a steady decline in national self-sufficiency with regard to food production over the past two decades.
Our NHS is a national treasure and we must be bold to protect it.
Each week my constituents complain that they can’t get appointments. Whilst our fantastic GPs are stretched to the limit and practices struggle to fill vacant posts.
To safeguard our NHS I asked Prime Minister Theresa May to look at making medical students sign a contract, committing them to a minimum 5 years in our NHS after completing their subsided courses. This is not the solution to GP shortages but would help deal with the problem.
The number of people training to be doctors has gone up and those opting to be GPs is also now rising but it is not enough unless we stop the brain drain to overseas of newly qualified Doctors.
The post PMQs: Our NHS is a national treasure and we must be bold to protect it appeared first on Michelle Donelan MP.
The post The Tory Economic Plan: Worse than the Great Depression appeared first on Liam Byrne MP.
Speaking in the debate on the Brexit Bill amendments, Jonathan Djanogly raises concerns that a fixed exit date would weaken our negotiators’ position and calls for cross-party talks to help ensure we achieve a negotiated future trade settlement with the EU. read more »
Since the Government triggered Article 50 earlier this year we have been formally engaged in a series of negotiations to fulfil the will of the British people and prepare our exit from the European Union.
Today Parliament begins debating the Second Reading of the The EU (Withdrawal) Bill. This piece of legislation is the single most significant matter under consideration in this Parliament. The EU (Withdrawal) Bill is fundamental to ensuring that we have a smooth and orderly Brexit that will work for all hard working families across Aldridge-Brownhills.
The legislation will repeal the European Communities Act from our statute book. In our future relationship, our laws will once again be made in Westminster, not in Brussels; and the judges interpreting those laws will sit in British courts, not in Luxembourg courts and on the face of the Bill is the date of our departure from the European Union: the United Kingdom will be leaving the EU on 29th March 2019 at 11pm.
I will be supporting Prime Minister, Theresa May and the Government on this legislation because the EU (Withdrawal) Bill will provide certainty and allow us to begin paving the way for a ‘Global Britain’ where we will be able to look beyond the continent of Europe and begin to embrace the opportunities of the wider world with new friends and old allies alike. Residents from across my constituency have always been clear that they want Parliament to get on with the job and secure a Brexit Deal which works for everyone.
It is vital for the prosperity and security of our nation to secure the best possible Brexit for our country’s future and as your Member of Parliament I will continue to play my part to ensure this outcome.
Eat: Festival, the people behind popular food festivals in Weston-super-Mare and Burnham-on-Sea, has been shortlisted for three awards at the National Outdoor Events Association Awards.
Beverley and Sarah Milner Simonds are finalists in three categories; the Event Organisers of the Year, PR Campaign of the Year and Small Event of the Year.
Eat: Weston and Eat: Burnham are popular events which take place twice a year in each town, attracting more than 100 local sellers and thousands of food-lovers.
The team is riding high at the moment after scooping the top award at the Somerset Life Food & Drink Awards on October 19 when the pair were named the 2017 Food Heroes.
Weston MP John Penrose said: “A few years ago, a list of what to eat in Weston would have been pretty short, with a heavy focus on fish, chips and ice cream. There is nothing wrong with any of those three, of course, but the list would be a whole lot longer now.
“Eat: Weston and other food festivals have made it their mission to give local producers a platform to showcase a huge range of brilliant food made right on our doorstep.
“Awareness is growing fast, so this nomination is thoroughly well-deserved.”
North Somerset councillor Felicity Baker, executive member for tourism and leisure, said: “We were delighted to work with Beverley and Sarah to bring Eat: Weston back to the town.
“Thanks to the support and determination of everyone involved, the event was created in record time.
“It drew large crowds to the town centre with the High Street and refurbished Italian Gardens proving to be the ideal location for such an event.”
Sara Pacey, the council’s events and concessions manager who worked closely with Beverley and Sarah said it was a ‘pleasure’ working alongside the food festival team
She added: “They have an highly-organised and professional approach which ensured that they were easy to work with in all the stages of planning, execution and debrief of what was a hugely successful event.”
The awards will be presented by MP James Heappey on Wednesday.
Eat: Weston will be back in the town’s Italian Gardens and High Street on April 7 and then again on September 22 with a variety of Somerset sellers and producers.
The Peterloo Speakers Club was set up to provide a friendly, informal space for people to practise and improve their public speaking skills.
