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During a General Election campaign, policy is not decided by ministers on the advice of officials and collectively agreed: it is decided by the Leader supported by political advisers unknown. Candidates are not involved and even relevant secretaries of state are taken by surprise when policy is announced. It is […]

Extraordinarily powerful performance in Newcastle Cathedral from Live Theatre’s Youth Theatre with Fed Up about food poverty, young lives and political failure.

Based on real life oral histories researched by University of Newcastle, great to watch with the Bishop of Newcastle and the team

Labour and Liberal like to blame the government for the Councils that  go bankrupt or have to cut essential services to make ends meet. It is easy to just say government should give them more money. The truth is many of the Councils get into a financial mess by mismanagement, excess spending and bad investments.

Take the cases of Labour Bristol and Nottingham. Both embarked on investing taxpayers money in their own energy company. Both spent millions, both overstretched, both incurred huge losses and had to sell off their customers as they went through administration. Bristol lost £46 m in 4 years and Robin Hood £38 m. 8 Council energy companies lost over £110 m between them.

 

Or take the cases of some Councils who spent a fortune of taxpayers money on building property empires, only see them fall in value leaving the Council to pay huge interest on the debts. Or consider Thurrock who thought solar farms would be a good bet as well as property, only to lose big time  on these bets.

Birmingham got itself into big losses by failing to pay its female staff in past years equal pay under the law. It is now struggling with the bills to reimburse.

Councils got punch drunk on relatively cheap loans. They  bought property and trading assets from the private sector for high prices, failing to realise the grave risks. Interest rates went up,  trading losses mounted  and several go into the public sector equivalent of bankruptcy. Yet still some Councils persevere with wasting taxpayers money on assets they do not understand which they pay too much for.

It is difficult to sympathise with Councils that effectively go bust through bad investment. Why did so many Councils think it a good idea to buy property  from the private sector when it was expensive and interest rates were too low? Did they not understand those properties would fall sharply in value when rates went up?

The fate of public sector trading companies run by some Councils should act as further warning that nationalised businesses can lose taxpayers a lot of money.Labour has failed to produce any back up to the soundbite that a Great British Energy Company could  make money for the state and deliver lower energy prices. History suggests it would lose money and cost us more.

24 May 2024
Dunne welcomes final NHS and Treasury investment approval of Hospitals Transformation Programme

South Shropshire MP, Philip Dunne, has welcomed confirmation that the final hurdle in approval of the redevelopment project for the Shrewsbury and Telford’s acute hospitals has been overcome.

The Hospitals Transformation Programme, which delivers a £312m investment to transform patient services at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, had been awaiting final sign off by the Department of Health & Social Care and HM Treasury.

Mr Dunne, who was instrumental in securing the £312m investment for the project, had been keeping up pressure on Ministers to ensure the Final Business Case was approved as quickly as possible. The Department of Health & Social Care confirmed to SaTH approval of the Final Business Case in a letter of 20th May, subject to conditions.

As a result of the General Election having been called, the NHS may be unable to make public statements about this development until after the election.

The plan to reorganise the provision of health services in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin began in 2013, and was developed by 300 local clinicians (doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals), other specialists and local healthcare partners, using advice and guidance from regional and national teams and hospitals who have made similar, successful changes.

The project will mean better services for patients, through: 

•     Planned care services in Telford available throughout the year leading to fewer cancellations and delays for operations

•     Enhanced urgent care services which will be available 24/7 on both hospital sites

•     Improved emergency care services delivered from a new, purpose-built Emergency Department in Shrewsbury, meaning that patients will be seen more quickly, with shorter stays and faster ambulance handover times.

Mr Dunne said:

“I have received the fantastic news that the government has earlier this week approved the record capital funding for this scheme in Shrewsbury and Telford, and I pay tribute to the hard work of so many people who have worked to get this massive investment in Shropshire’s healthcare services over the line.

“There have been many hurdles along the way, and it has taken longer than hoped. Some have sought to obfuscate the process, and even now Labour candidates in Shropshire refuse to commit to what will be the largest capital investment in healthcare infrastructure the county has ever seen. But residents in South Shropshire can now be confident that this colossal investment in improving acute care in Shropshire will be full steam ahead.

“I am pleased to have played my part over the years, and am really delighted to see this project approved before I step down as MP for Ludlow at the General Election. Having recently seen for myself the enabling works underway, I look forward to welcoming diggers in the ground before long."

Under the changes at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, there will be two new front doors – one to the Emergency Department and one to the new main entrance. The Emergency Department will feature a large new reception and triage areas, with dedicated waiting areas for children and adults. There will be expanded provision for 10 ambulances, a new acute medical floor and a new Critical Care unit in purpose-built accommodation.

At the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, a purpose built £24m Planned Care Hub will provide four operating theatres and a dedicated recovery area for elective care. A new cancer treatment day centre will expand on the current service from the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and enhance the quality, capacity and efficiency of cancer care.

A1 Final planning approved

Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

I am delighted to welcome the final Development Consent Order for the A1 dualling between Morpeth and Ellingham being signed off today by the Secretary of State, following my nine-year campaign. I had already secured funding of £293 million and the preparatory works had been completed. It’s…

Graham celebrates Beverley Grange’s 25th Birthday

Graham Stuart (Beverley and Holderness)

Graham visited Beverley Grange Nursing Home to celebrate its 25th birthday.    Located on Lockwood Road in the town, Beverley Grange is a high-quality nursing home which provides residential, nursing and palliative care as well as short-term respite for its residents. During its last inspection,…

In an era where technology and education converge, distance learning has emerged as a pivotal force in reshaping the educational landscape. As we stand on the cusp of a new decade, this article delves into the transformative journey of distance learning, unraveling the latest trends that are sculpting its future. We will also cast a forward-looking eye on the horizon, offering evidence-based predictions that will illuminate the path for learners, educators, and institutions in the coming years. Join us as we navigate the contours of this digital revolution, charting a course through the innovations and challenges that will define the next chapter in the story of distance learning.

The Impact of Technology on Distance Learning

The trajectory of distance learning has been inextricably linked with the march of technology. In its nascent stages, the limitations of available technology restricted distance learning to static correspondence. However, as technological capabilities advanced, so did the possibilities for distance education. Here are key technological milestones that have shaped distance learning:

  • The Internet and World Wide Web: The introduction of the internet opened up new avenues for communication and information sharing, leading to the creation of the first online courses.
  • Learning Management Systems (LMS): Platforms like Blackboard and Moodle provided educators with tools to create structured and interactive courses, allowing for the management of learning materials and student progress.
  • Multimedia and Interactive Content: The integration of videos, animations, and simulations has transformed static learning materials into dynamic and engaging content.
  • Mobile Learning: The proliferation of smartphones and tablets has facilitated anytime, anywhere learning, further breaking down barriers to education.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning: These technologies are personalizing learning experiences by adapting content to individual learning styles and providing real-time feedback.
  • Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR): Immersive technologies are creating new dimensions of learning by simulating real-world environments for practical learning experiences.

As we look towards the future, we can expect technology to continue playing a transformative role in distance learning. The integration of AI and advanced analytics is predicted to refine the personalization of learning, making it more adaptive and responsive to individual learner needs. The growth of VR/AR is set to offer even more immersive learning experiences, potentially revolutionizing fields like medical and military training. Moreover, the continued expansion of high-speed internet access and mobile technologies will likely make distance learning even more accessible and prevalent around the globe.

In the next decade, we anticipate that distance learning will not only supplement but, in some cases, supplant traditional educational models, offering a viable and often preferable alternative. As the digital divide narrows and technology becomes more inclusive, distance learning stands poised to democratize education on an unprecedented scale.

The Intersection of Gaming and Online Learning: The Case of CSGO Gambling

The digital realm has not only revolutionized education but also transformed entertainment and leisure activities. An interesting crossover is seen in the world of online gaming, particularly with phenomena like CSGO gambling site. This activity, which involves betting on the outcomes of matches in the popular game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, exemplifies the convergence of gaming, economics, and the use of digital platforms. While seemingly unrelated to education, the underlying technology and psychological principles of engagement and risk-reward mechanisms are remarkably similar. Understanding such intersections can provide insights into how digital environments captivate attention and foster user interaction, aspects that are increasingly relevant to educational technology developers.

As we look towards the future, we can expect technology to continue playing a transformative role in distance learning. The integration of AI and advanced analytics is predicted to refine the personalization of learning, making it more adaptive and responsive to individual learner needs. The growth of VR/AR is set to offer even more immersive learning experiences, potentially revolutionizing fields like medical and military training. Moreover, the continued expansion of high-speed internet access and mobile technologies will likely make distance learning even more accessible and prevalent around the globe.

In the next decade, we anticipate that distance learning will not only supplement but, in some cases, supplant traditional educational models, offering a viable and often preferable alternative. As the digital divide narrows and technology becomes more inclusive, distance learning stands poised to democratize education on an unprecedented scale.

The Rise of MOOCs and Online Platforms

The landscape of distance learning has been dramatically reshaped with the emergence of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and other online learning platforms. MOOCs, which offer unrestricted participation and open access via the web, have surged in popularity due to their ability to provide free or low-cost education to a global audience. Platforms like Coursera, edX, and Udacity have partnered with top universities to deliver courses across a multitude of subjects, from computer science to philosophy.

