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MP visits Rhosymedre community project

Susan Elan Jones (Clwyd South)

Susan Elan Jones MP visited St John’s Church in Rhosymedre to meet volunteers and to lend a helping hand making sandwiches for a play scheme based in Plas Madoc.

The Reverend Kate Tiltman and local volunteers meet every day at 11:00 am at the Church to provide rolls, fruit and chocolate bars for the children who attend the play scheme. Much of the food is provided by the Cefn Mawr Tesco store through their FairShare project.

The food is collected and taken to an open access playground in Plas Madoc known as The Land, which is run by the Association of Voluntary Organisations in Wrexham. The ground-breaking ‘junk’ play area was the subject of a 2014 fly on the wall documentary by American film maker Erin Davies.

Susan Elan Jones MP said: “I am delighted to have had the opportunity to meet the fantastic volunteers at St. John’s and to see such a great project in action. I have been very interested in projects like this and last year in Parliament, I co-sponsored a bill that was concerned with tackling ‘Holiday Hunger’. In our home area, I’ve supported Welsh Government and charitable programmes that help local families.”

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This month many residents have contacted me regarding illegal traveller incursions across Elmbridge, in particular in Cobham, Claygate, Long Ditton, Esher and Walton-on-Thames. I share the acute frustration many residents feel at these illegal encampments, and I am taking action at every level to tackle the issue.

First, locally, I met with Elmbridge’s new Neighbourhood Police Inspector, Dallas McDermott, at the end of July to talk through police enforcement action in Elmbridge and to convey the concerns of local residents about illegal incursions. Inspector McDermott reassured me that Surrey Police understand the frustration of residents and have been taking a more pro-active approach against illegal encampments than they had in the past.

This has produced results. I am relieved that the encampments on the Recreation Ground in Long Ditton, Claygate Recreation Ground, Halfway Car Park in Walton, Cobham Recreation Ground and the Lower Green Recreation Ground in Esher have all been removed, with full clear-up operations underway at all the sites.

As well as this, the Conservative-run Elmbridge Borough Council has secured an injunction in the High-Court preventing people from entering or occupying the borough’s parks, open spaces and car parks for the purposes of living there (including caravans, mobile homes and vehicles). Anyone who breaches the injunction will be liable for sanctions including imprisonment, fines and seizure of assets. It will also make it easier for the Council to move illegal encampments on, as they will not need to go through the process of securing a Court Order for each individual site, saving time and money.

While local enforcement is important, we also need a change at the national level. In April of this year, as Housing and Planning Minister, I brought forward new proposals to strengthen enforcement powers, provide county-wide authorised sites and consider introducing a new offence of criminal trespass.

I moved from that role in July to become the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, but I have had regular discussions with my successor, Kit Malthouse, about the proposals. I raised the matter with him again recently, following the incursions in Elmbridge. He has reassured me that the government has finished consulting on the proposals, and will be setting out its plans shortly.

As someone who lives in the community, I totally appreciate the level of frustration with illegal encampments. More importantly, I will continue to work at a local and national level to prevent their recurrence and reinforce the powers available to deal with them.

MEETING WITH TRAIN OPERATORS

Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North)

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on the East Coast Main Line, chaired by Newcastle North MP Catherine McKinnell, met with train operators LNER and Grand Central on 17th July 2018. You can read the minutes of this meeting by clicking here.

Lesley Laird MP has called on Scottish Secretary David Mundell to reveal his next steps for devolution as the clock ticks down to Brexit.

The move by the Shadow Scottish Secretary follows the publication of a damning report by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee which criticised Westminster’s lack of consultation with devolved governments in advance of the publication of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

“Earlier consultation could have possibly avoided much of the acrimony that was created between the UK Government and the devolved Governments,” the report stated.

In a letter to Mr Mundell, Laird called for reform of the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) and requested a breakdown of work already completed on the devolved 24 areas of common framework.

Laird also requested confirmation of all scheduled meetings between UK and Scottish Government ministers leading up to the UK’s exit from the EU on March 29 next year.

Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, Lesley Laird, said:  “Last month’s report confirmed the incompetence of the UK Government’s handling of the devolution aspects of Brexit but, incredibly, we still know precious little about what steps are being taken now to repair this shambles.

“We’re fast running out of time and these 24 frameworks clearly need to be resolved. It’s essential we – the people of Scotland – know what work has been completed on these already and when that will be announced.

“It’s not good enough for parties to simply stagger from meeting to meeting, there needs to be a consistent series of JMC meetings between now and March. The clock’s ticking and yet where is the impetus?

“This report told Westminster it needed to do much, much better. So, the question I’m asking David Mundell is this: what are you going to do much, much better?”

Pic: stubblepatrol.com

The post Brexit talks between Scottish and UK government must be transparent: Laird appeared first on Lesley Laird.

Ben Bradley, MP for Mansfield has welcomed the latest statistics which show that unemployment continues to fall in Mansfield.
The total number of unemployed claimants in Mansfield constituency in July 2018 was 1,300. This represents a rate of 2.5% of the economically active population aged 16-64. The number of claimants in Mansfield constituency is 165 lower than July 2017 and 40 lower than June 2018. Meanwhile, youth unemployment continues to fall too. There were 265 claimants aged 18-24 in Mansfield in July 2018 which is 85 lower than July 2017.
Nationally, UK unemployment fell by 65,000 to 1.36 million which is the lowest level for more than 40 years, according to official figures from the Office for National Statistics.
Commenting, Ben Bradley MP said:
“I am pleased to see the latest employment figures for Mansfield and Warsop. Under the Conservatives, unemployment continues to fall and record numbers of people are now in work. Youth unemployment continues to fall locally. I am working to ensure that we deliver more well-paid jobs in Mansfield and Warsop and to support people to be able to access the training that they need to secure the jobs of the future.

MP visits St Mary’s site ahead of ground-breaking

Stephen Morgan (Portsmouth South)

Stephen Morgan goes on a walkabout at St Mary’s as £10 million redevelopment approaches

MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, this week paid a visit to Solent NHS Trust before work starts on a £10.3 million re-development of clinical services at St Mary’s Community Health Campus.

The work is expected to transform the site into a key health hub for the city of Portsmouth, catering for a wide range of community care and mental health services. Ground will be broken next month and it is hoped the work will be completed by October 2019.

The older persons mental health community team, physiotherapy department, and out-patient therapies will be moved from from the Turner Centre at St James’ Hospital to St Mary’s Hospital’s newly refurbished Block B, which will also become the base for a new state-of-the-art automated pharmacy service.

Stephen met with Mark Young, Solent NHS Trust’s Head of Estates, and toured the site whilst being briefed on the latest developments.

Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“This is a truly exciting time for St Mary’s, the Trust, and our city.

The redevelopment will see the site transformed into an invaluable community health hub and prove a crucial resource for our local NHS and the people it so ably serves.

It was great to see it for myself on the ground today and get a real idea of the plans.

Healthcare in Portsmouth needs this sort of investment to support our community and I’ll continue to be there each step of the way as the project progresses”.

I see that the usual suspects in the pro Remain press and BBC are out and about arguing that the recent falls in sterling against the dollar are the result of Brexit speculations. What nonsense. The pound has been  very stable against the Euro in recent weeks, staying around 1.12 to 1.13 Euros to the pound. Sterling has risen against the vulnerable emerging market currencies. It bought 5.7 Turkish lira in May and now buys 7.4. It has been stable against currencies like the Australian dollar and the New Zealand dollar, not currencies which are experiencing any Brexit effects either!

The dollar is going through a period of great strength for a variety of economic reasons. It is proving very uncomfortable for many emerging market countries and companies that have borrowed in dollars. That is the story, not Brexit. Some of the journalists and commentators involved claim to be independent well informed people providing fact based  analysis, so can they begin by explaining these simple facts about recent currency movements?