The club meets once a month at the Hough End Centre in Chorlton. All the details about how to join and when the meetings take place can be found by clicking here and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Ahead of the Autumn Budget next week, Steve McCabe MP has been asking constituents how the rising cost of living is affecting them. The MP is particularly concerned about the continued rise in food prices after his survey revealed that food shopping is causing the greatest pressure on household budgets, closely followed by the cost of energy bills.
The MP’s survey revealed that over three quarters of constituents (78%) said their wages have not kept pace with inflation and 80% of people said rising prices are an issue for their family.
The Aviva Community Fund awards funding of up to £25,000 for local community projects across a range of categories such as health and well-being, skills for life and community support. They recently launched a call for applications.
They have now received all applications and winners will be chosen from those that receive the most votes from the public.
You have 10 votes in total and you can choose to give all 10 to a single project or split them between a number of projects.
Voting is open until 21st November and winners will be announced in January.
The full list of nominations from Sutton, Cheam and Worcester Park are as follows:
I hope everyone will take part and lend their votes to these excellent Sutton projects.
Today, Parliament will begin debating the next stage of the EU Withdrawal Bill.
As residents will be aware, I joined my Labour Party colleagues in voting against the Bill at Second Reading. I believe the Bill constituted a brazen power grab by Ministers who seem to be doing everything possible to avoid scrutiny over their handling of Brexit negotiations. My full speech from the second reading debate can be viewed here.
The next stage of the Bill is the Committee Stage, the point at which amendments and new clauses to the Bill can be considered, debated and then voted on. Given the enormity of this Bill, it should come as no surprise that there are over 300 amendments (the full list can be read here).
Below, I have listed the amendments I will be supporting. The list is not exhaustive, but I hope it is helpful in outlining my areas of focus as we enter this crucial stage of the Bill’s journey through Parliament. I have supported amendments written by both Conservative and Labour MPs, as I believe certain matters transcend party politics and deserve the support of all those who believe in an open, progressive future for our country.
The Speaker will select which amendments he is allowing for debate, and many of those listed below may be consolidated and grouped together.
1) I have supported amendments to limit the scope of Ministerial powers to pass new laws without a vote in parliament. They include:
New Clause 2: preventing delegated power being used to alter workplace protections and rights
New Clause 5: parliament must ratify future relationship before exit day
New Clause 6: providing for new scrutiny of delegated powers should the Bill become law.
Clause 12: Amendments 1, 32, 49, 56, 57 – which all seek to restricts delegated powers of Ministers.
New Clause 24, New Clause 55: restrict delegated powers of Ministers.
Schedule 7: Amendment 51 – requires gov’t to implement withdrawal through primary legislation rather than through the powers in this Bill
New Clause 26: Parliamentary Committee rather than Ministers decide when delegated powers used
Clause 7: Amendment 5 – Prevent EU law being abolished by Statutory Instruments; Amendment 48 – prevent protections being removed by Statutory Instruments
Clause 9: Amendment 114 – Requiring final deal with EU to be approved by Statute; Amendment 30 – Removes ability of Ministers to modify
New Clause 19: – No powers to implement the withdrawal bill until it’s clear what deal is
2) Supporting our membership of EU agencies and programmes, and consideration of future changes to EU law
Clause 1: Amendment 63 – in support of our place in the Customs Union; Amendment 305 – In support of continued membership of Euratom and other key agencies.
New Clause 10: to pursue an associate membership of Single Market
New Clause 15: Parliament must be formally informed of changes to EU law that affect life in UK
New Clause 37: ensuring derived Rights from EU agencies
3) Supporting environmental and employments rights and protections
Clause 6: Amendment 306 – Gives UK harmonious social standards with the EU after exit
New Clause 58: Protecting employment rights
Clause 4: Amendment 93 – Protecting rights before exit day; Amendment 148 – maintain UK’s obligations with regard to UN Convention on the rights of the Child; Amendments 94 and 95 – Ensure rights which currently aren’t recognised by the courts are maintained
Clause 5: Amendment 8 and 46 – enshrining the Charter of Fundamental Rights in UK law (Conservative amendment); Amendment 9 – ensuring damages for breaches in principle of EU law; Amendment 10 – challenges to be brought for above damages; Amendment 101 – All existing principles of EU law will be brought into law
New Clause 12: Defends any protections for the environment or employment
New Clause 28: Environmental protections
Sarah is recruiting for a Personal Assistant. The closing date is 5pm, Wednesday 29th November.
