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7 February 2023
Minister of State – Department of Science, Innovation and Technology

It is a huge honour and privilege to have been named the first Minister of State for the new UK Department of Science, Innovation and Technology today, with Secretary of State the Rt Hon Michelle Donelan MP.

A historic moment for UK Science, Technology, Engineering and Innovation.

#ScienceSuperpower

#InnovationNation

MP asks Minister to make £2 cap on bus fares permanent

Tim Farron (Westmorland and Lonsdale)

Cumbrian MP Tim Farron has written to the Minister for Local Transport, Richard Holden, encouraging him to extend the cap on bus fares indefinitely.

Last month, the Government introduced a £2 cap on single bus fares. However this is set to come to an end on March 31st.

Tim has asked the Department for Transport to make the cap "a permanent fixture"" to help people with the cost of living, ease congestion, support businesses and tackle climate change.

In a letter to the Minister, Tim said: "Here in the Lake District, we have some of the highest bus fares anywhere in the country so this has been a great initiative in making it more affordable for people to travel by public transport.

"During the summer, we also have some of the most congested roads in the country, given that 85% of visitors travel here by car and many of our roads connecting our tourist hotspots are single track.

"By extending the cap into the summer months, this will lead to more people opting to travel around our beautiful part of the world by bus rather than car, which will lead to much less congestion with clear benefits for businesses and the environment too.

"In such a rural area as Cumbria, where many people often live miles away from the nearest shop, cheaper bus fares will provide a real shot in the arm for our struggling town centres by dramatically increasing their footfall.

"Therefore I implore you to extend the £2 cap beyond the end of March and keep it as a permanent fixture."

Published and promoted by P Trollope on behalf of T Farron and the Liberal Democrats, all at Yard 2, Stricklandgate, Kendal
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Maria Miller MP welcomes the latest Government announcement on unsafe housing, confirming that it will be developers – and not the taxpayer – who will be obliged to bear the burden of the cost of repairs. Maria said, ‘I am very pleased that leaseholders will no longer be faced with huge and…

MP listens to parents' fears over school closure proposal

Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

Anne-Marie was invited by Scremerston First School headteacher Mrs Sarah Smith, to attend the school's weekly parents assembly, and as well as speaking to the pupils about being an MP and taking their questions, she was able to listen to parents and school staff as they told her of their concerns…
Graham Stuart, Member of Parliament for Beverley and Holderness, visited Bovis Homes’ Longfields Development in Beverley to congratulate its award winning site manager. The visit on Friday 3rd February was to honour Matt Earnshaw who has won a Seal of Excellence in the NHBC (National House Building…
Greg Smith MP was pleased to host the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) and National Motorcycle Council in Parliament today to showcase both progress and challenges facing the industry as we transfer to net-zero. It’s clear that a rush to produce zero-emission motorcycles risks undermining the…

John Redwood
(Wokingham) (Con)

My right hon. Friend the Member for North West Hampshire (Kit Malthouse) makes some powerful points. He is right that if we cut certain tax rates, we collect more revenue, not less. The historical evidence is very clear on that, but OBR and Treasury models do not capture that. He is right that if we try to guide our economy by a debt-to-GDP ratio and we go into recession, the ratio gets worse. We are then advised to take exactly the wrong action, and intensify the downturn by trying to chase the ratio with tax rises that will push the economy lower; it is an extremely foolish thing to do.

My right hon. Friend is right that the Treasury needs its own independent forecasting, and needs to be able to say sometimes that the independent OBR forecast may be wrong. If it is genuinely independent, why should the Chancellor have to defend it? When it is as wrong as it has been at points in the last three years—for example, as wrong as it was on the deficit—it would be extremely helpful if the Chancellor was encouraged to disagree with it, because it is sending him exactly the wrong signals. For two years running, it grossly exaggerated the deficit and debt at a time when we could have done more to promote growth. This year, predictably—indeed, I did again predict it—it got it wrong; it understated what would happen, because it did not understand that its other policies would slow the economy so much. My right hon. Friend is right about the longer-term issues, but time does not permit me to go into that, as people apparently want to go home this evening.

On the control framework, I will be the one person who says that I do not think that this control framework is good. It clearly has not worked in the past, and it is fairly unlikely to work in the future. We have one extremely important control, which is not mentioned in this document: the 2% inflation target. That should be even stronger and better enforced. It is very worrying that the Bank of England, which seems to have the main responsibility for it, allowed inflation to reach over 10% when it had a clear target of 2%. It would not listen to those of us who said that if it carries on printing too much money and buying too many bonds at ever higher prices, it is very likely to have inflation. I hope that it does not cause the reverse problem, and put everything into reverse, giving us a bigger recession than we need. We do not want any recession at all, but clearly a slowdown was needed to correct the extra inflation as the Bank tried to correct its past mistakes.

It would be good to complement the 2% inflation target, which should apply to the Government as well as to the Bank of England, with a 2% growth target. We would then have the balanced model that the Federal Reserve is wisely given by our American friends and colleagues. The Fed is told both that it must keep inflation to around 2% as a priority, and that it must maximise employment in doing so. A balanced mandate of 2% inflation—it would be nice if we could do 2% growth, but the current official forecasts are way below that—would provide the right kind of signals, and give us more chance of a sensible economic policy.

This is our one chance to remind ourselves of the big issue of how we manage this enormous debt, bearing in mind that about a third of state debt is owned in accounts by the Bank of England, which means that it is owned by the taxpayers and by the Government. When I last looked, the Bank of England was 100% owned by taxpayers and the Government. Every pound of that debt that was bought up, was bought up on the signature of Labour, coalition and Conservative Chancellors, with this House agreeing that we would indemnify the Bank against all losses. Indeed, the Bank of England understandably put on its website that the whole of the bond portfolio is held with it acting as an agent for the state. These are joint control decisions, and the Government are clearly the senior partner, because they have to pay the bills.

It is quite wrong that we should have this uniquely difficult treatment when it comes to handling the rundown and the losses, when the European Central Bank and the Fed made exactly the same mistake of buying too many expensive bonds . There is a lot to be said for the ECB idea that the rundown should take place as the bonds naturally repay. One does not go charging into the market to undermine one’s own bond prices by selling even more of them at a loss. If we want to be ultra-tough on money, like the Fed—it probably has more of an inflation problem than we did—then if we sell the bonds into the market, why send the bill to the taxpayer? Why does the bill not rest with the central bank, which can actually stand that kind of thing? As the Fed constantly points out, the fact that it is sitting on a lot of losses does not matter, because it can always print dollars to pay its bills—it is not like a normal company. We should look again at this particularly hairshirt treatment, whereby the Bank of England expects taxpayers to send it money every time it sells a bond at a loss—and it wants to sell a lot of bonds at a loss, when there is probably no need to do so for the sake of the conduct of monetary policy.

I hope that the Government look again at those issues, because we have a very difficult nexus between decisions taken jointly, decisions taken by the Government, and decisions taken by the Bank of England. The treatment of this debt is having a big impact on the Budget judgments that the Chancellor comes to.

My final point is on the strange treatment of debt interest. As the Minister pointed out, the debt interest programme has shot through the roof to extremely high levels, but the bulk of that is, of course, the indexation provisions on the index debt, which in the UK is a rather high proportion of the total debt. None of that requires cash payments, so it is not a bill that we have to pay today. In practice, it will wash through by our simply rolling over the debt when the bonds fall due. We will re-borrow the real amount rather than the nominal amount, so we will not actually feel it. It is very odd that we put that as a cost against the accounts. The great news, however, is that as a result of that strange accounting treatment, we will have a great bonanza, apparently, because I think the forecasts are right, and that inflation will come down quite sharply over the next two years—indeed, the Bank of England thinks it will go well below 2%. The debt interest programme will absolutely disappear through the floor, given all this so-called debt interest throwing out the figures. I hope some of the proceeds will be used for a sensible policy to promote growth.

8.29pm
John Glen

It is a privilege to close this debate on behalf of the Government. I thank those who contributed to the debate, including the distinguished Chair of the Select Committee, who highlighted some of the issues and presumptions of Government policy. I cannot comment on what will happen with fuel duty, as that will be the Chancellor’s decision. I thank the right hon. Member for Dundee East (Stewart Hosie) for his contribution, in which he seemed to suggest more targets and a poverty of ambition on behalf of the Government, and I can assure him that that is not the case.

I would like to respond to my right hon. Friend the Member for North West Hampshire (Kit Malthouse), who made a number of observations about the independence of the OBR; its certification and validation role; and the iterative process and whether that compromised the apparent independence of the Treasury. He described economics as not just an art or a science but even psychology. I can confirm that the OBR’s remit is unchanged: it is the Government’s official forecaster. But—as he notes and I am pleased to confirm—the Treasury maintains considerable analytical capability to support the policy advice to Ministers, and it does a very good job of it too. There is a clear separation between the OBR and policymaking, but it is a matter of securing credibility for those policies, and I think he would agree with me that that is a very important point.

Discounted return train tickets will be scrapped with passengers having to buy single fares, under rail network reforms expected to be announced this week.

Mark Harper, the transport secretary, will outline the government’s vision for solving the long-running rail crisis with a “Fat Controller” public body placed in charge.

Passengers could be faced with a stealth increase in costs if discounted return tickets are scrapped and all fares offered at “single-leg pricing” for each stage of their journeys.

Paper tickets could be replaced by smartcards similar to the Oyster Card used across public transport in London and QR-style digital codes, according to a political briefing at the weekend.

Comparisons of the additional costs of single tickets over a return is fiendishly complicated as — according to Rail Delivery Group trade body — the network has 55 million different fares.

Commentators calculated that some trips could be a third more expensive if return tickets are scrapped. The trainline.com ticket service advised it is sometimes actually cheaper to buy single tickets for each leg than a return.