These platforms have revolutionized the role of distance learning in education by:

  • Democratizing Access: MOOCs have broken down barriers to education, enabling people from all walks of life to access high-quality courses from prestigious institutions.
  • Encouraging Lifelong Learning: With the flexibility to learn at their own pace, individuals can acquire new skills or enhance existing ones, irrespective of their age or career stage.
  • Facilitating Career Advancement: Many MOOCs offer certification upon completion, which can be instrumental in helping learners advance or pivot in their professional lives.
  • Supporting Blended Learning: Traditional institutions are increasingly incorporating MOOCs into their curricula, offering a blended approach that combines online and in-person instruction.

The next decade is likely to see an expansion of MOOC offerings, with a growing emphasis on micro-credentials and specialized programs designed to meet the evolving needs of the job market. Additionally, we can expect advancements in technology to enhance the interactivity and personalization of MOOCs, making distance learning an even more engaging and effective educational experience.

Distance Learning in the COVID-19 Era

The COVID-19 pandemic has served as a catalyst for an unprecedented surge in distance learning. Educational institutions around the world were compelled to rapidly adapt to remote teaching methods to ensure continuity of education. This shift, although initially disruptive, has underscored the flexibility and resilience of distance learning frameworks.

Institutions have adapted to the pandemic by:

  • Expanding Online Offerings: Schools and universities have significantly increased the number of courses available online, often utilizing synchronous (live) and asynchronous (pre-recorded) formats.
  • Investing in Technology: There has been a concerted effort to invest in digital tools and platforms to support online learning, including LMS, video conferencing software, and digital assessment tools.
  • Training Educators: Teachers and professors have received training in digital pedagogies to effectively deliver content and engage with students in a virtual environment.
  • Supporting Students: Institutions have implemented support systems to assist students with the transition to online learning, addressing challenges such as internet access, digital literacy, and mental health.

As we move beyond the pandemic, it is anticipated that many of these changes will become permanent fixtures of the educational landscape. The integration of hybrid learning models, which combine online and in-person instruction, is expected to grow, offering students greater flexibility and personalized learning pathways. The experience of the COVID-19 era is likely to drive further innovation in distance learning, with an emphasis on creating more resilient and accessible educational systems for the future.

The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Personalized Learning

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is at the forefront of revolutionizing distance learning by offering personalized educational experiences. AI-driven systems are capable of analyzing student data to tailor content, predict performance, and provide customized support. Here’s how AI is enhancing distance learning:

  • Adaptive Learning Platforms: These platforms use AI to adjust the difficulty of tasks based on student performance, ensuring that each learner is challenged at their own level.
  • Intelligent Tutoring Systems: AI tutors provide one-on-one instruction, offering explanations, guidance, and feedback that are specific to individual learning styles and needs.
  • Automated Grading: AI can quickly grade assignments and exams, giving students immediate feedback while freeing up instructors to focus on more complex teaching tasks.
  • Learning Analytics: By analyzing data on student interactions with course material, AI can help educators identify who might need extra help and what topics need more coverage.

The integration of AI into distance learning is expected to deepen over the next decade, leading to more nuanced and effective personalization. Predictions for the future include AI becoming more adept at recognizing emotional cues to better support students’ mental well-being and further customization of learning paths to suit individual career goals.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in Education

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies are set to transform distance learning by providing immersive and interactive educational experiences. These technologies enable students to explore concepts in a three-dimensional environment, making learning more engaging and memorable. Current and potential uses include:

  • Simulated Laboratories: VR can simulate laboratory environments, allowing students to conduct experiments without the need for physical resources.
  • Virtual Field Trips: AR and VR can transport students to historical sites, museums, or even outer space, providing enriching experiences that would be impossible or impractical in the real world.
  • Medical and Technical Training: VR provides a risk-free platform for medical students to practice surgeries and for technical students to gain hands-on experience with machinery.
  • Language and Cultural Immersion: Language learners can use VR to immerse themselves in environments that mimic the countries of the languages they’re studying, enhancing their understanding of both language and culture.

Over the next decade, we can anticipate broader adoption of VR and AR in education, with advancements making these technologies more affordable and accessible. The development of more sophisticated content and the integration of AI with VR/AR experiences will likely lead to even more personalized and effective learning opportunities. As these immersive technologies become mainstream, they will play a crucial role in overcoming the limitations of traditional distance learning, providing students with practical, hands-on experience in a virtual setting.

The Shift Towards Competency-Based Education

Competency-based education (CBE) is a growing trend in distance learning, prioritizing the mastery of skills over time spent in a classroom. Unlike traditional education models, CBE allows students to progress at their own pace once they demonstrate proficiency in a subject area. This approach is particularly well-suited to online learning environments where learners have varied schedules and learning styles. Key features of CBE include:

  • Personalized Learning Paths: Students can focus on the skills they need to develop, moving forward once they’ve demonstrated competence.
  • Real-World Relevance: CBE often involves practical tasks that simulate real-life challenges, making the learning experience more applicable to job settings.
  • Flexible Assessment: Evaluations are based on demonstrating knowledge through projects, portfolios, or exams, rather than accumulating credit hours.

The integration of CBE into distance learning curriculums is transforming education by aligning it more closely with industry needs and learner preferences. In the next decade, we can expect CBE to become more prevalent as educational institutions and employers increasingly recognize the value of skill-based learning.

The Integration of Social Learning in Online Education

The incorporation of social learning into online courses and platforms is redefining the solitary nature of distance learning. Social learning theory suggests that people learn from one another, via observation, imitation, and modeling. Online education platforms are increasingly facilitating this by including collaborative and social elements such as:

  • Discussion Forums: Online forums allow students to discuss course materials, share insights, and ask questions, fostering a sense of community.
  • Peer Assessments: Learners evaluate each other’s work, providing feedback and gaining different perspectives on the subject matter.
  • Group Projects: Virtual workspaces enable learners to collaborate on assignments, mirroring teamwork in a traditional classroom or workplace.

The importance of collaborative and social learning elements cannot be overstated, as they not only enhance the learning experience but also help develop critical soft skills such as communication and teamwork. As we look to the future, these interactive components are expected to become more sophisticated, leveraging technology to create even more engaging and supportive online learning communities.

Challenges and Criticisms of Distance Learning

Distance learning has been a game-changer for many, but it’s not without its challenges and criticisms. Some of the most pressing issues include:

  • Accreditation and Recognition: Concerns persist regarding the accreditation of online programs and the recognition of qualifications by employers and traditional institutions.
  • Quality of Education: Critics argue that the quality of education can suffer in online settings due to a lack of face-to-face interaction and hands-on experiences.
  • Access and Equity: Despite its potential for inclusivity, there remains a digital divide, with students in remote or impoverished areas often lacking the necessary resources or connectivity to participate effectively.
  • Student Engagement: Keeping students motivated and engaged without the physical presence of a classroom environment can be challenging for educators.
  • Academic Integrity: Ensuring the authenticity of student work and preventing cheating in an online context is a significant concern for institutions.

As we advance, addressing these criticisms will be crucial in refining distance learning methodologies and ensuring their acceptance and effectiveness in the educational ecosystem.

The Future of Hybrid Learning Models

The next decade will likely see a significant evolution in hybrid learning models, which blend online and in-person instruction. Here’s what we can expect:

  • Increased Adoption: Hybrid learning will become more commonplace, with institutions recognizing the value of combining the flexibility of online learning with the benefits of face-to-face interaction.
  • Customized Learning Experiences: Technology will enable more personalized hybrid models, allowing students to choose when to attend in-person sessions and when to engage online.
  • Enhanced Collaboration Tools: Advancements in collaborative technologies will make online components of hybrid learning more interactive, mirroring the social aspects of traditional classrooms.
  • Focus on Outcomes: Hybrid models will increasingly emphasize learning outcomes, with a shift towards competency-based approaches that validate skills regardless of how they are acquired.

Hybrid learning models represent the future of education, offering a balanced approach that caters to diverse learning preferences and schedules while maintaining the quality and structure of traditional education.

The Role of Big Data in Shaping Educational Strategies

The emergence of big data analytics has become a cornerstone in refining distance learning. Educational institutions now leverage vast amounts of data to enhance student learning outcomes and tailor educational strategies to individual needs. Big data’s role in distance learning includes:

  • Personalized Learning Experiences: By analyzing student interaction with online materials, educators can personalize content delivery, catering to different learning styles and paces.
  • Predictive Analytics: Data analytics can predict student performance, allowing for early intervention strategies to help at-risk students.
  • Curriculum Development: Insights from data help in designing curricula that align with student needs and industry trends, ensuring relevant and up-to-date course offerings.
  • Student Retention Strategies: By identifying patterns that lead to dropouts, institutions can develop targeted retention strategies to keep students engaged and enrolled.

In the next decade, big data is predicted to further revolutionize distance learning, with more sophisticated analytics tools providing deeper insights into student behavior and preferences. This will enable even more customized and effective educational strategies, driving success for both students and educational institutions.

Accessibility and Inclusivity in Distance Learning

The imperative of making distance learning accessible and inclusive cannot be overstated. As education moves increasingly online, ensuring that all learners, regardless of their physical abilities or socioeconomic status, can access quality education is a priority. Efforts to promote accessibility and inclusivity in distance learning include:

  • Designing for Disabilities: Implementing universal design principles to create online content that is accessible to students with disabilities, such as captioning for videos and screen reader-friendly course materials.
  • Bridging the Digital Divide: Initiatives to provide affordable devices and internet access to students in remote or underprivileged areas, ensuring they can participate in distance learning.
  • Cultural Sensitivity: Developing content that is culturally inclusive and sensitive, reflecting the diversity of the global student body.
  • Support Systems: Establishing robust support systems, including technical assistance and tutoring, to help all students navigate and succeed in the online learning environment.