Rail fares to rise as chaos continues

Luciana Berger (Liverpool, Wavertree)

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has delivered yet another slap in the face for local commuters who have been facing weeks of #RailFail.Northern trains tickets

He is now demanding that hard-pressed commuters pay again for falling standards with even higher prices.

Regulated rail fares will rise by 3.2 per cent in January 2019, based on this month’s inflation figures. That will mean that fares have risen by 36 per cent under the Tories – three times the rate of average wage growth.

The government is increasing fares by the Retail Price Index rather than the lower, more accurate measure of inflation, the Consumer Price Index.

Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram has called for fares to be frozen on services failing to deliver acceptable services to passengers, including Northern and TransPennine. I agree.

However, Chris Grayling has demanded that staff pay for the chaos by agreeing new contracts that would limit their future pay increases to the CPI measure of inflation. That is a disingenuous distraction designed to shift the focus away from the desperate state of rail services here in the North West.

On Sunday August 12 rail operator Northern cancelled 80 services, including trains on the Liverpool to Manchester Airport line used by families and others travelling to and from summer holidays. It was the third successive week of similar Sunday cancellations.

Passengers into Liverpool will be expected to pay on average £110 more per year for an annual season ticket, £91 for those travelling from Southport and across key routes into Manchester city centre stations passengers can expect a £45 increase.

Liverpool commuters can’t afford the cost of higher fares and falling standards.

A 2019 fares freeze would at least recognise the level of disruption over the past few months and compensate passengers for the delays in planned service upgrades. A fares freeze could also help attract back passengers to the railways who have been put off by recent disruption. I will be pushing the government in this proposal when Parliament resumes in two weeks’ time.

Knight Welcomes Action on Rural Crime

Greg Knight (East Yorkshire)

East Yorkshire MP Sir Greg Knight, has welcomed recent action to tackle rural crime. He praised the National Farmer’s Union for partnering with CrimeStoppers to launch the Rural Crime Reporting Line. Sir Greg said ‘we are very lucky in East … Continue reading

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Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart has written to Beverley High School’s teachers and students to wish them luck for their November production of Much Ado About Nothing.

Graham was made aware of the production by the Shakespeare Schools Foundation who informed him of the excellent work they do to promote the Bard’s plays.

Graham commented: “I was so pleased to hear Beverley High School students are taking part in the Shakespeare Schools Foundation’s ‘Schools Festival 2018’ and performing one of his most famous plays Much Ado About Nothing“.

“Performances like this are an excellent way to help young people build their confidence and grow as people. After nearly 500 years Shakespeare’s works are still teaching people of all ages valuable life lessons. I have written to the head of the department and the students to wish them the best of luck for their performance and to ask if I may attend a rehearsal one Friday so I can see the students’ hard work coming to fruition”.

“I want to encourage as many people as possible to go and watch the performance on the 7th November at Beverley High School, I am sure the students and teachers will not disappoint”.

The Shakespeare Schools Foundation gives young people the opportunity to help express themselves and build their confidence through acting. Their flagship festival, which runs from now until 30th November, will unite nearly 900 schools and up to 30,000 young people to perform Shakespeare’s plays.

Pictured: Graham and Beverley High School students during his visit in December 2017.

Denton and Reddish MP, Andrew Gwynne, has reacted with shock to news confirmed by the government that average rail fares will increase by up to 3.2% in January, with the cost of some season tickets set to rise by hundreds of pounds.

Confirmation of the maximum average rise in 2019’s regulated fares came with the publication of July’s inflation figures by the Office of National Statistics. Regulated fares, which include season tickets and off-peak returns, are capped at the level of RPI inflation – a measure that is not habitually used and is higher than CPI.

To coincide with confirmation of the 3.2% train fares hike, Labour has compared the costs on over 180 train routes between when the Conservatives came to power in 2010, and the projected new prices that will be implemented this January 2019. The average commuter will now be paying £2,980 for their season ticket, £786 more than in 2010.

New figures released today by Labour show:

  • That some commuters will be paying over £2,850 more to travel to work than in 2010.
  • The highest increase was on a Virgin Trains season ticket between Birmingham and London Euston which will have risen by £2,874 since 2010 and now costs £10,902.
  • The biggest percentage increase identified was between Thame Bridge Parkway near Walsall and Nuneaton, where the cost of an annual season ticket will have risen by 54 per cent since 2010.
  • In Theresa May’s own constituency the cost of an annual season ticket from Maidenhead to London Paddington has risen by £831 since 2010.
  • Average fares have risen more than three times faster than wages.

The amount by which train companies can raise regulated fares is the responsibility of the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. He has the power to enforce this but he’s choosing not to, instead only writing a “pathetic” letter to the trade unions unfairly asking rail staff to accept a pay cap.

Labour has committed to keeping fares down and pegged to no more than a rise of CPI. Labour has also called on the Government to freeze rail fares on the routes most severely affected by the timetable changes – Govia Thameslink, Arriva Rail North and First Transpennine Express.

Andrew Gwynne said:

“Our railways need serious reform, and a government committed to sustainable investment, not a plea to train companies.

 

“Sadly Ministers are persisting with a failed model that is punishing passengers and taxpayers. Instead, Labour would use money saved from bringing passenger services into public ownership to cap regulated fare rises at the Consumer Price Index.”

Best Small Shop Competition

Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield)

Small and independent shops in and around Northfield are an important part of the character of our local area. They provide employment for many local people and are a vital part of our economy locally. So I am asking Northfield’s small shopkeepers to enter the Best Small Shops Competition 2018 which celebrates the creativity of […]

At the beginning of August I was pleased to hear that a local community group had got together to try and save The Bull Inn in Llanbedr y Cennin.  Since then I’ve been able to meet with a representative of the group and have been really impressed with how quickly the SOB story (Save our Bull) campaign has progressed. 

John welcomes plans for new £25m school

John Penrose (Weston-Super-Mare)

A new £25million school and a long-awaited Banwell bypass top an £80million council wish list, as Weston prepares for major growth in the coming years.

North Somerset Council is bidding to the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) for tens of millions of pounds to bolster infrastructure ahead an anticipated boom in population in the coming decades.

Locking Parklands will be home to the secondary school, which was revealed after North Somerset Council shed more light on its plans to build a near-£50million road around the often-clogged centre of Banwell.

Estimates suggest the bypass project, including the acquisition of land, would cost £46.3million and a £24.5million chunk of the funding would be spent on the creation of the school, with land already secured from an agreement with developer St Modwen.

North Somerset succeeded at the first stage of the bid process in March, and is now developing a business case – which will be submitted in either December or March – to convince the Government to grant the funding.

If the cash reaches the council’s coffers, the authority would go some way to satisfying the growing calls for improved infrastructure as the population of Weston and the surrounding villages increases.

In addition to the whopping spend on the bypass and school, £3million will be spent improving roads and cycle routes, and £6million will be invested in flood defences and utility networks like water and gas.

Around 25,000 homes will be built across North Somerset by 2036 as part of the Joint Spatial Plan, including ‘garden villages’ on the edges of Banwell and Churchill of 1,700 and 2,700 homes respectively.

And the Haywood Village and Locking Parklands developments are well underway and will total more than 3,000 homes when complete, meaning roads and services are set to come under increased strain from an expanding population.

Weston MP John Penrose has pledged his support to the bid.

He said: “Weston and nearby villages are growing fast to cope with our economic rebirth and it means building communities, not dormitories, for people to live in.

“New schools, or extra classes for existing ones, are a vital part of that, along with GPs, community halls and shops too.”

This article was originally published in The Weston Mercury.

Injunction against traveller encampments

Paul Scully (Sutton and Cheam)

Sutton has had to deal with a number of traveller incursions in our parks in recent months, and most recently they have moved back into the old Evans Auto site as they did earlier this year.

As per my previous updates on this issue, which can be read here and here, as well as pressing for swift action against each incursion as they happened, I have been joining local Conservative councillors in calling for a Borough-wide injunction against these types of incursions, similar to the one recently sought by Croydon Council.