Single-leg pricing was trialled in 2020 by the east coast train operator LNER, the government-owned company which took over the franchise from Virgin in 2018. The company said it would give customers “more confidence they are buying the correct ticket for their needs and ultimately making fares simpler”.

Harper is said to be considering announcing the scrapping of return tickets in a speech on Tuesday when he unveils the end of the “quasinationalisation” of railways, as the government prepares to unwind a £31 billion state bailout launched during the pandemic.

Train operators will be given back control of the railways and told they have “the freedom to grow revenue” by increasing passenger numbers.

A new public body, Great British Railways, will take over responsibility for timetabling and ticketing from the Department for Transport.

Keith Williams, the former chief executive of British Airways, who led a “root and branch” review of the railways on behalf of the government, proposed a “Fat Controller” from the Thomas the Tank Engine books to oversee the network with limited state intervention.

John Penrose, a Conservative MP and former minister, told The Sunday Telegraph: “Rather than bureaucrats or politicians pretending they know how much each passenger’s journey should cost, why not get lots of different rail firms competing to beat each others’ prices so tickets are always as cheap as possible?”

Commuters will sigh at the prospect of yet another reform of a network plagued by delays, cancellations and soaring tickets costs on top of bungled, overrunning and over-budget infrastructure work, incompetent management and a truculent workforce, despite receiving billions of pounds of state subsidies.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of rail union Aslef, warned that strikes by train drivers could continue for three more years after most services were cancelled last Friday due to industrial action in the dispute over pay and conditions.

Passengers also face having some services cut further with the TransPennine Express said to be considering reducing the number of carriages on trains from six to three.

Northern, which is operated by the government, is considering proposals to cut the frequency of services from Lancaster to Morecambe despite Rishi Sunak visiting the resort last month to award £50 million from the levelling-up fund to build a new Eden Project.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission raised concerns about the impact of ticket office closures and the expansion of driver-only operation on disabled and vulnerable travellers.

The commission, responding to a letter from politicians about the changes, said it shared their concerns “that changes to how some rail services operate are making rail travel more inaccessible”.

£1,850 CONSERVATIVE PENALTY HITTING HOUSEHOLDS

Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North)

Analysis from the Labour Party has shown that the average household in Newcastle North is set to be put under greater pressure during the cost of living crisis due to the Conservative mismanagement of the economy. The Bank of England warned in December that around 4 million households with a mortgage will be exposed to rate rises this … Continue reading £1,850 CONSERVATIVE PENALTY HITTING HOUSEHOLDS

Liz on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg

Liz Kendall (Leicester West)

 

On Sunday I was invited on to the Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg panel.

You can watch the full episode back in full here.

In the programme I argued that the public are looking at 13 years of this Tory Government and asking, are we better off?

🏥  Am I more likely to be able to see a GP or get an operation?
🚂  To get from A to B on the rail system?
✏  To get good support in our schools?
 
And the answer is no!
 
Watch back to see my comments to the interview with Business Secretary Grant Shapps and to the 4,000 word article from Liz Truss released over the weekend with absolutely no apology and no humility less than 20 weeks after she drove the economy off a cliff.
 
 

The post Liz on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg appeared first on Liz Kendall.

6 February 2023
Dunne welcomes business rates relief for shops, pubs, and leisure from 5th April

Dunne welcomes announcement of a new business rates relief scheme for retail, hospitality, and leisure properties worth around £2.1 billion in 2023/24.

The new rates relief will support businesses across high streets and town centres in Shropshire, helping them to evolve, adapt and succeed in light of changing consumer demand. 

The new scheme will provide occupied premises in retail, hospitality, and leisure with a 75% rates relief, up to a cash limit of £110,000 per business.

The Government will not change current legislation relating to relief on available properties. Instead, local authorities will be able to use their discretionary relief powers under section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 to grant relief.

Commenting on the announcement South Shropshire MP Philip Dunne said:

“I am pleased that for this next financial year, businesses across the county in our market towns and villages, can have certainty that their rateable values will be subject to a significant discount, helping businesses trade with confidence.

“Shropshire Council will administer the enhanced scheme locally, applying the 75% discount compared with 50% relief offered for 2022/23.

“Qualifying businesses will include shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars, cinemas, or live music venues.  Those in the leisure industry who have been contacting me also such as sports grounds and clubs, museums, nightclubs, theatres, gyms, public halls, and clubs will also benefit.

“The Chancellor has listened to appeals from small businesses, including several who had contacted me about the tax burden”.

Corstorphine/Murrayfield by-election candidates announced

Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith)

The candidates standing in the forthcoming Corstorphine/Murrayfield Council by-election, which will take place on Thursday 9 March, have been announced.

Investing in Spaces and Places

Robin Millar (Aberconwy)

Asda’s Charity, the Asda Foundation has opened the application window for a new ‘Investing in Spaces and Places’ grant. Due to the success of the ‘Investing in Spaces and Places’ grant last year, the Foundation is opening another round of applications for a higher value grant for 2023. This funding…

why are these changes needed???

Damian Green (Ashford)

BRIEF

National Apprenticeship Week 2023

Victoria Prentis (Banbury)

Apprenticeships are a brilliant way for young people to kick-start their careers. They also have a really positive impact on businesses and the wider economy. To mark National Apprenticeship Week this year, I was pleased to join a roundtable hosted by Jacob Douwe Egberts and OxLEP in Banbury. It…

Minister George Freeman Visits Bassetlaw

Brendan Clarke-Smith (Bassetlaw)

Two fantastic announcements by the Minister in Bassetlaw today. First the launch of the U.K. owned company to deliver the STEP project and secondly the announcement of a STEP Skills Centre at West Burton, which is brilliant news as we mark National Apprenticeships Week.

Passengers deserve more reliable Reston railway service

John Lamont (Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk)

John Lamont MP met with local rail campaigners at Reston railway station to back their calls for a more reliable service. The Scottish Borders MP joined the team from the Rail Action Group East of Scotland (RAGES) to discuss what improvements were necessary to encourage more passengers to use the…
It is a pleasure to follow Jeremy Corbyn. He refused to give way to me during his speech when he made reference to France being a particularly good example of a country that had reacted well to energy inflation. He forgot to mention that 80% of all French energy is generated by nuclear power and is…

Gwynne slams ‘Tory mortgage penalty’

Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish)

Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton and Reddish, has criticised the Government after Labour analysis revealed the extent of mortgage increases across the local area.

Data shows that across the constituency of Denton and Reddish, 9,800 households face an annual predicted mortgage increase of £1900 pounds.

The analysis follows the Bank of England warning in December that around half of households with a mortgage, a total of 4 million, will be exposed to rate rises this year, with a reported 800,000 seeing their mortgage rates double.

This week, the IMF chief economist singled out higher mortgage rates as a reason for Britain’s poor performance after the country’s growth was downgraded, leaving it as the only major economy expected to shrink in 2023.

Commenting, Andrew Gwynne said:

“These figures essentially represent a Tory mortgage penalty. Local people are paying the price for 13 years of Conservative mismanagement of our economy.

 

“At the moment, it feels like we’re lurching from crisis to crisis, with working people bearing the brunt of this chaos.

 

“Only Labour will stabilise the economy, get it growing, and build a Britain that thrives again”.

The post Gwynne slams ‘Tory mortgage penalty’ appeared first on Andrew Gwynne MP.

Individual Issues raised by constituents DECEMBER 2022

Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central)

Weekly round-up #Working4Wycombe

Steven Baker (Wycombe)

What I have been up to this week #Working4Wycombe: Joined High Wycombe Jobcentre Plus staff to welcome DWP minister Lord Younger to discuss the successful rollout of Universal Credit in Wycombe & other local issues. Met with Farmers in Wycombe to discuss food security, Environmental Land Management, trade, net zero and rural crime. Met our Council and NHS to discuss how they are serving local people. Issued a renewed call for tolerance & attended the LGBT+ History Month event in […]

Defibrillator Grants available for local communities

Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills)

Defibrillators can provide vital life-saving treatment, with latest research showing that accessing these devices within 3-5 minutes of a cardiac arrest increases the chance of survival by over 40%.

Care to ensure that defibrillators are available both at school and in the wider community is of paramount importance.

That is why I’m delighted the Government has announced a new £1 million Community Automated External Defibrillators Fund to provide match-funding for new public access defibrillators. This will help to ensure that areas with the most need for defibrillators have them. I would encourage all local charitable and non-profit organisations to apply for the grant. To find registered defibrillators in your area, please visit https://www.defibfinder.uk/

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Airport Update

Scott Benton (Blackpool South)

I'm continuing to push to bring passenger flights back to Blackpool Airport and use the airport to boost Blackpool's economy. In Parliament, I've been lobbying ministers on easing the rules around Public Service Obligation routes. Currently they all fly into London, but I think it'd be great for…

MP for West Dunbartonshire Martin Docherty-Hughes met this week with UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to raise the case of detained Dumbarton man Jagtar Singh Johal.

Local MP Martin was joined by Jagtar’s brother Gurpreet Singh Johal in pressing the UK Foreign Secretary to act over the 5-year imprisonment in India of the 35-year-old Scot known as ‘Jaggi’.

It follows a debate in parliament last month led by SNP MP Docherty-Hughes, in which MPs called on the UK government to press for Mr Johal’s release – arguing that the legal case around his arbitrary detention is now beyond doubt.

Mr Johal was detained under India’s anti-terrorism laws following his arrest in November 2017, accused of helping fund a Sikh-on-Hindu assassination plot – something he strongly denies.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has determined that Mr Johal’s detention “lacks legal basis”, was based on “discriminatory grounds” owing to his Sikh faith and his “status as a human rights defender”, and that he was “subjected to torture”.

International human rights groups ‘Reprieve’ and ‘Redress’ have called on the UK government to intervene urgently in the case, citing concerns that Jagtar faces trumped-up political charges carrying the death penalty.