The successful candidate will be responsible for ensuring that very high standards of service are provided to the MP and that the smooth day-to-day running of the office is maintained.
Please read each of the documents if you’d like to apply – and good luck!
“We are the new political mainstream” bellowed Jeremy Corbyn at the Labour Party conference last week. I was astonished by this audacious bid for the centre ground of British politics.
There is nothing mainstream about spending billions of pounds you do not have. There is nothing mainstream about a fantasy utopian future that will lead to disillusion. There is nothing mainstream about governing society with the belief that the state can do better than individuals, families and communities.
Britain deserves better. But the general election gave Conservatives a rude awakening; something in Corbyn’s message is resonating, particularly with the under-45s.
He has sketched out an alluring alternative vision for what a post-Brexit Britain might look like, and we have a fight on our hands. The situation we face is not as simple as the young generation having no memory of the Sixties and Seventies, when Britain tested Corbyn’s socialist idyll to near destruction.
The “Northern Rock” generation, whose political and economic outlook has been shaped by the collapse and nationalisation of the bank in 2008, have lost faith in the ability of markets to deliver for them in their lifetime. For them markets and multinational corporations are to blame for stagnant wages and hyperinflation in the housing market.
It is therefore understandable why youthful Britain can simultaneously enjoy the rapid innovation that has given us smart phones, Uber and Netflix and still feel capitalism has let them down.
Simply critiquing Labour’s policy arithmetic will not work. We have to stand for something: to win hearts and minds by addressing this generation’s problems, and offering hope and a positive vision for the future, not just for the next election.
We must provide a clear vision for the UK of 2050.We need to give the young reasons to believe in the market economy as the best path to opportunity and possibility, or we will never persuade them to support us and the Conservative Party will age and wither.
This means rejecting Red Tory-ism because it will fail. It means fixing markets rather than bashing business. Why vote for Corbyn-lite when you can get the real thing? A true conservative believes that (orderly) markets can deliver hope and prosperity.
The political centre-ground has see-sawed from left to right with the times. Corbyn is making a bid to shift it to the extreme left. We should meet him head on rather than follow in his slipstream, and in so doing make it clear that our motive is to make the world a better place.
Honesty about both the weaknesses of Jeremy Corbyn’s solution and what needs fixing in today’s market is crucial. Many tell of the misery of travelling by train in the 1970s, even compared with the woes on Southern Rail today, for example. Living standards in eastern Europe were a fraction of those in western Europe when the Berlin wall came down.
Theresa May is listening and responding to the call for change with significant new announcements on student fees and help to buy.
Reaching these younger voters requires new policy and new ways to communicate that are in tune with digital natives. Understanding that modern politics is a dialogue, not a monologue and about the live experience.
This ironically means a return to much older skills that have been lost in the TV age: face-to-face debates and stump speeches as well as direct engagement on social media.
Personally, I am rattled by Corbyn, because I do not see Cuba and Venezuela as the model for our country.
That’s why I plan to do my bit by visiting colleges and universities to share, listen and learn what society this rising generation wants to build.
When Keith Joseph tried this in the 1970s, visiting 150 campuses in two years, he was booed, ambushed and boycotted several times, but he persisted.
To be convincing in this effort, we cannot pick and choose one group of voters over the other, while claiming we are “One Nation” Conservatives.
The modern Conservative Party cannot have no-go areas. We must engage with humility, and communicate a clear vision.
Young voters have made it clear they want radical change and an end to politics as usual. I believe we can bring about the change young voters are crying for. We can do that as a party. We have done it in the past, and we can do it again, because Britain deserves better.
|Mr. Metcalfe laying a wreath on Remembrance Sunday at the War Memorial, Stanford-le-Hope.|
|Stephen Metcalfe MP at Woodlands School production of 'The Sons of Three Countries Remembered’|
|War Memorial on Remembrance Sunday, Stanford-le-Hope. Photo Credit: James R. Bayford Photography.|
Victoria Prentis, Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire, has welcomed plans for further restrictions on the use of pesticides harmful to bees and other pollinators.
Following advice from the UK’s pesticides advisory body, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Rt Hon Michael Gove, has announced restrictions on neonicotinoid pesticides as part of his commitment to maintain environmental standards across the UK.