I am pleased that today the Council has confirmed they have listened to our calls and done just that.

The Council has been granted a temporary three month injunction forbidding persons unknown occupying council owned land and or depositing waste on council owned land. They will return to the High Court in November to seek a full three year injunction.

This unfortunately does not help the incursion at the old Evans Auto site, which is privately owned by Aldi. I have been in conversations with Aldi along with local Conservative councillors to ask for updates on what they are doing to get them out and secure the site after they have been evicted.

The government recently concluded a consultation on changes to the law on travellers and I have been campaigning with my colleagues in Parliament for stricter rules. We are calling for the ‘Irish option’ to be applied in the UK, meaning acts of deliberate trespass become a criminal offence (instead of Civil as they are currently) and unauthorised encampments can be removed much more quickly. I recently signed a letter to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on the consultation on travellers calling for more extensive powers for Councils to deal with this problem. You can read the letter here.

I hope the Council will now pursue those responsible for the recent spate of traveller incursions for the fly-tipping and waste they left behind to foot the bill for the cost of clearing it up.

Whilst this injunction is welcome and means any future incursions can be dealt with quickly, I remain disappointed that the Council and police did not seek to use section 61 powers to evict travellers at any of the recent traveller incursions on our parks. I am also still concerned at how slow the Council has been in responding to calls to better secure our parks after each incursion, and in many cases this has still not happened. This gave the image of Lib Dem-run Sutton Council as a soft touch on traveller incursions. At least this injunction should mean they can act faster in future.

Finally, I will continue to fight any plans for put a permanent traveller site near Sutton Cemetery. I am very disturbed that the Council has not ruled out this as a potential site when it comes to putting together their Gypsy and Traveller Plan by 2023.

Local MP, Maria Miller is encouraging good causes in Basingstoke to apply for a share of a funding pot worth over £3 million that has been raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery to support projects helping local people.

Awards of between £500 and £20,000 are available to both charities and community groups, with applications being open for the funding from 1 August until the 15 August.

There are three trusts that groups can apply for funding through;-

Help Edinburgh remember

Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith)

Edinburgh City Archives is asking residents, visitors, community groups and other organisations for their views on how modern-day life should be captured in the Edinburgh Remembers consultation.

Emma calls on government to ban the sale of zombie knives

Emma Reynolds (Wolverhampton North East)

Emma Reynolds, MP for Wolverhampton North East and Pat McFadden MP, have recently written to the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, to urge the government to ban the sale of so-called “zombie knifes” that people can still purchase legally and that are helping to fuel violent crime in our communities.Emma said, “These knifes have one purpose that is to maim, injure and even kill and they have no place on our streets. The Express and Star have conducted an investigation which showed that a loophole in the law means that people can buy these deadly knifes with only cursory identification checks in place. We are campaigning for these loopholes to be closed.

“The letter we received from the government in response from the Crime and Safeguarding Minister was disappointing and doesn’t go far enough.”

You can read the Express and Star story here: https://tinyurl.com/ybx7uz72

You can see the full text of our letter to the Home Secretary and the Home Office response below.
MPs to Home Secretary Home Secretary 1 Home Secretary 2

 

 

The post Emma calls on government to ban the sale of zombie knives appeared first on Emma Reynolds MP.

In Nottingham Labour’s 2015 manifesto we promised to work with Intu to refurbish the Broadmarsh Centre and create an attractive and inviting entrance into the city from Nottingham Station and the South of the City.

This summer the final phase of delivering this ambition has begun:

  • In May work started on the new Nottingham College City Campus Hub, a £58 million building scheme on a derelict site in Canal Street with the aim of providing high-quality college and community facilities.
  • Broadmarsh Carpark was successfully demolished paving the way for a £50 million development to build the new car park and bus station, with around £20m coming from external funding.
  • June saw the approval of a £30 million plan in partnership with a number of organisations including Heritage Lottery Fund, D2N2 and the NottinghamCastle Trust to transform Nottingham Castle into a world-class heritage destination that will attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to Nottingham ever year.
  • Intu have also now committed to £81 million of investment in the Broadmarsh shopping centre which will move Nottingham up from its current position of 12th in the UK retail rankings to 6th with major work set to start later this year

The Southern Gateway project represents a total of £250 million of investment in the area with funding from Nottingham City Council’s capital programme, Nottingham College, Intu and the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership. This level of investment will transform the southern part of Nottingham, providing a boost to the local economy, bringing thousands of new jobs for local people and millions of extra visitors to the city.

Our 2015 manifesto also had a commitment to Start the development of a new Central Library for the city and this week we were proud to announce a consultation on an exciting proposal to develop a new central library as part of a revamped Broadmarsh area. A new Central Library at Broadmarsh would be an attractive and inspiring space. Facing onto a pedestrianised Colin Street and Carrington Street, the new library would be at the heart of the revitalised Broadmarsh – flanked to the east by the new City College and to the West by the world heritage destination of Nottingham Castle.

No decision has yet to be taken about whether or not to go ahead and create a new Central Library, but we have started a public consultation to explore the possibility. We are very keen to hear what parents and children would want, as well as current library users. This is your chance to have your say and tell us if you think we should grasp this opportunity to create a new Central Library for Nottingham.

To get involved in the consultation, you can contact us online here: https://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/transport-parking-and-streets/broadmarsh/

The post Building a Better Nottingham by Transforming the South Side of the City appeared first on Nottingham Labour.

Tackling inequality in the UK requires political will, not soundbites

Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth)

This week’s report from the Chartered Institute for Personnel Development (CIPD) and the High Pay Centre revealed that executive pay for 2017 is not only growing at 11%, well above average worker pay increases of 2%, but that the ratio of mean CEO pay to all employees’ pay has increased from 128:1 in 2016 to more than 145:1 last year. Although this isn’t the only measure of socioeconomic inequalities in the UK, it’s a significant one.

In May, the Equality Trust published analysis of the wealth of the richest 1,000 people in the UK (£724bn), which is greater than the poorest 40% at £567bn. This privileged 1,000 saw their income increase by £66bn in one year alone, and £255bn over the last 5 years. At the same time, we’re seeing unprecedented levels of poverty, with projections that poverty levels for children and disabled people in particular will continue to rise.

The recent Equalities and Human Rights Commission report has revealed that the poorest tenth of households will on average lose about 10% of their income by 2022 – equivalent to £1 in every £8 of net income. This reflects other distributional analyses, for example from the Institute of Fiscal Studies.

All of this needs to be seen in the context of last week’s announcement that after decades of rising life expectancy, how long we can expect to live is now stalling. For women, the gap is the largest since the 1920s. For older women, life expectancy is actually reversing. The data also indicates that deprived areas, where people on low incomes are most likely to live, also have lower life expectancy rates. While the USA and some European countries are seeing this life expectancy slow down, it is worst in the UK. Interestingly, this doesn’t appear to be a developed country phenomena as Japan, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark have all seen continuing increases in life expectancy.

This stalling in life expectancy hasn’t escaped the notice of actuaries. PriceWaterhouseCoopers estimates that a “sharp slowdown in the improvement to life expectancy could wipe £310bn from the pension deficits of thousands of UK companies with final salary schemes”, equivalent to a 15% reduction. The government’s response has been to increase the state pension age for everyone – but it has particularly and punitively pushed back state retirement age for women born in the 1950s.

There is overwhelming evidence of the impact of inequalities in income and wealth on life expectancy. Our health and longevity depend on how and where we are able to live, which in turn depends on our financial means, but on top of this, there is an independent and universal effect that reflects our positions in a hierarchy: our ‘class’, status and relative power. Seminal work such as the Spirit Level shows that in societies where the gaps between rich and poor are narrow, life expectancy, educational attainment, social mobility and trust are higher. Wilkinson’s and Pickett’s most recent work, The Inner Level, shows how more equal societies also reduce stress and improve everyone’s wellbeing. Fairer, more equal societies benefit everyone.