Looking ahead, the trend is towards even greater inclusivity, with technology playing a key role in breaking down remaining barriers to access. The next decade will likely see an increase in targeted programs and partnerships aimed at supporting underrepresented groups, making distance learning a truly universal educational option.

The Globalization of Education Through Distance Learning

Distance learning has become a conduit for global education, enabling students from disparate geographical locations to access quality education without the constraints of physical borders. This trend has facilitated international collaboration among institutions, educators, and students, creating a diverse learning environment that reflects the interconnectedness of our world. The impact of distance learning on global education includes:

  • Cross-Cultural Exchange: Students are exposed to diverse perspectives and can collaborate with peers from different cultural backgrounds.
  • International Curriculum: Courses often incorporate global contexts, preparing students for the international aspects of modern careers.
  • Partnerships Between Institutions: Universities worldwide are forming partnerships to offer joint programs, enhancing their educational offerings.
  • Access to Global Expertise: Learners have the opportunity to be taught by leading experts from around the globe, regardless of their location.

The globalization of education through distance learning is not just expanding educational access but also fostering a more inclusive and culturally aware student body. As we progress into the next decade, we can expect this trend to continue, with more institutions joining forces to provide a truly global education.

Predictions for Distance Learning in the Next Decade

The landscape of distance learning is poised for significant transformations in the coming decade. Here are some key trends, technologies, and practices expected to shape the future of distance learning:

  1. Advanced Personalization: Leveraging AI and machine learning to deliver highly personalized learning experiences, adapting to individual learning styles and needs.
  2. Immersive Technologies: Greater integration of VR and AR in curricula, providing students with hands-on, practical experiences in a virtual environment.
  3. Blockchain in Education: Utilization of blockchain technology for secure and transparent verification of academic credentials and achievements.
  4. 5G Connectivity: The rollout of 5G networks will enable faster and more reliable internet connections, facilitating smoother online learning experiences.
  5. Growth of Micro-Credentials: The rise of short, focused courses that offer specific skills and competencies to meet the rapidly changing job market demands.
  6. Data-Driven Decision Making: Institutions will increasingly rely on big data analytics to inform educational strategies and improve student outcomes.
  7. Increased Accessibility: Continued efforts to make distance learning more accessible and inclusive, with a focus on addressing the needs of learners with disabilities and those from underserved communities.
  8. Focus on Soft Skills: Online courses will place greater emphasis on developing soft skills such as critical thinking, communication, and collaboration.
  9. Hybrid Learning Environments: A blend of online and traditional classroom learning will become the norm, offering flexibility and personalization.
  10. Global Networking: Distance learning platforms will facilitate international networking, providing students with global connections that can enhance their career prospects.

The Evolving Landscape of Distance Learning

As we reflect on the transformative journey of distance learning, it is evident that this educational model has not only adapted to the changing times but has also been a catalyst for innovation within the educational sector. The key points discussed highlight the significant role technology has played and will continue to play in shaping distance learning. From the early days of correspondence courses to the latest advancements in artificial intelligence and virtual reality, distance learning has consistently pushed the boundaries of what is possible in education.

Looking ahead, the potential long-term impact of distance learning on the educational landscape is profound. It has the power to democratize education, making it more accessible and inclusive, while also providing personalized learning experiences that cater to individual needs and learning styles. The rise of MOOCs, the adoption of hybrid learning models, and the integration of immersive technologies are just a few examples of how distance learning is evolving to meet the demands of a diverse global student population.

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated the adoption of distance learning, and many of the changes implemented during this period are expected to have lasting effects. The shift towards competency-based education, the integration of social learning, and the focus on accessibility and inclusivity will continue to shape distance learning strategies and policies.

As we look to the future, we can predict that distance learning will become even more integrated into the fabric of education. With the continued advancement of technology, the growth of micro-credentials, and the increasing importance of soft skills, distance learning is poised to offer a more connected, personalized, and responsive educational experience.

In sum, the evolution of distance learning is an ongoing process, one that promises to redefine the educational experience for students and educators alike. Its trajectory suggests a future where learning is not confined by physical boundaries, time constraints, or one-size-fits-all approaches, but is instead a dynamic and inclusive journey that meets learners where they are and helps them get to where they want to be.

The post The Evolution of Distance Learning: Trends and Predictions for the Next Decade appeared first on Berger.

Vote Alex Aitken for Birmingham Northfield on 4th July

Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield)

Two years ago, I posted the statement below on social media, announcing that I did not intend to stand again for election as MP for Birmingham Northfield. At the same time I voiced my support for Alex Aitken to become the next Labour candidate for the constituency. With the General Election having finally been called, […]

Contaminated blood scandal lessons for the future

Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak)

On Monday, the Prime Minister came to the Commons to apologise for the contaminated blood scandal, one of the worst tragedies of modern times resulting in suffering and loss of life for thousands.

Haemophiliacs and others with blood conditions were given contaminated blood or blood products imported from the USA, infecting them with HIV and hepatitis. Medical staff at various levels, civil servants, politicians, and others colluded to hide what had happened.

Like Hillsborough, there’s a pattern. Victims are accused and blamed, then forced to battle for the truth against the closed ranks of the state and public institutions.

I welcome the PM’s apology but found myself asking the same question as former Health Secretary, Sajid Javid; how will the government ensure such a cover-up never happens again?

Few people come out of this with credit. Sir Brian Langstaff does for his rigorous inquiry and determination to establish the truth, former PM Theresa May did set up the enquiry but only after she was threatened with losing a vote on the issue. My Labour colleague, Diana Johnson MP, forced Theresa May’s hand and has methodically and relentlessly pursued the case and demanded compensation for victims and their families, the infected and the affected. There are children who lost parents and parents who lost children, children who were used in undisclosed research programmes and victims who weren’t told and went on to infect others.

There’s nothing I can think of that does more to damage trust in politics and public bodies than the refusal of those in charge to admit responsibility for mistakes. It’s not the mistakes people despise, it’s the cover-up.

The problem is growing, I’m struck by the number of constituents I see raising doubts about encounters with hospitals, the local authority, police, and other public bodies.

My answer to Sajid Javid is we need a rapid independent investigation whenever doubts are raised; protections for whistle blowers; sanctions against those who don’t act in the public interest; and prosecutions for those who knowingly participate in cover-ups, destruction of evidence or wilful misleading of victims

Angus MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar)

Sir Bill Wiggin MP meets with Assistance Dog Charities

Bill Wiggin (North Herefordshire)

Sir Bill Wiggin MP, Member of Parliament for North Herefordshire, attended an event in Parliament earlier this week co-hosted by Assistance Dogs UK (ADUK) and Assistance Dogs International (ADI).  During this event Bill met with a wide range assistance dog charities where he learnt about the work, they each do, and difficulties and discrimination many people …
A pleasure taking part in Paul’s bill, which ensures any local government staff appointed on salaries over £100k must be voted on first by councillors.

General Election on 4 July is opportunity to beat the SNP

John Lamont (Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk)

The General Election in the Borders is about beating the SNP so we can get all of the focus onto creating good jobs, reducing NHS waiting lists, fixing the roads, investing in schools and improving public services. It's a straight fight here between me and the SNP candidate, who will only obsess…

Question on the Prison Building Programme

Jerome Mayhew (Broadland)

I am glad to hear that the contingency contained in the letter was not required. We can tell how tough this Government are being on crime and criminals by the very heavy population in our prison estate. The long-term solution is to build more prisons. Can the Minister update us on when he estimates…
Following a Statement from the Secretary of State for Health earlier, Greg Smith MP once more raised the need for both a new health centre in Long Crendon and upgrades to replace the aging tower at Wycombe Hospital. Politics can be a slow process, but Greg never gives up and will keep fighting for…

Statement from Liz

Liz Kendall (Leicester West)

After 14 years, this failed Tory Government has run out of ideas and run out of road.

Residents across our city are crying out for change and at long last people in Leicester West can finally have their say.

My constituents are paying the price for Tory chaos that has seen mortgages and rents soar, serious crime rocket, NHS waiting lists spiral, and local schools crumble. It’s on the Tories watch that we now have a society with more foodbanks than police stations.

It’s time for change.

Keir Starmer has today outlined Labour’s long term plan to rebuild Britain: for economic stability, to cut the NHS waiting times, secure our borders with a New Border Security Command, to harness Great British Energy to cut your bills for good, to tackle anti-social behaviour, and get the teachers we need in your children’s classroom.

I have great faith in the people of Leicester and the people of Britain. I believe together we can turn the page, start to rebuild Britain and change our city and country for the better.

A vote for Labour is a vote for change. And on 4th July I hope that residents in Leicester West will put their trust in us to build a better future.

The post Statement from Liz appeared first on Liz Kendall.

Ysgol Heol Goffa deserves a new school!

That’s the emphatic message sent to Carmarthenshire County Council decision makers at this morning’s demo outside County Hall.

A big thank you to everyone who came along to show support for the school and make their voices heard.

Alex Cunningham and Chris McDonald Visit KP Snacks

Alex Cunningham (Stockton North)

On Monday the 20th of May the final report of the Infected Blood Inquiry was published. Led by Sir Brian Langstaff this independent public inquiry investigated what has been described as the worst scandal in NHS history. From 1970 to 1991 30,000 patients were given infected blood products…

A Call for Justice and Accountability in Israel and Palestine

Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey)

We are witnessing a significant and historic development in the pursuit of justice. ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan’s decision to seek arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defence Minister Yoav Galant, and Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Rawhi Al-Masri, and Ismail Haniyeh for war crimes and crimes against humanity is a bold and necessary step. This move underscores the urgent need for accountability and the rule of law in one of the most protracted and painful conflicts of our time.