Martin Docherty Hughes MP said:

“I appreciated the Foreign Secretary taking the time, allowing myself and Gurpreet the opportunity to put our case robustly and clearly.

“However, I’m disappointed to say that despite listening to compelling evidence, built on the unambiguous findings of the UN working group, we are no closer to having the UK Government call for Jagtar’s release.

“After 5 years, with Jagtar being tortured into making a false confession, and the now unavoidable evidence of arbitrary detention, the UK Government cannot move on from the softly softly approach which shows no sign of yielding results – and so Jagtar will continue to sit an Indian jail, unable to get on with his married life.”

Jagtar’s brother Gurpreet said:

“I’m grateful to the Foreign Secretary for meeting us but so disappointed in what he had to say. He talks about ‘Jagtar’s best interests’ but won’t seek his release – and won’t even acknowledge that there is no legal basis for his imprisonment.

“It is a slap in the face to hear him talk about the Indian justice system and what the UK Government can do to ensure that Jagtar receives a fair trial. Jagtar has been in prison for five years already based on a ‘confession’ he signed after being tortured, and his trial on these trumped-up charges has barely begun.

“As I told Mr Cleverly, trials brought by India’s National Investigations Agency can drag on for decades. What we need from the Foreign Secretary is decisive action; what we got is more empty words.”

Dan Dolan, Director of Reprieve, said:

“By failing to seek Jagtar’s release, the UK Government is effectively condemning him to indefinite arbitrary detention in India.

“It looks awfully like the Foreign Secretary is prioritising narrow political considerations over the life of a young British man facing a death sentence overseas for blogging about human rights abuses.”

Weekly Round-up :: 03 February 2023

Karin Smyth (Bristol South)

I share the deep concern of many residents about the state of the NHS – the ambulance delays, overworked staff, and the waiting lists for operations. During the debate on the Government’s plan for urgent and emergency care capacity this week, I tackled the Secretary of State for Health on the need for better data at a local level. Time and time again they like to announce a change to the NHS, but never give us the information to show how it will work across the country. Bristol is no different. The Secretary of State, unsurprisingly, talked around the matter instead of showing how his announcement would improve things in our area. Rest assured I will continue to use my knowledge and experience as a former NHS manager to press for action that will improve healthcare outcomes in Bristol.

In 2018 the Government unveiled a new strategy for the Civil Service that was intended to save money, encourage growth outside London, and to diversify the staff and culture of the Civil Service. A long list of things they thought they could improve! The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee are looking into the progress of this strategy and how it has been adapted to take into account recent developments, such as hybrid working following the pandemic. The Civil Service must be a national institution, with staff working in areas it understands. But this national institution shouldn’t hoard power within Whitehall. It should be the engine room for government which is fuelled with ideas and ambitions of the nations and regions of the UK. Moreover, it’s important that we have a variety of well-paid jobs across the country, not centred in London. With the increase in hybrid working that the pandemic instituted but which have benefited working parents and those on lower incomes allowing them to move out of cities, we have to adapt our government institutions to fit the times. Technological advances must be embraced to bring good jobs into regions traditionally left behind and to support local economies grow.

There was an excellent drop-in event in Parliament this week to raise awareness of brain injuries. An acquired brain injury can be caused by numerous things, including falls, road accidents or something like a tumour or a stroke. Brain injuries can have huge impacts on someone’s live from affecting their independence to impacting on their family life. It was great to hear from the charities who work with people to support them. You can find out more from Headway.

I was frustrated this week at the Government’s lack of respect shown to Parliament and the duties of MPs. I had secured a question to the Cabinet Office on Thursday, but it was withdrawn by the department. This Government has got far too used to withdrawing questions it doesn’t want debated, limiting the democratic effectiveness of the work that MPs do. It is completely unacceptable that MPs, concerned about issues they work on in Select Committees, are unable to tackle the issues in the House of Commons with department representatives. I take very seriously my work on the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee and my constituents have a right to expect that I am able to ask government ministers questions about the issues arise, particularly when it relates to the effectiveness and value for money of their spent taxes.

I am looking forward to joining tomorrow’s Lantern Parade in Bedminster and meeting the wonderful people from the area who have organised this event. It’s fantastic to see all the volunteers working with schools to help them create their lanterns and take part in the parade. See you all tomorrow!

If there are issues you want to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing Karin.smyth.mp@parliament.uk or by calling 0117 953 3575.

The post Weekly Round-up :: 03 February 2023 first appeared on Karin Smyth.

Residents left in limbo over energy payment

Toby Perkins (Chesterfield)

Only Independence can give Scotland a different path from the economically damaging choices of the UK Government

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil says constituents can only escape the chaos and damage of Brexit with the full powers of independence.

It comes after a poll conducted by UnHerd, a digital political news forum, found that now 60% of respondents in Na h-Eileanan an Iar agreed that the UK was wrong to leave the EU. The same pattern was seen in every other Scottish constituency. It follows the Referendum result in 2016 where 56% of voters in Na h-Eileanan an Iar voted to remain in the EU.

Recent polls have suggested the figure across Scotland is now as high as 72% as the damage of Brexit hits hard.

Commenting, Mr MacNeil said: “People in our islands and across Scotland as a whole voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU in 2016 and daily people who previously supported Leave are changing their minds.

“However, Scotland had no independent voice to deal with Brexit and with a London media bombarding us with an alien message of ‘leave’, we’ve been dragged out against our will and forced to endure the economic hardship that has come with it.

“Brexit has been a total disaster for the islands and Scotland, decimating industries, exacerbating the Tory-made cost of living crisis and making it more difficult for people to come and work and live here and with our projected falling population that is not a good thing at all. 

“After three years of Brexit, the UK has nothing to show for it but a declining economy and falling reputation abroad.  Trade with other countries for our fish and shellfish merchants is now more costly with the UK unable to export anywhere in Europe, in fact across the world, without mountains of costly paperwork.

“People in Na h-Eileanan an Iar deserve better but will only be able to choose to return to the EU if we have the full powers of independence.  For a better future it is obvious independence is the sensible choice that many other normal nations have made.”

Falling Apart

Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak)

First, Boris Johnson was driven from office because even his own MPs could no longer tolerate his lies. Then we suffered the Liz Truss disaster, resulting in chaos in the markets, threats to pensions, increases in mortgages and rents, and the highest tax burden in 70 years. It’s easy to see how Tory MPs must have breathed a huge sigh of relief when Sunak promised a government characterised by professionalism, integrity, and accountability.

Less than a hundred days into his premiership things are going from bad to worse. He’s finally had to sack party chairman Nadhim Zahawi, the former Chancellor, who claimed he overlooked paying £4.5M in tax because he was careless. That wasn’t the view of the taxman who fined him as well as demanding the outstanding millions.

Just as the PM was trying to extinguish the Zahawi scandal, new problems were surfacing. Further cuts to HS2 suggest the trains won’t even reach central London. Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, has denied it which is about as reassuring as the chairman’s vote of confidence, usually offered to hapless football managers just before they’re sacked.

Now there’s news that our army is so under-strength and poorly equipped that our American cousins have relegated us to the second division. Our forces were once the envy of the world, now we can’t even buy equipment that works.

Rishi Sunak’s obviously got a long way to go on the professionalism and integrity front.

The outcome of the investigation into Deputy PM, Dominic Rabb, continues, but allegations of bullying appear to be multiplying by the day and questions are still being asked about the Home Secretary. She was forced to depart following a security breach but reappointed by Mr Sunak six days later. So much for accountability.

Just how much longer can we put up with this? Our public services are falling apart, the economy is a mess and the country’s beset by strikes. Even Jacob Rees Mogg has described the government’s anti-strike legislation as dangerous and incompetent. For the sake of the people of the UK, we need a general election now not later.

We have been notified by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities that Commissioners will not be appointed to run Nottingham City Council. It has been agreed that we will continue with the current arrangement with oversight by the Improvement and Assurance Board (IAB).

We are satisfied that the Government recognises the improvements that the council has made under the leadership of Nottingham Labour – reflected in the decision to not appoint commissioners. Over the last 22 months, we have worked well with the Government-appointed IAB. Under new leadership, Nottingham Labour has made progress, been open about the issues the council has faced, and worked hard to put things right. We have worked with the IAB to address their concerns and they have shared our progress with Government.

This work has resulted in the reduction in council debt, a transformation plan that will save the council £60million by the end of the four-year budget period and also achieve better outcomes for Nottingham people. We will set a four-year balanced budget in March after a year in which most councils have faced huge budget gaps due to the inflation pressures that Nottingham residents will recognise in their own lives.

We have changed the culture and governance of the council so that issues like the Housing Revenue Account are uncovered, shared transparently and sorted. Under the current leadership, the council has made significant changes to the way it works, is open about the issues the council faces and is determined to get things right – this has been recognised by the IAB.

Government cuts to our budgets mean that it is more difficult to do everything we want to do to help our communities, but we have been fighting for Nottingham and protecting our services against the worst effects of Tory cuts. We made sure that the council – and our amazing staff – were there for you during the Covid crisis and we fought hard to get what we needed for our city to help keep people safe.

After more than a decade of Tory austerity, the pandemic and then the recent worsening of the cost of living crisis, the work we have done to balance our budget has not been easy. Nottingham Labour has:

  • retained 75 community protection officers
  • continued to build council houses and improved private rented housing through our licensing scheme
  • kept ownership of our outstanding care homes
  • continued to run six leisure centres
  • supported Welfare Rights advice services across the city because we defend what is needed by Nottingham people.

We are supporting free events for families all year round, and you can still expect a regular bus service from our award-winning city-owned bus company. We have our own bus company because Labour protected it when many others were sold off to private operators and they are now seeing more cancelled services and far higher fares. We invested in a tram that brings good jobs to the city and gets people to them. Our great public transport system has contributed to cleaner air than other cities in the UK and made people less reliant on a car.