More equal societies see economic benefits as described by the International Monetary Fund. The impact of inequalities on a society’s attitudes and beliefs, including the rise of right-wing as well as fundamentalist ideologies, cannot be underestimated. For example, how inequalities have affected “left behind” communities and attitudes to the EU needs consideration. As does the relationship of widening inequalities in income, wealth and power with global 24/7 broadcast and social media.

Inequalities are not inevitable: they are socially reproduced, and they can be changed. As well as fiscal and social policy underpinned by a drive for greater equity, we need to empower people, enabling them to have more influence and control over their lives. This calls for political will and leadership, not soundbites.

Life Life Local August 2018

Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills)

Landing on a doormat near you. Read my latest article this month’s Live, Life, Local article now…

Time to Change Our Tax System

Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe)

The collapse of the House of Fraser group, with its 59 department stores around the country, including in Maidstone and at the Bluewater shopping centre near Dartford, is about more than the failure of a business. Instead, it seems to signify another major step in the changing nature of our shopping habits and town centres. House of Fraser is a famous brand in its own right, but around the country, its stores originally traded under other well-known names including, Army and Navy, Beatties, Cavendish House, Kendalls and Howells – what these businesses had in common was that whilst they may have been founded by different people, they had all previously become the leading places to shop in the towns and cities they served.

There can be many reasons for the closure of a business, and it may be that its new owners will be able to revive the fortunes of House of Fraser. However, they are competing against internet shopping, with companies like Amazon acting as the ultimate department store, often beating their competitors on range, price and convenience. When I speak with business owners in Folkestone town centre they will all say that you cannot rely on walk in trade, and that you have to be able to sell on the internet as well. In addition to this, your store has to be able to offer good levels of service, and a positive customer experience. In many ways, our town centres are changing from being places where people went to work or do their shopping, to spaces which provide a leisure experience. The regeneration of Folkestone is a good demonstration of this with new bars, restaurants and gallery spaces opening, alongside shops.

However, what all town centre traders will rightly highlight is that they are taking on the internet firms, particularly retail giants like Amazon, with one hand tied behind their back, as the tax system provides a massive advantage to their larger competitors. Last year, for example, the corporation tax paid by Amazon UK Services almost halved to £4.5m, despite its turnover rising by rising 35% from £1.46bn to £1.98bn. By comparison, this low amount of tax paid for a business of this size, was less than half of the annual rent paid by House of Fraser, just for its store in London’s Oxford Street. Also, Amazon’s UK business rates bill was less than 10% more than House of Fraser’s last year, despite their income being eleven times greater.

We cannot allow such an unfair system of business taxes to continue. If we do it will act against innovation and competition as small firms will be driven out of business by the internet giants. Companies like Amazon should be paying more tax and we need to look again at reforming the business rates system, which is penalising businesses that trade in our town centres, and or, require more space to display their goods, even if their profit margins are low. I will be making this case to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond ahead of the Budget this autumn.

The post Time to Change Our Tax System appeared first on Damian Collins.

MP calls on First Buses to review route closures

Harriett Baldwin (West Worcestershire)

West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin has called on First Buses to rethink proposed closures of services across the county. read more »

As Shadow Northern Ireland  Minister I’m over the water on a regular basis and on Sunday 12th August I was at Omagh to commemorate the 20th.Anniversary of the horrific bomb that so nearly shattered the peace process as well as killing 29 people and unborn twins – 31 souls in all.

As usual – and I’ve attended many of the annual commemorations – this was a sombre and dignified affair suffused with sadness. The beautiful Omagh Community Choir sang so sweetly to remind us that there is always hope for a better future and that humanity is capable of great good as well as pure evil.

Next day we met with the Ulster Farmers Union to discuss Brexit, the Chief Constable of the Police Service of N. Ireland to discuss Brexit, the East Belfast community partnership to discuss – amongst other things – Brexit and then down to Ardglass in South Down to meet local MP Chris Hazzard and the fisher men and women who haul herring and mackerel from the Irish Sea  – to discuss Brexit.

I resisted the temptation to take a spin round the harbour on the elegant and well found MV Karen (see picture!).

There’s no doubt that the economy and civil society of Northern Ireland is being stretched to breaking point by the imminent imposition of a hard border between NI and the Republic.

I’ll keep doing what I can to ameliorate the impact but it is not going to be easy.

West Dunbartonshire’s MP Martin Docherty-Hughes has called on the UK government to take defence of the High North and North Atlantic seriously, or risk their defence capability being on “thin ice.” Commenting on the publication of a new Defence Select … Continue reading

The post NEW COMMITTEE REPORT WARNS UK’S ARCTIC DEFENCE PLANS ON “THIN ICE” appeared first on Martin Docherty-Hughes MP.

The total number of unemployed claimants in Dagenham and Rainham constituency in July 2018 was 1,765. This represents a rate of 3.4% of the economically active population aged 16-64. The equivalent UK claimant rate was 2.8%. The UK unemployment rate, which includes people not claiming benefits and is estimated from survey data, was 4.0% in April to June 2018.

The number of claimants in Dagenham and Rainham constituency is 140 higher than July 2017 and 20 higher than June 2018. There were 325 claimants aged 18-24 in July 2018, 20 lower than July 2017.

Figures are not seasonally adjusted and are rounded to the nearest five. 'Unemployed claimants' include people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance or who are claiming Universal Credit and are required to seek work.

Impact of Universal Credit

Under Universal Credit, a broader span of claimants are required to look for work than under Jobseeker's Allowance. This has the effect of increasing the number of unemployed claimants. The effect is most visible in areas operating Universal Credit "Full Service” (where roll out of Universal Credit is more advanced). All jobcentre areas are expected to have moved to Full Service by the end of 2018.

Investment in Dagenham and Rainham

On the old Sanofi Aventis site in Dagenham East construction is currently underway on what will be the largest film studio in London. This will bring 4,000 new skilled jobs, and will also open the doors of opportunity for young people looking to embark on careers in the creative arts.

The site in Dagenham East will also be home to one of the largest data centres in the country which will provide many more new jobs. There is a lot of interest in the new development and the hope is that with lots of investment the site will breathe new life into the local economy.

London is moving east and we now have a new university along with lots of planned investment for the future. Including a planned Costa Coffee and Travelodge to join Elutec, the Pipe Major and Londoneast-uk at Dagenham East.

Jon Cruddas MP commented: “The level of unemployed claimants has gone up again this month, which highlights there is still a lot of work to do. There are also many unemployed residents not claiming JSA, and many more working on part-time and zero-hours contracts still struggling to make ends meet which are not reflected in the claimant numbers.

“The new film studio, the university, and other planned developments are a step in the right direction – but as ever we need to work hard to ensure that local residents are prioritised when new employment opportunity presents itself.”

MP welcomes submission of Needs Case for interconnector

Angus MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar)

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil has welcomed confirmation that Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has today submitted the Needs Case to Ofgem for the Western Isles transmission link.

 

The link is vital to allow new renewable projects to progress in the islands.

 

Mr MacNeil said: “I am very pleased that the Needs Case has now been submitted for the transmission link and I am particularly pleased that the proposal is for a 600MW link allowing for maximum benefit for island communities.

 

“The construction of the link is still dependent on the success of island projects in the CfD auction and regulatory approval, however this is a very welcome significant step.”

Wicklow Drive Post Office Temporary Closed

Keith Vaz (Leicester East)

The Royal Mail has made the following announcement about Wicklow Drive Post Office:  “We sincerely apologise to customers for any inconvenience caused by the temporary closure of Wicklow Drive Post Office. We understand and appreciate how much communities rely on … Continue reading

The post Wicklow Drive Post Office Temporary Closed appeared first on Keith Vaz.

Things to do in Barnsley this summer

Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central)

This week, schools across Barnsley will close for the summer. And what a summer we’ve had so far!