Victoria commented: “Bees have been a big issue since I was first elected. Nearly 200 constituents have taken the time to contact me to express concerns about the impact of pesticides on bees. As the proud owner of three hives, I understand the importance of ensuring the safety of pollinators across the UK and the positive environmental impact that they have. I know many of my constituents will join me in welcoming this announcement.”
Beverley and Holderness MP, Graham Stuart, showed his support for local producers as he visited Cherry View Milk in Cherry Burton. The business, which is run by dairy farmers Becky and John Waring, has proven hugely popular with residents despite opening only two months ago.
Graham visited the ‘Milk Shed’, where customers can use a vending machine that guarantees them fresh, unpasteurised milk that is no more than 24 hours old.
The local MP also took time to meet the pedigree herd of 150 Jersey and Holstein cows, which produce the milk that is already proving a hit with residents.
Cherry View Milk has even been nominated for a Countryside Alliance ‘Rural Oscar’, and Graham encouraged residents to vote for them before the deadline on 13th November.
Graham said: “It was fantastic to go along to Cherry View Milk and see a real local business success story. Becky and John have worked incredibly hard and they are now fulfilling their dream of selling fresh milk from their lovely cows directly to the public.
“Even during my visit, there was a constant stream of customers coming through the door to use the vending machine, where two delicious litres of fresh, unpasteurised milk can be bought for just £2.
“I encourage all residents to continue nominating Cherry View Milk for the Countryside Alliance’s Rural Oscars, which could see them through to the Grand Final in Parliament next April. It would be fantastic to have a Beverley and Holderness business there at this prestigious event.”
Ahead of line closures this weekend to prepare for upgrading for electrification of the railway between Blackpool North station and Preston, Gordon has met with management from both Northern and Network Rail.
He sat down with them to tie down the details of how replacement buses will operate between now till the week before Easter 2018, and to quiz them on other aspects of future operations.
After a detailed meeting with Northern and Network Rail at their Manchester Piccadilly headquarters, Gordon said: “I have been over in considerable detail with them as to how the replacement buses will operate, and particularly arrangements for access for people with disabilities and mobility problems.
"I am pleased that following the concerns I expressed about previous failings by Northern to guarantee accessible bus replacements earlier in the year when the lines were closed late nights and other times for bridge renewals, that Blackpool Transport have been given the contract to supply bus replacement services while the line is being upgraded. These will be from their most up to date bus fleet, with proper disabled access and other amenities.
“I have pressed Northern Rail in particular to make sure signage at Preston is much clearer than it has been with previous closures and to make sure staff are on hand at all times to help people arriving from Virgin and other trains there to come to Blackpool. They need to be there and properly identified - which they haven't always been in the past.
“It's good that though both the Blackpool North and South lines will be closed for work between now and January 28th, the route from Blackpool South into Preston and along that line will then reopen. But at the moment there will be no Sunday services on it. I have told Northern that I think since it will be the only way people can get by train from Blackpool during this period, they should look at putting a Sunday service on. This is a long but necessary closure for the electrification closure so it's essential Blackpool is seen to remain open for business - for residents as well as holiday and business visitors, especially over New Year and February half term holiday with events in the town.
“The general level of posters and communication I’ve seen prepared seems good, but I’ve asked Network Rail to make sure replacement timetables are available in decent sized print so everyone can read them easily as well as online. I’ve also queried why some of the late night bus services are scheduled to take up to 1 hour and 20 minutes from Preston to Blackpool - more than twice as slow as the existing rail journeys'.
"I’ve also stressed again, as I have on previous occasions, my concern that at peak times - weekends, holiday times and during busy Illuminations and other periods, too many passengers , often with poor mobility, heavy luggage, buggies and children, are forced to remain on the concourse at Blackpool North. I've seen for myself the huge rush that can result when they are only allowed on 2 or 3 minutes before departure. At best it delays trains, at worst it is I believe a Health and Safety hazard.
"When the lines and stations open fully again at Easter, there needs to be a proper re-examination of the situation and also a great improvement in timetable cooperation and train management at Preston between Northern and Virgin trains. At present there seems little coordination - and this results often in the ridiculous situation where fast Virgin trains come into Preston from major centres only for ongoing passengers to Blackpool to have to wait for up to half an hour for a connection because a Northern train has left just before the Virgin one. This isn't satisfactory and I will continue to press the point. As someone who uses these lines week by week to get to and from Blackpool to Parliament, I will be monitoring how things go over a period which we hope will result in Blackpool getting the long awaited electrification and better connections which we need."