The transformation of the Broad Marsh is underway, a new central library will soon be fitted out, a park will be created and new developments creating jobs and homes will be coming in the next few years.

We would like to thank the council staff for their part in helping us to improve the way the council works, and to Nottingham people for their continued support. We will continue to work alongside the IAB to reshape the way we deliver the best outcomes for our city. We will also keep working for a better deal for our city.

Local MP, Drew Hendry, has agreed with constituents in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey on their scathing assessment of the damage of Brexit and said that independence is the quickest way to rejoin the EU.

A poll carried out by Focaldata on behalf of UnHerdBritain found 60% of people in the constituency agreed that the UK was wrong to leave the EU, alongside every other Scottish constituency.

It follows the result in 2016, where every local authority in Scotland voted to remain, with 62% of Scots backing continued membership of the EU. Recent polls have suggested the figure is now as high as 72% as the damage of Brexit hits Scotland hard.

Commenting, Drew Hendry MP said:

“People in the Highlands, and indeed in Scotland as a whole, voted overwhelmingly to remain in 2016. That result should’ve been respected.

“Instead, we’ve been dragged out against our will and forced to endure the economic hardship that’s come with it.

“The Highlands alone has lost £96.5 million in export value since leaving the single market.

“Brexit has been a total disaster for our communities, decimating industries, exacerbating the Tory-made cost of living crisis and allowing Westminster to ride roughshod over Holyrood with blatant power grabs.

“Three years in, and the UK has nothing to show for it but a declining economy and falling reputation abroad. The consequences of this are very real, I see them every time I’m out and about speaking with business owners in the area.

“People in the Highlands deserve better with a return to the EU that only the full powers of independence can deliver.”

The post RELEASE: NEARLY TWO-THIRDS OF PEOPLE IN INVERNESS, NAIRN, BADENOCH AND STRATHSPEY AGREE BREXIT WAS A MISTAKE appeared first on .

Education Secretary visits Bexleyheath

David Evennett (Bexleyheath and Crayford)

Yesterday (2 February), the Secretary of State for Education, Rt Hon Gillian Keegan MP, visited Bexleyheath at the invitation of our Member of Parliament, Rt Hon Sir David Evennett MP. Sir David first welcomed Gillian to the Civic Offices in Bexleyheath alongside Leader of Bexley Council, Cllr…

NELFT Young Adult Network

Jon Cruddas (Dagenham and Rainham)

NELFT Young Adult Network Ione Wed, 02/01/2023 - 15:40

Improving Our Waters

Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe)

We can all agree that we want to see a reduction in the discharge of waste water and sewage at sea, and that’s why we have launched our most ambitious plan yet to achieve this. Our plan will require water companies to deliver the largest infrastructure programme in water company history, costing over £56 billion […]

The Six Nations Rugby Championship begins this weekend and fans will gather in pubs, clubs and living rooms across Llanelli to support our players as they strive for success on the pitch.

Off the pitch, however, the headlines have been dominated by damaging revelations about how the game in Wales is run by the Welsh Rugby Union and how misogyny, sexism, racism and homophobia has been left to fester and exist within its culture over the years. 

The brave testimonies featured on the BBC Wales Investigates programme illustrate the bullying and toxic attitudes that have prevailed at the highest level of Welsh rugby.  These are, by far, not the only examples of deplorable behaviour going unpunished in Welsh rugby and I am aware of further cases closer to home that tell a similar, sorry tale.

For far too long, these things have been swept under the carpet.  Let sunlight be the best disinfectant and ensure the game is now cleaned up for current and future generations.

Whilst the resignation of the Union’s Chief Executive and its recent commitment to creating an external taskforce to fully investigate the situation is welcome, it should be the beginning and not the end of the process.   Thorough reform of the game’s governance structure and a modernisation of the whole organisation and each of its constituent parts is urgently needed.

From top to bottom, the game needs to take a cold, hard look at itself.  The WRU needs to lead the way but every level, including local community clubs and the regions, must ensure that they are not complacent or compliant too. 

All sports should be open, accessible and welcoming to all who wish to participate.  Rugby, as our national obsession, is certainly no exception.

Member of Parliament for the Beckenham constituency, Bob Stewart, has written to both the Managing Director of Southeastern Railways and the Secretary of State for Transport to call for the immediate reinstatement of the Cannon Street services from Hayes, West Wickham, Eden Park, Elmers End, Clock…

Anne Marie's Weekly Column

Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot)

Last week the House of Commons returned to the situation in Northern Ireland. As parties in Northern Ireland have been unable to form an Executive, the UK government has had to step in and legislate to put a budget in place in Northern Ireland in order to keep public services running. The sticking…

The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill

Yasmin Qureshi (Bolton South East)

Judith Cummins MP has called on the Government to work with NATO allies to ensure a long-term strategy is in place to support Ukraine in its fight against Putin’s illegal invasion. 

Speaking in Parliament, Judith recalled her experiences in Ukraine, where she joined a humanitarian mission, and visited the newly-liberated Kharkiv region with a Ukrainian volunteer unit: 

“During my visit, Ukrainian officials were very clear about their need for increased military support.” 

Following the German Chancellor’s statement on Sunday rejecting the idea of sending German fighter jets to Ukraine, Judith pressed the Secretary of State for the UK’s position: 

“With the US reportedly discussing the creation of a ‘fighter jet coalition’ with Ukraine, and the German Chancellor currently ruling out sending German fighter jets to Ukraine, what assessment has the Government made regarding such a coalition with our NATO allies?” 

Responding, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace MP did not rule out such a coalition, saying: “we will keep our minds open all the time on what it is possible to do next”. 

Cross-party support has meant that the United Kingdom has led the way in its material and diplomatic support of Ukraine. Most recently, the UK announced it would send fourteen Challenger 2 main battle tanks and other resources to Ukraine. This was followed by similar pledges from the United States, Germany and other NATO countries. However, this represents only fraction of support that President Zelenskyy has said Ukraine needs in the form of tanks, aircraft and weapons to continue to defend itself against Russian aggression. 

Speaking afterwards, Judith said: 

“I have seen the resolve of the people of Ukraine in the face of Putin’s atrocities. The UK must continue to provide the necessary military support to enable Ukraine to face off Russian aggression. 

The United Kingdom and its NATO allies must develop a long-term, strategic plan to ensure it is able to provide sustained military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine throughout 2023 and beyond.  

This is not only necessary to protect the people of Ukraine; this conflict is having huge impact right here in the UK, as soaring gas and energy prices continue to worsen the cost-of-living crisis. 

The United Kingdom must continue to play its part” 

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    People affected by dementia urgently need a national rehabilitation strategyA year on from the start of the pandemic, Judith is joining Alzheimer’s Society, TIDE, Dementia UK and John’s Campaign to remember the tens of thousands of people with dementia whose lives have been lost to Covid and to call for lasting change this Coronavirus Action Day. Judith has written…
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Visit to Oban on Friday 27th January

Brendan O'Hara (Argyll and Bute)

Statement on the two-year anniversary of the attempted military coup in Myanmar by Rushanara Ali MP, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Democracy in Burma 

Lee Anderson MP's Weekly Column

Lee Anderson (Ashfield)

Last week I travelled with the Home Affairs Select Committee to Calais in France to speak to officials, politicians and charities about the illegal crossings that is costing the British taxpayer millions of pounds a day. The migrant camp we visited in Calais was populated by young men all of whom…

The truth about protecting our waterways

Joy Morrisey (Beaconsfield)

In contrast to misleading and false assertions made recently, the simple truth is that this Conservative Government is the first to set out our expectation that water companies must take steps to significantly reduce storm overflows. We are now delivering the largest programme to tackle storm…

Holocaust Memorial Day

Royston Smith (Southampton, Itchen)

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day. It remains as important as ever that we remember the millions of people murdered in the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution, and in the genocides which followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur. On behalf of my constituents, I have signed the Holocaust Educational Trust's Book of Commitment.

The post Holocaust Memorial Day appeared first on Royston Smith MP.

Boston Borough and East Lindsey District Councils have invited local organisations to submit expressions of interest for the funding.

The UK Shared Prosperity fund and the Rural England Prosperity Fund have awarded £6.14 million and £2.62 million to East Lindsey and Boston respectively.

Welcoming the announcement, MP for Boston and Skegness Matt Warman said:

“This £8.76 million Shared Prosperity funding to Boston and East Lindsey comes on top of the £70.3 million Town Deals and £22.8 million in Levelling Up Funding and shows the Government’s commitment to Levelling Up Boston, East Lindsey and Lincolnshire as a whole. It represents a huge vote of confidence in the vision for regeneration and growth put forward by Boston and East Lindsey Councils and the Town Deal boards.

“The request for expressions of interest for projects meeting the three priorities of this latest fund is a great opportunity for even more local organisations to join in driving innovation, growth and community in our area.'”

The full bidding guide for the funding and the expression of interest form is available on the Council’s website at http://www.e-lindsey.gov.uk/UKSPF and www.boston.gov.uk/UKSPF.

Read the full details here:

East Lindsey

https://www.facebook.com/eastlindseydistrictcouncil/posts/pfbid0QVp5pXNH9zacbgmZeBot7kkTpzSEXmTnpSnEjBWygbW2UWFbGHak5X5LYkBWBanxl

Boston

https://www.facebook.com/BostonBoroughCouncil/posts/pfbid03wtoKqq6ma4Fya4rEw8mvPksQ3Ti5GqQxPWQtyDQA9wCicsFuzhMjh6H9DezhygPl

Surgeries February 2023

Philippa Whitford (Central Ayrshire)

My next constituency surgery will take place on Friday 3rd February in Troon.