Whether it is the glorious sunshine we have been enjoying, or the fact that England had their best performance at a World Cup in 28 years by reaching the semi-finals, there’s been lots to celebrate.

Although England were unable to bring ‘football home’, the team’s excellent performances were due in no small part to the talent, resilience and true Yorkshire grit of the likes of our own John Stones, Harry Maguire, Kyle Walker and others. In fact you could say it was Yorkshire who almost brought football home!

For many years we've wondered what would become of the old landfill site that grew ever higher over the years. A few years ago residents were pleased to hear that this vast open space would eventually be transformed into the city's own county park.
For a city that is as densely populated as Portsmouth, open and green spaces are important. The new Horsea Island Country Park will not only unlock this former landfill site for recreation use but importantly, provide a new habitat for some 50,000 trees and greenery, to be known as the Queens Diamond Jubilee Wood.
This is great for the city's green credentials. Literally turning an old landfill site into what will eventually become a beautiful country park should be something that we can all get behind and enjoy when it opens to the public in 2020.
The work to transform the old landfill site into the new country park will be completed by 2020. This will provide visitors access to a staggering 128 acres of public green space.
The new country park will feature woods, wildflower meadows, cycle trails, footpaths, picnic areas and no doubt spectacular views across Portsmouth Harbour.
It's important that the city continues to see sensitive developments such as Horsea Island Country Park and is a testimony to what can be achieved under difficult circumstances such as turning an artificially made landfill site into open green space. The new park could be a new jewel in the crown of the city and I welcome this news.
Portsmouth City Council and Veolia are holding a drop-in session at Port Solent, in the old Chimichanga restaurant (Boardwalk). You'll be able to see the designs for the new country park and discuss the proposed plans with the project team. 9:30 am - 7 pm, Tuesday 28th August, 2018.

Campaigning in Milton Keynes

Nia Griffith (Llanelli)

Great to be out campaigning in Milton Keynes on Friday with two fantastic female Labour candidates for the two Parliamentary seats, Charlynne Pullen and Hannah O’Neill. Both showed their resilience in the pouring rain… I know they’ll work hard for a Labour victory here and stand up for people in Milton Keynes.

Jesse’s Hereford Times column: Celebrating cycling

Jesse Norman (Hereford and South Herefordshire)

Being an avid cyclist, I am delighted to celebrate Cycling UK’s 140th anniversary this month. Founded as the Bicycle Touring Club on August 5th 1878, it has grown into a national charity and campaigning organisation. 

Gove’s support for a brighter future for Newlyn

With Fisheries Minister George Eustice and Environment Secretary Michael Gove in Newlyn last year.

I am glad that the Environment Secretary has committed the Government to looking to support the regeneration of Newlyn and its fishing industry as the UK prepares to leave the EU.

Michael Gove made the promise as he made a statement on the White Paper ‘Sustainable Fisheries for Future Generations’, setting out the Government’s plans for the industry following the UK’s departure from the EU.

The Environment Secretary said that from 2021 the UK would control fishing access to a 200 nautical mile “exclusive economic zone” around its coastline and that there was no reason the UK should be in a “weaker position” than Norway or Iceland – which retain 80% and 95% respectively of fish caught in their territorial waters.

In addition, Mr Gove said market access for fish exports – which has yet to be negotiated between the UK and the EU – would be treated separately from the question of access to each other’s waters.

The Environment Secretary’s statement will come as a relief for those working in the sector in Newlyn and West Cornwall and, with particular regard to Newlyn, it was pleasing that he recognised that Newlyn is one of the most important ports in the South West despite years of decline and the erosion of the fleet, skills and infrastructure as a result of the Common Fisheries Policy.

Mr Gove said the Government would do everything that it can to make sure that the harbour gets the investment it needs in order to regenerate and to take advantage of the additional opportunities that life outside the Common Fisheries Policy can provide.

Although I shared the massive disappointment that many felt when it was announced that, under the terms of the transition deal, fishing will effectively remain part of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy throughout the 21-month implementation period, there is no doubt that ministers are aware of the huge cultural and economic importance of the fishing industry to coastal communities and this is reflected in the White Paper.

I believe the fishing community in West Cornwall – individual fishermen and organisations like the CFPO (Cornwall Fish Producers Organisation) – deserve great credit for the way they have shared their knowledge and engaged constructively to help the Government understand the issues and the significance of the industry.

This country desperately needs minimum standards of employment to stop exploitation in the gig economy

Chair: Neville Clarke, Whaley Bridge Station Friends Group

Ruth George MP

Northern Rail: Vicky Cropper, Community & Sustainability Manager; Raj Chandarana, Stakeholder Manager.

Representatives from rail users or friends’ groups of Chinley, Furness Vale and Whaley Bridge stations.

Apologies: Friends of Station Groups from Buxton, Chapel and Glossop; Andrew Walker, High Peak and Hope Valley Rail Partnership

These are the action points from the meeting that I have sent to Northern to pursue:

  1. Northern to provide list of stations which have not been adopted by ‘Friends Of’ or ‘Rail Users’ Groups, so that Ruth can encourage people to set up a group.
  2. Ruth will take up the issue of Stockport and Piccadilly train pathways with Andy Burnham.  Northern to provide further information on the problems and what’s needed.
  3. Northern to do all in their power to fix the timetable hole in the December timetable for the Buxton line between the 8am and 8.58 services, which feeds all the way along the line and means no services arrive into Piccadilly from the line between 8.55am to 9.56am.
  4. Request for Northern to support the disability Access bid for Chinley station in the next round of Access for All funding.  Chinley has a large number of disabled people among its residents, and the local Special School and centre for adults with disabilities.  A group of local disabled people and Chinley Transport Group met with Nusrat Ghani MP Minister for Rail Access who was extremely supportive but emphasised that support from Northern was necessary.
  5. Northern to consider how they can to assist St Thomas More School in Buxton with enabling pupils from New Mills onwards to get to school on time by 8.50am due to the timetable change in May making the morning trains too late or too early.  Ruth would be willing to speak to local bus companies if Northern request.
  6. Northern and local groups to consider Bike racks: New Mills Newtown needs a bike rack with CCTV, while the one at Furness Vale bike is never used.  Could the Furness bike rack be moved to Newtown?  CCTV at Newtown has previously been promised.
  7. Northern and local groups to consider, if the bike rack at Furness Vale is removed, whether it would be possible for the shelter at Furness Vale, which is prone to flooding, be moved on the dry area of the platform where the bike rack is currently.
  8. Request that, where possible, guards check and sell tickets on the train as there are so few ticket offices, long queues to purchase tickets at Piccadilly platforms, and those staff are often unwilling to give discounted fares as they say the tickets should have been bought earlier.
  9. There will be a meeting between station Friends Groups and Northern about the Santa Special in September to ensure it works well, with activities at stations.

The post Action Points from Rail Meeting with Northern and Station Friends Groups appeared first on Ruth George MP for High Peak.

Weekly Column 09.08.18

Michelle Donelan (Chippenham)

Over the past month I have conducted my summer roadshow across the constituency holding ‘meet your MP’ events in 15 different towns and villages across the constituency. It has been an absolute delight to visit so many different venues and support so many local businesses as part of this and of course enjoy the fantastic British summer we have been having. With over 250 individual constituents attending and sharing with me their individual concerns and problems, thoughts on current challenges facing the UK and seeking my opinion on current affairs and Parliamentary matters it really has been a wonderful couple of weeks and something I look forward to repeating in future recesses. I believe passionately that MPs should be as accessible as possible and this is just one part of my commitment to be the most accessible MP in the UK. I may have finished my roadshow but I still hold regular surgeries across the constituency so please do get in touch if you would like any further details on these by emailing michelle.donelan.mp@parliament.uk or calling my office on 01249 704 465.