For too long, the UK Government has been content to sit on the fence, evading critical questions about its assessments of Israeli compliance with International Humanitarian Law (IHL). This indecision is no longer tenable. The UK Government must now clearly outline how this development will influence their evaluation of Israel’s actions and when they will reconsider the arms licenses granted to Israel.

The evidence presented by Prosecutor Khan is both damning and comprehensive. He stated, “On the basis of evidence collected and examined by my Office, I have reasonable grounds to believe that Benjamin Netanyahu and Yoav Galant bear criminal responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on the territory of the State of Palestine (in the Gaza Strip) from at least 8th October 2023.” This includes starvation as a method of warfare, the wilful killing of civilians, and the systematic deprivation of objects indispensable to human survival.

This evidence, which includes interviews with survivors, authenticated multimedia, and satellite imagery, paints a grim picture of intentional and systematic deprivation inflicted upon the civilian population of Gaza. The UK Government must now address the glaring question: Does it still believe that Israel has the intent and capacity to comply with IHL, given this overwhelming evidence?

Five months ago, the Foreign Secretary acknowledged that Israel should restore water supplies to Gaza. Yet, despite having sufficient information indicating Israel’s violations, the UK Government chose inaction. This failure to act is not just a lapse in judgment but a grave moral failing.

Furthermore, Israel’s systematic targeting of journalists and international aid workers and the closure of borders to human rights monitoring organizations severely limits the ability to gather evidence on the ground. How, then, is the UK Government making its assessments of Israel’s compliance with IHL? The lack of transparency and accountability is deeply troubling.

On 3rd April, despite the mounting evidence of atrocities, the Foreign Secretary recommended that arms licenses to Israel remain granted. Over 34,000 innocent civilians have been killed by the IDF, yet the UK Government continues to turn a blind eye. Will we witness another cowardly display of indifference, or will the UK Government finally cease granting arms licenses to a nation whose leaders are now under arrest for war crimes and crimes against humanity?

The time for equivocation is over. It is already too late for so many innocent people who have lost their lives and loved ones or endured unimaginable horror. The UK Government must, at last, take a definitive stance and respond to these grave allegations with the seriousness they deserve. Our commitment to justice, human rights, and the rule of law demands nothing less.

The post A Call for Justice and Accountability in Israel and Palestine appeared first on .

Supporting our carers

Jon Cruddas (Dagenham and Rainham)

Supporting our carers admin

Flooding Campaign – Update

George Freeman (Mid Norfolk)

22 May 2024
Flooding Campaign – Update

The rise in serious flooding in Norfolk over the last few years is caused by a number of factors: climate change; new housing estates with inadequate drain infrastructure; a serious lack of maintenance of our rivers, drains, ditches and culverts; and a lack of clearly understood legal responsibilities. 

No one should live in fear of flooding every time it rains.

That’s why:

  • I am bringing a Flooding Bill to Parliament to change the laws on planning and flooding liabilities to ensure developers, water companies and other key stakeholders cannot shirk their responsibilities.
  • I’m working closely with Norfolk County Council and their Norfolk Strategic Flooding Alliance to establish an annual Norfolk (Inland) Flooding Prevention Summit – at which the NSFA, with local MPs, will be able to hold the c.35 statutory flooding authorities more firmly to account and better co-ordinate the support that dozens of communities require across the county. The first summit will take place NEXT week.
  • I continue to actively work through the Mid Norfolk Flood Partnership to support the dozens of households and businesses that have been affected by flooding over recent months and years.

Today’s CPRE Norfolk Flood Management Conference at Dereham Memorial Hall is a helpful one day conference providing guidance and advice to Parish Councils on how they can help reduce the risk of flooding in their local area – with me following progress closely.

I will also be joining the latest Attleborough Multi-Agency Stakeholder Call later today – to receive an update on the various workstreams being pursued to tackle future flooding in the town. (See more on that work here).

Rest assured, I will keep the pressure up and continue to campaign hard for the urgent reforms we need. I am determined to do all I can to help communities affected here in Mid Norfolk.

Full details on my Mid Norfolk Flooding Campaign work can be found here.

Justice delayed is justice denied on Infected Blood Scandal

Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North)

Catherine has urged the Government to act without delay on compensation for victims of the Infected Blood Scandal, following the release of the inquiry’s report. On Monday 20 May, the long-awaited report into the Infected Blood Scandal was released, which looked into the infection of more than 30,000 people with HIV and hepatitis C from […]
TRH The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh visit the City Chambers and learn about Edinburgh 900.

Infected Blood Statement

Victoria Prentis (Banbury)

I welcome the Prime Minister's apology regarding the infected blood scandal. It is a significant acknowledgment of the decades-long moral failure that has devastated countless lives. The commitment to providing comprehensive compensation is a crucial step towards addressing the immense suffering…

ICC FILES ARREST WARRANTS

Brendan O'Hara (Argyll and Bute)

Aldridge School Visit and Q&A

Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills)

I had an amazing afternoon visiting Aldridge School and watching their recent PHSE film that was produced in collaboration with Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust – Walsall Manor Hospital and Community Health. It’s clear that there is exceptional talent right here in Aldridge.

During the visit, I had the pleasure of engaging with students who challenged me with insightful questions about Westminster and Parliament, my journey into politics, and the various roles and responsibilities I have had.

A special thank you to Miss Irving, Head of Drama, and all the students involved in the film and Q&A session.

Local MP Maria Miller said following the publication of the Langstaff Report today and the Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Statement said, “Fifty years of institutional cover up by successive Governments, the Department of Health and the NHS has been laid bare today. The Prime Minister’s statement…

Chatting to CyberUK TV about CyberFirst

Stephen McPartland (Stevenage)

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May Update

Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe)

Earlier this month I was in Lydd for my regular surgery in the Guildhall when I observed a large group of men, casually dressed, advancing along the High Street. I quickly realized that they were Ukrainian army recruits who were staying at Lydd camp whilst they completed their infantry training. The Ukrainians have become such […]

Nigel’s May Newsletter

Nigel Mills (Amber Valley)

 

Dear Constituent,

Welcome to my latest email newsletter to provide you with some updates on what’s been happening both in Parliament and around Amber Valley since my last newsletter.

It has been a busy couple of months in Parliament, with the enactment of the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Act 2024, a piece of legislation that I supported. Inflation is now down again, and the tax cuts announced by the Chancellor in the Spring Budget are starting to take effect. In local news, the Department for Transport is entering formal discussions with Alstom about an order for ten new trains, which would help save the factory in Derby.

Tackling illegal immigration:

Immigration, as I have noted in previous newsletters, is an important issue for constituents. High levels of illegal migration are simply not sustainable: it has an impact on our ability to help those genuinely in danger who might come via our safe and legal routes.

Therefore, I am sure that you will be pleased to hear that the Safety of Rwanda (and Immigration) Act 2024 is now in operation. The Act is key to the Government’s pledge of stopping the boats. It provides that Rwanda is a safe country, notwithstanding UK law or any interpretation of international law. Those who arrive on our shores illegally will be sent to Rwanda and they will not be able to apply for return to the UK. The Rwanda scheme also acts as a deterrent – it eliminates the incentive to come to our country. The deterrent effect is already working: migrants are already leaving the UK and going to Ireland because they fear deportation to Rwanda. 

After consistently supporting the legislation at every opportunity, I’m eager to see the flights to Rwanda commence during the summer months.

Alstom’s Derby Plant – Saved!

Last month, Alstom was in redundancy talks over 1,300 manufacturing plant jobs as it was planning to shut production lines at its plant on Litchurch Lane. The closure of that plant would have also put 15,000 indirect jobs at risk. I raised this issue with the Minister of State for Transport, Huw Merriman, in the House of Commons Chamber, and you can find this here.

I am pleased to inform you that the Government has stepped in to save the plant – intense negotiations are now underway for Alstom to deliver ten new trains for the Elizabeth Line. I have had a meeting with the Secretary of State for Transport, Mark Harper, who reassured me that his Department is asking Alstom to confirm their long-term commitment to invest in Derby. The onus is now on Alstom to provide competitive pricing for the work and full transparency on its costings to enable this to progress to a satisfactory and swift closure.

I understand that the negotiations will conclude discussions no later than the end of May. Watch this space!

Positive economic news:

Three weeks ago, inflation fell to 3.2% – faster than expected and down from a peak of 11.1%. This is the lowest level in nearly two and a half years; low inflation helps our money go further. The Prime Minister made lowering inflation one of his five priorities; I am glad that he is delivering on his word.

In my March Budget Special Newsletter, I discussed the cuts to national insurance. These cuts came into effect from 6th April: the upshot is that the average worker will have an additional £900 in their pockets.

Mayor & Police & Crime Commissioner election results:

On 2nd May, elections were held for the Derbyshire Police & Crime Commissioner and new East Midlands Mayor. Both of these were won by the Labour Party, with Nicolle Ndiweni elected as the new Police & Crime Commissioner, and Claire Ward as the new Mayor. You can find the full results of the elections here.

Whilst clearly disappointed that the Conservative candidates of Angelique Foster (for PCC) and Ben Bradley (for Mayor) weren’t successful on this occasion, my congratulations go to Nicolle and Claire, and I look forward to working with them where appropriate, as well as holding them to account, for the benefit of Amber Valley. 

National Grid Chesterfield to Willington new line proposals:

Constituents may be aware of the launch of a new consultation by National Grid on a new overhead electricity line between Willington and Chesterfield. 