Please note, however, in order to comply with both Covid and security protocol, these will not be drop-in surgeries – appointments must be made in advance.

To book, please call 01294 311 160 or email philippa.whitford.mp@parliament.uk

For scheduled dates and times, please see below:

Please note that all surgery dates are subject to change dependent upon Covid guidelines and Parliamentary business.

The post Surgeries February 2023 appeared first on Dr Philippa Whitford.

The Government has announced that a £150 million fund will be used to build 150 new facilities to support mental health urgent and emergency care services and up to 100 new specialist mental health ambulances.  £1,509,000 of this fund will... Continue Reading →

Local Update

Chris Grayling (Epsom and Ewell)

Dear constituent

I am writing to you concerning a couple of local issues.

ULEZ

Firstly many of you will be aware that the Mayor of London has decided to widen London’s ultra low emission zone from later this year. This has significant implications for our area.

I won’t get into the politics of this now, except to say that I am strongly opposed to the change at this time because of its impact on our area, on pensioners and people on low incomes with older cars and most significantly those seeking treatment at St Helier or the Marsden. I have asked him to reconsider this aspect of the scheme in particular.

But I thought that I should give you a picture of what the change means for us locally.

The first thing to say is that the plan does not include extending the zone right to the London boundary everywhere. For us the outline ULEZ map says it will not cover the route from Epsom to the M25 via Malden Rushett or from Ewell to Tolworth and the A3 going southwards. There has been some confusion over the status of Rushett Lane and I am checking that with TfL.

It will also not include the north end of Stoneleigh and parts of Worcester Park.

Full details of the plan and what cars are included are here, together with Transport for London’s map of the new extension.

https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/ultra-low-emission-zone/ulez-expansion-2023

The target date for the launch is August 29th, though that may slip as some councils are refusing to work with the Mayor to install the cameras that will be needed to make it operational.

Epsom & Mole Valley Local Plans

There have been two new developments on the Local Plans which shape the future of housing development in our area – in Epsom and Ewell and Mole Valley.

Epsom and Ewell Borough Council is due to publish its draft plan in the next few days, and this will show the degree to which it has decided to push for development on local green belt land. I very much hope they have chosen to focus on brown field sites and particularly on the potential for the Kiln Lane and Longmead areas.

If you have not previously seen my proposal for the area, you can find it on my website page here.

I will include links on my site to the Council’s local plan documents when they are published. Please do take part in the public consultation. This will affect us all.

Meanwhile in Mole Valley, the Council has asked the Planning Inspector to delay consideration of their plans, following the Government’s revision of its national planning policies. It is too early to know if this may affect the plans for Ashtead, but I will keep you posted.

Energy Support Scheme

Many thanks to everyone who donated to the Energy Support Scheme. In total we have raised about £45,000 and this is being used by the Good Company, which runs the food bank, and Citizens Advice, to help people struggling with high bills this winter to deal with short term problems with their bills and to buy low energy appliances. I am really grateful to all who have contributed.

If you would still like to help, details are at www.justgiving.com/campaign/epsom-ewell-energy-support-scheme

Epsom Citizens Advice

Finally a word of congratulation to Epsom and Ewell’s Citizens Advice team for putting together a very good financial awareness training programme for local sixth formers, which has been trialled initially at Epsom and Ewell High School. This is a really important area, and hopefully other schools locally will be able to benefit soon as well. Details can be viewed here.

Best wishes

Chris

The post Local Update appeared first on Chris Grayling.

Our Letter to the Prime Minister on Fulfilling Dementia Commitments

Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth)

We Demand that the Government Fulfils its Commitments on Dementia

Today I joined Alzheimer’s Society Ambassadors Vicky McClure and Dame Arlene Phillips as well as Elliot Colburn MP and Ananga Moonesinghe, who lives with dementia, to deliver an open letter to PM Rishi Sunak at Downing Street, demanding the Government urgently fulfil their promises on dementia.

Launched by leading dementia charity Alzheimer’s Society, the open letter has been signed by over 36,000 members of the public and famous names including Choreographer Dame Arlene Philips and actor Vicky McClure. We were joined at the hand-in by my colleague on the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia, Vice-Chair Elliot Colburn MP, showing cross-party support. It urges Rishi Sunak to deliver on previous Conservative Party commitments to dementia and not let the UK’s biggest killer fall down the political agenda.

Previous Conservative Prime Ministers have actively committed to improving the lives of people affected by dementia. Now Rishi Sunak must deliver on promises to reform social care, double dementia research funding and release a ten-year plan for dementia which gives the condition the priority it deserves. The 36,000 people who signed the open letter are making themselves clear – they don’t just want to hear empty promises, they want to see action. People with dementia can’t and won’t wait any longer.

With diagnosis rates still sitting below pre-pandemic levels, national figures reveal people are waiting up to two years in some areas for a diagnosis, thereby missing out on vital treatment and support. Alzheimer’s Society research also shows three in five people affected by dementia struggled to get social care in the past year, with half of family carers revealing they ended up in crisis, such as rushing their loved one to A&E due to lack of support

The charity is concerned the deepening workforce crisis in social care – with vacancies sitting at 165,000 – risks leaving people with dementia desperate for help while living costs soar. Alzheimer’s Society say it’s more important now than ever for the Government to prioritise dementia.

In the past year, the Government has made many commitments on dementia, promising to deliver a ‘visionary ten-year plan’ for dementia, to reform the social care system and double spending on dementia research by 2024.  Alzheimer’s Society says the delivery of these will be transformational for the lives of the 900,000 people living with dementia but calls on the Government to urgently make these a reality to prevent a deepening crisis in dementia care.

This follows the news last year that a new drug, lecanemab, was shown to slow cognitive decline in people living with Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, this breakthrough will mean little if diagnosis rates remain stagnant and often inaccurate. This treatment works best for people with early Alzheimer’s disease. Without early and accurate diagnosis, we risk hopeful advancements like this having minimal effect.

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The post Our Letter to the Prime Minister on Fulfilling Dementia Commitments appeared first on Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth.

What is the Impact of Distance Learning in Education

Luciana Berger (Liverpool, Wavertree)

The current COVID-19 pandemic has forced many schools and educational institutions to move to a distance learning model. This has had a significant impact on the way education is delivered. Some of the impacts have been positive, while others have been more negative. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the key impacts of distance learning in education. We’ll also look at how this new model is likely to evolve in the future.

Define distance learning and its purpose in education

Distance learning is a form of education that takes place between an instructor and students who are not interacting in the same physical location. Distance learning courses typically take place online, where students can access course materials and engage in remote lessons with their instructors from the comfort of their own homes. The primary purpose of distance learning is convenience: it gives students the opportunity to pursue studies at any time, from virtually anywhere. Distance learning also allows students to fit an education into otherwise busy lives. Students who may be unable to enroll in campus-based schooling due to geographic obstacles, health issues or obligations such as employment or family care duties all benefit from being able to receive instruction, interact with peers and complete coursework remotely with distance learning courses.

Describe how distance learning has changed over the years

Over the years, distance learning has evolved from a simple pen pal type of correspondence to a complex online system. Instead of having to wait weeks for someone to return a single letter, now students can communicate almost instantly with teachers and fellow classmates as well as access curricula and educational resources provided by their school. This shift in technology allows instructors to deliver lessons through virtual classrooms, use interactive technological tools such as quizzes and videos to engage their students, and offer new ways for pupils to demonstrate their mastery of material. Despite its advantages, the growth of distance learning still faces challenges such as lack of face-to-face interaction between teachers and students, high levels of student motivation required to succeed in an online course, security issues associated with personal data sharing over the internet, and lower access by underserved communities due to cost or a lack of available technology resources. The field of distance learning is ever growing though, offering increased opportunities for those seeking alternative ways to receive their education

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of distance learning

Distance learning has come a long way since its inception and can offer an excellent alternative to standard coursework writing. In many ways, it is more convenient than traditional studying, as students are able to fit coursework into their daily lives without having to take time off for commuting or attending lectures. Furthermore, distance learning can be particularly useful for learners who have trouble fitting into the traditional classroom setting or who struggle with certain course topics due to lack of face-to-face instruction. However, distance learning also has some drawbacks; most courses require students to have significant levels of self-discipline in order to stay motivated while juggling their coursework with other commitments, and often times course instructors may not be easily accessible if struggles arise during coursework writing. Nonetheless, with proper motivation and preparation distance learning can be great tool for those seeking educational options.

Offer examples of successful distance learning programs

Distance learning programs have become increasingly popular in recent years as educators and learners alike explore new ways to bridge the gap between traditional education and modern technology. Successful distance learning programs can be seen across many different sectors, whether for academic purposes or for professional development. For example, online universities like Open University offer degrees and courses in a variety of different disciplines, allowing learners to complete their degree in an unprecedented amount of time compared to traditional brick-and-mortar universities. Professional organizations like Toastmasters utilize video conferencing tools to offer staff seminars and other training sessions without having to send staff members out of town. These distance learning solutions save organizations time and money while still managing to deliver quality services and instruction.

Summarize the impact of distance learning in education overall

The introduction of distance learning in education has profoundly impacted education overall. Through the use of digital tools, teachers have been able to reach more students and expand their classroom across geographical boundaries. Additionally, it has increased access to educational materials as well as leveled out the playing field among different socioeconomic backgrounds. Distance learning has allowed schools to create innovative ways of teaching and engaging with students. It not only gives teachers the ability to interact directly with students but also provides ways for students to collaborate and connect with their peers from around the world. All in all, distance learning has shown itself to be a powerful tool that can help students receive a better education no matter where they are located or their financial situation.

Though it has been around in some form since the 19th century, distance learning has seen a surge in popularity in recent years. This is largely due to advances in technology that have made online education more accessible and affordable than ever before. While there are many advantages to distance learning, such as increased flexibility and the ability to learn at your own pace, there are also some disadvantages to consider. With so many options available, it can be difficult to choose the right program for you. But with careful research and planning, you can find an online education option that meets your needs and helps you achieve your educational goals. Are you considering pursuing a degree through distance learning? What are some of the factors you’re taking into consideration?