One of the key issues brought up throughout the roadshow was of course Brexit with passions running high on both sides of the argument and an eagerness to discuss the recent White Paper outlined by the Prime Minister. One of the key concerns raised was concerning environmental protections and food standards post Brexit. As former Permanent Private Secretary to DEFRA I know only too well the significance of these issues and passionately support the Environment Minister, Michael Gove’s commitment to not simply copy over EU standards but to enhance them and ensure that the UK is a world leader in environmental protection, clean energy and animal welfare. I am attending and speaking at the Bradford on Avon Climate Forum in early September and will be stressing not only my own commitment to the cause of environmental protections but also hearing the suggestions from attendees and other panel members on how we can improve on current legislation.

I will be spending the rest of August out on the doorsteps, hopefully speaking to residents about their concerns and supporting local communities where they have specific issues. I have already been able to support one community with their speeding issues and another with traffic volume and safety concerns and worked closely with local councillors to be able to start to find solutions to these problems and so would be more than happy to assist with any local as well as national issues you may have. I hope to catch you in but if not then please do get in touch and we can arrange another time to meet.

The post Weekly Column 09.08.18 appeared first on Michelle Donelan MP.

On 26th and 27th July, the co-chair of the APPGs on the Rights of the Rohingya and Burma Rushanara Ali MP visited refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, where almost one million people are now living in an area less than 5 square miles.

MP NAMED CORN BUNTING SPECIES CHAMPION

Victoria Prentis (Banbury)

North Oxfordshire MP, Victoria Prentis, has been named the species champion for the corn bunting. The initiative partners MPs from England with wildlife organisations to support the protection and promotion of threatened wildlife.

The corn bunting is a specialist farmland bird often seen perched on a wire or a post. They predominantly breed in cereal crops. As they do not migrate, they depend on farmers helping them by providing cereal grain over the winter, and safe places to nest in their crops over the late summer. Corn buntings continue to decline across the UK with their numbers dropping by over a third since 1995.

Earlier this summer, Victoria visited local farmer and constituent, Hugh Jones in Lower Heyford to find out more about the corn bunting and learn about what action he has taken to try and support the endangered bird.

Speaking afterwards, Victoria said:

“I am thrilled to have become the species champion for the corn bunting. As a farmer’s daughter, I always enjoy doing my bit for wildlife and the natural environment. The corn bunting and its distinctive rattling song – which sounds like the jangling of keys – is unmistakable. I am looking forward to my new role and doing what I can to ensure the corn bunting survives and thrives in the countryside.”

Kirsty Brannan from the RSPB added:

“The jangling song of corn buntings is the sound of summer in the British countryside. These birds are just one of many farmland species that need active help to thrive in modern farmland, and I’m delighted that Victoria will be championing the corn bunting in her parliamentary work.”

Are You Stockton North’s best small shop asks Alex

Alex Cunningham (Stockton North)

Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham, is calling on small shopkeepers in Stockton North to enter the Best Small Shops Competition – a competition celebrating the creativity of small shops and the central role they play in their local community.

The Best Small Shops Competition is open to any small shop* operating in the UK. The competition is free to enter and all shops who enter will also be promoted to consumers through an online Indie Retail Directory.

The judges will be looking for evidence of a small shops’ entrepreneurial spirit, ways that they have been innovative in their business and what they have done to have a lasting positive impact on their community.  The shortlisted small shops will be invited to a Parliamentary Reception on the 13th November 2018 to meet their Member of Parliament and find out who will be crowned the Best Small Shop for 2018.

Alex said:

While some larger, national chains are turning their back on Stockton North, our independent shops continue to play a huge role in the success of Stockton High Street, and other shopping areas across Stockton North such as Norton High Street and Billingham Town Centre.

We have some fantastic small local shops in our area, and I’d encourage them to put their names forward to this competition. This competition not only celebrates the work put in by small shopkeepers, but also the role small, independent shops have in enhancing the vitality of our local shopping areas

Shopkeepers can nominate their businesses until Sunday 9th September via www.bestsmallshops.co.uk. A shortlist of 25 of the most impressive applications will be shortlisted by a panel made up of established representatives from the independent retail industry.

Submit your entry

The entries for 2018’s Best Small Shop competition are now open. Submit your entry at www.bestsmallshops.co.uk.

Entries close on Sunday 9th September 2018.

*For the purposes of the competition, a small shop is defined as a non-corporate business selling goods or services to the public for use or consumption rather than for resale, from a business rated premises in the UK.

Daily Express Article

Stephen Kinnock (Aberavon)

Dear Friend,

Some of you may have seen a lot of social media traffic around a Daily Express article which claims that a group of Labour MPs have apparently been meeting in a B & B in Sussex to ‘plot against the leadership’.

Unfortunately, my name features in the list of MPs who have allegedly been engaged in this activity.

I have no idea whether or not any such meetings have been taking place, but I can categorically assure you that I have never and would never take part.

This week I want to pay tribute to two examples of the excellent voluntary spirit that exists in the Ashford Borough, allowing people to improve the lives of others in their own spare time.

The first was the launch last week of the Rolvenden Rocket, a catchy name for a new minibus service which enables residents of the village, and their various clubs, to have low-priced access to transport. The bus is a 17-seater, so is ideal for clubs and groups of all ages to use to get to events.

meeting young people taking part in the NCS

Conor McGinn (St Helens North)

I recently met with young people from across the constituency taking part in the National Citizenship Service program. National Citizenship Service is an opportunity for young people aged 16 and 17 to learn new skills, meet new people and make a difference in our community. I met them as they were in the process of planning their social action projects, working hard to design and deliver a volunteer project which […]

The A34: keeping up the pressure

Richard Benyon (Newbury)

As we reach the second anniversary of those tragic accidents on the A34, I wanted to update you on what has been happening. The Oxford to Cambridge Expressway project is gathering momentum and a decision will be announced later this summer on the ‘corridor’ that this new route will take between Milton Keynes and Oxford. […]

Mental Health Awareness

David Linden (Glasgow East)

This blog post has been written by Gillian Hughes, who is keeping a weekly diary during her time working for David as part of the John Wheatley Internship.

This week I undertook training in Mental Health Awareness. This was an absolutely fantastic course run by Mind.

In any public facing role it’s important to understand the issues which may be facing people you come into contact with. In an MPs office though, staff often work with a disproportionate number of constituents who may be affected by issues of mental ill health, including depression and anxiety as, regardless of the issue, many of those approaching their MP are ‘at the end of their tether’.

Something I’ve been really heartened by in my time in the office is the fact that the same priority is given to every case which comes in. David and his team are there to support every constituent, in any issue causing them distress. There is no differentiation based on subject matter, political allegiance or any medical condition.

On the course, we covered topics such as causes, types, symptoms and responses to different issues of mental ill health.

We discussed empathy and relatability as crucial factors in establishing meaningful relationships with those approaching the office for support. I can often see the disconnect between those visiting David regarding failed PIP assessments, Home Office decisions, benefit sanctions and any other number of other matters which fundamentally affect families, and the Government departments who dole out the decisions on a daily basis.

David grew up in the East End of Glasgow, as did I, and I feel this makes a difference in his understanding of issues prevalent in this community and the impact these can have psychologically on a person.

Whether issues of mental ill health are brought on by life stresses, or life itself becomes more complicated because of pre-existing medical conditions I’m confident that David is empathetic to, and familiar with, the impact this has on constituents’ lives.

I’m very glad to be working in an environment which is sensitive to these issues, and willing to step up on a constituents’ behalf to help make life even that little bit more bearable to those in the direst of need.

And I’m very grateful to have been allowed the opportunity into more insight of this through professional training during the course of my internship.

Back to the internship homepage

Below is a letter I have sent to Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns to challenge his claim at the last session of Welsh Questions that the UK Government’s Brexit White Paper had been shared with the Welsh Government prior to its publication. He was wrong, and I demand to know why such a claim was made. I am still awaiting a reply.

Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin has hailed Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust’s decision to review the “unacceptable” use of costly 0844 numbers on its website as “welcome but long overdue”.