The route will run through Amber Valley from South Wingfield to Coxbench/Smalley with 3×50 metre high pylons every kilometre which would have a significant impact on the countryside.

The consultation is now open and will close on 9 July. You can find the full proposals here

East Midlands APPG launch:

As Co-Chair of the East Midlands APPG, it was a pleasure for me to host the official launch of the East Midlands Chamber’s Manifesto for Growth 2024. The Chamber is the voice for business in the region, with a growing membership of more than 4,100 businesses. In the Manifesto, the Chamber asks for greater investment in transport and digital infrastructure; skills reform to recruit and retain employees; and simplification of the tax system for businesses. I fully endorse the work that the Chamber does to highlight the priorities of local businesses in our region.

Supporting SEND education:

From reading your emails, I know that constituents are concerned about supporting Special Educational Needs education in our local schools. Therefore, I am glad that the Secretary of State for Education has allocated £15 million to Derbyshire to deliver more special needs places. The funding will be used to improve the accessibility of buildings and provide more specialist support for children with additional needs.

Parliamentary contributions:

Denby and Smalley Solar Farm Plans

In Prime Minister’s Questions, I spoke about the two huge solar farm applications in Smalley and Denby – which would sit just 500 meters from each other. Having had meetings with constituents about this issue, I urge that planning guidance should be changed to make it clear that solar farms must not displace productive farms in the Green Belt. Indeed, the investment should go on appropriate sites such as car parks or brownfield land. Building solar farms on agricultural land puts our food security at risk – a point made by the Prime Minister himself. I will continue to campaign against the building of those solar farms. You can find my question and the Prime Minister’s reply in full here.

The Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) Campaign

I have spoken to many constituents who were affected by the changes to the state pension age. I also most recently met with a group of women who were part of the WASPI campaign. I decided to raise this issue in the House of Commons: having read the report published by the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman, I urged the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Mel Stride, to compensate the women who have been affected. This issue has gone on for long enough – I hope that the Government makes a decision on this matter quickly. You can find the full questions and debate here.

Street Watch:

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.

You’re receiving this newsletter because you subscribed to my mailing list.

Would you like to unsubscribe? Unsubscribe from this Newsletter here.

The post Nigel’s May Newsletter appeared first on Nigel Mills MP.

Clamping Down on Ticket Touts

Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish)

Your favourite artist is playing a once-in-a-lifetime show. Your team are on the brink of winning the league. What’s more – tickets to see them live go on sale tomorrow morning.

Unfortunately for you, when you refresh the ticket site at 9:01am, you find that somehow every last ticket has sold out in under a minute.

Confused, you search online and find the very same tickets being resold for hundreds (or in many cases, thousands) of more.

This sort of exploitation has become all too common an experience, and an issue I am fiercely passionate about.

For far too long, ticket touts and scalpers have ruined the sports and culture market and unfairly restricted access to live events.

While reselling football tickets for profit has been illegal since 1994, there is no similar regulation for other sporting or cultural events.

In fact, the current Minister, Kevin Hollinrake, suggested that websites allowing limitless prices to be charged “may still provide a service of value to some consumers”.

In 2016, one ticket for Adele at the O2 arena in London was listed on GetMeIn for £24,840 – that’s 290 times the face value of the ticket.

There are laws against the use of bots or multiple identities to harvest tickets and resell at profit, but the government have been woefully incompetent at enforcing them.

Only two cases and six prosecutions have been made, allowing the vast majority of ticket touts and lawbreakers to walk free.

My friend and colleague Sharon Hodgson MP has been leading the charge in this area for many years, and it’s about time the government stood up and took notice.

While the Tories are content to let ticket touts run rampant and steal from supporters and artists alike, Labour has pledged to fight for the rights of the public and tackle the problem head on.

The next Labour government will cap the resale prices of tickets and bring much needed regulation to the resale market.

We will restrict the number of tickets any individual seller can list and close loopholes to shut down ticket touts.

We recognise that existing laws to protect consumers are useless if they are not properly enforced, and so will give the Competition and Markets Authority (an independent regulatory board) the powers it needs to crack down on law breakers.

This Tory government has been absolutely spineless in protecting the rights of artists and consumers.

Labour stands ready to end the ruthless and exploitative practise of ticket touting for good.

The post Clamping Down on Ticket Touts appeared first on Andrew Gwynne.

The terrible desecration of Hoad’s Wood near Bethersden by repeated fly-tipping has gone well beyond being a local story and is now featuring in national newspapers as well as national news bulletins. It is clear that effective action to stop the dumping to too long to introduce, which is why the…

Working to Protect the Colne Valley

Joy Morrisey (Beaconsfield)

Last week, I met with my fellow MPs to discuss what more can be done to ensure the protection of the Colne Valley. I have consistently fought to protect the Colne Valley against inappropriate developments, such as the Motorway Service Area, because I understand the importance of preserving our…

John Healey (Wentworth and Dearne)

John Healey invites England boxing chief to see work of community minded Parkgate gym

John Healey invited the Head of Operations at England Boxing, Avoen Perryman, to see how Unity Boxing in Parkgate is linking up with the community and providing mental health support to children and adults.

The club has joined forces with Rotherham and Barnsley MIND to offer programmes for those struggling with mental health issues, providing an outlet for physical activity and creating a sense of community.

The programmes are designed for all ages and skill levels and aim to help improve wellbeing through boxing.

John said: “Abdul and his team at Unity Boxing offer such a unique opportunity for people across the borough to help improve both their physical and mental wellbeing.

“It was a pleasure to be able to showcase their set up with Rotherham and Barnsley MIND to Avoen Perryman from England Boxing.

“The gym was full when we called in and I know that they are always looking to expand the sessions they offer and continue to help change people’s lives through the sport.”

May Day Wash Out

Kit Malthouse (North West Hampshire)

Fete season always kicks of with the Hurtsbourne Priors and Clatfords May Fairs, and normally we are lucky with the weather. Not so sadly this year. The Heavens opened and it pelted down.

Happily though, the doughty villagers of North West Hampshire were not disheartened and much jollity was had.

For me it was a sad moment, as it was my final Clatfords Fair. The boundary changes mean that lovely part of Hampshire is moving out of the constituency and so, after nine happy years, I won’t be their MP whatever happens. I made the most of the moment with a good foaming pint of bitter and toasted them for the welcome over the years.

Well done to all involved on the day. It takes a lot of work to put them on so bravo to the volunteers.

Official Blessing of Cunard’s Queen Anne

Royston Smith (Southampton, Itchen)

I was delighted to join the Lord Mayor and the Bishop of Winchester, for the official blessing of the new Cunard Queen Anne. The Queen Anne is the first new Cunard ship for 14 years and will join her three sister ships all based in the city. It is estimated that 60,000 jobs in the [...]

The post Official Blessing of Cunard’s Queen Anne appeared first on Royston Smith MP.

Today Parliament debated the place that pylons should have in National Grid’s upgrades to the UK’s electricity grid.

The debate in Westminster Hall was led by Matt Warman MP, who reiterated to the Minister that whilst an upgrade to the grid and new infrastructure is needed to meet the UK’s energy demands, National Grid’s strategy is incoherent, short-sighted, and does not properly consider the impacts that pylons would have on Lincolnshire’s food security and local economy.

The Grimsby to Walpole project proposes to put up tens of kilometres of pylons and overhead lines up across Lincolnshire, alongside projects in other areas of the country such as Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. National Grid states that it is the Government’s framework that requires pylons to be used, rather than putting the infrastructure underground or offshore, despite other projects across the country to take pylons down, and replace them with underground lines.

Matt Warman has called for a better approach, that considers what a successful rewiring of the grid would look like in the long term, and urged the Government to consider pausing the current set of conflicting projects, and to look again at the approach to upgrade the grid, taking into better consideration the long term impacts on local communities.

 

Commenting in the debate today, Matt Warman said:

“My constituents are angry. They are angry with National Grid, and they are angry with the proposals to rewire the grid in such a way that uses Lincolnshire as, what is frankly, a dumping ground for outdated infrastructure, that could be done better and could be done differently.

The way that National Grid has behaved, hasn’t delivered on transparency, and hasn’t made constituents feel that this is a meaningful consultation on proposals that will not be temporary, but will be with us for many years to come and will cost millions of pounds.

I have never had more emails and I have never seen more packed public meetings on any other issue. My constituents don’t deny that there is a real need to upgrade the grid for the future. But they want to see value for money for the taxpayer, they want to see landscapes not unnecessarily blighted, and they want to see an approach that acknowledges that the economic impact and the impact on food security should be the Government’s top priority.

I implore the Minister to take this message back to the Secretary of State loud and clear. That is what in the interest of all our constituents”.

 

Matt welcomed the high turnout for the debate, with Members of Parliament from all political parties and across the country making it known they too are concerned about the impact that erecting pylons across the countryside would have, and have urged the Government and National Grid to better consider underground and offshore options.

Newly published ‘smart data roadmap’ will help boost competition and lower utility bills, John Penrose says.

The ‘smart data roadmap’ sets out the timeline for sectors to be opened up to the new smart data powers in the Data Protection and Digital Information (DPDI) Bill. This will allow companies to invest in getting ready for the changes, which will allow consumers to safely share their data with third parties to help them more easily switch providers and access better deals in one-click.

John Penrose has been a long-term campaigner for smart data and the open economy, arguing that the UK should capitalise on its global lead in open banking to extend data portability schemes to other sectors to make switching providers cheaper and more convenient, unleashing competition. Penrose has spoken in the House of Commons many times to press Ministers to introduce today’s roadmap.