The post What is the Impact of Distance Learning in Education appeared first on Berger.

December 2022 Newsletter

Tulip Siddiq (Hampstead and Kilburn)

Click here to view my newsletter for December 2022

My Weekly Round-up

Christina Rees (Neath)

I attended the funeral of my dear friend Ceridwen Rogers, known as Crid. Many years ago I met Alan Rogers, former MEP and former MP for the Rhondda, and his wonderful wife Crid. We saw one another often from 1983 until 1998, but we have lost touch over the subsequent years. However, I was delighted to meet their daughter Catherine, Acting Principal of NPT College Group, chair of Welsh Netball, and their son-in-law Mark Dacey (married to another daughter, Alison), Principal of Neath College, in 2014 and we have become close friends. Crid was a pillar of the local community wherever they lived all over the world. A socialist, feminist, Alan’s office manager, member of Cefn Hengoed Ladies Choir (who sang at her funeral) and so much more. Gelligaer Church was full of Crid’s family, friends, and members of community organisations. RIP my friend.

As part of the Stonegate Group’s annual investment programme, it has invested £174,000 into the Castell-Nedd Arms in Neath town centre. I was delighted to take my staff to visit and see the improvements. We met with the operator of the pub Kayleigh Strinati, the Group’s area manager Danny Cross, and the bar staff. Kayleigh told us that she had worked in the pub trade for a number of years, and she felt that it was time to take that step up to managing the Castell-Nedd. She completed the training requirements, and then Covid struck. But when the pub re-opened again, the customers gradually came back to what had become a social hub for many people who live in Neath. The new challenge is the “cost of living crisis”, but Kayleigh is providing a very warm welcome for people to gather, talk, listen, watch TV, use the Wi-Fi, as well as great refreshments. The refurbishment includes new windows and seating area overlooking Angel Street, a pool and darts section, and many more facilities.

I visited the Churches Together Nativity Scene which this year is displayed in the Greyhound Trust Charity Shop Window, instead of in the Town Square. It is secure and able to be seen by all passers by. Massive thanks to the charity shop.

I met with Mark Fisher, NPT Council Unison Representative, to discuss Fair Funding for the council. Mark has always done a fantastic job representing Unison members, and although it was announced this week that NPT has received a better than anticipated settlement of 7.1% from Welsh Government, he shared his concerns about pressure on future budgets, and the continuing “cost of living” challenges faced everyday by every one of his members. Mark will be holding a Fair Funding Event at NPT Council for local elected representatives and his Unison members on Friday 13th January 2023.

After the meeting, Mark and I joined the Royal Mail workers who are striking for a fair pay settlement and no diminishing of their terms and conditions, on their Picket Line which was outside the Royal Mail Sorting Office in Neath. There was a great turnout, and many passers-by supported the strike. People were dropping off food to keep the workers going in the freezing, sub-zero temperatures. In solidarity, I bought all the strikers coffee from our superb local coffee shop, Brew & Co.

Mynydd Fforch Dwm Windfarm is a proposal by Naturalis Energy to provide clean, carbon free energy to homes and businesses across South Wales, including a renewable energy park near Tonmawr. Naturalis is a joint venture between Falck Renewables and REG Windpower energy companies. A number of constituents have contacted me regarding the proposal, asking me to call into the one of the Naturalis public consultation sessions. I dropped into the one held at Neath Little Theatre to view the plans and listen to a presentation by Naturalis staff. As part of the Development of National Significance (DNS) planning process Naturalis are required to undertake a comprehensive programme of pre-application engagement consultations. As an MP I have no remit over Welsh Government or Local Authority Planning applications. My role is to pass on the views and concerns of all my constituents to the stakeholders involved in a particular planning application. Please email me and I shall make sure that your questions are passed onto the stakeholders involved in this application.

My brother James was suddenly taken seriously ill and was rushed to Basingstoke Hospital. My daughter Angharad and I visited him in hospital, but James died following his fight against his illness which turned into pneumonia. My big brother was always there to look after me, after the death of my father, when I was seventeen. James was an industrial pharmacist, worked all over the world, and had many friends and colleagues. James was brought up by my grandparents who owned the Walnut Tree Pub in Kenfig Hill. He was a product of Bridgend Grammar School, Loughborough and Cardiff Universities. James organised the old boys network for former pupils of his old school. My grandfather was a founder of Kenfig Hill RFC, and my parents managed the bar. Rugby was part of James’ life, and he was proud to play number 8 at schoolboy rugby for Wales. I have lived with my brother all over the world at various times during my life. He was my mentor, my hero, my rock. I am devastated at the passing of my beloved brother.

Being a member of the congregation of St David’s Church Neath has been a great source of comfort to me. The people who go to my church are genuine, caring, supportive, never forget that life is very challenging, and we are always there to help each other through the good and the not-so-good times. It was so good to see my friends at the Choir Coffee Morning at St David’s Church, Neath. Many thanks to everyone who came to help and support. Coffee, cake, festive music with loyal friends in the beautifully Christmas decorated church.

It’s an honour to be a patron of YMCA Neath and I really enjoyed the Christmas Fayre. There were stalls, arts and crafts, jewellery, face painting, glitter tattoos, pottery painting, tombola, lucky dip, raffle prizes, and refreshments. It was so good to catch up with Centre Manager Claire Hicks, and Admin Officer Jessica Kennedy. As a lifelong vegan, it was good to meet YMCA staffer Rhys Oliver who has recently started her delivery business “Vegan Kitchen – Food with a conscience – Made in Wales”. Rhys was selling a taste of her produce, vegan sausages, pasties, and chocolate cakes. Her menus are changed weekly and are made freshly on the day of delivery. And all packaging is environmentally friendly. Please email Rhys on DaffodilBach@gmail.com or telephone 07947715435 to place your orders.

I dropped into The Haven to meet my dear friend Major Mary Wolfe, her successor Major Neil Duquemin, and Skills Coordinator Christina Davies. On the day of my visit, The Haven had provided 48 Christmas lunches to their regular clients, but their door is always open to anyone who wants to call in and have a substantial breakfast for 50 pence, and a choice of lunch for a pound. On Wednesdays, agencies are based in The Haven for the day to offer help and advice, including Citizens Advice, the Wallich, Medical Staff, and Jobcentre Plus. Christina delivers skills courses including “budgeting on benefits”, and “cooking on a limited income”. My heartfelt thanks to Mary, Neil, Christina and all the volunteers who give up their time everyday for the homeless and people in need.

It was an absolute delight to meet the winner of my Christmas Card 2022 Competition Caitlin Vaughan, aged 6, and her mother Hannah. Thank you to all the children who sent in their designs. It is always a very difficult task to select a winner, but Caitlin’s card was exceptional for one so young. Special mention for Gorazd Trajkovski from Skopje, Macedonia, aged 10 who won the International Prize.

On the last day in the Neath Office, I took my wonderful Neath Office staff for Christmas lunch. This is our first Christmas lunch since the onset of the pandemic in 2020. My I take this opportunity to wish all my constituents a very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year!

Southfield School Thanks Local MP for Visit

Grant Shapps (Welwyn Hatfield)

On one of his recent constituency days, Welwyn Hatfield’s MP Grant Shapps visited Southfield School.

Southfield School leads the way in their teaching of over 80 pupils with learning difficulties via the priority they give to communication, self-regulation and independence.

Mr Shapps had the pleasure of meeting both teachers and pupils to see the achievements of the school and thank the staff for their tireless and crucial work.

“I am very grateful for all the work the staff do for the school and their pupils” Mr Shapps commented, “and I know that my gratitude is shared both by parents and the wider community”.

The teachers thanked Mr Shapps for his visit and expressed their gratitude to him for his support with the headteacher, Angela O’Rourke, saying:

“The pupils and the staff very much enjoyed having Mr Shapps on the site and were thrilled to be able to share with him the incredible role that Team Southfield play in the lives of our children. We are very grateful for Mr Shapps making the time for us”.

The post <strong>Southfield School Thanks Local MP for Visit</strong> appeared first on The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP.

Green Heart Hero awards

Conor McGinn (St Helens North)

GIVING TUESDAY

Angela Rayner (Ashton-under-Lyne)

Dear Constituent,

Welcome to my November email newsletter. The focus is on yesterday’s Autumn Statement delivered by the Chancellor, with details on what this means for you, but there are also updates on local campaigns and on the ongoing issue of the Channel Crossings. 

Autumn Statement:

Yesterday, the Chancellor delivered the Government’s highly anticipated Autumn Statement. In which he detailed how the Government intends to restore economic stability and tackle inflation.

Like many countries around the world, the UK is facing profound economic challenges. Supply disruption caused by the world’s economies emerging from lockdown has been compounded by Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and deliberate interference with Europe’s energy supply to create massive increases in the cost of energy. This has led to high inflation and high interest rates across many of the world’s major economies, and the UK is no different.

I welcome the proposals in the Autumn Statement. To achieve long-term, sustainable growth we need to grip inflation, balance the books, and get debt falling as a share of GDP. The plan presented by the Chancellor yesterday takes the tough decisions to face up to this situation without passing the buck onto future generations. What’s more, it protects the hard-working majority by enacting no headline tax increases, and protects the most vulnerable by maintaining the pensions triple lock and raising benefits in line with inflation – something I have personally been campaigning for. All while protecting and maintaining public spending for the next two years at the levels set out in 2021.

The plan involves a roughly equal split between tax rises and spending cuts, with the greatest burden falling on those who can afford it most. Specifically, the plan:

Increases taxpayer funding for our NHS and schools by an extra £11 billion over the next two years.