The move comes after pressure from Ms Brabin and a constituent, Ray Crorken, who has been campaigning to have the revenue generating numbers dropped since a costly phone call he made to a hospital service.

Mid Yorks, which runs Dewsbury and District, Pinderfields and Pontefract hospitals, is one of the few remaining NHS trusts in the country to list the numbers, which can cost up to 62p per minute from a mobile phone.

Tracy Brabin MP wrote to the then Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt requesting that the practise be stopped after the issue was brought to her attention by Mr Crorken earlier this year.

But the Government refused to intervene saying it’s a matter for the trust, and Ms Brabin has since raised the issue with MYHT hospital bosses.

Ms Brabin said: “This is a very welcome but long overdue decision on behalf on the Trust.

“The prominent listing of revenue generating 0844 numbers on the Trust’s website could very easily lead to a nasty surprise in a monthly phone bill, as Mr Crorken discovered to his cost.

“The practise led to a situation where poorly and vulnerable people were often charged over the odds for a service they had no choice but to use, and it’s simply unacceptable.

“I would now like to see MYHT follow in the footsteps of many other NHS Trusts throughout the country and cease the use of 0844 numbers altogether.”

Up until last week on the Trust’s contact page online, the 0844 number was listed before the significantly cheaper 01924 alternative – a number which is often free on most mobile phone packages.

The trust has now updated their website, listing the 01924 numbers first followed by the more expensive 0844 option.

Ray Crorken, from Batley, said: “There is a greater proportion of vulnerable people amongst those who are ill and who must use the services of Mid Yorkshire Hospital Trust.

“The use of an 0844 number as a point of contact by MYHT imposes an unnecessary and unwarranted financial burden on the most vulnerable.

“I welcome the news that MYHT has finally decided to remove the 0844 number from its website. I hope that MYHT will now take the necessary steps to remove its use of the 0844 number from all points of contact be that on stationary or websites.”

I was honoured to have been invited to chair the Feeding Leicester Steering Group. Feeding Leicester is a really important project that will raise awareness of food poverty throughout the city and find ways to make sure everyone can access healthy and affordable food.

Lots of local organisations are involved in the project including De Montfort University, the City Council, Feeding Britain, Action Homeless, B-Inspired and many more.

Over the coming months we’ll be working together to find new ways to support local people who are struggling to make ends meet.

As part of the Feeding Leicester project we have also been awarded additional funding to expand the holiday hunger programme. This means that this year over 22,000 meals will be given out to children from right across the city over the summer holidays.

I am proud to be part of this project and I look forward to updating you on our work over the months ahead.  

The post Liz takes on role to tackle food poverty in Leicester appeared first on Liz Kendall.

Unity in the Community

Jonathan Djanogly (Huntingdon)

Jonathan supporting Huntingdon’s 2018 Unity in the Community event at the Medway Centre.  read more »

Bexleyheath Ward Tories Hold Sparking Afternoon Tea

David Evennett (Bexleyheath and Crayford)

CORRECTION: The mobility pass scheme refereed to in the Nottingham News section is a Nottingham City Council scheme and they have made the decision to cut it back not Nottingham City Transport as initially stated 

 

NEWS AND COMMENT FROM CHRIS LESLIE – Friday 27th July 2018
(for more news also see my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/chrislesliemp)

Parliament has now adjourned for the summer recess – and as usual my ‘MP Update’ emails will resume when the Commons returns in September. Frankly there is a case for Parliament to stay in session, because I cannot recall a more turbulent and crucial few months in British politics, where the path the country will take on Brexit is still so unclear.

With knife-edge numbers between a ‘safety net’ Brexit and a hard ‘crashing out’ Brexit in the Commons, I’ve been working as hard as I can to broker a majority cross-party coalition for a sensible way forward. The Prime Minister is deluded if she thinks her ‘Chequers Plan’ will produce consensus with the EU, when she couldn’t even get consensus in her Cabinet never mind the UK Parliament. It falls far short of the protections we need to avoid a hard border in Ireland and the access to markets especially for 80% of our trade which is in the services sector.

Yesterday the EU’s negotiator Michel Barnier made it quite plain that the notion of 27 other countries collecting Britain’s tariffs would not work and nor could it be viable for the EU countries to outsource tax and tariff collection to the UK. In quietly killing off the Chequers Facilitated Customs Arrangement he said: “The EU cannot and the EU will not delegate the application of its customs policy and rules and VAT and excise duty collection to a non-member.” So the Chequers proposals are going nowhere.

This leaves the ball firmly back in Britain’s court. It’s plain to me this means that Parliament will have to take charge and vote to mandate the Prime Minister to stay in a Customs Union. We only lost that vote by six last week and by September / October I think the mood will have shifted sufficiently for the Commons and Lords to have a majority in favour, possibly also for an EFTA/EEA Single Market option too. All this is, of course, predicated on persuading Labour’s leadership to back what is quite evidently in Britain’s best economic interests. With Ministers openly planning for the stockpiling of food and medicines in the event of a ‘hard Brexit’ – but the supermarkets saying they’ve had no contact from government yet! – surely common sense will kick in? I won’t stop making this case.

I hope you have a pleasant August and as always if you have issues you’d like my help or assistance with do email me, write to my office at 12 Regent Street Nottingham NG1 5BQ or telephone 0115 956 9429.

NOTTINGHAM

  • Police officers were called to a report of a man suffering a gunshot injury to his leg in Lotus Close St Ann’s just after 5pm yesterday. The man was taken to hospital by ambulance but his injuries are not believed to be life-threatening. Police are urging anyone who witnessed the incident or has any information to call them on 101, quoting incident number 735 of 26 July 2018, or to call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
  • Last week Nottingham College released a statement seeking to explain the reasoning behind their closure of their Basford Campus nursery. In it they claim that the nursery was running at a loss, a claim which is disputed by those involved with the campaign to save the nursery. I hope to meet with the Nottingham College leadership team, alongside parliamentary colleagues, councillors and campaigners to directly voice my concerns about the closure of this important service – but also the wider strategy that they are pursuing on skills and further education which is of such critical importance especially to young people in Nottingham.
  • The company which owns the Broadmarsh and Victoria shopping centres has seen a significant fall in its share prices. Intu’s share price fell by 7.7% earlier this week as there was news that a proposed merger with rival shopping centre owner Hammerson had fallen through. Intu also recorded a £503m loss in the first six months of 2018 as opposed to a £122m profit in the same timeframe last year. The company’s chief executive David Fischel, who will shortly be standing down, pointed to ‘weakening sentiment in the retail market’ but claimed Intu had delivered a ‘resilient operational performance’. It is not clear whether any of these developments will impact on the regeneration plans in the city centre.
  • Due to pressures on its budget Nottingham City Council is cutting back its Mobility pass concessionary travel scheme. The changes mean that from Monday 3rd September 2018 travel before 09:30 on weekdays and after 23:00 on weekdays will no longer be free for cardholders. While this means that the Nottingham City Council scheme would be in line with the national statutory requirements, I have to say this is a sad change which is a step away from the greater mobility we ought to be encouraging in the 21st
  • An annual audit from KPMG has found that Nottinghamshire Police provides value for money, except for the forces involvement in the Multi Force Shared Service (MFSS) Fusion project. This project aimed create a new software system, to be shared amongst several police forces, which they could all use for payroll, HR and for planning rotas. The hope is that this shared service will help create efficiency savings in the future as the police force anticipates further restrictions to its budget. However the KPMG reports states the project is ‘late, over budget, not to specification, and would not deliver the expected savings’.
  • Nottingham Fire and Rescue Service has issued advice after this month has seen over a 600 per cent increase in grass and rubbish fires from the same time last year. NFRS’s crews have had to attend over 349 grass fires since the start of the month with many believed to have been set on purpose. Nottingham Fire and Rescue Service advises not drop cigarettes but to dispose of them properly, taking rubbish home or putting it in a nearby bin and not leaving glass bottles lying on the ground as sunlight shining on these can lead to a fire.