Commenting on the news, John said: “I am thrilled that we finally have a timeline for this. Building on the success of open banking, which most of us use daily without realising, today’s roadmap shows the UK means business and gives us a chance to extend our world-leading position in open banking into lots of other industries too.”

Local Update

Chris Grayling (Epsom and Ewell)

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with an update about three local issues.

M25 closure – planned for 13th May

Firstly, if you have not already been told, the next closure of the M25 will take place from 9pm on Friday 10 May to 6am on Monday 13 May between junction 9 (Leatherhead/Epsom) and 10 (Wisley) in both directions. Whereas last time we were not particularly touched because the closure was the other side of Junction 10, this time we will be much more directly affected. The diversionary route will run through this area. All the details are here

https://nationalhighways.co.uk/our-roads/south-east/m25-junction-10/

But the advice from the project team is to avoid driving locally that weekend if at all possible.

South Western Railways – overcrowding on Waterloo line

I met South Western Railway’s new Chief Executive last week to discuss the continuing issue of overcrowding on the Waterloo line, particularly for people trying to catch trains at Worcester Park. I managed to get them to introduce two semi-fast trains in the evening peak last year to help with the issue, but the morning peak remains a real problem. I have been pushing them to give us two extra morning trains as well.

At the moment the issue is that they do not have enough rolling stock to increase the number of services. The new ten coach trains have been delivered, but the company has not yet been able to reach an agreement with the unions to use them. Very frustrating. And the passengers suffer.

When and if this gets resolved, the first new trains will go onto the Windsor line, but SWR have promised to make extra capacity available on our line at that time. In the meantime I am pushing them at least to reorganise their existing fleet to get a couple of ten coach services into the morning peak for the time being. I will keep you updated.

Castle Road Footbridge

I met the Regional Director of Network Rail on the site of the Castle Road footbridge a couple of weeks ago to push for more rapid action to replace the bridge, which had to be removed because it was structurally unsound.

He has promised me that the work is now going ahead, and will be done this year. It will involve a full closure of the line later in the year, but in the meantime there is a lot of piling and preparatory work to be done on the site. They will be consulting residents about the impact of this shortly.

Home Start – Volunteers

Finally, I have had a request from the local branch of Home Start who are looking for volunteers. If you do not know the charity, it uses experienced parents and grandparents to provide support for vulnerable families in the area.

Volunteers Fair

I am planning another volunteer fair for local charities next month, and will circulate details of that shortly. But if you are interested in helping Home Start, please email Tracey Cobb  at Tracey.Cobb@hseeb.org.uk.

I hope you are keeping well

With best wishes

Chris

The post Local Update appeared first on Chris Grayling.

BCCA Political Campaign Committee Meeting

David Evennett (Bexleyheath and Crayford)

The BCCA Political Campaign Committee met today to discuss the plans for the year ahead.  

Local MP Martin Docherty-Hughes has challenged both Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer to deliver a cast-iron guarantee that they will fully compensate the 6,000 WASPI women in West Dunbartonshire.

SNP MP Docherty-Hughes has warned that a failure to right the wrongs of unfair changes to state pension age would be a “betrayal to the women in Scotland who have been so badly let down Westminster”.

It follows the publication of a report last month by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) which calls on the UK parliament to provide suitable compensation for the country’s estimated 3.6 million WASPI women.

Both the Tories and Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party have been criticised by campaigners for failing to give a guarantee that their parties will honour Westminster’s responsibility to provide justice and fully compensate the 1950s-born WASPI women.

The House of Commons Library estimates that a total of 6,020 women in West Dunbartonshire have been hit by unfair changes to their state pension age, with over 335,000 impacted across Scotland. 

Commenting, local MP Martin Docherty-Hughes said:

“Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer must finally give a cast-iron guarantee to the WASPI women in West Dunbartonshire that they will be fully compensated for this huge Westminster scandal.

“For too long, more than 6,000 women in my constituency have been silenced – but no longer. 

“The report from the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman could not have been clearer – the WASPI women were failed, and they were failed by Westminster. 

“So whether it’s Rishi Sunak or Sir Keir Starmer that enters No. 10 after the next general election, both political leaders must now commit to fully compensating the millions of women who have been let down by the system.

“A failure to do so would be a betrayal to the women in Scotland who have been so badly let down. They have suffered for long enough. It is time for action.”

It is rare for a Private Member's Bill to capture public attention but the House of Commons debate on the 1st March on the prohibition of conversion practices produced moments of high emotion and parliamentary drama.   The bill was proposed for concerns that gay or trans identifying people might be…

Funding Sources

Linked below is the most recent funding alerts

Funding alert no 4, February 2024

SCVO update https://funding.scot/

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Diatas adalah bocoran slot gacor valid jam slot online dan juga dikonfirmasi oleh banyak member judi online yang bergabung sebagai Fire138 Indonesia. Dengan situs slot online terlengkap Fire138 Anda akan merasakan pengalaman bertaruh slot online yang sangat berbeda dengan situs slot online lainnya.

The post Bocoran Slot Gacor Gampang JP Hanya Di Fire138 appeared first on Chrisleslie.

My Weekly Round-up

Christina Rees (Neath)

I attended the National Marine Parks (NMP) Parliamentary launch event. The Blue Marine Foundation (BMF) and 12 partners launched a National Framework and Guidance to support the evaluation of NMPs which offers a common purpose, objectives, and principles, for NMPs to evolve in Britain. The BMF partnership’s vision for NMPs is that they could fulfil a role in re-connecting people with sea and deliver more coherent conservation to benefit nature and coastal communities. Over 80% of people across England, Scotland, and Wales believe it is crucial to protect our ocean, but over 50% perceive the health of the marine environment as poor. The BMF partnership has scoped areas across Britain and found there is an appetite to explore introducing NMPs from Dorset, Argyll, to Pembrokeshire. Read the reports here.

I attended the APPG for Christians in Parliament Chapel service with my dear friend Baroness Anita Gale, which is open to all parliamentarians and staff. The Reading was Psalm 130, and Reverend Mark Harris delivered his interpretation of this Psalm.

As vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coalfields Communities, I attended the meeting to welcome the Minister for Levelling Up, Dehenna Davison MP, so that members of the APPG could ask her questions on our APPG Report “Next Steps in Levelling Up the Former Coalfields”, which we launched in Parliament on 12th June 2023. Specifically, recommendations 1, 2, 9, 10, and 12, which you can read here. The Minister confirmed that the next round of Levelling Up funds would be round 3, reflecting previous rounds, and application bids should be shelf ready to go with no conflict in community input and vision. Representatives pointed out that the round 2 bidding process was very complicated with lots of forms to complete, and it should be simplified. Round 2 had built up expectations in councils that their bids would be approved, councils had spent lots of money to formulate bids, which were rarely granted, and there was a lack of private sector support. Also, when a bid was successful it has to be spent in 18 months, which I pointed out is a very short timeframe compared with former European funding which allowed 7 years, with the option of a 3-year extension. And the financial settlement provided to Wales is not enough to level up the coalfield communities in Wales. The APPG was very well attended by MPs and Peers, plus representatives from Coalfields Communities, including: Trade Unions; Councillors; and the Coalfields Regeneration Trust.

As vice-chair of the Climate Change APPG, I attended the roundtable discussion with Dr Steve Pye, Associate Professor at UCL, who spoke about what climate science says about phasing out oil and gas production and his research focusing on net zero pathways, energy system decarbonisation and securing UK energy independence; Tessa Khan, CEO Uplift, provided an overview of the state of UK oil and gas policy, and how transitioning away from oil and gas production can also tackle issues around energy security, and the cost of living crisis; Louise Borrows, Climate and Energy Lead For the Beyond Oil and Gas Coalition (BOGA), who was on a secondment to the Cabinet Office for COP 26 and was joint head of the energy campaign for the UK’s COP Presidency Year. She led the delivery of multiple projects including ending fossil finance, no new coal, methane, and directing the Presidency’s approach to gas, and she successfully cemented and led the “Glasgow Statement” signatories as a government coalition for change; and Darren Proctor, National Secretary of RMT Union, spoke about worker’s views on moving away from oil and gas and how a just transition can happen. See upliftuk.org

The APPG for Steel and Related Metal Industries received an update on the Trade Remedies Authority (TRA) from TRA officials: Edward Smith, Investigator; Timothy Sharp, Lead Investigator; and Katherine Newton-McGee, Head of Investigations. The members of the APPG questioned the TRA officials on: how the TRA is reviewing the safeguards, what are they doing and how can steel producers and users contribute to the review; and what are the timelines for the review. The TRA has instigated the review regarding the extension of the UK steel safeguards beyond 30 June 2024 covering the 15 product categories that are currently subject to the measure. The maximum they can be extended is another two years to June 2026, and it is vital that this will be the outcome of the review. UK Steel will be presenting evidence to the TRA, and engaging with the relevant stakeholders to ensure the best outcome is achieved. The TRA preliminary determination will be published in February 2024, and the Secretary of State for Business and Trade will make the final decision by 30 June 2024 on whether to maintain the safeguards for another two years. MPs asked the TRA officers how the economic injury would be assessed, in the context of EU safeguards and whilst US S232 tariffs remains in place. Removing UK safeguards would lead to a huge influx of diverted imports from countries that face much lower energy costs, and benefit from subsidies and other unfair competitive advantages.