– The Government will provide £4 billion in additional funding to schools and £7.7 billion in additional funding to the NHS and social care sector over the next two years. Prioritising the public services that matter most.

– £2–3 billion in additional funding for the NHS in each of the next two years so we can bring down ambulance waiting times, tackle the Covid backlog, and improve access to GPs. Also providing £2.8 billion next year and £4.7 billion the year after for adult social care, which aims to double the number of people leaving hospitals on time and into care by 2024, addressing unmet needs and boosting low pay in the sector.

– £4 billion in additional funding for schools over the next two years. We are increasing the schools budget by £2 billion this year and £2 billion next year to help schools with rising costs as a result of inflation. Which is more than Labour has pledged to give schools.

Introduces no headline tax increases.

– The Autumn Statement raises £25 billion in additional taxes over the forecast period but there are no increases in the headline rates of tax. By targeting tax rises toward businesses, wealthier households, and the oil and gas industry, the Government has ensured that it can honour its manifesto commitment not to increase Income Tax, National Insurance, or VAT.

– Instead of raising rates, the Government is freezing personal tax thresholds for a further two years. There are also reforms to the Additional Rate threshold, so that a taxpayer who earns more than £150,000 will pay £1,200 more in tax per year.

– It is only fair that companies who have made genuine windfall profits as a result of the war in Ukraine make an additional contribution to pay for the support we have outlined. So from 2023, the Energy Profits Levy rate will rise from 25per cent to 35per cent and will continue until the end of March 2028. A 45per cent Levy will be applied to extraordinary returns made by electricity generators. In total these windfall taxes will raise £52 billion over six years. This is more ambitious than Labour’s proposal.

Protecting and maintaining public spending.

– For the next two years public spending will remain at the levels set out in 2021 and then increase by one per cent in real terms each year until 2027–28.

Supporting every household with their energy bills.

– The Energy Price Guarantee will continue to support everyone for another year. This winter, the price households pay for the energy they use will be capped, so that a typical household will pay £2,500. From April 2023, the price cap will rise so that a typical household will pay £3,000. The Energy Price Guarantee will then end in April 2024.

Supporting the most vulnerable through maintaining the pensions triple lock and raising benefits in line with inflation.

– I have been publicly campaigning for benefits and pensions to be increased in line with inflation for some time now, and so was very pleased to see the Chancellor yesterday confirm that this would be part of the Government’s plan.

– To protect the most vulnerable, benefits will now be increased in line with inflation for 2023–24. More than 10 million households in receipt of working-age and disability benefits will see an increase in their benefit payments.

– The pensions triple lock will also be protected. Because of the difficult but necessary decisions the Government has taken elsewhere, the triple lock for pensions will be protected in full. This means that in April, the State Pension will increase in line with inflation, which is the biggest cash increase in the State Pension ever.

Additional support for the most vulnerable. 

– Over £12 billion of additional targeted support is assigned to help the most vulnerable households. The Government will continue providing this year’s cost of living payments and next year it will provide extra one-off payments of £900 for the 8 million households on means-tested benefits, £300 to pensioners, and £150 for disability benefit recipients. The Government is also providing £1 billion of extra funding by extending the Household Support Fund for another year.

The OBR has confirmed that these plans will restore the public finances to a sustainable position and help reduce inflation and unemployment. And I look forward to engaging with my ministerial colleagues as these policies are rolled out.  

Remembrance Sunday:

This year for Remembrance Sunday on 13th November, I was honoured to lay wreaths in Ripley and Kilburn in memory of those who have served our county, and in honour of those who are still serving. There are a multitude of remembrance services held across our constituency every year, so it is unfortunately impossible for me to attend all of them. However, every year I try to rotate which services I attend. This year it was a memorial service at Ripley War Memorial in the morning and another in Kilburn in the afternoon.

This has been a particularly important period of remembrance as we mark 40 years since the end of the Falkland’s war, and we commemorate the 255 British personnel who lost their lives in defence of the islands. Their courage and sacrifice must never be forgotten. Thank you to everyone who organised or supported the remembrance services and parades across Amber Valley. 

Alfreton Solar Farm Update:

On 21st October, I spoke at the public inquiry into plans from Kronos Solar to build a 50-megawatt solar farm between Alfreton and Oakerthorpe. Many of you will remember that Amber Valley Borough Council’s (AVBC) planning authorities rejected the proposal last December, stating that the project’s scale and impact on the landscape outweighed any environmental benefits the site would provide. However, Kronos Solar have since filed an appeal to overturn the decision of AVBC and get the site approved, resulting in this enquiry.

I have been opposing the project on behalf of local residents and businesses throughout the process, a great many of whom have contacted me about the proposals. I very much support the expansion of our clean energy network, and in the right place a solar farm would be an asset. However, there are good reasons why this site was refused planning permission. We all want renewable energy expansion but not at any cost.

To begin with, much of the land is north facing, which means the site would need to be overly large. The impact on the amenity of local residents, the impact on the countryside area, and the impact on the various heritage assets is just too great. And that is before we consider Alfreton Park and Alfreton Park Community School, which looks after children with the very highest level of need, very close in the vicinity.

It is clear to me that this is a totally unsuitable site for this intensity of development. Frankly, I believe this proposal was not based on a thorough search for suitable land for a solar farm, instead, it looks to me to be based on a search for a suitable sub-station, with the proposal then trying to force some land to suit.

I will continue to keep residents updated on any developments. And at present, a decision is expected at some point in the next few months.

Pollution and our waterways:

I have recently welcomed the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) plans to raise the civil penalty for water companies who pollute our environment by one thousand times, from £250,000 up to £250 million. I am hopeful that increasing the penalties the Environment Agency can enforce without a lengthy and costly court process will enable swifter and stronger action to be taken against water companies that illegally pollute our environment.

Many residents have contacted me about pollution and the use of storm drains in our sewage system. There has also been a great deal of misinformation circulating on social media regarding the Government’s campaign to address these issues.

Last year, the Government introduced the Environment Act 2021 which was a bill designed to tackle this problem and reduce sewage pollution ignored by previous Governments. When the Environment Act was going through Parliament the Duke of Wellington, a hereditary peer, introduced an amendment that would legislate the complete elimination of storm drains and therefore of storm overflow sewage into our waterways. This of course sounds admirable, and indeed is something I support in principle. However, this amendment came without a plan for how it could be delivered and how such a vast project could be funded.

Initial assessments suggested elimination would cost between £150 – £650 billion. To put those figures in perspective, £150 billion was more than the entire schools, policing, and defence budgets put together. Therefore, the Government did not support the amendment, and I did not vote for it. In my view, the last thing people wanted was for their water bill to go through the roof.

Twitter mis-informers seized this opportunity and claimed we had all voted in favour of water companies dumping raw sewage into our rivers. Which was totally false, and ironically punished the Government for actually trying to do something about the problem ignored by previous Governments.

With this most recent announcement by DEFRA, I am glad to see the Government continuing the campaign to improve the quality of our waterways. To hold water companies to account, and ensure any polluter pays for the environmental harm they cause, the Environment Agency must take advantage of these new powers.

Illegal crossings over the Channel:

Many of you have contacted me about the number of small boats illegally crossing the English Channel in recent months. I appreciate the strength of feeling on this alarming issue and want to outline my position to you and explain some of the challenges we face in tackling this problem.

The number of illegal entries into the United Kingdom via small boats crossing the English Channel is too high. It endangers the lives of those making the journey, puts money into the pockets of ruthless and brutal people smuggling gangs, and puts undue pressure on our existing asylum system as well as our public services. I remain committed to an immigration policy that welcomes people to the UK through safe and legal routes, and an immigration policy that allows us to provide asylum to those in genuine need. However, it is clear many of those arriving in small boats are not here in genuine need of asylum, and as a result, the current situation cannot go on.

One reason for small boat crossings increasing in frequency is the success the Government has had in tackling other forms of illegal immigration. Such as increased checks and security for lorries and freight crossing the channel, effectively reducing the number of illegal entries into the UK through these means, and increasing the number of people turning to small boats as a way to enter the UK. The problem that now presents itself is how to police and secure hundreds of miles of coastline 24/7.

Earlier this year, Parliament passed the Nationality and Borders Act which overhauled our approach to asylum and illegal migration. The legislation includes fairness towards those who need our help, and in welcoming people through safe and legal routes, but firmness in tackling abuse of the system and expediting the removal of those who have no legitimate claim for protection. It is worth noting that Labour opposed this Act designed to toughen our immigration system.

Further to changing the law in this country, the Government has recently signed a joint UK-France arrangement on tackling small boat crossings in the Channel which includes a 40% increase in the number of UK-funded officers patrolling French beaches. The new agreement lays the foundations for deeper UK-French co-operation to tackle illegal migration. The arrangement means, for the first time, specialist UK officers will be able to observe French officials at work in control rooms and on the ground patrolling the coastline.

It is clear, however, that big challenges still lie ahead, and that the number of small boats currently crossing the channel is unacceptable. The Prime Minister speaking recently on GB News said that tackling illegal immigration was a huge priority for his Government, and that while the recent joint UK -France arrangement was a big step in the right direction there was more that needs to be done. I share the Prime Minister’s view, and will continue engaging with my ministerial and Parliamentary colleagues to make the case for further measures to reduce cross channel migration.  

Street Watch – report it:

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.

GDPR and privacy notice:

Data laws changed with the introduction of the new GDPR legislation: you can find my office’s privacy policy here and, if you don’t want to receive these emails anymore, you can unsubscribe here.

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.

Twitter and Facebook

You can also follow me on Twitter @NigelMills and like me on Facebook here to stay up to date with news and events in Amber Valley throughout the month.

Yours sincerely,

Nigel

Promoted by Nigel Mills MP, of Unicorn House, Wellington Street, Ripley, Derbyshire, DE5 3EH.