 

NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • On Tuesday I took part in a Commons debate called by my Nottingham North colleague Alex Norris on the topic of rail investment in the East Midlands. I’m afraid to say that our region does exceptionally badly when compared with the rest of the country in terms of public money for rail – with transport spending per person at a tiny £70 for the East Midlands compared to £773 per head in London! While the capital city is obviously going to need good rail connections, this disparity is in my view completely disproportionate. It’s about time we had a fairer share, but the Department for Transport Ministers have let us down time and again. For example, we were promised electrification (even in the 2015 Conservative manifesto!) but after the 2017 election this was put in the bin. Instead we have been offered ‘bi-mode’ trains for part-electric, part-diesel service, a technology that this time last year didn’t even exist. With the new trains out for franchise tender currently, we now have to fight to ensure the Midland Mainline arrangements are compatible with HS2 integration and can be connected to full electrical mode in the future.
  • During this prolonged spell of warm weather the level of rough sleeping in the city is more obvious for all to see – and it’s the case too in most other cities. On Monday I asked the Secretary of State for Communities, Housing & Local Government what action he was taking to address rough sleeping and homelessness. Specifically I pressed him to speak to the Health Secretary about the chronic reduction in mental health overnight beds available, given there are 6000 fewer than in 2010. I believe part of the solution to rough sleeping must be the provision of proper and consistent care tailored especially at those with mental illness, drug dependency and other vulnerabilities. Sadly I did not receive a reassuring answer from the Minister.
  • The Pakistan general election looks to have resulted in former cricketer Imran Khan taking over as Prime Minister, although there is still disputes and counter-claims about the fairness of the election process. Khan’s PTI Party will face immense challenges including tackling corruption, improving governance and an economy failing to generate sustainable revenues. His manifesto is a combination of a ‘war on patronage’ but also the creation of an Islamic welfare state with higher spending yet socially conservative policies including support of strict blasphemy laws. He will need to form a coalition with others to be able to govern and the support of the powerful army in the background will also play its part. My hope is that a new administration in Pakistan can find ways to reach a peaceful accommodation with India especially after the Indian general elections next Spring. The chances of this are always more likely after elections are out of the way – and the crucial issue of disputes around Kashmir depend largely on insightful leadership being settled in both Pakistan and India. As the chair of the UK all-party parliamentary group on Kashmir I will be doing what I can to encourage the demilitarisation of the region and a long term process for stability and democracy.

 

WHAT DO YOU THINK?  

I’d like to get your views this summer about the local priorities you would like to see developed in Nottingham. While many of these are decisions in the hands of locally elected councillors or other local public bodies rather than me as an MP, I’m eager to do what I can to press for improvements in our city that make the most difference to you. In the past year I’ve spent time supporting new housing provision especially for those with vulnerabilities, I’ve urged fairer funding for local schools and argued for environmental improvements including recreation facilities and better road, rail and public transport schemes. I have real worries about the pressures on our local GPs and the fact that Nottingham’s NHS has faced pressures throughout the year and not just in the colder winter months. The number of knife and gun incidents has also been concerning in the past year – and it is difficult to know whether this is related to the changing pattern of drug crime (also sadly evident in Nottingham Prison) or in part reflecting a thinly-stretched police force.

On the positive side, we do have a great deal to be proud of in Nottingham and a fantastic cultural calendar including Pride tomorrow, the Riverside Festival next week, outdoor theatre at Wollaton Hall, heritage open days in September and so much more. However, you’re spending this summer I hope that you get a welcome break and it’s always nice to get your views and hear your thoughts!

Regards

Chris Leslie

Labour & Co-operative Party MP for Nottingham East

Anne Marie's Weekly Column

Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot)

Westminster Week

 

Holiday Hunger

Emma Lewell-Buck (South Shields)

PARENTS who will struggle to feed their families over the holidays will be better supported, thanks to the work of Emma Lewell-Buck. 

Emma has been successful in securing funds that will deliver a number of ‘Holiday Hunger’ programmes across South Shields.

The MP has ensured South Shields has been able to tap into a £2m fund that supports with the cost of food and fun for poorer children over the summer.

For scores of families in the town, the arrival of summer holidays has put huge pressure on finances.  With money already tight, and with the absence of free school meals for children from low-income families, the break can create added anxiety for parents who are unable to make ends meet. 

It is estimated that it costs between £30- £40 a week extra to feed a family during the holidays – and often the result is that families are plunged into deeper financial strain or may not be able to eat properly at all.

Emma is fighting to raise awareness for the three million children who are at risk of hunger during the school holidays.

She says: “The holidays should be a time for endless hours of carefree fun for families in South Shields, but the sad reality is that – for many – it is quite simply a time that creates added pressure.  That’s a terrible indictment on this Government’s relentless austerity purge.  As a Labour politician, I will always do whatever I can to help relieve the pressure on our families.”

Through Feeding Britain, a charity founded by Emma and fellow Labour MP Frank Field, Emma is ensuring her constituents have access to food clubs for their children during the holidays. The clubs follow on from a successful pilot in 2017, which provided over 43,000 meals in holiday fun clubs across eight areas in England during the summer holidays and October half term.

The clubs run in community centres, church halls, schools, children’s centres, libraries and parks, and they host games and activities for children, alongside breakfasts, lunches and lessons about food nutrition for young attendees. They aim to fight stigma and encourage children to eat and learn about cooking and nutrition.

Feeding Britain works with existing local charities, community groups, councils and others in the community and is building a movement to alleviate and eliminate hunger. Its vision is a UK where no one goes hungry.

Emma adds: “It is especially important during the six-weeks summer holidays that families in South Shields, a constituency with high unemployment and child poverty, are aware of the extra support that is being made available.

“New figures from UNICEF reported that 10% of children in the UK are living in households affected by severe food insecurity.  Hunger isn’t something any person would choose – it’s a symptom of the poverty people are suffering at the hands of this Government.  And I will continue to do everything in my power to support those affected.”

Bill Wiggin MP Local Summer Surgeries

Bill Wiggin (North Herefordshire)

Bill Wiggin, MP for North Herefordshire, will be holding a series of mobile surgeries at the following venues:- Tuesday 31st July 2018 9.00 a.m:                     Outside Kings Caple village hall 9.35 a.m:                     Outside Mordiford Primary School 10.00 a.m:                   Outside Withington Village... Continue Reading →

Video Update: 25th July 2018

Kit Malthouse (North West Hampshire)

Here’s my latest video update on the new National Planning Policy Framework released by my department, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government yesterday. This is a radical document that’s going to make sure more people can have the home they want and protects our precious environment better than ever before, so please do share and spread the word on how we’re fixing the broken housing market.

I am extremely disappointed that they have decided to push ahead with the creation of a wholly owned subsidiary despite the protestations of thousands of local people including hundreds of staff at Chesterfield Royal. Moving over 800 staff who have dedicated their careers to the National Health Service, with great pride and dedication, will create a divisive two-tier workforce. The suggestion that non-medical staff are somehow less a part of our NHS than those who deliver medical services should have been rejected. The process of seeking a tax advantage is an unnecessary distraction at a time when there is such pressure on finances anyway. I have previously met with staff, unions and directors at the hospital and I will continue in that dialogue with them and the Government, to ensure that any changes don’t lead to a poorer service or a two tier workforce.

Below is Toby’s statement from the demonstration today;

IVF, NHS, CCGs

Today (25 July 2018) marks Louise Brown’s 40th Birthday. Why is this special? Louise was the first baby to be born via IVF treatment, a moment which started a revolution in infertility treatment and has given so many parents hope of conceiving a child.

 

Fast forward 40 years and this pioneering treatment is being rationed by many NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups, entrenching a postcode lottery system that is leaving countless couples heartbroken and facing huge bills to pursue treatment privately. 

 

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