Alzheimer’s Research UK is the leading dementia research charity in the UK working to revolutionise the way we treat, diagnose, and prevent dementia. Almost 1 million people are living with dementia in the UK today. One in two of us will be directly affected in our lifetime, either by caring for someone with the condition, developing it ourselves, or both. We are at tipping point. New ways of diagnosing the diseases that cause dementia earlier and more accurately like blood tests for Alzheimer’s disease are showing promise. New treatments that can affect the course of Alzheimer’s disease could be available in the UK in just a few months’ time. New insights are showing how we can reduce the prevalence of dementia in the first place by addressing factors that affect our brain health. I support the charity’s recommendations: to set up a UK cross-governmental strategy for the prevention of ill health to address the health and lifestyle factors that affect our risk of developing dementia; invest in the current diagnostic pathway to make it fit for purpose and fit for the future; ensure new dementia treatments are available on the NHS as soon as possible; and establish the UK as a world leader in dementia research. Contact Alzheimersresearchuk.org 

Western Gateway held a Parliamentary reception to celebrate the launch of its Western Gateway 2050 Rail Vision published earlier this year. The Vision is transformational – connecting local communities at risk of being left behind; deliverable – building on a pipeline of schemes already underway; investable – ready for the public and private sector to enhance communities and add at least £34bn to the UK economy by 2030. The Western Gateway APPG co-chairs Jess Morden MP and the Rt Hon Sir Robert Buckland MP introduced and closed the event. Katherine Bennett CBE, Chair of the Western Gateway, said that the vision is not about asking the UK Government for instant investment, or building a new high speed trainline, it’s a long-term vision supported by cross-party leaders and the Western Gateway APPG, because the region has huge potential to deliver the UK’s sustainable and net zero future economy and unlock a greener, fairer, future. We heard from guest speakers: my dear friend Baroness Debbie Wilcox, who as the former Leader of Newport Council and former leader of the Welsh Local Government Authority who was instrumental in setting up Western Gateway; Huw Merriman MP, UK Government Rail Minister; Louise Haigh MP, Labour Shadow Transport Secretary; Stephen Morgan MP, Labour Shadow Rail Minister; Council Leaders within the Western Gateway Region; and representatives from Transport for Wales, Network Rail, and GWR. Read the vision report here.

I was honoured to deliver the second reading at the annual Service of Thanksgiving for Victory in The Battle of Britain in St David’s Church Neath, which was organised by Neath & Swansea Branches of the Royal Air Force Association (Neath 617 Branch). The first reading was delivered by Louise Fleet CStJ, JP, the Lord Lieutenant of West Glamorgan and the congregation listened to the usual, thought-provoking sermon by our wonderful Avon Nedd Ministry Area Leader, The Reverend Canon Lynda Newman. After the service, we gathered at the Memorial Gates, Gnoll Grounds, to place wreaths in memory of those service people who gave their lives to achieve peace in the world, and play the Last Post, before a minutes’ silence, and Reveille. We Will Remember Them.

As vice-chair of the APPG on Restorative Justice (RJ) I was honoured to be at the launch of our APPG Investigation: Implementing restorative practices in education, health, and social care report authored by our Advisory Board. The report was introduced by the Advisory Board Chairman, and CEO of the Restorative Justice Council, Jim Simon. The investigation focused on the current implementation and impact of restorative practice in non-judicial settings across the UK. The findings and subsequent recommendations are based on the reported experience of restorative practitioners working in education, health, and social care who embraced the opportunity to contribute evidence of their successes and pointed out improvements that could be made. The APPG calls on UK Government to use this report and its recommendations to shape future public policy and develop a cohesive strategy for the long-term implementation of restorative justice. Read the report here. Jim and our APPG chair Elliot Colburn MP will be meeting the UK Government Justice Minister, Ed Argar MP, on 12th September to discuss our report, the benefits of implementing restorative justice, and the Victims and Prisoners Bill. After the meeting they will fully brief the members of the APPG on the outcome of the meeting. Jim outlined details of the first annual Northern Ireland RJC Conference in Belfast on 14/15th September on which he will report back to the next APPG in October. There will also be an APPG Parliamentary Drop In event on 30th October in the Thames Pavilion which will highlight the work of RJC in education, health, social care, and the devolved nations.

I joined the online meeting of the APPG for Child Maintenance Service (CMS) to hear evidence from voluntary organisations, including: Gingerbread; women who have been let down by the CMS; and MPs who receive so much casework from constituents who are suffering because the child maintenance payments that have been agreed following the split up of partners in a relationship, are not being paid by the relevant partner towards the upkeep of the children. The children, and parent who has custody of the children, are struggling to survive without the maintenance payments that they are owed. The CMS was set up by the UK Government in December 2012. There is a £20 application fee, unless the parent or child is a victim of domestic abuse, or the applicant parent is under 19 years old. There are two methods of payment: Direct Pay which can be chosen by either parent with agreement of the other, there is no collection fee; Collect and Pay, whereby the CMS calculates the amount of maintenance due and collects it from the paying parent, and pays it to the receiving parent, but there is a 20% fee for the paying parent on top of the maintenance payments and 4% is taken off the maintenance paid to the receiving parent. In the interests of fairness, the DWP should consider removing the 4% charge from receiving parents. Since set up in 2012 there is £547.9 million in unpaid arrears, i.e 8%. In the last quarter, to March 2023, of UK Government statistics, £237 million was due by Direct Pay, but the DWP does not measure how much of this is unpaid. £72 million was due by Collect and Pay of which £22.9 million was unpaid. In my Neath constituency my excellent and diligent staff have resolved many CMS cases, mostly where the paying parent has disputed the amount of maintenance they have been asked to pay, stating that they can’t afford the payments, and so lapse into arrears, and are not able to make up the arrears amount. The receiving parent raises this with the CMS, and the paying parent is placed on direct payments taken from their wages, but this is not possible if they are paid in cash. If the paying parent receives a below 25% wage increase the CMS will not trigger a change of circumstances to increase the payments. Also, if the paying parent is receiving benefits, they are obliged to only pay the CMS minimum of £7 per week.

I was pleased to support the WI Week of River Action Parliamentary launch event, which kicked off their new Clean Rivers campaign which seeks to tackle river pollution and to promote the designation of more bathing waters. The WI will endeavour to raise awareness of the ecological state of the UK’s rivers and draw public attention to the importance of clean rivers for people and for wildlife in their communities.

I attended another APPG Christians in Parliament Chapel service with my friend Baroness Anita Gale. The Reading was from Mark 1:14-15, and there was a talk by Paul Woolley, CEO of The London Institute of Contemporary Christianity, entitled “Growing confidence: Recovering the Gospel as Good News”.

I supported UNICEF’s launch calling on the UK Government for a Baby and Toddler Guarantee as part of its Early Moments Matter campaign to support families with young children to ensure that babies and toddlers have the best start in life across the UK. UNICEF’s latest research reveals the pressures families with young children are under and how the cost-of-living crisis is impacting children. YouGov polled parents and guardians of at least one child aged 0-4 years old living in Great Britain. Poll findings for Wales (National average in brackets): 79% said the cost of living has negatively impacted their family lives (78%); 65% have struggled with their mental health (61%); 67% believe it’s harder to be a parent now than their parents’ generation (70%); 66% are worried about their child’s future life chances (66%); 55% can’t afford to give their child the life they want (50%); 44% had less time to read, play, cook healthy meals than last year (37%).

I dropped into the ABTA The Travel Association and UK inbound event on potential solutions to improve youth mobility between the UK and Europe. Tourism is a vitally important soft power and a global success story for the UK and youth mobility whether for education, work or travel, makes a significant contribution to both the UK economy and in Neath where in 2019, over 241 jobs were supported by the inbound tourism sector and over 300 jobs were supported by the outbound tourism sector. The youth and student travel market sees 25 million travellers per year; young travellers support over 265,00 jobs in the education sector; and the outward-bound travel industry is worth more than £37.1 billion a year to the UK economy, 1.8% of GDP, supporting 526,000 jobs across the UK. Therefore, it is important for the UK Government to work with the UK tourism industry to reinvigorate youth mobility through expansion of the Youth Mobility Scheme, development of collective passports, and digitisation.

As a vice-chair of the Show Racism the Red Card APPG, it was an honour to attend a meeting with parliamentarians, to promote the 9th annual Wear Red Day #WRD23 which will be held on Friday 20th October 2023, organised by the wonderful Ged Grebby, Founder of Show Racim the Red Card, who works full time to stamp out racism at all levels of society. Racism is abhorrent and I was proud to wear my Show Racism the Red Card red t-shirt and stand in solidarity with campaigners.