The post Nigel’s November Newsletter & Autumn Statement update appeared first on Nigel Mills MP.

Berry Bros & Rudd New Warehouse in Andover

Kit Malthouse (North West Hampshire)

It was fascinating to visit the vast new Berry Bros warehouse in Andover recently. This family owned business is one of the world’s oldest and biggest wine merchants and they have just opened a spanking new multi million pound facility on the Andover Business Park.

While much of their business is selling wine, most of it is helping wine buyers and collectors look after their stock, and the warehouse is where it is all stored. As I was shown round, I marvelled at the famous names on the shelves: Lafitte, Latour, Petrus etc.

The Warehouse is chilled to 12 degrees throughout, but happily due to solar panels on the roof, will be carbon neutral.

It’s a great vote of confidence in Andover and in the UK wine industry which I hope will continue to lead the world, with possibly the biggest collection of fine wines on the planet, here in North West Hampshire.

Dan Jarvis MP: Statement Regarding Sentencing

Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central)

I was deeply concerned to read the decision taken by the Court in this case.

Given the very serious nature of the crimes committed, and that the perpetrator pleaded guilty to all 10 offences, I find it very difficult to understand how he was not deemed a serious threat to the public and remanded in custody.

I will be urgently raising these concerns with the Crown Prosecution Service and the Attorney General’s office.

Climate and Environment Emergency: WWF Earth Hour

Nick Brown (Newcastle upon Tyne East)

Keuntungan Saat Memainkan Situs Judi Slot Online

Chris Leslie (Nottingham East)

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Ada sejumlah situs judi online yang menyediakan layanan hiburan dan perjudian kepada pengguna dari setiap bagian dunia. Di sini kita melihat manfaat utama yang bisa Anda dapatkan dari perjudian online.

Mari kita ulas bersama tentang keuntungan yang akan di dapatkan saat memainkan situs judi slot online ini yaitu;

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Slot Online khas Inggris akan menawarkan hal itu dan jika Anda ingin pengalaman yang sepenuhnya mendalam, kami pasti akan merekomendasikan Anda untuk memeriksanya.

 

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Baca artikel lainnya di: Link Situs Judi Bola Terpercaya Alternatif, Solusi Paling Tepat Bermain

The post Keuntungan Saat Memainkan Situs Judi Slot Online appeared first on Chrisleslie.

Backbench Business Committee

Ian Mearns (Gateshead)

My article in House Magazine

Constituents Update – 10th November 2021

Jack Dromey (Birmingham, Erdington)

End Fire and Rehire

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North)

End Fire and Rehire Anonymous (not verified) Fri, 10/22/2021 - 16:02

Visit my Facebook page

Yvonne Fovargue (Makerfield)

Visit my Facebook page for upto date news on my work as your Member of Parliament.

New GP Surgery Back on Track for Shifnal

Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin)

New GP Surgery Back on Track for Shifnal
Tue, 16/02/2021 - 13:45

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."

New Hospital in Sutton Confirmed

Paul Scully (Sutton and Cheam)

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 hello@improvinghealthcaretogether.org.uk, 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 at The Royal Glam

Chris Bryant (Rhondda)

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.

Please wait...

The post A&E at The Royal Glam appeared first on Chris Bryant.

Reflecting on Defeat

Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield)

First of all, thank you to everyone who has sent such kind messages to me after last night’s result in Birmingham Northfield. Even though I never took this election – or any election – for granted, it is still a big blow to lose the seat I have represented for 27 years and which is […]

Compensation package for Waspi women

John Healey (Wentworth and Dearne)

Labour has pledged compensation packages for millions of women hit by state pension age rises imposed by the Tories.

Pay-outs of up to £31,000 will be made, with an average payment of £15,000.

The scheme will be delivered within Labour's first full five year term of government.

Payments will go to women born in the 1950s who had their state pension age hiked.

David Cameron's coalition government presided over a change in the law that increased the women's state pension age to 65 in November 2018 - followed by 66 in October 2020.

Labour will introduce a compensation scheme as rapidly as possible for the 3.7million women hit by the changes, which Cameron's Tory-Lib Dem government imposed in 2011.

It comes after Boris Johnson u-turned on his pledge to help those affected.

He dismissed the concerns of a woman who has lost out on her pension, telling her it’s “not possible” to right the huge wrong she and so many others have suffered.

The next Labour government will compensate women who were unfairly hit by the rise in the state pension age and give them the respect they deserve.

They were not able to prepare and have had to suffer serious financial consequences as a result.

We have a historic debt of honour to them.


Lisa reselected by Wigan Labour

Lisa Nandy (Wigan)

Lisa Nandy MP

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.

Lisa said:

“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.”

The post Lisa reselected by Wigan Labour first appeared on Lisa Nandy MP.

Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock)

This website is discontinued. Please visit my new website: StephenMetcalfe.org.uk 

MP meets South Downs farmers

Nick Herbert (Arundel and South Downs)

Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert met South Downs farmers on Friday (19 January) to discuss the challenges they face as Britain leaves the EU and…

Mhairi Black to Young People: Don’t let the Tories leave you behind

Mhairi Black (Paisley and Renfrewshire South)

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.”

Notes:

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.

The refugee crisis

Matthew Pennycook (Greenwich and Woolwich)

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.

On being a woman in politics

Alison Thewliss (Glasgow Central)

A few things have recently been rattling around in my head which concern women in politics; I've been trying to gather some ideas as to why there aren't more of us, and how I might encourage female candidates to come forward. At the same time, I noticed that the launch of the Counting Women In campaign, couldn't miss the outrageous attack on Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP, and I've been enjoying Winnie Ewing's very readable autobiography. I've also been out on the doorsteps for Ken Andrew in Hillhead.

All of these together really say: the culture of politics in the UK is what's at fault. Women don't think it's for them and just disengage. 


Now, obviously that's a generalisation. I'm a woman, and I'm very engaged in politics. I'm prepared to accept I'm a bit odd.


I chapped on a door the other week while canvassing. I had Alexander with me in the pram. A woman answered, I politely introduced myself and my purpose on her doorstep - she shook her head and told me she wasn't interested. I asked why. She firmly asserted that all politicians are just the same. I asked her if anyone from any political party had ever come to see her with a baby in a pram. She thought briefly, admitted that'd never happened, and sent me on my way. 

I'm not sure whether that experience tells me whether I ought to a) leave the wee man at home or b) work on my doorstep pizzaz, but I bet that woman had opinions on all kinds of things. I don't think she believes them to be particularly political - provision of care services, or bin collection, say - but in the end they're determined by politicians. I want women like her to tell me what she wants and why it matters. More than that, I want women who care about issues to join political parties to further that cause. There are all kinds of causes promoted within the SNP, and I will most likely welcome you in.


I'm sure I've said before that I've always felt welcomed as a woman in the SNP, and that remains true. I'm not sure how Labour men treat women in general (not great by some accounts, which appear to be no barrier to reselection), but they're certainly not great at giving SNP women the respect they are due.

I recalled hearing when Winnie's book came out that she had been bullied while at Westminster. The Scotsman's 2007 interview put it thus:

As the lone SNP member in the Commons - at best an intimidating place for an inexperienced politician - she found herself without friends, without party colleagues, without any supporting structures. She was completely alone. She was hundreds of miles from her husband and her children in an excessively macho and very hostile environment. "I was treated as the enemy, I was shunned and despised. It's a peculiar experience to suddenly find yourself hated. At times I did feel terribly lonely, close to despair." 

Reading the autobiography, you really get a vivid picture of the pressure Winnie Ewing was under as an MP on her own. Her every action was scrutinised; if she didn't attend a debate, the other parties would ensure it got in the papers. The nuances of what said were taken apart. She was under political and personal attack from all sides and, even more sinister, stalked by another MP. Interventions by others had some impact, but it must have been a great emotional strain.

What I didn't know was that when Winnie was appointed as an MEP (pre-democratic elections to Europe), the bad behaviour of two particular Labour bullies continued in the European Parliament when she was alone again, deliberately working to ridicule and undermine her for over a year. By the account in the autobiography, this only ended when the President of the Parliament intervened, threatening to have them withdrawn as being "not fit to represent their country and Parliament in Europe".


You might think that, around forty years later, a female SNP MP might expect some kind of change to have occurred in attitudes, as with wider society. Women are accepted in a range of jobs, universities are gaining majorities of female students, there are innumerable opportunities and directions for careers. And then, there's Ian Davidson MP.

Eilidh has written a revealing article in the Scotland on Sunday - I'd urge you to read the full article, but I think this small quote does illustrate the point perfectly:

"It does not matter that all I had done was disagree with the committee. In fact what inspired Mr Davidson’s remark is utterly irrelevant. There is no action, no misbehaviour that justifies the threat or act of “a doing”. We hear too often of women being told they were “asking for it” in justification for intimidation or violence. I never expected to hear that from an MP in Parliament.

But this is not simply an issue of aggression towards woman; it’s about a culture of intimidation and bullying affecting men and women that seems to flourish with impunity in the Westminster world."

The tragedy is that it's primarily through this Westminster lens that the viewing population sees politics and politicians. They see argument, they see confrontation; they see crowds of boorish suits moaning a weary "hear hear". And they switch off. They say "that's not for me".

They don't see a politician arguing the case with a housing association, trying to help a vulnerable tenant. They don't see someone working on a committee, trying to improve a policy that will help improve children's health. They don't see the joy that is presenting prizes to year groups of school students, with the hope that you can encourage them in that tiny second as you shake their hand. They don't know what a privilege it is to be invited into so many lives and homes, to meet with groups and organisations and offer what help you can.

The work of politics should never be that yah boo nonsense that men excel at and so many women hate. More women should be in politics for the fantastic difference they can make every day.


Made by @davorg / Last built: Tuesday 07 February 2023 21:26