As a former chair of the APPG for Sport I supported my dear friend Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, the chair of Sport Wales, who hosted a parliamentary event to strive to make the UK the most active nation in Europe. The event was organised by Active Partnerships; CIMSPA; Sport for Development Coalition; Sport Recreation Alliance; Local Government Association; UK Active and the Youth Sport Trust. Currently, the UK is the 11th most inactive nation, and the 3rd highest spenders on healthcare costs associated with inactivity. The sport, recreation, and physical activity sectors’ leading bodies are urgently calling on political parties to commit to making it easier for people to play, move, and be active in any way they choose by ensuring that sport, recreation, and physical activity is accessible and affordable to everyone. We can build a future where: all children are given the best possible start, gaining habits and skills to manage their physical and mental wellbeing, living longer and healthier lives; preventing and improving community health leads to significantly less pressure on NHS and other public services; our streets and communities will be safer, happier, and greener places to be; our economy will be boosted by a healthier workforce that increases productivity and lengthens people’s employment. Turning this vision into reality will not be easy, and will take time, but we believe it can and must be done. We urge the current and future governments to put sport, recreation, and physical activity at the heart of national policy making working closely with the sector and devolved governments of all the Home Nations on a programme of reforms including: building a common evidence base of the benefits to drive better funding; more and better targeting investment to create modern sustainable places and spaces to be active to drive up participation unlocking the power of sport for social good. It was a lovely surprise to meet Emily Reynolds, National Programmes Director, Youth Sport Trust, who is from Glynneath and the daughter of my dear friend Gerry Reynolds. Emily has worked for Youth Sport Trust for over 8 years and was deputising at the event for her CEO, Ali Oliver, who unfortunately couldn’t attend, otherwise our paths may never have crossed, and I would not have had the wonderful opportunity to meet Emily, who I am sure will become a close friend too. Read “Unlocking the Potential” 

I attended the Asthma + Lung UK transport policy Parliamentary event called “putting the brakes on toxic air” and received a briefing on the Cleaner Travel Access Fund (CTAF). We heard that polluting vehicles are fuelling toxic air and the climate crisis, and millions of people are breathing unsafe levels of air pollution. 97% of the UK’s 33 million cars still run on petrol and diesel, releasing pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, and carbon dioxide into the air. Road transport is responsible for nearly 50% of all nitrogen oxide air pollution. There is no safe level of air pollution but tens of millions across the UK are breathing levels of air pollution that are against the law. Babies, children, pregnant women, older people, and those with existing lung conditions are more vulnerable. Air pollution is costing the NHS and Social Care services millions every year and contributes to up to 43,000 early UK deaths every year. The least responsible for air pollution are often the most exposed. The poorest people live nearest busy roads and worst air pollution levels are in ethnically diverse neighbourhoods, but there is less car ownership in these groups. The CTAF is a scrappage scheme of £777 million aimed at people on low incomes and those whose mobility is affected by long term health conditions to swap their polluting vehicles in exchange for a £3000 grant per household to use public transport, buy active travel, or put towards an electric vehicle.

I attended the Parliamentary launch of a report by the Women’s Budget Group, funded by the Community Justice Fund entitled Gender Gaps in Access to Civil Legal Justice. We listened to guest speakers: Rt Hon Emily Thornberry MP, Labour Shadow Attorney General; Dr Zubaida Haque report author; Isabel Langdale, Project Manager Women’s Homelessness, Homeless Link; and Pamela Fitzpatrick, Director of Harris Law Centre, discuss the findings of the report and what needs to happen to close the gender civil justice gap. The report drew on survey data collected from 115 organisations and services across England and Wales, and explores the gender disparities in accessing civil legal justice, and the pressing needs, barriers, and adverse impacts faced by women. The discussion focused on the types of civil law issues women seek help for, from employment law to family and immigration law, the consequences of the changes in scope including the LASPO Act 2012, and the solutions to help women from all backgrounds. Key findings from respondents include: 85% said vulnerable women are unable to access civil legal aid, 77% said a major consequence of the legal aid changes is women reaching crisis point of problems escalating before they receive legal help or advice, 48% reported domestic violence as a key issue, the most widespread employment law issue is pregnancy/maternity discrimination, and the reduced scope of what is covered by legal aid plus the reduced amount of legal aid available disproportionately affects women. The report’s recommendations included: more research into the impact of LASPO 2012; improving access to legal aid for employment law, thresholds and time limits should be increased; intervene with support sooner to avoid litigation and keep cases out of tribunals; better legal training for solicitors, and embed this in GPs/housing/homelessness/services, and food banks; improve general public legal education at a local level; and more cross-sector collaboration to build on expertise and knowledge and facilitate referrals to legal advisers. Read the report www.wbg.org.uk

I attended a very important event organised by One Million LivesR;ipple, and Make A Difference Media, held during Suicide Prevention Week. One Million Lives is a free mental health check to help you understand how you are currently coping and provide suggestions for building resilience. Checking is important even if you feel well because the sooner you check the earlier you can make changes to stay well. Alice Henry lost her brother Josh in November 2020 to suicide. Josh had been searching for suicide techniques on the internet. Alice set up R;ipple which is a free digital resource for parents, schools, and charities that discreetly intercepts harmful internet searches and signposts to 24/7 free mental health support. Make A Difference Media provides a global learning space for employers looking to embed preventive strategies that will have a sustainable impact on workplace wellbeing, culture, and environment. We learned how vital language matters to avoid perpetuating negative stereotypes about suicide. For example: we must not say commit or committing suicide, because this implies it’s a sin or a crime, rather we should say died by suicide or lost their life to suicide. We must not say you’re not going to do anything silly are you, because you want to show you are not dismissing or making fun of how they are feeling, rather we should say have you been thinking of killing yourself. We must not say successful or unsuccessful suicide, because this implies that suicide is an achievement or something positive, rather we should say lived through a suicide attempt.

I was privileged to be granted a Westminster Hall Debate about Sepsis by Mr Speaker on 13th September which is World Sepsis Day. I began my speech with a tribute to Dame Cheryl Gillan, who tragically died in April 2021. I was extremely surprised and honoured to be asked by Dame Cheryl to take over from her as chair of the Sepsis APPG when she stood down in March 2021. It was a shock to me and most parliamentarians when Dame Cheryl died only a month after I took over as chair. Why did Dame Cheryl choose me? It could be that when I became a member of the APPG in 2017, Dame Cheryl and I had a cup of tea because she wanted to listen to my Sepsis story. I am one of the very fortunate people who contracted Sepsis (in August 2013), and survived. I owe my life to my friend Jen Smith who kept taking me back to the NHS when I didn’t improve after many weeks of not being diagnosed with Sepsis, and the consultant surgeon at the Heath Hospital, Dr John Jones, who correctly identified Sepsis and operated immediately to save my life. I have done my very best to chair the APPG but I have had enormous help from Sarah Hamilton-Fairly and Dr Ron Daniels of the UK Sepsis Trust. Sepsis is a global health concern, and it occurs when the body’s responses to infection causes injury to its tissues and organs. It is not known why some people develop Sepsis in response to infections, whereas others do not. My source of Sepsis remains a mystery. Sepsis is often referred to as the “silent killer” because of its ability to strike swiftly and unexpectedly. In the UK 245,000 cases are reported every year, leading to over 48,000 deaths, and the leading cause of avoidable deaths – more than breast, bowel, and prostate cancer combined. Around 40% of people who develop Sepsis are estimated to suffer physical, cognitive and/or psychological after-effects. Most recover after a few weeks but others develop Post Sepsis Syndrome. One of the biggest challenges is early diagnosis because Sepsis can mimic other common illnesses, with similar symptoms, such as fever, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, confusion, and extreme pain. I suffered with most of these symptoms plus a swollen face, so I was diagnosed with toothache and mouth abscesses. The UK Sepsis Trust has worked tirelessly to educate health care providers and the public to improve early detection. Their “Sepsis Six” care and treatment pathway has been implemented in 96% of hospitals across the UK and in 37 other countries to ensure rapid and effective treatment. But there is confusion amongst clinicians because the Sepsis NICE Guideline NG 51 has not been updated since 2016, despite being scheduled for updated publication in June 2023, and which now conflicts with the position statement from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. I asked the UK Government Under Secretary of State for Heath and Social Care , Maria Caulfield MP, who was responding to my debate, to tell the House: the publication date for the updated NG 51; the model and implementation date for Martha’s Rule, which would give families a right to a second diagnosis, advocated by Martha’s grieving parents because Martha tragically died from Sepsis; if her UK Government would replicate the 10 million Swiss Francs (£9 million) of state funding announced by the Swiss Government for implementing Sepsis improvement over a 5 year period; and would she meet with me, Dr Ron Daniels, and Sarah Hamilton-Fairly to discuss setting up a National Sepsis Register, because unlike data for heart attacks, strokes and cancer, Sepsis data is imprecise, and relies on coded administrative data, rather than granular, clinical, data of patient level registries. The Under Secretary said that The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care was meeting Martha’s family later that day, and she will update members on the outcome and how Martha’s Rule will be implemented; since 2017 the National Institute of Health and Social Care has funded 14 Sepsis research projects with a combined value of £27 million but stressed that further applications would be welcomed; and that she will meet me and anyone I want to bring with me. Before being elected to Parliament in 2015, the Under Secretary was an NHS nurse for twenty years, specialising in cancer research, and I am optimistic that she really understands the issues surrounding Sepsis. On World Sepsis Day we remember those who have lost their lives, and those whose lives have been affected by Sepsis.

I attended the APPG for Drugs, Alcohol and Justice to discuss the role of the voluntary sector in drug and alcohol treatment and recovery. The meeting was so well attended that we need to find a bigger room in Parliament to hold future meetings. We heard from guest speakers: Jess Mullen, CEO, Collective Voice; Dr Roya Vaziri, Medical Director, Humankind; and Michelle Foster, Founder and CEO, The Basement Recovery Project. All speakers described the treatment and recovery projects they have been successfully running, and the parliamentarians and stakeholders had the opportunity to make comments or question the speakers.

Member of Parliament for Beckenham, Bob Stewart, has welcomed the Government’s £48 million investment through the Skills Investment Fund, boosting the rollout of Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs) and equipping students from all backgrounds with the high-quality, higher-level skills needed to…

Backbench Business Committee

Ian Mearns (Gateshead)

My article in House Magazine

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Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North)

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Yvonne Fovargue (Makerfield)

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New GP Surgery Back on Track for Shifnal

Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin)

New GP Surgery Back on Track for Shifnal

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.

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.

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: Monday 27 May 2024 15:29